Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The American Way?]

South Burlington, VT

I was listening to a program on NPR about health care. One man complained about having to buy insurance to get health care.  The program host said, "But insurance is the American way."   That struck me as very wrong..

So.  What is the American Way?  Mind Your Own Business (MYOB) is a moral very deeply embedded in the psyche of Americans. I think MYOB is a key factor in the culture wars, and the political upheavals leading to the election of Donald Trump.  But MYOB is hardly ever mentioned in public.

In the old days, if I saw my neighbor smoke, drink or do unhealthful things, it was my job to shut up and mind my own business.  But if we all have health insurance, then my neighbor's behavior affects my costs too.  His business becomes my business and my business becomes his.  If government gets involved it makes things much worse. Everyone's business becomes everyone else's and also the business of bureaucrats and congressmen.  That profoundly violates our beloved MYOB. That makes many Americans inclined to oppose it, and that inclination is exploited and inflamed by political parties that thrive on creating wedge issues.

I also note the county level red-blue election map of the USA.   There is an obvious strong correlation.  The blue counties are urban or at least those with the highest population density.  In low density areas, people provide their own transportation and they have their own grassy shaded areas to relax.  In cities, public transportation and public parks are a necessity.  The higher the population density the more imperative it is to act collectively rather than individually.  The most extreme case is that of a ship at sea.  At sea, the entire crew must act as a team under the direction of a captain who wields near-God-like authority.   If population density continues increasing, I see that as our inevitable future.

I am speaking about the deep deep cultural divide in this country that led to the election of Donald Trump.  But I hate to label is as Democrats versus Republicans, or even Liberals versus Conservatives versus Libertarians,  because all those labels carry baggage other than what I am discussing here. I think urban versus non-urban is close, but there are exceptions. I lack a good pair of words, so let me arbitrarily say yings and yangs.

Yings ask first, "What will we do on this question.?" Yings focus  on the "What" in the sentence whereas yangs  object to the "we" in the sentence.  Yangs would prefer to say, "What will you do about the question and what will I do?" Yang pollsters only care about what people think about issues.  They never stop to consider that some people resent some of the issues being public rather than private in the first place.   The very premise of polling and of media reporting is ying biased; almost by definition.

Media bias runs much deeper than favoring one party.  For example, I often hear extensive interviews of urban planners on TV or on NPR.  Urban planners are busy planning the 21st century for urban yings only.   They not only exclude non-urban yangs, they fail to recognize their very existence. There is no such thing as a non-urban planner because yangs don't make collective plans at all, they act individually.

Take the example of broadband Internet.  Yings ask, "What will we do to provide broadband for all Americans."  Yangs say, "Get government regulations and permits and taxes out of my way, and I will make my own Internet arrangements.  Give us the liberty to do whatever we want. Meanwhile, you MYOB."

Violent outbreaks between opposing protesters are already breaking out less than 1/2 year into Trump's first term.  I think 2020 will be very dark and ugly.

In the future, I'll write about what I think we need for yings and yangs to coexist; namely countries that are not geographically based.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Valcour Island Revisited

 South Burlington, VT

We just returned from three glorious days on Valcour Island.  I hate to repeat myself on this blog, but the natural beauties of Valcour inspire me to do so, at least photographically.

What do we do all day while camping?  Watch the video.

The bright orange is lichen.

See the ripples in the water separated by a band of still water.  This band of no wind was over 12 miles long.  Hard to imagine the science of that.

The battle between the cedar trees and the rocks is epic.  Eventually thr tree wins and it breaks up the rock. But then the tree dies, so did it really wijn?

The edge on this rock is so straight that it looks like a diamond saw cut.  But it's natura.

This rock shows why these sedementary rocks break in straight lines.  How many millions of years to lay down all those layers of limestone?

Even flowers find a way to survive in the rocks.

These rocks are fossil rich.  Close examination of this one shows an amalgum of tiny bones.  They are probably fish bones, but they look like bird bones.
Note the ruler straight vein of marble.  The limestone morphed into marble along the lines of a crack.   The rocks here have lots of marble veins like this one.

In Sweden, these are called "devil's bowls"  They are formed when a round boulder gets spun around under the glaciers and it drills a hole into the base rock.  This bowl is nearly two feet in diameter and a nearly perfect hemisphere.

The sky was so pretty on our ride back to the main land.  So wan't Libby.

A few miles south of the Peru boat launch, is Ausable Chasm.  Man oh man, what a lovely place.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Begin The Summer Routine

South Burlington, VT

We arrived here in Vermont one week ago.   The first few days were winter-like, cold and miserable.  But Jen and Pete gave a warm welcome, so all was good.

Here is my "office" for summer use.  It is the Burlington Airport, only a block away from Jen's house.   There is a 6-storey staircase to the top of the parking garage that I can use for my daily workout. Here is the view from the top of that garage.  Pretty spectacular huh?

Below is the view from my "office".   I've learned that even 12 years into retirement, I'm still an office person.  That's where I feel most comfortable.  So there is a booth on the second floor of the airport where I can sit, use my computer and where I have the view below.   When I'm done checking the news on my computer, I sit in those rocking chairs to enjoy my coffee and the view. I arrive there at 5:20 AM, so I usually have the whole place to myself.   I see the airplanes come and go in the foreground, the valley behind that and the Green Mountains on the skyline. Never before have I had a real office as nice as this.

Also, other than the bald summits of some mountains, there is no other place in Vermont with such nice views. Even billionaire's homes don't have a view this nice.

On the day I took those pictures, it was still winter-like.  The fog was so thick that I couldn't see the ground.  But as I sat there, the fog burned off thus staging a theatric quality revealing of this view.  It was great.  Look carefully in the picture and you still see fog following the Winooski River.  Wow oh wow what a nice place.

Tomorrow, Libby and I depart to go to Valcour Island for the first time this year.  That excites us.  Regular blog readers know how much we love that place. We'll stay 3 days and 2 nights.

During the summer, we hope to do side trips to Syracuse/Rome/West Chalrton/Mechanicville/Guilderland NY.  Also to Melrose MA, Vinahaven/Ilesboro/Eastport ME.  Prince Edward Island, Quebec, then Ontario/Wisconsin/Minnesota/North Dakota/Montana/Idaho/Oregon climaxing with a view of the ellipse on August 21.   None of those trips are planed in detail yet.   Whew, it makes me tired and ready for a nap just thinking about all that.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Old Habits Die Hard

Zebulon, NC

We leave tomorrow after 10 days visiting with Dave and Cathy.  That twice per year visit is one of our best highlights.

We'll head for the Blue Ridge Parkway, with camping gear in the car.   How does that differ from cruising?

  1. Our preference is to hit almost every campground along the parkway, doing as little as 50 miles per day progress.  Probably a different campground every day.  That is very cruiser-like.
  2. Our plans are weather sensitive.  Blog readers remember lots of times when we waited for a weather window.  In this case, it looks sunny tomorrow, but it might rain the next 3 days.  Bummer.  We don't put out to sea in storms, and we don't do tent camping on really rainy days.   The difference is that if tent camping is interrupted, we'll move on many more miles and maybe use motels.