Living Alone - Being Alone

People behave differently when alone, with someone else, or in groups.

We see quite a few people who go camping by themselves.   At first, this seemed odd to us, but then again, there are quite a lot of people who live alone in this country.  We have friends and acquaintances who live alone, by choice or circumstance, and it is interesting to see how behavior patterns change.

Even if you are in a relationship, if you are off by yourself, your behavior changes.  I notice this on the rare (very rare, these days) occasion that I go off to the big-box store by myself, or if we split off to do separate shopping at Walmart to save time.   Our actions are different.  I often say that Mr. See is the other half of my brain, and it seems to be the case for both of us.   It takes two of us just to drive the parade float (the King Ranch) as it is hard to see out of and is 19 feet long.  But beyond that, as you get older, it gets harder and harder to do things, like drive, and it helps to have a second set of eyes on things.

But circumstance often pushes people to live alone.  A spouse dies, for example, and you end up single again - a jarring event for someone used to living with a spouse for, say, 34 years, as in our case.   Living on retirement island, we see this happen to the leftover spouse, and often how they struggle, financially and emotionally, when their partner dies.  We agree that the lucky one is the one who dies first, not the one who has to do the messy work of settling estates and trying to redefine their lives.

For some, finding a new mate is the answer - and often men are the weaker sex in this regard, remarrying more often than women do.  Then again,with the ratio of men to women in the elderly set being what it is, it is harder for women to find a new man than vice-versa.   Widows were bringing casseroles to my Dad at my Mother's funeral.  Widows learn early on that waiting a "respectful period" allows another widow to insinuate herself with the widower.

But others choose a life of solitude as a lifestyle choice.  We have some friends who live alone and prefer to live alone.  Maybe they go out on a date on occasion, but in terms of a relationship, they want none of it.   They are OK with having sex with someone, but not sharing a toothbrush!   There is nothing wrong with that, of course, if it is what one prefers in life.  We all make different choices.  We notice that people who live alone, however, place a lot more value in friendships and have more friends and social activities.   Perhaps that is the trade-off - a relationship or marriage takes up so much of your social time that you have less time for your buddies - as many a new husband is loathe to discover.

I find that when I am by myself, I am more inclined to engage others and chat more.   When I am with Mark, we spend more time talking to each other and are less inclined to engage with strangers.   In hindsight, this seems pretty obvious.  I guess your brain has a certain capacity for social engagement, and when starved for it, seeks it out, and when full, eschews more.

The corollary to this is when you are in a group.  In a group, as opposed to being alone or with one other, one tends to get louder and more boisterous, more self-confident.  The group provides positive feedback to the individual.  Lone individuals are less outgoing, and thus viewed by the group as weak or defective.  And I think this is one reason why groups of people are more likely to bully individuals.

I am not sure what made me think of this, other than we saw a nice man camping in a hammock-tent (that you string between trees - sounds cold!) by himself.  He went hiking by himself (a problem if you twist your ankle five miles from nowhere) and prepared his meals and sat and read by himself.  Perhaps he valued the solitude, living in some noisy city the rest of the time.   Weirder still, we heard him mention to another camper that he was married - and left the spouse at home to go camping solo.

That's something we've heard more than once, and it puzzles us.  To have a spouse and not enjoy the same activities together?  But then again, we see this all the time at home - each house you walk by having two flickering lights at each end - televisions.   He watched Fox News and gets angry, while she watches home improvement shows and gets depressed.  (Thanks to a reader for that link to another Ray Bradbury story that seems eerily prescient).  People living together but living alone.

Now granted, sometimes being alone can be fun - you feel unrestricted by the actions of a partner or other.  Want to go through the drive-through at Micky-D's?  No one is stopping you - even though they probably should.   That's the problem with alone behavior - it leads to more alone-ness.   When you do whatever you want, you become less appealing to others.  Not only that, once you get used to the idea of doing what you want, when you want, the idea of a partner or spouse seems chafing and restricting.

It's nice to be off the leash once in a while.  On the other hand, it is nice to have someone on the other end of that leash, most of the time.

The Mouse Who Rode Shotgun

Pin on Wish List WDCC
It's getting colder and critters are looking for warm places to winter over, such as your house or car.

Mark saw it first - working in food service, he has a keen eye.  Small black dashes that I thought at first were pine needles.  But it was mouse poop, and once you get over the "Eeeew!" factor, you get out the Clorox wipes and clean everything.   We made an outdoor kitchen for the back of the truck that was bear-proof, but not mouse-proof.   Back to the drawing board.

This is not the first time we've had a camping experience with mice.   Once in Vermont, I felt something run across me while I slept.   I thought I was dreaming, but got up and snapped on the light, and there in the middle of the floor was a field mouse, looking very confused.  They have great night vision, so when you turn the light on, they are blinded, temporarily.  Before I could stomp him (in my bare feet?  Ugh!) he ran around.  Mark opened the door and he went out.

Back when we had two houses and six cars (what were we thinking?) we were well aware of the mice problem with cars.  They love to live in cars and gnaw through the wiring harness - at the most inconvenient location - and cost thousands of dollars in damage.  We caught it in time - one of the E36 cabrios had a little gnaw-through which I was able to fix with solder, shrink-tubing, and some liquid electrical tape.  They made a nest in the air filter box, gnawing the air filter for some nesting materials.

Mouse poison works best - you scatter the little bags around and they eat it and it does horrible things to them.  They usually come out of hiding as they die.  Kind of mean, I guess, but traps have a mixed record of success.  We tried the sticky glue traps, and all they did was provide evidence of mice being present (little footprints in the glue).   The classic "mouse trap" works sometimes, and sometimes they just "steal the cheese".   I found rat traps worked better - the cut the mouse in half, which is kind of gross.  But the poison bags - that worked the best.  If you have a car, RV, motorcycle, or boat in storage, you have to scatter around some poison bags.

Don't break them open, however, or your dog or cat might eat the poison - with tragic results.

Like I said, we suspected mice in the back of the truck.  But what about the engine?  I opened the hood and was shocked to see a mouse, standing on top of the coolant expansion tank, staring at me.   I tried to swat him, and he ran away.  We tried flushing the engine compartment with cold water from a hose connected to our outdoor shower.  Then we tried hot water - the mouse thanked us for the Swedish spa treatment.

We got on the road and ran the truck up to 70 mph - hoping the breeze would blow him out.  We stopped and I opened the hood, and there he was sitting, as if to say, "That was so cool!  Do it again!"  He ran down the side of the engine compartment and down into the fender.  When we got back, I blasted the inside of the fender with hot water - I am not sure if it deterred him much.

We put a sticky trap in front of the radiator with a pistachio nut in the middle of it.  This morning, there was footprints in the sticky, along with a tiny note thanking us for the snack.  So back off to the hardware store

Up here in the Adirondacks, we found the traditional spring traps at the local hardware store.   We also found glue traps - they didn't work as I noted.  We've baited the spring traps with pistachios on some and chunky peanut butter on others.   We'll have to see if our shotgun rider is still around tomorrow or not.

Either way, we're getting some poison bags.  And when we get back, I'm fixing the outdoor kitchen so there are no gaps in the lid!

Camping with nature - what's not to like?   

Leaf Peepers

It's that time of year again - and this year will be a good one.

First of all, I hate the term "leaf peepers" as it sounds like more of that baby-talk that permeates our society.   I guess also it was a term my late father liked - and liked to use just a little too often.  But you'll be hearing it a lot in the coming days as this year looks - so far - to be a good one for fall foliage.

We've had a series of cold nights, but not freezing - except last night, when the temperature dropped to 30 degrees just before dawn.  I am no botanist (and neither is Leo Buscaglia) but as I recall, if you have a series of successively colder nights, you get more spectacular fall colors.  The reds have come out first, followed by yellows and now oranges.  It seems you can see the colors actually change through the day - we kayak by one place and it is green, and come back in an hour and some trees are turning red, burgundy or even pink.

I recall living in Central New York that during some years, we would get a "hard freeze" in the early fall, and everything would turn brown and the leaves all fall off at once, turning into a brown mush.  Usually a sign of a shitty winter to come, too.   So the fall foliage thing isn't guaranteed, and when you get a good one, well, be grateful.

But of course, I hate to say that, as it will bring out the "peepers" in droves, and they annoy the locals (even more than I do) with their slow driving - gawking at each new vista of color.  Of course, just about everyone up here makes their living, directly or indirectly, from the tourist business - although none would admit it.  "I just run a gas station!" one cries, not realizing that half his business is tourists and the other half, people who work in the tourism industry.   There is a love-hate relationship with tourists, as evidenced by the bumper sticker you see in Maine - "Welcome to Maine - Now Go Home!"

Pray tell, why do they put "Vacationland" on their license plates?  Mainers - sheesh!

I noted before in an earlier posting that the difference between the New York and Vermont sides of Lake Champlain.  Vermont gets it - New York doesn't.   Vermont is full of quaint towns with little cutesy shops.  Picturesque farms dot the landscape.  On the New York side is "don't look out the side windows" of your car because all you'll see is failed dreams, unpainted oriented strand board, junked cars and marginal businesses.  Oh, and plenty of Trump signs.  We wonder exactly how people living in a dilapidated trailer are making out with Trump - did the "trickle down" tax cuts allow them to buy that new inflatable swimming pool in the front yard?  You know the one that is green with algae.  But I digress.

Anyway, it looks to be a good leaf season. My suggestion is to go to Vermont and stay at a B&B, as camping in a tent in New York in 30 degree weather will get old, fast. Sadly, with CoVid, it is a little harder to get to Vermont than New York - you must be a "resident" of one of the "good" States (i.e., Democratic governor) to be allowed in.

Dogs & Dogloos

Dogs are man's best friend.  So why would anyone put their dog in a dogloo? And what ever happened to those, anyway?

One great thing about camping is you can bring your dog with you.  You can bring your cat, too, but it isn't quite the same thing.  We've seen people do it, though.  One enterprising fellow we met cut a hole in the floor of his motorhome, from inside a small cabinet, connecting to a "basement" storage compartment.   They put a wire mesh cover behind the compartment door, so when they parked, they could open the door and the cats could then jump down to the lower compartment and look outside, right next to where their owners were sitting.   Close the cabinet door, and they can't get back into the camper - and jump out the front door, as cats are wont to do - and run away.  It was also a handy place to put the litter box as well.

We had three cats and they were nice companions.  But whenever we think about getting a cat, those two words come back to haunt us - "litter box".   I love cats - other people's cats.  It is always nice to pet them, but after doing so, I find myself covered in cat hair and having a mild allergic reaction and then I remember about the reality of cats.   Fur everywhere!  And that cat smell - like urine or something - that permeates a cat-owners house (it is urine, I think - cats love to "mark their territory").

So for now, I am content to pet someone else's cat.  Maybe if I am older, I will adopt an older cat from the shelter.  We saw one once, a huge orange tabby, that was 18 years old and his owner had died.  I said to Mark - "That's the ideal cat - maybe a 2-3 year commitment, tops!"  We've had cats live as long as 22 years, but that is not really the norm.

Dogs are the same deal - we love dogs and we love other people's dogs which is why we dog-sit on occasion to get our dog fix.  We spoil the dog, of course.  Dogs can be wonderful or awful, depending on the breed, the breeding, the training, and the owner.    I think a lot of people get a dog after seeing someone with a well-bred and well-trained dog, who follows the owner's every command, even clicks and whistles.  People think, "Wow, that would be cool to have a companion dog like that!" and they go out and buy one from a puppy mill and are disappointed when it turns out to be a spastic monster than poops on the floor and eats the sofa.

Why are some dogs like that?  Well, dogs are pack animals, and they want to be with the pack at all times.  Most people have "jobs" and leave the house for ten hours a day or more.  If they are like typical Americans and eat out five nights a week, that's even more time alone.   Left alone, dogs lose their minds, over time and start acting out.

Making things even worse is that some breeds of dogs are just spastic to begin with.  You remember when "Frazier" came out and they had this adorable Jack Russell Terrier on the show - professionally trained, of course.  So every Yuppie in the world went out and bought one and then dumped them in the shelter when they turned out to be outright monsters.

The problem is not only the breed, but most people don't have the time or inclination to train their dog, and breeds like a Jack Russell need professional training.  We had a Lab/Chow mix, Maggie, we adopted as a puppy from the shelter - not realizing that Chows are very disturbed dogs to begin with - and took her to a professional trainer to train both us and her.   After a few basic lessons, the trainer said, "I can keep taking your money, but the truth is, this dog will always be a challenge to you, as she wants to be Alpha dog."  It was good advice, and while she was indeed a challenge at times, she was a good companion.   Her behavior improved dramatically when I started taking her to my office (and later when I worked at home).  Funny thing - pack animals want to be part of the pack!

I know I rag a lot on so-called "homeless" people (professional beggars and thieves who are fueling their drug habit).  The idea of homeless people with pets is absurd - you can't afford to take care of yourself, you want a pet?  And pets cost a lot more than you think!   But oddly enough, since they are with their dogs 24/7, often these bums have very well trained dogs.  We saw one homeless girl in New Orleans who had trained her dog to jump up and ride on her backpack, which no doubt was a good deal for the dog (which looked to weigh about 40 pounds).   "Being with" is what dogs want the most, and when you leave a dog alone, they can slowly lose their minds.

I always hoped Maggie would grow out of the spastic stage - always pulling on the leash, always wanting to chase a squirrel - and become this mellowed-out older dog that just laid by the warm fireplace and farted occasionally - like an old Labrador (or indeed, like some older husbands).  And she did mellow out - in the last few months of her life.   Many dogs are like that, which is why dogs don't live very long - their metabolism is easily double ours - they burn the candle at both ends.

But again, there are breeds, and then there is breeding.   And a spastic breed of dog, poorly inbred by a puppy mill is an even bigger nightmare.   We never had that problem with Ginger, our greyhound.  Racing greyhounds have their genealogy mapped back ten years, and indeed, you can look them up on line, along with their racing history.  Greyhounds can be spastic monsters too - dogs have personalities just like humans.  In the dog world, there is no doubt a dog Hitler and a dog Trump - along with a dog Ghandi.   Ginger was more of the latter.

Caution: This video may make you cry. Mark hasn't been able to watch it all the way through, yet.

She had the breed and breeding, and the temperament, and of course, was strictly trained for the first three years of her life.  When we adopted her, she was all-too-happy to just go with the flow, for the most part, other than the incessant need to run as fast as possible for about two or three minutes every day - whether you wanted her to or not.  Sometimes, this racing alarm would go off in the house, and you just had to wait it out.  Dogs gotta run - greyhounds especially.

But even with a dog as nice as Ginger, dog ownership presents difficulties and limitations on your life.   You can't leave them in the car, but they want to go with you every time you leave the house.  If you want to go off for the day, you have to figure out who is going to let the dog out and feed it.  If you want to go away for a week, you have to find a dog-sitter or pay enormous sums for boarding - the latter of which is little more than dog jail.   Owning a pet places limits on your behavior - you constantly have to think about the dog in your daily plans.

When camping, this seems like less of a problem, but not really.  Most campgrounds have very strict rules - no leaving dogs in your camper all day (where they bark, bark, bark, because of separation anxiety - they want to "be with") and you can't leave them tied up outside either.  Both will get you thrown out of the campground.   And of course you have to feed and walk the dog - the latter multiple times a day.  Granted, it is good exercise, but it may prevent you from doing other things - like spending three hours in the kayak, for example.

Of course, with Ginger, we could leave her in the camper with no problems.  Greyhounds are used to being kenneled and she loved her "nest" and of course, rarely, if ever, barked.  Note that AKC greyhounds are a totally different animal (pardon the pun) and are usually as spastic and unruly as a Lab-mix puppy.

Speaking of mixes - adopting a dog these days is fraught with problems.  Unfortunately, as bad as the puppy-mill breeders are, the dogs that end up in shelters are often far worse.  They are "bred" by ignorant rednecks or inner-city types who want a "tough dog" either to guard their pathetic pile of possessions, or to actually engage in dog-fighting.  This is particularly true in recent years.  As a result, the shelters are full of "fighting breeds" and various haphazard mixes thereof - pit bulls and so forth.  People say "It isn't the breed!  you shouldn't judge!" but pit bulls were bred to fight to the death in a pit and have been known to kill people.  It is in the breeding - they are like a machine programmed to kill.

This is not to say the pit bull mix you adopt from the shelter is going to eat your baby - necessarily - only that it may be very unruly and hard to train, and likely go after the neighbor's cat.

Given all that, we aren't chomping at the bit to get another dog.  When Ginger died, everyone said, "get another dog" as if you could replace them like appliances.  It is like when your spouse dies, do you go out shopping for a new one?  Well, I guess my Dad did, and it was probably a good thing, as left to his own devices, he would have gotten himself into trouble.   The evil stepmother did keep him on the rails, and yes, she was an Alpha dog in that relationship.  But I digress.

We will be content to dog-sit for friends or admire other dogs from afar, or pat on the head a nice dog that we meet while out on a walk.  Getting a pet that may live 10-20 years seems a little irresponsible when you may have fewer than that many years left to live.  Oh, right, that.  We see a lot of elderly people getting dogs - even puppies - or cats, without doing the math on the life expectancy of the dog versus their own.  As a result, when the owner dies, someone has the messy job of finding a new home for the pets, or the heartbreaking job of taking them to the shelter.  When Mark's stepmother died, we were fortunate that a neighbor quickly re-homed her two Siamese cats - one of which was only a year or two old.  You have to wonder what she was thinking at her age - if she thought at all - about what would happen to her cats when the inevitable happened, and being 150 pounds overweight and on dialysis, she should have known what the inevitable comprises.  But again, Americans think death is some weird anomaly that happens to other people - like this virus thing - and not an inevitability that happens to us all.

My second topic is Dogloos, which British readers may think is some sort of dog bathroom or cottage.   Back in the 1980's, I think, we saw these at the big-box stores.  They are a triumph of packaging over practicality.  They are an igloo-shaped "doghouse" that comes apart and can be stacked for easy shipment.  When they first came out, we saw them in everyone's cart at the wholesale club.  And later on, we saw them at the curb.   Turns out, most dogs don't like doghouses - the house they want to be in is yours.   The idea of leaving your dog chained-up outside with a doghouse is very retrograde.   Even back in the day, when you'd build a doghouse with your Dad as a Boy Scout project (well, maybe you did, my Dad wanted nothing to do with that) the dog generally would ignore it, or like Snoopy, sleep on top of it.

I recounted before how I went to a friend's house in rural Michigan.  They had a beautiful German Shepard chained up - padlocked - to an old engine block, next to a dilapidated dog house.  The dog never came inside or went for walks.  He just ran in a circle defined by the chain, stripping the grass clean to bare dirt, and dragging his own desiccated poops and dog dishes with him.   He smelled to high heaven.   I felt sorry for the dog, and in retrospect, I should have taken this as a sign to find new friends, but drugs make you do weird things.

So to me, the whole concept of "dog houses" is flawed, and the "Dogloo" even moreso.  It provides scant shelter for a dog, even with the optional clear plastic "door" they sell for them.   Yet they still sell them today, but we see less and less of them in shopping carts or parked in front of trailer homes.

When people get a dog, they often feel the need to go out and spend inordinate sums of money on accessories.  Often a lot of this stuff is overpriced junk.   For example, greyhounds, like most larger breeds, prefer an elevated food dish.  The pet store wants $40 for such a thing.  Walmart has a metal plant stand for $7.99 that does the same thing.   But pet supply stores - and websites - abound, and they make a lot of money off the guilt of pet owners, who buy a lot of this crap, not realizing that what a dog wants most is companionship.

And oddly enough, isn't that the same reason people get dogs in the first place? For companionship?

Leave the dogloos on the shelf at the wholesale club, and spend more time with your dog.

Rainy Day Fun TIme

When you are out camping, it will likely rain on occasion.  You can give up and go home, or just go with it.

First, a note:  We are now at Durant lake and have a nice site overlooking the water.  The site itself looks like a croquet court - we could play bocce ball on it!  It is level grass with a pressure-treated border, and a new gravel driveway.  We parked the camper right up at the edge of the border, and you step out onto virgin lawn.  That is the nature of camping, though - some days are great, others, less so.

So far it is pretty quiet, but I was woken up to the sound of NPR's "Morning Edition" being cranked through the hatchback of a neighbor's Prius.   Two old hippies - must be deaf.   And they are 50 yards away, too.   Funny thing, though, even though you can't make out the words, you can tell it is morning edition.  It is like when someone is playing Rush Limbaugh, you can tell who it is, even if you can't make out the words- "wah, wah, wah, Hillary Clinton, wah, wah, wah".   Similarly, you can tell a Fox News broadcast just from the panic in the announcer's voices - no need to make out the actual story.

It is drizzling out this morning, and when that happens, I usually build an enormous fire and make a huge pot of hot coffee.  Particularly when you are camping with friends in tents, you have to do this.  They wake up in the morning, cold and damp, and it is grey and drizzling out.  Everything they own is wet.   At that point, a lot of people give up, throw all their wet stuff in their car and go home.   But of course, two hours later, the sun is out and it is a nice day for a hike.   So to counteract this, I get a big fire going and make "toast hole" - frying slices of bread in butter and then cutting a hole in the middle with a discarded shot glass from the night before and frying an egg in the hole.

Warming and drying by the fire, a hot cup of coffee and a toast hole, and it can change your mood.  It is sort of like drying off a wet cat.

What does this have to do with anything?   Beats me, other than it illustrates how your attitude can change your outlook on life, and your attitude is affected by your environment.   The shivering hippies in the tent, listening to gloom-and-doom on NPR this morning are no doubt not very cheerful on this grey, cold morning.   The fellow listening to Fox News (or worse yet, watching it) is probably ready to commit seppeku.

CoVid Campers - Part II

Sure as shit, we run into them...

I wrote a piece about RV Etiquette for CoVid Campers as a primer for newbies to the RV scene.  When you go camping, unless you are backpacking into the wilderness, you are not alone, but not more than a few yards from your neighbors, who came to the country to see nature, experience the stars, maybe see wildlife, and enjoy peace and quiet.  They didn't come to hear your Pandora channel, your generator, your barking dogs, and the moronic things you say that pass for conversation.

But it seems that the sorts of folks who love to go on cruises or think Disney World is high art, are now deciding to go camping - as it is the only outlet available to them.  Hopefully, this time next year, they will go back to whatever it is they did before - in fact, I strongly suspect they will.

We were parked near a pristine mountain lake and looking forward to several days of hiking, kayaking, and enjoying nature.  We did all three for two days, and then they came.  Two Karens and two Kevins - in a rented trailer that a friend dragged in for them.  They were nervous and self-conscious the whole time - after all, this was only something they were stooping to do, because of the virus.  So they acted all ignorant about everything, and their friend who towed in the camper had to do all the work for them.

It got cold, so they turned on the furnace - not realizing that the furnaces in RV's will suck both tanks dry within a day.  So they bother their friend to go buy propane - because hooking up those tanks and all is too complicated!  And like so many people today in our cargo cult society, they act as if actually knowing something is beneath them.    Karen #1 likes to take hot showers - long ones.  Kevin #2 uses a lot of toilet paper and flushes constantly.  So, after two days, their poor friend is dragooned into dumping their shit (literally) in a portable tank for them - and re-filling the water tank, again and again.   It's sort of like staying in a hotel - when you have a friend who will do all the heavy lifting for you.  I wonder, however, if he had second thoughts about the whole deal right about then.

Whether the trailer had a bad battery (it wasn't that old) or whether they were using an inverter to run a television, it seemed they were constantly starved for power.  They ran the generator during the generator hours - down to the minute - as if the hours given were mandatory for generator use.   And of course, they had the cheapest piece-of-shit lawnmower-engine generator that someone bought at the Tractor Wholesale Lumberteria, because it was cheap.   Sitting by a peaceful lake, watching the sunset and having to scream at the top of your lungs to be heard by someone sitting mere feet from you.   We didn't understand why they would want to do this.

Weirder still, you would think they would look around and see no one else was doing it, either.   They were the only "generator people" in the whole park.   Most folks have that herd instinct, so you would think.... 

And the dogs.  Two yippy-yappy high-strung pieces of shit that barked and yipped every time a leaf fell from a tree, and an unruly Labrador that lunged and barked at every passing pedestrian and dog. Hmmmm.... pets and their owners.  The owners are unruly and loud, the dogs follow suit.  Pets can sense insecurity in their owners and act out accordingly.

And loud?   When you are 50 yards away from someone and you can hear every detail of their conversation, yea, that's loud.  And that's how I know they didn't know what the heck they were doing and how they felt about camping - something beneath them, because they were better than the rest of us.  I guess it is insecurity that drives that sort of thing.

Fortunately, we spent most of the time there on the lake.  We packed a picnic lunch and spend the day slowly paddling around a pristine lake, stopping for a picnic or to go ashore here and there in the wilds.   It was a glorious way to spend the day.

The CoVid campers?   Well, their friend dropped off four kayaks for them, and they never used any of them.  "Too hard!"  "Too cold!"  "Too wet!"  - the Karens said.   Instead, they constantly drove into town to eat and go shopping - two "vacation" activities" they were familiar with.   As I noted before, poor people (and stupid people) drive all over hell's half acre, because driving makes them feel important and it kills time.   It is also a sign of laziness.  Yes, Karen #1, after she filled the grey water tank with her long showers, drove to the bathhouse to take a shower there.   It was less than a tenth of a mile.   And yes, she had an ass a mile wide, too.  They all did.   Typical Americans - and we wonder why the rest of the world hate us - that carefully nurtured sense of entitlement.

Unfortunately, New York State is only accepting campers with reservations, so we had reserved this site for five days.   It was the only site available for all five days in a row.   In retrospect, it would have been better to park for two days in one site, and then three days in another.  Unfortunately, we couldn't move to a new site, due to CoVid rules - someone might reserve that site and we would be on it - the campground manager couldn't move people around, on a whim, either.  The only other alternative would be to make a new reservation and move to that new site.    But that would mean throwing away $75 worth of reservation for the old site.

You can't change other people - but you can change what you do.  Lesson learned.   Hopefully, we won't see a repeat of this sort of thing, but it does happen, on occasion.   And when you are RVing or camping, you have to take the good with the bad.   Once in a while, you are camped by a pristine mountain lake, with no one around, or on a beach without crowds of people.   It doesn't happen often, but when it does - well, I guess it is a perfect Skinner box, with the rewards becoming more and more intermittent as time goes on.

Sadly, it seems the world is more and more full of Kevins and Karens - pushy people who take what they want, but are utterly clueless about life.  Whether they are basement Nazis or "Antifas" who want free money, or noxious Trumpsters, it seems we have a larger and larger group of people who only care about "what's in it for me?" and screw the rest of the world, the rest of the country, their fellow man, and the future generations.

OK, well, that was a bit dramatic.   But it just puzzles me why people can be so inconsiderate and lazy.   Well, maybe not so puzzling - it is part and parcel of human nature.   You have to seek out the good people and hold them close to you - and ignore the rest.

Has the Gay Rights Movement Been Co-Opted?

Back in the day, all we were fighting for was the right to be left the hell alone.   Today, a whole posse of hangers-on have attached themselves to the gay rights cause and want not to be left the hell alone, but to force Americans to accept them.  Why and when did this happen?

I recalled before how when I was President of the Gay Student Association back in the 1980's, we had a "social" every Tuesday night, and had a bar where we served beer.  Everyone had a good time and it was a lot of fun.  I went back, 20 years later, and the building had been transformed into the Lesbian, Gay, Trangender, & Queer Studies Program, and saw a bunch of people sitting around talking, deadly seriously, about what should have been a lot of fun - or at least what was.   A lot of gay, but not a lot of happy.

They have studies in "Queer theory" and act like it is a serious academic study that can lead to useful employment down the road.   I doubt it, unless we create fake jobs for such graduates by forcing companies to have a "Queer compliance office" or some such.  But those are not real jobs, nor are they a productive use of a life.

As I noted before, we changed the name to the "Gay & Lesbian Student Association" because the Lesbians accused us of excluding them, because they weren't "gay" but "lesbian".  That morphed into the "Lesbian & Gay Student Alliance" because they said we beastly men were taking advantage of them by listing ourselves first.  And you wonder why the left has so much trouble making progress on anything.  Left to their own devices (sorry, pun) they self-destruct.

Of course, re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic didn't accomplish much - the Lesbians still refused to come to our socials, free beer or not (and given how cheap Lesbians are, you would think....)   We were different groups of people and had little or nothing in common, and what's more there was an animosity between the groups.  There were some man-hating lesbians, to be sure, and there were gays who detested lesbians as well.  It is like the rift between hispanics and blacks - a grand canyon of a divide, actually.

But of course, it didn't end there - other letters started to be added to the alphabet. There were the bisexuals, the "queers" (which I still don't quite understand what that encompasses) and now transgender people.   Again, these are all disparate groups of people who have little or nothing in common.

What's worse is that some of these groups want things that others object to or don't care about.  Gay marriage was never a hot button issue with me - most of the rights of marriage can be contracted for with wills, beneficiary designations, powers of attorney, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, and so on.  Sure, it would be nice to have the option of Social Security survivors' benefits - and the tax consequences of an IRA for unmarried people can be severe (paying taxes on the entire amount, all at once,which means you lose 1/3 or more right up front).  But I always felt that pushing an agenda into other people's faces was asking for trouble.

Then came the lesbians and their damn wedding cakes. In a number of celebrated cases some lesbians sought out Christian bakers or wedding photographers or florists, in order to "force" them to cater to their wedding, in order to create a court case and piss everyone off.   Mission accomplished.  These Christian wedding service providers - like some town clerks who refused to issue marriage licenses - were all-too-happy to martyr themselves for the "cause" - and make a little money on the side as Christian talk-show fodder and go-fund-me recipients.

Somewhere along the way, we went from an agenda of being left the hell alone to an agenda of in your face, motherfucker, and if you don't like it, I'm suing!

Then came the transgender thing. This has become a style fad, which is dangerous.   Parents in trendy coastal cities are allowing their children to choose their gender because it is the kicky new thing to do, and makes them special snowflakes and the darling of cocktail party conversation.   The poor kids have no idea what is going on, as most kids don't, at age 5 or so.

What's more, some folks are asking - no, demanding - that they be called by a particular pronoun, and if you don't say the right word, you get sued.   One "person" sued Nike for a million bucks because they called him/her by the wrong pronoun. A teacher is fired for calling a student by the wrong pronoun - which the Principal says is a fate worse than death!

This is just insanity.

And speaking of insanity, there seems to be a lot of it in the transgender world, which leads credence to the idea that "gender dysphoria" may be a mental illness and not a mistake by God in handing out the genitals.  The poster-person for the transgender movement is former Pvt. Bradly Manning, who betrayed his country by handing over a trove of secret documents to the Russians - many of which were used against Hillary Clinton in the last election.  Gee, thanks, pal!

Manning is clearly unhinged.  When asked to testify about the case, he refused, arguing that since he already testified about the matter, it was unnecessary. Years in jail for contempt of court, over nothing, other than to nail one's self to the cross to become a martyr.  They're calling Manning a "transgender hero" - but if that's a hero, I'll take a pass on heroics.  Manning is a coward, plain and simple - and a traitor.  And crazy as a loon.

The weird thing is, people just assume that I support this sort of craziness because I am gay.  Sorry, but that's a whole tacked-on deal that they did - attaching themselves to our cause, as if to make their cause, ours.  No, I am not in favor of parents being forced to accept transgender kindergarten teachers for their kids, or being forced to read books about gender dysphoria.   This sort of crosses a line from education to indoctrination.  If this kid is transgender or gay or whatever, he'll know it, let me tell you.  And it is so much in the media today, they are well aware of it.

I was reading the wikipedia entry about Roy Cohn - the infamous and notorious attorney and "fixer" for sleazebag Joseph McCarthy and later on, sleazebag Donald Trump. Cohn was an odious personality, and claimed on this deathbed not to be gay.   As Roger Stone (himself a piece of work and another closeted homosexual) put it, "Roy Cohn wasn't gay, he just liked having sex with men!"

And yet that didn't stop him from getting gays fired from the government.  Nice piece of work, that Cohn.

Yet, Stone's claim - that Cohn wasn't gay, he just liked sex with men - is an interesting distinction - and perhaps a valid one. You see, most gay men (and women) are attracted sexually and emotionally to the same gender.  You can argue it is right or wrong, but it is a very powerful attraction that cannot be sublimated, in most cases.  It is not about gender identity or being "queer" - whatever the hell that is. It is not about being effeminate or masculine or wearing clothes of the opposite gender. It is not about wanting to mutilate your genitals to mimic an opposite gender.   For gays, that sort of thing makes them cringe with terror.

Yet, this "transgender" thing has been tacked on to us, whether we like it or not.  Politicans pander to the "LGBTQ community" as if we all lived in the same neighborhood and exchanged recipes over the backyard fence and shopped together at the Safeway.  Such is not the case and the word "community" is freighted with fraudulent meaning.  These "communities" that politicians talk about (or activists claim to be "organizing") are largely non-existent.

It is like this new acronym for "Black, Indigenous, and People of Color" or BIPOC.  As I noted before, blacks and hispanics have a visceral hatred of one another, and what they have in common with Indians, I do not know. Did anyone ask them before lumping them together as BIPOC people - and labeling them?  It is kind of rude to do that, without asking first.   And I can bet no one asked, and I can bet the whole thing was dreamed up by some well-meaning liberal white person who wants to "relate" to "People of Color".   By the way, doesn't "People of Color" include blacks and Indians?  It seems the label is redundant.   But maybe, like the lesbians, who didn't want to be lumped in with the gays, the blacks wanted out of this "people of color" thing as well.

Identity politics just don't work because people stubbornly refuse to cower down in their assigned cubbyholes. Bit of a problem, that.

So what's the point of all this? Well, for starters, something went horribly wrong when the gay student association stopped serving beer and became a field of study.  Sexuality should be fun, not some dreary subject taught in school or part of a made-up field of academia. It reminds me of that Monty Python sketch, where the "Sex Ed" class comprises the professor demonstrating sex to the students, live.  Since it is a required study course, the kids are bored as hell and don't pay attention. That sounds like the one sure way to take all the fun out of sex, for sure!  And it sounds to me like these LBGTQ folks are doing a good job of it.

Sex and sexuality should not be some boring field of study!

The other aspect of it, is that we are seeking out smaller and smaller groups of sexual minorities to represent as "oppressed peoples" - and quite frankly, everyone is getting sick and tired of people claiming to be oppressed all the time, in the wealthiest country in the world.  I mean, if you can't wear a dress to work, get over it.  Consider yourself lucky to have a job, three hots, a squat and a cot.  It's all I ever wanted out life - why do you get to have more?

People aren't going to like you, for one reason or another, so get over that.  You may remind them of an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend or ex-spouse. You may have the same last name of someone who bullied them in high school.  People will hate you for whatever reason, so just get used to that.  The worst thing you can do is try to pass a law forcing people to accept you.  Because not only will it not work, they will hate you twice as much as a result.

And thanks these transgender folks hitching themselves to my wagon, they will hate me as well.   Go start your own movement!  Leave ours the fuck alone.

UPDATE:  A reader sends me a link to this video, which I had forgotten about.  Seems the Pythons were decades ahead of their time!

Why Trump Will Win Again, Unfortunately

Democrats, particularly on the far-left, seem to have gone tone deaf in recent years.

There is a lot of talk about race relations in this country - and it is an important talk.  But bear in mind that white people still make up over 70% of the country.  If you want to win elections, you have to win at least a substantial portion of the white vote.   Similarly, despite all the news stories you read about how everyone is poor and out of work and homeless - they get a lot of press - the majority of people in the USA are pretty middle-class, living in the suburbs in a nice house with two or three or even four cars parked out front (one for every member of the family) and everyone having their own phone, computer, and television.   They don't consider themselves 1%'ers, even though they are in the top 1% of wealth for the planet.

But again, if you want to win elections (and sorry, Beto, losing is not the new winning) you need to win at least a substantial number of those middle-class people.  The Democrats' strategy, as outlined by the Hillary campaign, was to knit together a coalition of diverse interest groups - blacks, hispanics, gays, and liberal whites - which they felt would constitute a majority of opinion to get elected.  And ironically, it actually worked - Hillary did win the popular vote.  But complaining about the electoral collage doesn't win elections, it just ensures you will lose - again.

The Republican strategy is a little more straightforward - go after what the majority of the middle-of-the-road voters want, as well as pandering to the right.  They aren't relying so much on unreliable voter blocs, such as blacks, hispanics, and college students - all of whom have historically low voter turnouts.  Rather, they tap into that white, middle-class voter bloc, as well as the elderly, who are guaranteed to vote come November, come hell or high water. And these are not evil people, despite what Democrats tell you (another losing strategy - demonizing the swing voters) but just folks who want lower taxes, better government, and not so much change in the world, which they like just the way it is.

Sadly, to appease the radicals, which the Democrats need to do to get that "faction" to vote at all, they are lurching the party very far to to the left.  Issues like "defund the police" and transgender rights just befuddle the mainstream voter.  These are the pressing issues of the day?   The Democrats are embracing a toxic platform of ideas, that appeals to very narrow interest groups while horrifying the majority.

Two recent articles are a case in point. You've heard the cries to "defund the police" - an idiotic mantra if there ever was one.  But there is a move afoot to dismantle our entire criminal justice system, and for the most part, it has been working.  I wrote before how television shows are making hay out of convincing everyone that some murderer was, in fact, innocent.  That's how OJ got off, basically - the television.   Then, it was decided that bail was "unfair" so people should just be let out of jail on their own recognizance.   That hasn't worked out well, and the CoVid thing has accelerated the trend to letting criminals go on appearance tickets.  Crimes rates have soared.

Now, they are talking about abolishing parole and probation, as being "unfair" to minorities.   If you let someone out of jail now, they argue, it should be with no-strings-attached.   A better recipe for revolving-door justice I cannot imagine.

And by the way, the fantasy that dismantling the criminal justice system will allow oppressed minorities to suddenly become investment bankers, entrepreneurs, internet geniuses, and dot-com billionaires is just that - a fantasy.  Whether you like it or not, there are very evil people in the world who do not value human life and take what they think should be theirs - usually from you.  And they come in all colors - black, white, brown, yellow.   If someone commits a crime, they should go to jail, period.  This idea that we have to let all the black people out of jail because the system is "racist" is nonsense.   Poor people tend to commit crimes more, and no, not to "steal a loaf of bread to feed their children" or whatever nonsense the left is pushing these days.  Often, the poor gravitate toward crime, drugs, and theft because they are poor.   Letting criminals out of jail isn't the answer - lifting people out of poverty is - and this requires the cooperation of the poor.

The problem with these ideas about abolishing the police and eliminating parole, is that they fail to take into account the victims of these crimes.  There is a lot of talk about how awful the perpetrators had it, but no one talks about the guy who had his head stoved-in with a steel pipe, shot with a gun, tortured, killed, robbed, or burgled.   But what about so-called "victimless crimes"?   You know, drug charges and whatnot.   Well, you'd have to be an ignorant fool not to realize that your average drug user has been involved in a lot of crime, both petty and large, and not just to fund his habit.   Drug use leads to criminality, and it isn't simply because drugs are illegal.   Even if someone doesn't commit crimes, but chooses instead to get high all day and live in their parents' basement, they are a drag on society, as we all end up paying for their lackadaisical lifestyle.

If someone makes a wreck of their life, they need parole and probation more than ever - they need intervention in their lives.   Abolishing this is just being a permissive parent - you will raise a nation of brats.

Another recent article chronicles yet another instance of identity-theft politics as well as the ridiculousness of this transgender nonsense.  A Wisconsin grad student as had to step down from teaching after it was revealed he was pretending to be black.  I mean, what the ever-loving fuck?  But then again, since we have demonized heterosexual white males so much, it only makes sense that people will seek out other, more approved, identities, particularly in academia, where a lot of this nonsense originates.

The weirder thing still is that this fellow (or gal) wants to be called by the pronoun "They" and the press goes along with this.   I'm not.   "They" is a plural pronoun.  Pick a gender - even at random - and live with it.  And no. "CV" is not a name, it is an abbreviation for curriculum vitae or a type of universal joint used on cars.  And for God's sake, can we put an end to hyphenated last names?   That is so 1980's.

And in terms of "identity-theft politics" it seems that "CV" might be stealing a gender as well as a race - but it is hard to tell.  What very little women and minorities have gained in the world, white men now want to take away, by pretending to be women and minorities.

People read these articles and scratch their heads. There are people living in this country whose value systems are so skewed from the norm that they would appear to be from an alien planet.  This scares people.  Change scares people, particularly sudden changes. 

All Trump has to do is convince people that he isn't the agent of such change and he will win.  Biden, on the other hand, is placed in the delicate position of having to at least acknowledge such fringe views (or embrace them) to get out the leftist vote, while not scaring the crap out of the middle-class.

A friend of mine just moved out of Portland, Oregon.  Actually, they lived in a nice, safe, secure suburb of that city.  But they were concerned that with all this rioting, that if Biden were to win (as they put it) "the rioters will come after us!"   Yes, they watch too much Fox News - a lot of people do, sadly.   But the really sad thing is, I'm not sure I can look them in the eye and tell them they are wrong.   100+ days of rioting is inexcusable.  The mayor and the governor should have called out the National Guard, instituted a curfew and mass-arrested everyone a long time ago.  Whatever valid cause these protesters had was lost to fires and looting a long time ago - and yes, a lot of the fires and looting were instigated by far-right protesters trying to discredit the BLM thing- they should be arrested, too.  But letting riots go on only makes things worse - particularly for the left.

Back in the 1960's, we used to say things like "far out, man!" and I am still not sure what that phrase ever meant.  But it seems today, we are embracing anything that is far-out of the mainstream, even if it is just nonsense for the sake of nonsense.

Too far-out, man.