Sunday, August 30, 2009

Coconuts in Caracas

Since the facade of public safety prevents us from traveling with so much as a pocket knife, I am surrounded by one of my favorite foods with no way practical way to avail myself of them. They're on nice, low trees even. I bashed a couple open on rocks and salvaged what liquid I could, but it wasn't much. I would sell my grandmother into sexual bondage for a machete right now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig

Fascinating biography: The British commander in WWI was a rigid thinker, without any trace of a sense of humor. He sincerely believed that he was chosen by God to defeat evil in the form of Germany. Anyone who opposed him was an instrument of the Devil. He had not an iota of self-doubt, and was apparently able to lose a million men without losing a moment of sleep. Sounds like a reincarnation of Oliver Cromwell. How do such pious killers rise to the top so often? Maybe it's precisely because zealots aren't hindered by the doubts of more rational people, and we find their supreme self-assurance alluring.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ho Chi Minh tire sandals have come a long way.

These are a big improvement over open-toed sandals. No worries about peeling back a toenail, and little rocks don't get into them easily. Light, fast-drying, comfortable enough for long hikes, not TOO geeky-looking with socks. I found these for 70% off because it's the end of the season. (And I'll buy my next pair of winter boots in the spring.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hmm, what can I use a dead catfish for?

Found a big dead catfish along the shore of the lake. Popped it into a crawfish trap overnight and caught four large ones. Not exactly a hearty meal by themselves, but they'll sure add protein, flavor and interest to a cup of rice.

Crawfish live around rocks, and they feed at night. The ones you see near shore are usually too small to bother with. The big ones seem to like at least ten feet of water. The best bait is fresh fish.

Update: After several days, the selfless catfish is still producing. Surprising how much of it has been consumed by the trapped crawfish. They have remarkable appetites, but there's still a bit left. I've been moving the trap every day. On the worst days, I've caught nothing. This was my best day:

Adventures in Mexico

When in Cancun, I usually stroll down to my favorite Mexican restaurant to listen to my favorite mariachi:

This last time, I noticed a faint path following the shore of the lagoon going in my direction, so I figured I'd try it and get away from noise and exhaust fumes of the sidewalks. 

I bumbled into someone's camp, and took the pic below before backing out. He (I assume it was a "he") had been using it long enough for a remarkable amount and variety of trash to accumulate. He had made himself a raised sleeping platform with a sheet of plywood. There was a tiny boat tied to the brush a few feet away. The spot was well-hidden, shady, and dry. Aside from the aforementioned trash and his apparent habit of defecating wherever he happened to be when the urge hit him (I actually smelled the camp before I saw it), it was an idyllic place. 

When I got to the restaurant, I was the only customer. So six waiters hovered around amusing themselves by teaching me useful phrases like "tetas grande" ("big tits") and "tu nueva es tu mano" ("your girlfriend is your hand"). The table was on a deck overlooking the lagoon. There was a crocodile directly beneath until some local kids ran up and pelted it with rocks.  

Friday, August 21, 2009

Freemen or Serfs?

In medieval Europe, "freemen" could bear arms, travel without permission, marry without permission, and look a knight in the face. "Serfs" could not.

Which are we?

Hints: Show up at an airport with even a pocketknife. Ask to buy a ticket to Cuba. Try to get married without a license.

At least we can still look our leaders in the face. Well, we could if they weren't surrounded by security details. Do they ever wonder why they need to be afraid of us?

Cheap Home Security

1. Go to a thrift store and buy a large pair of used men's boots and a couple huge dog dishes.

2. Place them on your porch, along with an American Rifleman magazine.

3. Leave a note on your door: "Duke - went shooting. Back soon. Better wait outside, dogs tore up mailman yesterday."

The Real Rate of Taxation

The real rate of taxation is whatever the government spends. Sooner or later, every single dime has to be paid for in taxes. We can pay it now, or we can pay it later, with interest.

An economy based on debt and consumption can't last forever. What can we do as individuals?

Pressure our political leaders to quit with the pork and balance their budgets.

Lose the idea that we're entitled to housing, medical care and retirements paid for by anyone else.

Reduce consumption.

Interesting aside: I'm laying over in New York City. Just took a walk through Chinatown. A couple guys were sitting on a sidewalk putting soles on shoes. Next to them were stairs going down and an open door into a room filled with kids putting soles on shoes. It was like something from a movie. I didn't think stuff like that went on in this country.

The Day I Realized I was Old

I landed in Cancun for an airline layover. It had been a long day, and we were late. When we got to the hotel, Pat Benatar was doing an outdoor concert next door. I had a deep, personal relationship with Pat Benatar when I was in junior high school. But instead of sitting on the balcony enjoying her music, I just wished the bitch would shut up so I could sleep.