Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Development



I attended a public Zoom meeting a couple of evenings ago regarding housing development in neighborhood. One thing that is clear is that it isn't possible to build a new housing development without making at least some people unhappy. The other thing that is clear is that most people are oblivious of planning issues until the plan has already been carried out. There were only 30 households on the call, out of what, 200? Probably much more than that were invited.

Soon the neighborhood will be teaming with cars, and the developers already know that the highway will probably have to be widened to 4 or 5 lanes for another couple of miles. Short of a large, organized movement, it's difficult to see how anyone could stop the development from going through, although it must be that the developer was worried enough to hold the meeting. I think that's because they need a zoning change to build out their design.

The main issue I have with it is that all of the new houses are going to be rentals. It isn't an apartment complex, but it might as well be. I'm also a little concerned about their proposed switch of zoning to high density residential. It seems to me that once the zoning is changed, they could simply revise their plan and build apartment buildings. I'm the suspicious type and I wonder, is that the real plan?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Equinox

I impatiently await the changing of the aspens into this golden spectacle.


Autumn is one of the most beautiful words in the English language, but you have to pronounce the n. Autumnal equinox is a lyrical term. Today is fall, but autumn sounds better to me.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Garmin

 


After much shopping, I decided to get a Garmin Forerunner 945 GPS watch. It has the advantage that the GPS works in the absence of cell coverage. Although it is a triathlon watch, and I am not a triathlete, it does everything I need. It also allows me to go running without having to carry my large, heavy iPhone, though I have yet to convince myself to go without ID.

I took the day off and went for a bicycle ride. The Garmin watch declared my workout to be "Unproductive." How insulting, I thought. Then I looked it up, and to Garmin the term means that no increase in fitness was achieved. I realize they make the products for competitive people, but I specifically had in mind a "maintenance" ride. I can't see how that is unproductive. Maintaining fitness is more important to me than increasing, but then I've never been a competitive person.

It also integrates with Strava automatically.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Paper Cables

Rare Flagstaff duck pond from last evening's run. I made a wrong turn and ended up wandering around. It happens.

Last night I dreamed that I was asked to help setup for a company meeting. It was being held in an open air theater and the stage was backed by cliffs that looked uncomfortably like a scene from the movie Midsommer. They were going to have DJs and I was asked to help connect their laptops to the sound system. The "cables" they had were bare copper wires lying atop strips of lined paper (like from a notebook), all held together with transparent tape.

I said, "What the hell? Real cables aren't that expensive."

The other guy said, "Fire hazard," or similar.

The CEO of the company stood nearby watching.

Dreams are weird. This one obviously had something to do with work, which has been on my mind a lot recently.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Deadline

This cat is not dead. In fact, she was enjoying herself thoroughly. I'm feeling a little dead on this Monday, though.

 

My stress level is a little high right now. It's almost entirely down to work, where I have learned to hate the word deadline. It's a little too graphic, if you think about it.

In point of fact the deadline was self-imposed, but I like to be aggressive with a big project. Sometimes you miss . . .

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Mexican Pizza

The Taco Bell Mexican Pizza, in all its glorious, yet disgraceful simplicity.


Taco Bell canceled the Mexican Pizza. It's a huge disappointment. It isn't gourmet cuisine, but these things were affordable and got me through the second half of the 90s and the early 2000s, until I could afford better. I had to get one more for the memories. I guess I should probably work on a home recipe. They aren't complicated.

Friday, September 11, 2020

9/11 and Evil

Meme shamelessly stolen from the internet.

It's September 11th, and once again there are people who, rather than marking the tragedy and loss of life of the attacks in 2001, take the opportunity to denounce the flaws of American society. The claim is that the United States is a fundamentally evil country, and that the only way to discuss it is in terms of the things that have gone wrong with it, or the evils that have occurred in its history. This, of course, is meant to imply that the 9/11 attackers were morally correct, and that the people who died deserved it.

It is important to not deceive yourself that American society is 100% good, but if you believe the only way to consider it is to think of the bad things, then you do not understand the history of the United States, nor yourself. Thinking that way does not make you a good person. It really means that deep down inside you are a negative person.

There is also intellectual folly in thinking that other cultures are morally superior, especially if history paints them as victims of American culture. There are no cultures that are exempt from evils that can be identified in their history. If you are not aware of that, then you need to read more. The most dangerous people are not those who have read little, nor is it those who have read much. It's the in between people, who have read only a moderate amount, or avoided reading sources they suspect they will disagree with. An in between knowledge of history is worse than no knowledge of history.

We make our society better by thinking critically about it, yes, in the sense of critique, but critique also includes positive observations. Positivity includes celebration of successes and appreciation of opportunities. Everyone knows positive thinking is the key to improvement. Countless successful people have said it and published it in countless autobiographies and other commentaries. If you've gotten anywhere in life, you should know that only happened because you were thinking and acting positively and proactively. So why are you still thinking negatively about history? Fixation on complaint or grievance rather than opportunity says nothing good about you to others, and it isn't good for your own happiness. In my opinion, the perpetuation of historical grievance is one of the greatest evils. Stop doing it.

People who insist on speaking and writing only in a negative way about American history (or any other culture), deep down, are unbalanced, and are prone not to fighting evil, but to committing acts of evil in the attempt to settle old wrongs for which there are no living victims. We see this manifested in the streets of American cities right now. Having known many such people, I kind of get the feeling that they know this about themselves. That's why they think the way they think. I dislike calling people evil and prefer instead to say that actions are evil. But if you keep doing it over and over again, and that defines your world view? Evil is as evil does.

Habits

 

The San Francisco Peaks, Arizona, in a haze of smoke from burning California forests.

Over the last 20 years I have occasionally ordered things online, but in the era of COVID-19, I think I have to admit to myself that it's become something of an addiction. This dovetails with disposable income. It reminds me of a couple of lines from a Faith No More song:

Sense of security

My pockets jingling

Midlife crisis

I think my midlife crisis already came and went early but I find myself wondering what I'm doing ordering yet more stuff. I have disposable income but it's not like I'm wealthy. Probably I should stop ordering so much stuff. Still, at least half of it is books, and my value system supports that, and at least they don't take up that much space.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Overuse: Chaos in the National Forests

This was the best view of the Canyon of the West Fork of Oak Creek that I could get to easily via bicycle. In the distance are the Black Hills or possibly the Bradshaw Mountains. There was a spot with a sweeping vista from a cliff but a group had setup an elaborate camp all along it and I didn't feel comfortable approaching. Some people are unfriendly about such situations, especially in the particularly remote part of the forest along the canyon. Only the hardiest campers seeking solitude would have driven that far back into the forest.

I used to want more people to utilize public lands and enjoy the outdoors because I thought it was a generally beneficial thing for public welfare and would recruit new advocates for land preservation. I don't think that anymore. One of the things that changed is the population of the country, especially in the western United States, where there are now many more people than when I formed that opinion. It's a question of proportionality. There are too many people for the uses that are available.

I went for a mountain bike ride on what I hoped would have been a reasonably quiet road to find a view of the nearby canyon of the West Fork of Oak Creek, along the Mogollon Rim, in Coconino National Forest. What I found instead were many huge encampments with hundreds of vehicles, and I presume thousands of people. The main road, despite being a narrow, gravel forest road, featured traffic to rival two lane state highways.

Under current law, everyone has a right to be there. In some areas the US Forest Service limits access with a permit system, but I think some uses should be banned first. In particular, the all terrain vehicles are a problem. What I observed was drivers of "dune buggy" type ATVs racing back and forth on the main gravel road. At first I thought they were on their way to and from the more rugged side roads, but soon it became clear they were simply doing laps on the smoothest, fastest road available. Most had no interest in the side "jeep" roads. I know this because I eventually headed down the intended spur that goes along the canyon, and the ATVs all but disappeared. People own those things specifically for racing along high quality gravel roads.

This is incompatible with almost every other conceivable use for National Forests. The vehicles violate the speed limit, and this is obviously the primary intent of the drivers. They are a hazard to other types of vehicles who use the roads as transportation routes to come and go from destinations, they present extreme hazards to pedestrians and wildlife, make a disproportionate noise compared to other vehicles, and seem to have little or no pollution control devices. You can tell from the smell of the exhaust. They also contribute to erosion and increase silty runoff into streams. The drivers are also a hazard to themselves. Flagstaff Medical Center reported the busiest trauma weekend in the history of the organization and physicians attributed it to ATVs. This uses up first responder time and resources and takes up the resources of medical facilities in the midst of a pandemic.

The drivers also seem to have bad judgment if they are afraid to go on the more rugged side roads, which is a use for an ATV that I can appreciate. They seem to not realize that racing fast on loose gravel is probably equally or more dangerous than riding a rough road, and indeed there are accidents. All this occurs on roads with a 30 mile per hour speed limit.

Since ATV drivers seem to not be responsible users of the national forests, I'd like to see ATVs banned from most forest roads and possibly banned completely from all US Forest Service property. They can go on Bureau of Land Management lands or private property instead.

Other irresponsible behaviors I saw: a guy walking around in tall, dry grass, smoking a cigarette, people playing extremely loud music, and evidence of littering.

Unfortunately it was unusually hot last weekend and it's apparent that many people who camp in the high country simply want to be outdoors without burning alive, so they have taken up camping. But they aren't in the forest for its natural beauty, hunting resources, bird watching, or other outdoor activities  They are merely there to setup an outdoor party location where it isn't too hot. I think it has been established that this type of use has been increased by the COVID-19 crisis.

I don't entirely blame people for wanting to get away from 115 degree urban areas, but I also saw large groups of people sitting and standing close together and not using masks. If there is a breeze, this may be ok, but in still air it is as dangerous as being indoors in a crowd without a mask. Many of the groups (and vehicles) were blasting loud music. I also wonder about disposal of human waste. This type of dispersed camping use is completely legal and should be, though the loud music is uncalled for. But I find myself in despair over behavior that shows a lack of education and a general disregard for the solitude of the forest.

There are too many tyros in the national forests this year. I pray things improve in the near future, but considering the unending growth of the population of North America, my expectations are low.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Omelet



This is the best "filled" type omelet that I've ever prepared. I still didn't have the courage to flip it in the air but I managed to get it to hold together.

The filling is a mango pico de gallo that I picked up from Safeway (sautéed).

white onion

tomato

green pepper (mild)

mango

salt

black pepper

cayenne powder

vegetable oil

cooking spray

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Autumn

Aspen Loop, San Francisco Peaks. October 2019.


One of the good things about living in the high country is that we have four definitive seasons. In the hot parts of Arizona, they have the moderate season, and then the season when being outdoors too long means death.

I'm always torn about it though, because spring, fall, and summer are always happy, comfortable times when the vast forests and prairies can be enjoyed. Winter is a little more oppressive. I snowboard to keep me from falling into a gloom that can arise from being stuck indoors with short days, but it isn't the same. If I want to get outside the way I like, I have to drive at least 45 minutes or so out to the desert. But at least I have that option.

We are approaching Autumn, which is beautiful in Flagstaff. The aspens change to gold and reddish-gold, and the other deciduous species in the canyons and ravines change to a variety of colors. It's a bittersweet season though, since it is the harbinger of cold, short days, and deep snows.

But I still look forward to enjoying it while it is here. Especially since it is hot today.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

September

It's very windy today and this was nearly the only leaf to hold still long enough for a photo. Small flocks of leaves where swept back and forth on the street and into corners therefore to swirl about in small cyclonic patters.

The year keeps flying by even though at times it has seemed the longest year in history. And now we have reached the end of summer. It is a time for planning for the winter. My plans are about half completed.

In the meantime, I'm very busy with work.

I look forward to the leaves changing. The mornings are already brisk and the days noticeably shorter.

Earth, Wind & Fire - September