1 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The VA appointment with the cataract surgeon went well although it got started late. The preliminary work was done early but the meeting with the surgeon was 30 minutes after the appointment time.

There was no question about the right eye needing surgery and the left eye is maybe. That one may wait until early next year or next year at this time. Will see after the right one gets taken care of.

Contacted my pet sitter but the neighbor that said he would drive me is not at home. If he can't drive me next Monday the 7th I'm not sure what I'll do at this point.

I'll be taking Erik to the group training class tomorrow. Not sure about going to it next week. I have a follow up appointment with the eye surgeon on Tuesday the 8th. What she sees and has to say will determine that.
I think Montesquieu may have got this right.
That was one argument for smallness, but Montesquieu had a second one, which concerns the corrupting influence of wealth and the arrogance and indifference of the super-rich. There would be greater personal fortunes in large republics, and the super-wealthy wouldn't have the sense that we're all in this together, so they would care less about their country. As Montesquieu put it, “A man will first feel that he can be happy, great, and glorious without his country; and shortly that he can be happy over the ruins of his country.” — American Secession The Looming Threat of a National Breakup by F.H. Buckley
2 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The only thing different about today was the drive to Sierra Vista for the group training class with Erik. Today was almost all about dog reactive behavior which Erik does well during the classes. Except, when another dog starts barking or when one of the trainers has a German Shepherd attack a second trainer that had on an arm protector. It was then that Erik wanted to get in the fight.

Stopped at Sunny D's on the way through Huachuca City to have breakfast. Disappointed that they did not have home fries but the omelet was good as was the coffee.

Erik and myself get a break from doing the noon walk because we worked at the group class. A lot of driving the past couple of days also so I need the rest. Next week will be about the same assuming the cataract surgery goes well.
Americans have never been more divided, and we're ripe for a breakup. The bitter partisan animosities, the legislative gridlock, the growing acceptance of violence in the name of political virtue—it all invites us to think that we'd be happier were we two [or more] different countries. In all the ways that matter, save for the naked force of law, we are already two nations.

This is a short book which is the best thing about it. He says nothing that I had not read before. However, he does make a good case for a state called constitutional convention rather than secession. I think when the ‘breakup’ happens it will be via that route. There's another reason why secession beckons, says F.H. Buckley: we're too big. In population and area, the United States is one of the biggest countries in the world, and American Secession provides data showing that smaller countries are happier and less corrupt. They're less inclined to throw their weight around militarily, and they're freer too. There are advantages to bigness, certainly, but the costs exceed the benefits. On many counts, bigness is badness.

Across the world, large countries are staring down secession movements. Many have already split apart. Do we imagine that we, almost alone in the world, are immune? We had a civil war to prevent a secession, and we're tempted to see that terrible precedent as proof against another effort. This book explodes that comforting belief and shows just how easy it would be for a state to exit the Union if that's what it's voters wanted.

But if that isn't what we really want, Buckley proposes another option, a kind of Secession Lite, that could heal our divisions while allowing us to keep our identity as Americans. — Book Promo @
Just one paragraph from an article by Greer that I recommend be put on your To Read List.
It's no accident, in other words, that the labor shortage is happening at the same time as a boom in small business formation and a vertiginous drop in shipments of consumer trash across the Pacific to US ports. All those are taking place, at least in part, because the immense ziggurat of corporate profit has been built so high that the ordinary people on whose labor and purchases it all depends are no longer getting enough return on their labor, and enough quality in the products they buy, to make it worth their while to participate. Too many people have grasped that the system is rigged against them, and they are turning their backs on it and finding other ways to live their lives. As they do so, the system they abandoned is in trouble. If that process continues, there's a real chance we may see the whole ramshackle mess start to come apart. — Writing as Microcosm, Part One: Publish and Perish, John Michael Greer
3 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The low this morning was in the lower 50s and very welcome. However, it has stayed in the lower or mid 50s which is not so good. There have also been a few sprinkles with a forecast for rain by this afternoon plus wind gusts of 40 mph. Our walks may be suspended.

My driver to the VA stopped by yesterday afternoon and told me that they were leaving the Park. He then quickly said that he would still be here on Monday and drive me to the Tucson VA. His wife has been working at a horse guest ranch north of here and they have also hired my driver plus provide a space for them to set up their RV. It sounds like a great deal.

Another author that believes separation is best for the United States.
One way or another, the United States is coming to an end. The divisions have become intractable. The political parties are irreconcilable. The capacity for government to make policy is diminishing. The icons of national unity are losing their power to represent. The threat multipliers from economic and environmental sources are driving an underlying tribalism that is shredding the ability of the political order to respond to threats against its own stability. The Constitution is becoming incoherent.

One possible conclusion is violence. The other is civilized separation. At this point, disunion is among the best-case scenarios for the United States. — The Next Civil War by Stephen Marche

4 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
Read Will Rogers column 88 years ago: November 4, 1934

It froze last night with a low at 29.8°. The forecast is for today and tomorrow morning to be a repeat so I do need to have my basement heater working.

The Tracking for the Y adaptor claimed that FedEx attempted a delivery yesterday. I was at home when the attempt was made so I guess they went to the office where there is almost never anyone. They claim they will attempt again today, if they do the same thing they will get the same result.

I am waiting for it to warm up to at least the 50s before going outside to do the holding tank dumps. I fired up the Wave 6 for the first time this morning and don't want to move from what little heat it puts out to the cold cruel world outside.

I have red hominy in the Thermal Cooker today and tonight. Tomorrow I'll add some cranberry beans and cook them together. That will then provide the base for future succotash ‘linners’.

Another grocery shopping trip tomorrow and start getting ready for the VA cataract surgery on Monday.
This book reads like a collection of cheesy Hollywood movie plots based on the most sensationalist news articles of the past several years, presented without footnotes and devoid of any nuance. The writer, while decrying polarization, is himself bafflingly partisan. … He uses the Capitol riots as an example of escalating violence, but doesn't acknowledge any of the violence and damage caused by BLM rioting. He claims the right sees America's institutions as illegitimate, while he himself is parroting the far-left cliche that America's system of government is irredeemable and archaic.

If you believe everything that the MainStream Media says you will enjoy this book because it will confirm your belief. If you disbelieve what the MainStream Media says this book will simply confirm your disbelief and you will not enjoy it much. Let your beliefs be your guide. Right wing extremism is worrisome; but it's exaggerated and caricatured in this book to the point one can't help but laugh. And the fact he completely ignores extremism on the left makes it resemble Rachel Maddow's daydream.

I've been very interested in our increasing polarization for over a decade, and have read almost every book on the subject. This is the worst one I've EVER read. Usually authors who study polarization tend to look at things from a neutral lens, which typically leads them to show the nuances of our fraught culture with a cool head. This author is almost gleefully throwing matches on the kindling while pretending to warn of an impending fire. It's alarmist to a cartoonish degree, using clickbait rhetoric that is more likely to create a self-fulfilling prophecy than reduce tensions. — Edited customer review @

5 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The trip to town started with breakfast at the Horseshoe Cafe. I had avoid this restaurant when I found that the restaurant where the ‘new’ one was opened and closed had opened. That is two different owners opening and closing at that location within this year.

I also avoided the Horseshoe because at that time they were very expensive. Now their prices are still expensive but they are the same as everywhere else. They are back on my list of breakfast stops here in Benson.

Nothing different about the grocery gathering experience except I forgot to put an item on my list. From there I went to the Love's truck stop on the westside of town and filled Desperado with gas. That now has me ready to drive to Tucson on the 8th for my VA surgery follow up appointment.

The low this morning was 27.7° with a forecast of 39 for tomorrow morning. The forecast is warmer than what the guess was for this morning so it might not freeze. I do need that RV Y adapter!

I received the package yesterday but inside it was some device that I think is to switch gas flow between LP tanks. It certainly was not a Y adapter.

I sent an email to eBay/the vendor and received a prompt reply that a replacement was being shipped. They are also mailing me a prepaid shipping label for the return of the device that I received in error. A much faster response than I ever got from Amazon so I can cut them some slack for the error.

That is about all that is happening here. I do have the cranberry beans and red hominy cooking in the Thermal Cooker. I'll bring the pot to a boil again just before going to bed and let them cook again overnight.

6 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
Yesterday afternoon I saw my neighbor outside their RV; soaking up some sun while reading an eReader. This was Simone, the wife of Christian Klein (who I did not meet). She spoke passable English so we had a brief conversation.

They are a couple that have traveled much of the world in past years and are seeing more of it again now. How or why they ending up in Benson, AZ I didn't ask. Their web site can be found by searching for Two Walkabouts ( It is written in German which may require some translation if you are monolingual in a language other than German such as myself.

It was warmer this morning, but still freezing at 30.9°, but much colder than the forecast. Still cold at 8:30 with the local reporting station claiming it to be 42. I have the Wave 6 working and it will need to continue to do so for a while yet.

I have finished cooking the cranberry beans and red hominy and have everything gathered up to take with me to the VA appointment tomorrow. The surgeon put in an order for some eye drops that I need to apply and they arrived yesterday. I got them out of the mailbox not knowing when or if there would be anyone from the Park get the mail. The Host has not been in the Park this weekend.
Thrill Sports, JFK Jr., and Real Danger vs. the Illusion of Danger, or
Why I like High Dives and Aerobatics but I Refuse to Fly in Bad Weather
by John Ross

Copyright 2003 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.

As a kid I loved roller coasters, and truth to tell, I still enjoy them. When I was four years old, my dad slipped an extra dollar to the attendant at the old Forest Park Highlands in St. Louis so he'd let me on the Comet, their big adult coaster. I rode the Comet again and again that day, giggling the whole time.

That same year I learned how to swim, and as soon as I did, I headed for the diving board. The residential pool where I learned had a full-size Olympic one-meter board that needed three stairsteps to get on, not one of the current home boards that's scarcely a foot off the water. The next summer our family went on a vacation by car, traveling across the country and visiting tourist spots. One of the high points for me was that one of the motels where we stayed (I think it was a Holiday Inn) had a high dive. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Later, a public pool near my house installed a diving tank and a ten meter Olympic diving platform. I got a lot of stair-climbing exercise then.

Dad discovered I liked extreme attitudes and aerobatics the first time he took me flying. (He was an aerobatics instructor in the Navy at Pensacola in WWII and later at Parks Air College before he died of cancer in 1970.) I especially liked steep, power-on stalls followed by throttle cut to idle. It was fun looking straight at the ground. Later, Dad borrowed an aerobatic-category aircraft for us to fly, and really opened my eyes.

Things didn't change as I got older. In college I took up skydiving, and eventually got an exhibition license and jumped into football games, christenings, and other outdoor events. At age 21 I earned my pilot's license and at 25 bought my first aerobatic plane. In 1999 I entered the Michelin Challenge (an amateur road race series for Dodge Vipers) and was the Eastern Region champion in the Supermodified class. And finally, for the last 40 years I have loved skiing fast, and was clocked at over 90 MPH in February of 2003.

I mention all this because it seems that my entire life I have endured strangers telling me that I am a daredevil or risk-taker or that I have a “death wish.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. I have a yellow streak a foot wide down my back when it comes to getting hurt.

I have been blessed with a logical, orderly, analytical mind. This has been evident since before I learned to read. When I saw throngs of people at the amusement park waiting in line to ride the Comet, while dozens of others exited the ride laughing and describing the experience with their hands, and there were no people bleeding or otherwise needing medical attention, I knew it was safe.

When my father (who always cautioned me about looking both ways before crossing streets, or keeping fingers away from lawn mowers and power saws) pulled the Stearman to vertical after a steep dive, I knew we weren't going to get hurt.

When I saw kids and adults jumping off the high board, and no one needed CPR or mouth-to-mouth, I knew there was no danger.

When I went to the Orange Sport Parachute Center and watched planes drone around above us all day, dropping first-jump skydivers every few seconds and then landing to pick up more, and the skydivers all came back with big grins on their faces, and the school had been doing this for 15 years without being sued out of existence, I knew the risk was minimal.

There is a huge difference between real danger and the illusion of danger. Standing on the observation deck of a skyscraper and sticking your head over the railing a thousand feet off the ground provides the illusion of danger. The same is true of jumping off a ten-foot high dive. No one has ever gotten hurt by accident doing either of these things. Working every day as a roofer, climbing around with heavy bundles of shingles on steep pitches more than forty feet off the ground, is real danger. A lot of men have been paralyzed and killed doing this. Yet no one tells a roofer he has a “death wish.”

Perhaps the activity I enjoy that most often has strangers shaking their heads is aerobatic flying. But if you have a plane designed for aerobatics, and can see what attitude the plane is in (it's daytime and nice weather, so you can see the ground and the horizon) then it's very similar to normal flight, except a lot more fun.*

We are coming up on the 4th anniversary of JFK Jr.'s death, crashing in the ocean off Martha's Vineyard with his wife and sister-in-law in his Piper Saratoga. Whenever the media brings up the crash, people ask me what I think happened.

I know exactly what happened. John Kennedy went flying where he literally could not see which way was up. This can happen even in good weather. The requirement is that there be no visual references outside the aircraft. At night, when there are clouds above, you cannot see any stars. This is usually no problem over land, for there are at least some lights almost everywhere on the ground, even in sparsely populated areas. If you fly over the ocean away from shore, though, there are no lights anywhere below you, only inky blackness. Flying in such conditions means the pilot has to ignore all the physical and visual cues he is used to following and rely entirely and unconditionally on the gyroscopic instruments in his airplane's instrument panel. It's unlikely that a VFR (Visual Flight Rules) pilot without substantial instrument training would be capable of doing this.

How unlikely? In 1991 researchers at the University of Illinois did some tests with twenty different VFR pilots in a simulator. Remember, these were licensed pilots. They made each of these twenty VFR pilot “guinea pigs” fly into simulated instrument weather (can't see anything out the windshield.) All twenty ended up “crashing” the simulator, going into either graveyard spirals or roller coasters. The outcome differed in only one respect: the time required until control was lost. The interval ranged from 480 seconds to 20 seconds. The average time was 178 seconds — two seconds short of three minutes. The following University of Illinois piece has been posted many times before, but I offer it here for those who haven't seen it. Here's the fatal scenario:

178 Seconds to Live

The sky is overcast and the visibility is poor. That reported five mile visibility looks more like two miles, and you can't judge the height of the overcast. Your altimeter tells you that you are at 5500 feet. Your map tells you that there's local terrain as high as 3200 feet. There might be a tower nearby because you're not sure how far off course you are. You press on.

You find yourself unconsciously easing back just a bit on the controls to make sure you clear the tower with plenty of room. With no warning, you're in the soup. You peer so hard into the milky white mist that your eyes hurt. You fight the feelings in your stomach that tell you you're plane is banked left, then right. You try to swallow, only to find your mouth dry. Now you realize you should have waited for better weather. The appointment was important, but not all that important. Somewhere a voice is saying, “You've had it — it's all over!” You've only referred to your instruments occasionally in the past and have never relied on them—you are used to flying by looking out the window. You're sure that this is just a bad spot and you'll break out and be able to see again in just a few minutes. The problem is that you don't have a few minutes anymore.

You now have 178 seconds to live.

Your aircraft feels like it is flying straight and level, but your compass turns slowly. You push on the rudder a little and add a little pressure on the controls to stop the turn, but this feels unnatural and you return the controls to their original position. This feels better, but now your compass is turning a little faster and your airspeed is increasing slightly. You scan your instruments for help but what you see looks somewhat unfamiliar. You are confused so you assume the instruments must be too. You are now experiencing full blown Spatial Disorientation. Up feels like down and left feels like right. You feel like you are flying straight and level again but you're not. Your plane in is a slight spiral and you don't realize it. Your instruments are telling you this but your mind isn't grasping this fact. The spiral continues.

You now have 100 seconds to live.

You glance at your altimeter and you are shocked to see it unwinding. You're already down to 3000 feet, and there's terrain in the general area at a similar elevation. Instinctively, you pull back on the controls to get more altitude but the altimeter still unwinds. You don't realize that you are in a graveyard spiral and it only gets worse. Your plane is almost sideways and you're just tightening the turn by pulling back on the yoke, but all you can see is that altimeter going lower, lower, lower. The engine RPM is into the red zone, the engine is growling and the airspeed is dangerously high, near the plane's Never Exceed speed. The sound of the air passing by begins to resemble a scream.

You now have 45 seconds to live.

Now you're sweating and shaking. There must be something wrong with the controls; pulling back only moves the airspeed indicator further into the red. It's supposed to do the opposite! You can hear the wind tearing at the aircraft. Rivets are popping as the load on the wings and tail far exceeds design specifications. 1800, 1500, 1100 feet…… down you go.

You now have 10 seconds to live.

Suddenly you see the ground, in the top of your windscreen. The trees rush at you from above. You can see the horizon if you turn your head far enough but it's at a weird angle — you're almost inverted! You open your mouth to scream but…

Your time is up.

I will go fly aerobatics on a nice day for the cost of the fuel. There is no amount of money you could offer me to fly you thirty miles out over the ocean on a hazy, overcast night as a VFR pilot. Even if the FAA's Flight Service (rightly) says that overcast and haze are still “Visual Conditions.”

*Assuming plenty of altitude. The airshow pilots who do low-level aerobatics raise the risk factor by several orders of magnitude. They get killed every so often.
John Ross 6/30/03

7 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The neighbor that drove me to VA Tucson has moved from the Park but he was here as promised. I arrived a little before 8:00 for the 8:30 appointment which gave me time to do the paperwork. The pre-surgery took a long time but was wheeled into the operating room around 9:00. Out on the street by around 10:00.

We stopped at a Denny's on the way back to the Park for a very late breakfast. That had me getting back to Desperado, Patches and Erik by 11:30. They were glad to see me but then promptly went back to sleep. I have no idea what they did in my absence and I think the sitter did come and take them out as we had agreed. I'll ask her how they acted when she comes by later today.

I will go back for a checkup tomorrow. Then another one on 17 November and see my retina surgeon on 6 December. So far so good. This surgery was not nearly as painful as the retina surgery but it did seem to go on forever. Vision in the left eye is poor so having some difficulty writing this; maybe it will be better tomorrow when I can use the right eye also.

A man gets older, he said, he finds they's lots of things he can do jest as well without and so he don't have to worry about this and that the way a young feller will. I worked near all my life and never had nothin. Seems like a old man'd be allowed his rest but then he comes to find they's things you have to do on account of nobody else wants to attend to em. Like that would make em go away. And maybe they don't look like much but then they lead you around like you might start a rabbit dog to hunt a fence-corner and get drug over half the county against nightfall. Which a old man ain't good at noway. He eased himself slightly in the chair and shifted his weight. Most ever man loves peace, he said, and none better than a old man. — The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy

8 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
I did not turn my clocks back. I will then be living one hour in the future. I greet you, people of the past. Your ways are quaint. — An edited meme by an Arizonian

The follow up appointment with the cataract surgeon went well. She was pleased with how my vision had improved just after 24 hours. The next follow up will be on 17 November when I am reasonably sure she is going to schedule surgery on the left eye. However, she will not be doing it; she is going on maternity leave. Some other eye surgeon will be doing the honors and I can only guess that it will happen soon after the 17th.

I drove to and from Tucson without the eye guard over the right eye. I could see so much better. I do have an occasional floater that is disconcerting but not a worry at this time. The cataract was removed and a monofocal lens was installed that gives me good distance vision without my glasses but the near vision for reading is going to require a new prescription. Everything is good so far.

Drove back to Benson and had a late breakfast at the Farm House Cafe. That mostly wrapped up my morning. I'll skip the noon walk with Erik. He will get a couple walks in before going to the group class tomorrow. Probably will be hyper at the class but will see how he acts.
The first novel from one of America's most celebrated novelists, the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize—winning author of The Road. Set is a remote community in rural Tennessee in the years between the two world wars, it is the story of a young boy and a bootlegger who, unbeknownst to either of them, has killed the boy's father.

This book was good but not the easiest novel to read. There are frequent flashbacks that seem to be indiscriminately inserted that caused me some difficulty. The book is also very heavy on descriptions of flora, fauna and geology which may not be to everyone's taste. Some readers might also not like/understand the redneck slang. Recommended. The boy, John Wesley Rattner, and the outlaw, Marion Sylder—together with Rattner's Uncle Ather, who belongs to a former age in his communion with nature and his stoic independence—enact a drama that seems born of the land itself. All three are heroes of an intense and compelling celebration of values lost to time and industrialization. — Book promo @ Amazon
I am on record saying that “The United States is not a democracy and it doesn't matter who is president” multiple times in multiple places, and I stand by that statement, which I believe to be a provable statement of fact. Statistics show that there is zero correlation between public preferences and public policy decisions but a strong correlation between business lobby group preferences and public policy decisions. Thus the US is not a democracy (rule by the people) but an oligopoly (rule by business groups). From this it follows that it doesn't matter who is president because both parties of the Democrat-Republican duopoly are owned by the same set of business groups. — The Trojan Horse Presidency, Dmitri Orlov for the Saker blog

9 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The group class for Erik was all about keeping the dog's attention. There were a lot of distractions which Erik handled in the range from good to poor. He is just far too interested in what is going on around him to keep his attention focused on me. He is also still spooky; sudden noises and or someone coming from behind him and touching him. He is far better than he was when I got him but he has a long way to go.

Stopped at Café Olé for breakfast after the class. Then stopped again at RV City in Huachuca City to fill Desperado's propane tank. I also talked to the Service Manager about getting Desperado's roof coated. He said he would schedule to have it done at my space here in Benson; so I wait for him to pick a date that does not conflict with the other appointments that I might have. Much more accommodating than the previous Service Manager at RV City and much more accommodating than D & J RV Center that wanted me to go live in a hotel.
Twenty-first century advertising preys on our cognitive biases, working with them to make sure we stay in the moment. Human beings have an inbuilt tendency to value immediate gratification over future benefits; to want to hold on to what they have; to seek reinforcement of their beliefs; to overestimate how much other people are paying attention to them; to underestimate how different their future selves might be from their present ones. Social networks are set up to satisfy these impulses, and so are the machines through which we access them. They are designed to be addictive. We keep checking our phones to find out what's new, so long as what's new chimes with what we would like to be true. — How Democracy Ends by David Runciman

10 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
We will have a few more days with the high temperatures in the 70 and lows in the 40s. However, starting next Monday we will go back to winter again with freezing temperatures in the morning and highs in the 60s.

I have nothing planned for today. There will be another shopping trip tomorrow. Then next week I'll be out and about two or three days with the VA follow up, Erik's group class and shopping. I'm not looking forward to that much driving and activity.
Professional wrestling is a form of theater which revolves around staged wrestling. Combining elements from traditional forms of wrestling and reality television, it aims to create entertaining combat shows. The matches in pro wrestling are primarily intended for entertainment, and are not to be considered as any legitimate athletic contests. — Wikipedia
What happened yesterday in the voting booths was the culmination of professional politics. This is also a form of theater which is more entertainment than the “democracy” that the Democrats have been harping on for the past couple of months.

Will they now continue to make the claim that democracy has been destroyed in the United States? I doubt that they will. It was all just part of the show. I suspect very little in the way of policy will change during the next two years. I hope to be proved wrong but expect that I'll be proved right.

…[E]njoy the political theatrics down on the sand-strewn floor of the Coliseum. While Imperial Corruption undermines what's left of the nation's ability to adapt fast enough and successfully enough to survive what lies ahead, we can cheer the “winners” of the bloodsport and ignore the winds of disorder sweeping the land. — Regardless of Who's Elected, Imperial Corruption Rules the Nation, Charles Hugh Smith

How will democracy end? And what will replace it? A preeminent political scientist examines the past, present, and future of an endangered political philosophy

This was an interesting book but I'm undecided about giving it a recommendation. If you are interested in the subject then give it a try; if you have only a passing interest then give it a pass. Since the end of World War II, democracy's sweep across the globe seemed inexorable. Yet today, it seems radically imperiled, even in some of the world's most stable democracies. How bad could things get?

In How Democracy Ends, David Runciman argues that we are trapped in outdated twentieth-century ideas of democratic failure. By fixating on coups and violence, we are focusing on the wrong threats. Our societies are too affluent, too elderly, and too networked to fall apart as they did in the past. We need new ways of thinking the unthinkable—a twenty-first-century vision of the end of democracy, and whether its collapse might allow us to move forward to something better.

A provocative book by a major political philosopher, How Democracy Ends asks the most trenchant questions that underlie the disturbing patterns of our contemporary political life. — Book promo @

11 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
Read Will Rogers column 88 years ago: November 11, 1934

We did a cold morning walk. I let the forecasters sucker me into thinking that this morning was going to be like the mornings this past week. It was freezing this morning (31.1°) and I was not dressed for it. The forecast for tomorrow morning's low is 35 and I'll not be making the same mistake.

The trip into town started with breakfast at the Horseshoe with only one waitress working when I got there. Fortunately there were two more that came to work and I got served. The grocery gathering at Safeway went quickly plus I was #3 in line at the checkout and got called over to a second checkout station that they opened.

I then went to my computer repair guy that is also the UPS drop off here in Benson. I asked him if he could help me return a package using FedEx. He said that he could, which saved me a lot of headaches in either Sierra Vista or Tucson.

The replacement package with the Y adaptor arrived not too long after I got back to the Park. The basement heater is now plugged in and I'll check it tomorrow morning to see if it is working. The Thermo Cube T3 switch turns on the reptile bulb heater when the temperature drops below 35°.

That is all my News for today. Continue to add eye drops in the right eye. Get a break from going anywhere until next Wednesday. That means more reading interspersed with dog walks.

12 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
I was dressed for the expected freezing temperature this morning (30.7°), stayed warm, and was not disappointed. I was also not disappointed when I checked the basement heater and found that it was working. I think I'm now set to face Winter which has arrived.

I'll be sitting close to the Wave 6 for most of the morning. Reading the next book that I had on my To Read Online List. I don't like the online reader but for some books that is the only place I can find them FREE.
A wonderful and enduring tribute to American troops in the Second World War, Here Is Your War is Ernie Pyle's story of the soldiers' first campaign against the enemy in North Africa. With unequaled humanity and insight, Pyle tells how people from a cross-section of America—ranches, inner cities, small mountain farms, and college towns—learned to fight a war. The Allied campaign and ultimate victory in North Africa was built on blood, brave deeds, sacrifice and needless loss, exotic vistas, endurance, homesickness, and an unmistakable American sense of humor. It's all here—the suspenseful landing at Oran; the risks taken daily by fighter and bomber pilots; grim, unrelenting combat in the desert and mountains of Tunisia; a ferocious tank battle that ended in defeat for the inexperienced Americans; and the final victory at Tunis. Pyle's keen observations relate the full story of ordinary G.I.s caught up in extraordinary times. — Book promo @
The mid-term elections in the United States this week turned out to be an anti-climax in more ways than one. Very little happened. The dogs didn't bark,…
As has become the norm in U.S. mid-term elections, the voter turnout was less than 50 per cent. That is, more than half of American citizens can't be bothered to cast a ballot. Because ultimately they know there is nothing much to choose between two parties that are controlled by big business, the oligarchy, Wall Street and the military-industrial complex.…
A further striking observation is evidently the complete lack of “Russian influence” on the U.S. elections.…
The election non-result totally debunks the tired and threadbare speculations that Russia was plotting to interfere (again) in order to catapult Trump and Republicans to dominance in the two Congressional chambers. — Russia Must Be Losing Its Nefarious Power… Kherson ‘Defeat’ and Failure to Influence U.S. Elections! An Editorial

The United States and NATO are deluded. They are wielding power like the mean girls in high school, i.e. they are shunning Putin and won't let him sit at their lunch table. They remain convinced that will crush him. What they did not count on is that Putin is building his own cafeteria and will eat the food he wants and a table he controls. In fact, many of the countries in Europe need essential resources that Russia supplies. It is just a matter of time before those girls try to get a seat at Putin's table. — Would The Soviet Union Be Able To Defeat The Nazis In World War II If Social Media Existed?, Larry Johnson

13 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
It didn't freeze this morning (36.1°) but was colder than forecast. Tomorrow morning is forecast to be 32 therefore I'm expecting the low to be in the 20s. It will be cold!

Arizona is still counting ballots and they will continue to count them until that get the ‘correct’ results. The Democrat was returned to the Senate which did not surprise me but nonetheless I was disappointed.

I do have a Republican Congressman again in my District 2. Martha McSally was the previous Republican Congresswoman in the District but she was appointed to serve out McCain's term and then lost the Senate election for her own term.

We had a Democratic Congresswoman, Ann Kirkpatrick, from the 2018 election until now. She was a good Party soldier which made no news during the time she served. I hope that Eli Crane, the elected Republican, makes some waves in Washington. He won decisively over his Democratic opponent so he has what is commonly called a ‘mandate’ is political circles.

I had an Happier Camper as a nearby neighbor last night. I wish I had one of those during my Teardrop travel days. It looks like it would be very competitive with the Casita trailers. I also liked its appearance more than the Casitas.

Just the same routine for me today. It is good to get a break from having to go anywhere.
Women, Teasing, Tests, One-itis, and Hope, or
Ross in Range Stands in for Dear Abby
by John Ross

Copyright 2003 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.

One of the Internet discussion boards I visit is an exceptionally civil and well-run shooting-oriented board. Recently, a young man posted there, asking for advice. He had met “the girl of his dreams” and in a few days was going to have his first date with her. He was taking her shooting, something she was eager to try and had never done. He did not explain exactly how he'd made the offer, but it was clear he was putting a lot of hope into the upcoming date, and was desperate to have it go well. He listed the guns he had available, and asked which ones he should bring and how he should structure the date at the range.

Most of the advice others gave him was good, as far as it went. They stressed the importance of safety instruction, using light-recoiling guns like .22s, and suggested bringing targets that did something interesting when hit, instead of just punching holes in paper.

These were all valid points, but from the tone of his post, I saw that this man really needed advice focused on a different area. He was obviously a safe shooter and knew to bring light-recoiling arms for a first-timer. His risk was not that the day would go badly if he brought the wrong guns. It was that he would do the kinds of things that men so often do when they decide a woman is “it.” I began to think of this guy as “Anxious in Austin” and myself as the Relationship Advice Columnist. Here is my reply, edited a bit for Ross in Range.

Dear Anxious:

If this really is “the girl of your dreams” I have a few suggestions that don't have to do with what guns to bring, as others have given you good input on that score.

1. Maintain an air of quiet competence. People in general dislike motor mouthed know-it-alls but are impressed when they see knowledge and skill at work. This is doubly true when the activity in question has the potential for danger if safety concerns are ignored.

Explain, don't lecture, and early on say something like “If I see you doing something dangerous I'm going to stop you immediately. You probably won't, but I'm telling you this now so you won't get upset if I raise my voice. I don't much care about your marksmanship today but I care a great deal about safe gun handling.”

2. Do not fawn over her. Pretty girls get this so much they lose all interest in the guys who kiss up to them. New mindset: You are LETTING HER join you in something exciting. I hope the invitation was “I'm going shooting this weekend—it's going to be perfect weather and there's a great range I use. If you'd like to join me I'll pick you up at 8:30, if you've got something to wear that you won't cry about if it gets a little dirt on it” (said with a grin.)

When she said “yes,” I hope you added “I'm assuming you're not one of those flaky women who thinks 8:30 means 'sometime before noon.' I intend to be at the range by 9:00.”

3. Pack up and quit shooting while she's still having a good time. Do not wait until her shoulder or hand hurts or she's tired.

4. After shooting, do not make plans right away to do something else next weekend, no matter how well you think things went. I cannot stress this strongly enough: DO NOT SELL TOO FAR IN ADVANCE. Not even if she rips your clothes off on the ride home. End your first date with her while she's still wanting more, and don't be too eager to plan the next one. This holds for future dates as well. And don't think of them as “dates,” think of them as “I'm doing this and I'll let you join me if you behave.” New mindset: Welcome to MY world.

5. Be prepared for a test. (Men call this a “shit test,” which is a more accurate term, but from now on I'll avoid the vulgarism for the sake of Internet decorum.) You may get such a test before you pick her up for the date, a phone call at the last minute telling you her best friend just broke up with her boyfriend and needs consoling, so she has to cancel. It may be an attempt to get you to do something different than what you planned. Do not accept this. Call her on any attempt to change plans. Make it clear such behavior is unacceptable. Be ready to say “Next.”

Pretty girls have a different reality than you or I have. Their reality is that men almost always do whatever they demand. Believe it or not, the women are tired of this. The “test” is a way to cull out the mediocre males and find the ones with backbone. It's instinctive for women, because it works so immediately and so well. When you pass one test, you will get another, sometimes right away, sometimes later. This usually goes on as long as you remain involved with a woman, but as you keep passing her tests, they become less and less frequent. Be aware of this, and act accordingly.

6. Whenever you find yourself wondering what to say or how to act, and wanting to avoid screwing up because you think this girl is THE ONE, imagine how you would treat the hottest babe in your zip code—who happens to be your little sister. You'd tease your little sister, right? You'd laugh at her and call her on it every time she tried to get YOU to behave the same way she gets all the other guys to worship her and do her bidding. When she was acting exceptionally princess-like, you'd tell her of your surprise that she'd wear such a tight skirt when it made her ass look so fat, or a hairstyle that made her ears stick out. Then you'd tell her you liked the way her nose wrinkled up when she got mad, and would she bring you a soda from the kitchen? If you don't think this works, you've never tried it.

7. Don't get “one-itis.” Talk to EVERY girl that catches your eye. Tease them. Let others come shooting with you on other weekends (if they promise to behave.) Pretty girls have lots of options—it just happens. You can have lots of options, too, but it won't just happen. You'll have to see to that yourself.


He posted a reply:

I'll try to keep these things in mind. And yes, she definitely is something else, truly the girl of my dreams, and not just because of how she looks, although she is striking.

I've got #'s 1, 2, 3, and 4 covered, there should be no problems there.

#5 is a little more difficult… she is exceptionally intelligent and may try to use this tactic on me, what's the appropriate defense? It's hard to be ready to say “next” when that's what I've been saying on all my previous dates with other girls because all I've been thinking about is going out with this one girl.

#6 sounds suicidal… or very risky at best… and it's too late for #7. Thanks for the tips, I'll try to keep them in mind. And I'll let you all know how it goes.

This was worse than I thought, but since the date hadn't happened yet, I wrote back:

Anxious in Austin, the best defense for #5 is preparation. ASSUME you'll get a test (and then another) and have your response READY. These tests are instinctive with most women, so don't think because she's intelligent it's a conscious decision. It's in the gene from hundreds of thousands of years of needing to select the best mate for survival, the same way and for the same reason that sitting in a restaurant with your back to the wall, facing the entrance, is instinctive for men.

Bad behavior (especially flaking) is much less likely to happen if:

a) you pre-empt its occurrence by making it clear in advance you don't tolerate it, and
b) you DO NOT tolerate it when it happens, BECAUSE IT WILL HAPPEN. Examples:

Her, 5 minutes into the shooting session: “The noise is giving me a headache. Let's go.”

You: “I don't get to practice here as often as I'd like, so I bought a Cosmopolitan and a Shape magazine in case something like this happened with you. They're in the back seat. Keep your earmuffs on and the windows rolled up and your headache will go away. I'll drive you home when I'm done.”

When she suddenly decides she doesn't want to eat where you do:

You, grinning: “If you're buying, pick any place you want. I love the taste of any food when it's free” or “That's okay, you can go wherever you like after I drop you off.”

Think of the possible tests she will give you and have your responses ready. A test is of course any attempt to get you to do something you don't want to do, but also it's trying to see if you'll do what she says when you don't much care either way, just to see if you'll do it. DON'T DO THIS. Be nice to her on YOUR terms, not hers. She's intelligent? Find a gift like a thought-provoking book, and tell her why you think she'll like it when you give it to her at an unexpected time. Ignore Valentine's Day, or do something you like doing by yourself on Feb. 14 and let her join you. DON'T EVER let her dictate the way things are going to be. If you do, you will become one of the men that no longer interest her. Go where YOU like to eat on Saturday, and let her come. Then two weeks from now, tell her you're going to have dinner at [the name of her favorite restaurant] and ask her to join you. She'll get the message, I guarantee.

Whatever you do, don't help or advise her with anything resembling a personal or relationship problem. Don't even let her TELL you about it. This is a test of whether you are relationship material. If you fall into this trap you are now and forever in the “let's just be friends” category. In LJBF-land, I guarantee she will call YOU when she needs consoling or her furniture moved or whatever, then she'll go boff the brains out of someone who refused to get pulled into this “nice guy” trap. And then she'll TELL YOU about how great the sex is with the other guy, but she doesn't know how to handle him and it's driving her crazy. Cut this one off at the pass. Old boyfriend or ex-husband problems? Say “That's something you need one of your girlfriends to talk with you about. I'm not good at that and have no interest in getting better.” Moving to a bigger apartment? Give her the numbers for the movers or U-Haul, and tell her your time is too valuable to do manual labor. If she's otherwise been treating you well, tell her that since she's been a good girl, you'll pay half the moving bill. Or drop the hammer and tell her she knows dozens of guys who'd move her stuff for a wink and a smile, but you're not one of them. Don't do the things that all the losers would jump at the chance to do for her in the futile hope that she'll be attracted to them. It has the opposite effect. Do nice things for her that YOU think of. Give her the gift of being part of your exciting life. Let her unload on some other guy about how great the sex is with YOU but she doesn't know how to handle you and it's driving her crazy.

All-purpose response for any question starting with “Aren't you going to…” such as “aren't you going to buy me a drink, open the door for me, etc.”

You: “What do I get out of it?” or “what are you going to do for me in return?” One of three things will happen:

1. She'll pretend to be stunned or offended. MAINTAIN YOUR CALM DEMEANOR AND DO NOT BACK DOWN. (”You mean you expect people to do things for you with no thought as to what you should do for them? I don't think I've ever met anyone that self-centered before.”) This will probably cause her to switch to response 2 or 3.

2. She'll smile and offer to do some thing for you. No matter what this is, I always hesitate as if considering her offer, then say “Nah, not good enough.” If she suggests a sexual favor (this DOES happen, it's another test), say “No, I'm pretty particular about who I do that with and I don't know you that well.” She will now either up the ante, hit you on the arm, or go to number 3 (all are good things).

3. “What do you want?” This is where you REALLY have fun. Always go over the top, where it's 100% about you: “Cook me veal cordon bleu for dinner, give me a half-hour backrub, then rub my feet while I sip an after-dinner drink and smoke a cigar.”

Your comment that Point 6 sounded suicidal: It isn't. Not if you go with self-assured teasing and not meanness. The Bratty Sister Frame implies “You may get the little boys with the pouty look and the low-rider jeans, but I was on to that game before I was shaving. Keep insulting my intelligence that way and I may have to spank you. And where's that soda you were supposed to bring me when you got back from the kitchen?”

Your last comment, on point 7: NO. It is NEVER too late to get over one-itis, and the sooner you do it the greater the chance you'll get the girl you want. Businessmen and bankers can tell when they're the only option for the struggling small business owner who needs capital. Women are ten times better at telling when a guy has all his chips on their number AND IT TURNS THEM OFF. Didn't you ever have someone (maybe in grade school) who followed you around all the time, and wanted you to like them? Were you attracted by this? Me either. If you really like this girl, have other choices or she'll lose all interest. I cannot say this too strongly.

Final point: If you do these things it will probably work out for you with this girl. When it does, DON'T TURN INTO THE GUY I'M TELLING YOU NOT TO BE. When she starts to fall for you, don't pour out your heart and tell her how wonderful she is and start letting her dictate terms and become like all the guys she passed over to be with YOU. Don't do it. She will lose all interest in you. You wouldn't like it if she got stupid, ugly, and boring, instead of smart, striking, and exciting like she is now, would you? Keep being the person she fell for. Always.


I got some more feedback, mostly positive. One fellow said (in all caps) that if the guy listened to me he'd probably never have another date in his life. He said I advised “playing games” and told the man to “just be himself.” As if this young man's natural condition is to be anxious, frustrated, and doing things he doesn't want to do. I did get some private emails from women telling me that my advice was dead on, and one of them attached a digital picture of herself. She was wearing low-rider jeans with a thong showing, and a pouty look.

I think this Relationship Advice Columnist stuff suits me.

John Ross 7/7/03

7/13/03 Update: The young man just emailed me. The girl flaked on him. Left a message at the last minute on his phone recorder that she couldn't make it. Abby's comment: The Girl of Your Dreams does not flake, ever. Next.

14 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
It was freezing this morning (30.4°) but not as cold as what I expected. The 10 day forecast is for all the mornings to be slightly above or below freezing. I think they will all be freezing and below.

Not much in the News. Arizona is still counting ballots. I think the state is well on its way to becoming a one party state like California. The northern part of California wants to succeed and the southern part of Arizona wants to. Very similar conditions.

The only thing that I have going on today is distilling more water. That plus reading the novel I have downloaded on Fire 8 and the nonfiction book online. There is also a goal to stay warm.

15 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
I wanted to stay in bed this morning where it was reasonably warm. Even there I could feel that it was going to be Cold when I flipped the blankets off. I wasn't wrong; the low this morning was 26.1° and had only warmed up to 35 by 8:30. The next few mornings, through Monday, are going to be as cold or colder if the forecast is correct.

Arizona has become an election joke. The state has a state run lottery that can determine where a winning ticket was sold within hours of the drawing. The winner in state held elections takes days. I think it would be just as well that the ‘elites’ simply choice who they want for each office and save us plebs the aggravation of voting. Less than 50% of the eligible voters turn out now so it will not make that much difference.

The most interesting News is what will Turkey do? Turkey's interior minister accused the U.S. of being complicit in a recent bombing in the city of Istanbul on Sunday. This could be the last straw, Turkey could say enough is enough and leave NATO. Erdogan has stated that his opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO is the Kurdish insurgency, which Turkey views as a security danger. Now there is good reason to suspect that the U.S. is supporting that insurgency.

I'll be taking Erik to the group training class tomorrow and go to Tucson VA on Thursday. That is all I have plans for the next couple of days. That and try to stay warm.

16 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
I took Erik to the group class this morning but we left after about a half hour. The entire class was on having your dog pay attention to you and Erik would not will not do that. He is far more interested in what the person or dog next to me is doing. What I had going on this morning was like teaching a pig to sing — it is a waste of time and irritates the pig.

I don't know what I'll do about future classes. I may have reached the limit in what I can train Erik to do. He is certainly not obedience trained although he is a much better dog now that when I got him. Maybe that is as good as it is going to be.

I will go to the VA tomorrow for a follow up on the right eye and maybe get a left eye surgery appointment.
From New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, the sequel to The Archer's Tale [first published as Harlequin] — the spellbinding tale of a young man, a fearless archer, who sets out wanting to avenge his family's honor and winds up on a quest for the Holy Grail.

Cornwell writes not only some of the best battle scenes but some of the best historical fiction. This was book two in The Grail Quest Series. Recommended. In 1347, a year of conflict and unrest, Thomas of Hookton returns to England to pursue the Holy Grail. Among the flames of the Hundred Years War, a sinister enemy awaits the fabled archer and mercenary soldier: a bloodthirsty Dominican Inquisitor who also seeks Christendom's most holy relic. But neither the horrors of the battlefield nor sadistic torture at the Inquisitor's hands can turn Thomas from his sworn mission. And his thirst for vengeance will never be quenched while the villainous black rider who destroyed everything he loved still lives.

“Cornwell writes the best battle scenes of any writer I've read past or present.” — George R.R. Martin — Book promo @
The MainStream Media have avoided reporting this alleged scheme letting left wing altNews sites handle the cleanup. If there were Republicans that also cooperated then you know nothing will be investigated.
Western media now is reporting frantically that Russia fired a missile at a target in Poland. Russia denies it vehemently and initial pictures of the “device” that landed in Poland appear to show a S-300 anti-air defense missile. In other words, it could be something that Ukraine fired at incoming Russian missiles and the S-300 missed its target and fell inside Polish territory. Neither Poland nor the Brits appear inclined to wait for facts to develop and are rattling swords about the need to invoke article 5 of the NATO Charter.

The United States, by contrast, is exercising great caution. Part of the reason for that hesitancy is the financial collapse of FTX, which is exposing evidence that the Democrats, some Republicans, the Ukrainians and FTX organized an elaborate financial kickback scheme. The scheme involved promising members of Congress who sent money to Ukraine a hefty contribution in turn from a Democrat benefactor. In this case, the owner of FTX. Once the U.S. dollars were credited to Ukraine's account, President Zelensky and his partners diverted some of the proceeds to purchase crypto currency from FTX. FTX, in turn, sent some of that funds back to the cooperating members of Congress and the Democratic National Committee. This scheme is unraveling. The dummies mistakenly believed that crypto is untraceable. Nope. Thanks to block chain, eminently traceable.eable. Nope. Thanks to the block chain, it is eminently traceable. — Did Russia Just Strike Poland?, Larry Johnson

17 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The VA right eye follow up went fine except I have excess pressure in the eye. So more eye drops and another follow up on the 29th of this month. I asked could the 6 December appointment with the retina surgeon be rescheduled for that same day and save me a trip to Tucson. The cataract surgeon did that so she saved a trip and $30-40 in gas.

This is the eye drop schedule that I have been on or continue. Three different drops four times a day for one week. Then two different drops three times a day for one week (that is where I am now). But added the new drops received today which need to be used two times a day until I'm told to stop. The two different drops that I'm currently using are reduced to two times a day for one week and once a day for one week. I'm also put artificial tear drops in the left eye four times a day until told to stop. Will be putting that in both eyes until I get cataract surgery for the left eye then go through the multiple drops routine for that eye. Confused, so am I!

Drove back to Benson with dark glasses and a strong headwind. Couldn't see as well as I would like but the sun was way to bright with my dilated eyes. Went to the Farmhouse restaurant for a late breakfast. The crowd was just leaving and the one waitress was as busy as a one armed paper hanger.

I get a few days rest before going into town to get groceries and do laundry. The rest of today I'm planning on doing that as well — resting.
Biotechnology enables us to defeat bacteria and viruses, but it simultaneously turns humans themselves into an unprecedented threat. The same tools that enable doctors to quickly identify and cure new illnesses may also enable armies and terrorists to engineer even more terrible diseases and doomsday pathogens. It is therefore likely that major epidemics will continue to endanger humankind in the future only if humankind itself creates them, in the service of some ruthless ideology. The era when humankind stood helpless before natural epidemics is probably over. But we may come to miss it. — Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

18 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
Read Will Rogers column 88 years ago: November 18, 1934

The low temperatures these past three days have been 30.2°, 31.8°, and 30.9°. The 30.9 was this morning and it felt to be the coldest of the three. All of them were freezing with another week of morning freezing in store. Perhaps it will stay above freezing the last few days of this month but not by much. The high temperatures for the next 10 days will be in the mid to upper 60s which I can only hope will also continue into December.

I was going to go to town on Sunday to do my grocery gathering and laundry but have now decided to do that tomorrow. I'll then have three days without going anywhere before Erik's next group class. I might not even go to that; I'm disappointed with how he responds in the class. Starting to think I'm wasting my time, disrupting the class and not improving Erik's behavior in any way.
Now that the midterm elections are overThe Washington Post has reported that there were no nuclear secrets found in Mar-a-Largo. However, since he has announced that he is going to run for president again you can bet this will NOT be reported. What you will read and hear repeatedly will be that he had nuclear secrets at Mar-a-Largo.
That review [federal authorities reviewed the classified documents] has not found any apparent business advantage to the types of classified information in Trump's possession, these people said. FBI interviews with witnesses so far, they said, also do not point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell or use the government secrets. Instead, the former president seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property… — Investigators see ego, not money, as Trump's motive on classified papers, Devlin Barrett & Josh Dawsey

19 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The trip into town started with breakfast at the Horseshoe. There were only a few other customers there when I arrived but only one waitress. The second one came in and took my order after a few minutes wait.

The second stop was at the laundromat. That took about an hour with two washers and two dryers. I kept the hemp and merino wool items separate; washing them in cold water and low heat to dry.

Grocery gathering was the last stop. That went quickly and I got everything if you count substitutions for what I really wanted.

Typing this up today using my old Toshiba that has a few keys that are sticky and don't work unless pressed very firmly. The reason for that is my System 76 computer will not boot up. Probably will have to send it back for repairs. I'm not a happy camper.

20 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
I managed to get the System 76 computer to boot up. It seems to be using battery power although the power light indicator had gone off. I charged it up yesterday until the charging indicator light indicated that it was fully charged and the power light had gone off. This morning the power light was off but it is requiring a charge again.

I pressed the power button and got a screen that offered me the option to Boot Up One time. I gave that a try and ‘ Bob's your uncle.’ It had been charging for about a half hour and was reporting that the battery was at 65% charged so something is not right. I don't know what is going to happen when I shut it down again but for now it is working.

I have a Support Ticket open with System 76. They may contact me tomorrow and we can chat about what is going on.

That is all the News that I have. It is a rather slow News day for everyone else also.
The Betrayal and Redemption of an American Icon, or
Smith & Wesson and the Springfield Sledgehammer
by John Ross

Copyright 2003 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.

For over a century, Smith and Wesson, the Springfield, Massachusetts gunmaker, has been known for producing some of the world's finest handguns. Devotees of the marque are many, and I have been one since before I needed to shave. There are also some shooters and gun collectors who refuse to buy any firearm made by the company, now and forever. Those people should change their minds right now. Some background:

My life changed the morning of my 14th birthday on June 17, 1971, when my uncle came over and picked me up for a day of shooting. He was the kind of relative every kid should have in his life at least once: Tall, powerfully built, smart, exciting, generous, and wealthy. We often went to the range together to shoot target rifles, but on this day we went to the riverbank to pop driftwood with some handguns that he brought along. I owned a .22 Smith & Wesson revolver that my late father had given me which I was good with, and I'd shot my uncle's .38s before, but today he brought something bigger.

My uncle opened a zippered case and handed me a gleaming blued steel .357 Magnum, a 5''-barreled Smith & Wesson Model 27, the one built on the N-Series frame, their largest frame size. I loaded it from a box of ammo he'd set out, put on my earmuffs, and began to try my skill with the big gun. My uncle began shooting the .45 he had carried in WWII.

There'd been a big storm up north the night before, and the river was filled with branches and other pieces of wood floating by. Soon we were both making sticks jump in the water.* The .357 I was using fired a lighter bullet than his .45, but at a much higher velocity. The splash it made was a little bit bigger, and that threw the driftwood farther in the air, which I liked.

Different people with different eyes and hands will need different sight settings when shooting the same handgun. It had taken me two cylinders to figure out exactly where the .357 would hit for me using a center hold: an inch high and slightly to the left at ten yards. After I figured that out, I made the driftwood hop regularly. My uncle got a big kick out of the good time I was having, and when I finished the box of 50 rounds, he handed me another gun and said, “You're doing pretty well with that—try this one.”

It looked like the .357 I'd been shooting, but with a longer and thicker barrel. It was a .44 Magnum, the Model 29. I had read about them (endlessly) but had never seen one in the flesh. I knew they were very hard to get, as S&W didn't produce many under the best of circumstances, and with semiauto pistol production at the Springfield plant cranked up for the Vietnam War, new or like-new 29s were so scarce they were bringing twice the suggested retail. “See what you think,” he told me. I loaded it and took a firm two-handed grip, making sure the web of my right hand was high up on the backstrap. I'd read of the heavy recoil, but couldn't believe it would be more painful than some other things I did, like playing football.

It wasn't. The gun came back hard, but it only stung a little bit, and the results were spectacular. Unlike the .357, the sights on this gun were set just right for me. At about 25 feet, the first shot hit right where the sights were aligned, on the bottom edge of a foot-long piece of driftwood. A geyser of water sent the wood spinning fifteen feet in the air. My uncle let out a whoop, and shot at the wood as soon as it landed. He hit it in the middle and broke it, but the pieces only jumped a few inches off the water. (You have to hit right under a floating object to really kick it in the air. Tens of thousands of .22 rounds on the river had taught me this.)

I took aim at the larger of the two pieces and sent it even higher than before. While it was in the air, I had time to re-cock the gun and aim it where the wood was going to land. As soon as it hit the water I sent it on its way again, four times in a row.

The effect that my shooting performance had on my uncle was all out of proportion to the skill involved, and when I tried to hand the gun back to him, he insisted I finish the rest of the box. I started shooting targets that were farther and farther away, holding up more front sight as I had done so many times with my .22 revolver. My uncle, an accomplished competitive bullseye shooter, had never practiced shooting at ranges farther than 50 yards with a handgun. I had, a lot. When I connected with a floating gallon can at over 100 yards and it filled with water and sank, my uncle swore in surprise. A little while later, when he shot a piece of wood out of the water and threw it some six feet in the air, I hit it at the top of its arc and split it in two in midair. It was partly luck, but the wood was only about fifteen feet away, so it wasn't all that amazing that I hit it. My uncle, though, was stunned. “Jee-sus Kee-rist! I should have gotten you a .44 a long time ago!”

When I handed the gun back to him he wouldn't take it. He told me it was my birthday present, and when I protested, he threatened to throw it in the river if I kept arguing with him. I shut my mouth quickly.

After shooting we ate lunch, and my uncle and I discussed the history of the guns we'd been using. The .357 Magnum had been introduced in 1935 by Smith & Wesson as a logical response to the handloaders and experimenters who had been loading their own extra-heavy .38 Special ammunition in Smith & Wesson's heavy-framed revolvers. S&W brought out a new round 1/10 inch longer (so it wouldn't fit in small, weak .38 Special guns that were owned by millions of people), loaded it to high pressure, and called it the .357 Magnum, which was the actual bullet diameter of the .38 revolver rounds.

I knew all this from reading books on arms development. What I did not know was that in 1935, some people criticized S&W, saying “no one except the police” needed such a powerful handgun. An editorial in the NRA magazine American Rifleman actually took this stance, and my uncle said it prompted many outdoorsmen to write in protest. The .357 was mainstream in 1971, but in 1935 it had been cutting edge to the general public.

I knew from my reading that handloaders had been souping up not only the .38 Special long before S&W introduced the .357, they had been doing the same thing with the .44 Special in S&W's strong N-frame guns since at least as far back as 1926**, creating loads much more powerful than the new .357. My uncle told me that the .357 sold very well in 1935, and it had been hard to get one then. The heavy-loaded .44 Special was cheaper and readily available, but you had to assemble your own ammunition to get the most out of it.

Two decades later, history repeated itself, and Smith & Wesson introduced the .44 Magnum, with a case 1/10 inch longer than the Special and loaded by the factories to a pressure of 40,000 PSI. It was about 20% more powerful than the hot .44 Special loads that savvy handloaders had been assembling for over a quarter-century, and the Model 29 was heavily advertised as The World's Most Powerful Handgun. Of course, as small-minded people are wont to do, some of the public turned up their noses and proclaimed that no one needed such a gun, since they themselves had no use for one.

The gun that I fired that day had been made thirteen years before, in 1958, the third year of production. It had a high polish and the beautiful milk-blue finish that graced many of Smith & Wesson's magnums of that period. Over the years I would acquire many other Smith .44s, but none were any nicer or noticeably more accurate than my first one. In 1958, Smith & Wesson had been a family-owned company for over a century. In 1965 they were bought by the South American conglomerate Bangor Punta, and quality became a bit problematic. Occasionally a gun with bad build quality would slip through, but in my experience the company would always make it right.

In the ensuing months, when he saw how much I was shooting the one I had, my uncle gave me two more Model 29s, bought three more for himself, and purchased for us a progressive loader capable of producing 600 rounds of ammunition per hour so that we could both shoot our .44s more without me spending all my free time making ammo for them. My uncle died of a heart attack in 1976, five years after I first shot the birthday .44 on the river. By the time of his death we had, between the two of us, fired over 40,000 rounds of ammunition through our big Smith & Wessons. I've kept at it since then, and today my total .44 expenditure is over 110,000 rounds.

The Springfield company came under new ownership again in the early 1980s, and in 1987 was purchased by the British conglomerate Tompkins PLC. Under Tompkins, S&W gradually instituted more modern CNC machining equipment, and in my opinion build quality, if not surface finish, eventually came to rival the best work the company had ever produced.

Nothing bad happened under Tompkins ownership until the United States got an administration that was both Socialist and rabidly anti-freedom. Here is where the story gets interesting.

At the end of the millennium, gunmakers across the U.S. were being plagued with ridiculous state-sponsored lawsuits alleging that the makers were responsible for the criminal misuse of guns. This would be like government and state agencies suing Dell, Compaq, Gateway, and Hewlett-Packard because forgers used their computers to craft false documents, or suing Trojan because rapists were using their product to avoid leaving DNA evidence on their victims. In any event, about a dozen state entities including the City of Boston and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Clintons pressured S&W to sign an agreement stipulating that the company would cave in to a whole laundry list of unconstitutional demands in return for the government backing off on lawsuits. The British owners, spiritual descendants of Neville Chamberlain, and perhaps under orders from Tony Blair, agreed.

Response by American gunowners and other domestic gun companies was overwhelming outrage. Smith & Wesson became the target of the most successful consumer boycott I have ever seen. Most gun buyers absolutely refused to buy any Smith & Wesson product manufactured after the date of the agreement. The appeasement-minded Brits running Tompkins decided to rid themselves of the red-ink-bleeding headache that S&W had become, and let it be known that the company was for sale.

And then a marvelous thing happened. One of the terms of the agreement was that Smith & Wesson had to come up with internal locks on all their guns within 24 months.*** Along came a minuscule little Arizona-based company called Saf-T-Hammer, which had developed and patented a tiny internal lock that could be incorporated into the manufacture of all S&W handguns with only a minor tooling change. It was small, unobtrusive, worked with a small, tubular key, and best of all, you never had to use the damned thing if you didn't want to.

Saf-T-Hammer ended up buying Smith & Wesson in 2001 for $15 million in cash and assumed a note of about $30 million, payable in ten years. This was absolute chump change (Tompkins had paid $112 million for S&W in 1987.) The new U.S. owners embarked on an aggressive program of expanding on S&W's already excellent product line in two ways: First, they used their CNC technology to produce even more small runs of specialized variants of their standard guns than Tompkins had: Special length barrels, different finishes, integral mounts for scopes, guns especially set up for different types of competition, etc., at the same or slightly higher prices as the standard models. Second, to address the demands of consumers in the ever-increasing number of Right-To-Carry states, they greatly expanded their state-of-the-art line of guns made from Scandium and Titanium alloys, which weigh a full forty percent(!) less than their steel counterparts, but only cost about 15% more. (Imagine if sports car makers could offer the same size sports car with the same horsepower and cut the weight 40% for only a 15% increase in cost.)

The new owners of Smith & Wesson incorporated their proprietary internal lock into every gun they manufactured. Then, and to their everlasting credit, since the Dogpatch crowd was out of the White House, they completely ignored virtually every other provision of the hated HUD agreement.

Unfortunately, this has not been good enough for a few gunowners. These people want Smith & Wesson to publicly renounce the agreement in writing, and stop making guns with the little internal lock that no one ever uses anyway. They claim that only then will the new owners have demonstrated that they've seen the error of their predecessors' ways in trying to appease evil.

I believe that actions speak louder than words, and the actions of the new owners have been exemplary, to my eye. Someone at the factory may have said the new owners would follow the terms of The Agreement, but the fact is they are not doing so. There's also one more action that the new Smith & Wesson has taken, which I've saved for last. They've introduced a new gun firing a new cartridge.

Players in the money business have a term for when a person or a company makes their displeasure with you crystal clear. It's called “Fuck you, strong letter to follow.” Smith & Wesson's new model introduction is shouting this at every state extortionist that would chill Americans' freedoms. As in 1935 and 1956, S&W has introduced a new, powerful cartridge, and as in 1935 and 1956, the naysayers are whining that “no one needs it.” But unlike the .357 and .44 Magnums that were incremental improvements over existing technology, the new S&W cartridge is something else.

Several companies now make handguns more powerful than the .44 Magnum. Arms chambered for the .50 Action Express, .480 Ruger, .445 SuperMag, .475 Linebaugh and .454 Casull generate between ten and fifty percent more energy than the now-ubiquitous .44 Magnum. Someone at S&W must have decided it was time to be back on top and to quit screwing around with small performance increases. They called up Cor-Bon, an ammo company known for innovation, and explained what they wanted. They set a couple of engineers, one of them a young man named Brett Curry, to designing a new, larger frame size, thicker and stronger everywhere, and made of high-tensile stainless steels. They told the engineers of some future plans they had in mind for the new frame, and to make it with a very long cylinder. The engineers saw where this was leading and gave their new creation a smaller grip frame than the .44 so that a special shock-absorbing synthetic grip that completely covered the back of the frame could be used, to tame the expected recoil without making the grip too large for ordinary hands. Management asked what letter designation the new frame would be called, and since Brett was of Generation X, he suggested “The X-Frame.” X-Frame it was. The CNC machines were fired up and the new X-Frame Smith went from idea to finished product in a matter of months. Here's the fun part: The new S&W .500 Magnum costs about 20% more than their .44 Magnum. But it is a full TWO AND A HALF TIMES AS POWERFUL as the .44. And it carries a lifetime warranty.

Think about that for a moment. Imagine Chevrolet, with their special 405-horsepower ZO6 Corvette, deciding that Dodge's new 500-horsepower Viper needs a little competition, as do the modified (and very expensive) “tuner cars” from aftermarket shops packing a little over 600 horsepower. So they keep the Corvette in their lineup since it's a good seller, and come up with a new sports car that sells for 20% more than the Vette, has a lifetime warranty, and A THOUSAND HORSEPOWER. This is exactly what S&W has done.

Just as there would be a bunch of whiners bleating that “no one needs” a 1000 HP Chevrolet and making noises about banning it, so have there been complaints about the new Smith & Wesson. The big iron was unveiled to a stunned audience in mid-February at the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) show in Orlando (along with an amazing 26.5 ounce scandium/titanium .44 Magnum that received less notice but is arguably an even greater engineering accomplishment.)

The wire services picked up the story and instantly there was a legislator making the hilarious proclamation that this new gun would be the “weapon of choice” for inner city gang members (the politicians' code phrase for “young black criminals with gold teeth and their pants falling off.”) Memo to Rep. Danny Davis: For years you people in the gun-banning crowd have been telling us we need to ban guns that hold too many rounds of ammunition, fire too many shots too quickly, are too small and light, too easily concealed, or too inexpensive. The S&W .500 holds only five rounds, cannot be fired rapidly by anyone (even an expert), weighs as much as seven of Smith & Wesson's small revolvers, is only slightly easier to conceal than a bowling ball, and retails for almost a thousand dollars. I personally think this last fact makes the .500 the gun bargain of the decade, but I defy anyone to claim that a $987 gun is “inexpensive.” As a final note, Rep. Davis, I would pay good money to see one of your gang members fire the .500 while holding it on its side, as is the fashion among would-be gunsels in the 'hood. Said gang member would be ready for a lot more of those gold teeth.

In any event, in Orlando with dial calipers and plug gages in hand, I discovered the .500 was even better than I'd hoped. The designers had made the chamber/bore dimensional relationship exactly right for best accuracy, something that some other revolver makers (and sometimes even S&W in the Bangor Punta years) seem to ignore. In addition, the gun had a cylinder that was even longer than I had been led to believe. This would allow longer projectiles to be loaded, of a “bore-riding” design I believed would give exceptional power and accuracy. My mind began sketching drawings for the bullet molds I wanted to have made.

I talked about the .500 with Herb Belin, S&W's handgun production manager. Herb is a big, powerful man who looks like a retired heavyweight prizefighter. He reminds me not a little of my late uncle. At the S&W booth, Herb had a custom 3''-barreled .500 he'd had made for himself tucked in his waistband at the small of his back. My kind of guy. I found out from another rep that S&W had been hoping to sell a thousand of the .500s a year. I snorted when I heard this. Someone in the company's market research department was woefully out of touch. I told the rep I believed I could move a fifth that number personally, and I wasn't even a distributor, just an enthusiast with a lot of friends in the gun culture. Demand, I told him, would be many times their prediction. I was right. Four days after the gun was introduced the backorders were at 5000. Last I heard that number has more than doubled.

When I got back to St. Louis, I sketched out and ordered custom molds to cast bullets for the .500 of dimensions I believed would yield the best power and accuracy, and ordered dies and brass to load my bullets into ammo for the big gun. Production was delayed while the factory made a few minor changes to the .500, and by early June I had a pile of test ammo ready to shoot, but nothing to shoot it in. Then an eerie thing happened. On June 17, my birthday, the phone rang. My gun had arrived five minutes ago and did I want to pick it up? I grabbed my range kit and headed out the door.

I fired the .500 at the same spot on the river where I'd touched off my first .44, exactly thirty-two years earlier to the day. In a few minutes I was sending floating driftwood as far in the air as I ever had with an elephant rifle. This thing is a damn sledgehammer I said to myself more than once. Suddenly I was fourteen again, with the sun on my face, the river in front of me, holding a fine piece of machinery that was doing exactly what I told it to, with the unseen presence of a favorite uncle watching from a distance. The .500 wasn't just a sledgehammer, it was a time machine.

In the last four weeks I've fired about 600 rounds through my .500 S&W, testing different loads for velocity, accuracy, and pressure. Of the dozens of magnum revolvers I have owned in the last three decades, this one is the most accurate at long range. It is unbelievably powerful, more so than promised, to the point that I believe it is truly suitable and not marginal for the largest African game. The shock-absorbing rubber grip makes it no more painful to fire than a .44 Magnum with wooden grips. This fact astonishes me. S&W does need to make a version of it available with a more manageable barrel size, and I'm sure they will when production gets caught up. There are a few other changes I would make, but that's what milling machines and gunsmiths are for.

Auto-Ordnance had the Chicago Typewriter—the Thompson gun. Colt had the Peacemaker .45 Single Action Army revolver. Smith & Wesson is once again American-owned, and now has the Springfield Sledgehammer, the awesome .500.

They're back.

John Ross 7/21/03

* There was a safe backstop and fall-out range behind, so don't ding me for talking about shooting floating objects.

** Idaho gun writer, big game guide, and inveterate experimenter Elmer Keith was the guiding force behind almost all such revolver load development during this period.

*** The agreement also stipulated that within 36 months, S&W invent and implement a magic new technology that would somehow have the gun identify the owner and let only him fire it. As always, guns made for police use were exempt from this requirement. Police know that such “technology” in a self-defense situation, whether with a human or an animal adversary, is likely to get the owner killed.
21 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
Nothing to report as News here. The forecast low this morning was 30° with the reported low being 26.6. That is what I have come to expect; the reported low will be 4-5 degrees below the forecast. The forecast high and what we get are usually not that far apart.

All I have planned for today is more reading of the nonfiction book on Fire 8. I call it nonfiction but it probably should be called speculative fiction that explores social and political structures. It is 464 pages in the printed book which means it is taking me a long time to get it read. If/when I finish it I need to get started reading the book that I have waiting for me online.

The System 76 computer seems to be working just as well as it did before the Black Screen Incident. I now think I know what happened. I think I closed the lid without shutting down the power. I don't know that for sure and don't want to do that to test my hypothesis. No response from System 76 Support yet. I'll ask them if that might be what caused the black screen if they ever respond.
I have added the bold font and believe that voting has become almost meaningless to a vast majority of people in the United States.
We want to believe that our lives have some objective meaning, and that our sacrifices matter to something beyond the stories in our head. Yet in truth the lives of most people have meaning only within the network of stories they tell one another.
Meaning is created when many people weave together a common network of stories. Why does a particular action — such as getting married in church, fasting on Ramadan or voting on election day — seem meaningful to me? Because my parents also think it is meaningful, as do my brothers, my neighbors, people in nearby cities and even the residents of far-off countries. And why do all these people think it is meaningful? Because their friends and neighbors also share the same view. People constantly reinforce each other's beliefs in a self-perpetuating loop. Each round of mutual confirmation tightens the web of meaning further, until you have little choice but to believe what everyone else believes.
Yet over decades and centuries the web of meaning unravels and a new web is spun in its place. To study history means to watch the spinning and unraveling of these webs, and to realize that what seems to people in one age the most important thing in life becomes utterly meaningless to their descendants. — Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

22 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The only thing that I have going on here today is cooking some more hulled barley and oat groats. That will give me breakfasts at home for another week or more.

I have another class for Erik tomorrow. I have been trying a different training routine this past week. Hopefully it will make a difference in how he behaves in the group. Maybe I will not lose patience with him and walk out again.
Abraham Lincoln said you cannot deceive everybody all the time. Well, that's wishful thinking. In practice, the power of human cooperation networks rests on a delicate balance between truth and fiction. If you distort reality too much, it will weaken you, and you will not be able to compete against more clear-sighted rivals. On the other hand, you cannot organize masses of people effectively without relying on some fictional myths. So if you stick to pure reality, without mixing any fiction with it, few people would follow you. — Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

23 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The group class for Erik did not meet this morning. There was probably an announcement made last week that I could not hear or it was made after I left. Next week the class will meet at a restaurant with their dogs. The training will be to maintain control while eating breakfast. Since I don't hear very well in that kind of an environment I'm going to give it a pass and save the gas that I used this morning.

I received a Secure Message from Tucson VA yesterday that wanted to set an appointment with the second surgeon that will do the cataract surgery on the left eye. I'll be going to that appointment on 5 December and hope to get a surgery date for early January 2023.

The Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers have apparently found themselves on the horns of a dilemma: a nationwide railroad strike would be disastrous for the US economy and yet, on the other hand, their political image could be marred if they resort to tough action against the unions. I'm going to guess that both of those scenarios will come to pass. There will be a strike and then Congress will impose a contract on the unions, as a way to keep union members on the job. Happy Holidays!
[Y]ou need to understand twenty-first-century technology, and in particular the powers of biotechnology and computer algorithms. These powers are far more potent than steam and the telegraph, and they will not be used merely for the production of food, textiles, vehicles and weapons. The main products of the twenty-first century will be bodies, brains and minds, and the gap between those who know how to engineer bodies and brains and those who do not will be far bigger than the gap between Dickens's Britain and the Mahdi's Sudan. Indeed, it will be bigger than the gap between Sapiens and Neanderthals. In the twenty-first century, those who ride the train of progress will acquire divine abilities of creation and destruction, while those left behind will face extinction. — Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

24 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
Today is Thanksgiving followed tomorrow by the more important holiday Black Friday. I'll be treating both days as just another Thursday and Friday. I don't even plan on doing any shopping on Cyber Monday. My regular grocery gathering will happen on Saturday which I don't think has a marketing term assigned to it yet.

I did an additional distance for my morning walk. After doing the second lap with Erik I found that my right hand glove had fallen out of my pocket. Therefore, almost a full third lap to go find it.

The only thing I have on the agenda for today is prepare another month's worth of Will Rogers weekly articles. I might be forced into adding water, if that happens I'll do the tank dumps also. I hope to put that off until tomorrow.

What happened to the monkeypox pandemic? That was big News and then suddenly became no News. I guess the MainStream Media could not gin up enough fear to keep that as a headline News item.
I made an editorial change in the quote.
On a more sinister note, the same study implies that in the next US presidential elections, Facebook could know not only the political opinions of tens of millions of Americans, but also who among them are the critical swing votes, and how these votes might be swung. Facebook could tell you that in Oklahoma Arizona the race between Republicans and Democrats is particularly close, Facebook could identify the 32,417 voters who still haven't made up their mind, and Facebook could determine what each candidate needs to say in order to tip the balance. How could Facebook obtain this priceless political data? We provide it for free.
In the high days of European imperialism, conquistadors and merchants bought entire islands and countries in exchange for coloured beads. In the twenty-first century our personal data is probably the most valuable resource most humans still have to offer, and we are giving it to the tech giants in exchange for email services and funny cat videos. — Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

25 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
Read Will Rogers column 88 years ago: November 25, 1934

There is not much happening here today. I have put off doing the holding tank dumps and adding water as long as I can. Need to get that done today. I have red hominy soaking today and tonight, I will get that cooking in the Thermal Cooker tomorrow.

I got the will Rogers weekly articles taken care of. This weekend I need to get started on the household chores. That and a lot of appointments are going to have me busy the last week of November and the first week of December.

That starts tomorrow with a shopping trip. Then on the 29th I have the two VA appointments on the same day. Another shopping trip on December 2nd, VA appointment on the 5th, Erik's group class on the 7th and dentist on the 8th.
Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity's future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.

I have posted a few quotes from this book which is always a sign that I think it is a good one. It will certainly give you something to think about. Recommended! Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.

What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.

With the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future. — Book promo @

26 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The grocery gathering went quickly this morning. I was also able to get everything I wanted without any substitutions. Breakfast was at Denny's on the way back to the Park.

I have the red hominy in the Thermal Cooker. That might be all that I do today. Maybe get started on those household chores tomorrow and Monday.

There have been 17 freezing mornings here so far this November with the coldest this morning at 23.5°. I could really feel it this morning in my hands; they were painful. Compare this with the same period in 2021 when there were zero/no freezing mornings and tell me more about the rising temperatures due to Climate Change.

Not much new News today. The MainStream Media seems to be focusing on Black Friday and the World Cup as being the most important things that are happening in the world. Ukraine has even faded away into the background.

27 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
This morning was another freezing one but a couple degrees ‘warmer’ than yesterday. I guess I need to just think about all those Europeans and Ukrainians that have no heat and even colder temperatures. That might make me feel I'm not experiencing cold weather.

The cranberry beans and red hominy are now in the Thermal Cooker. The household chores may get started today but later when it warms up more; it is still freezing at 8:00. The Wave 6 makes it warmer than that inside Desperado but still not enough that I want to start cleaning by using my hands in cold water.
Curtis Pitts: The Greatest Cold War Hero You Never Heard Of, or
An American Crop Duster Sends Some Soviet Engineers to the Gulag
by John Ross

Copyright 2003 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.

This past week was the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual shindig in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, scheduled to bring in some three quarters of a million people from around the world for a week of exhibits, airshow performances, antique aircraft, warbirds, homebuilts, seminars, and general good times. Some dullards have whined that Oshkosh is an example of America's excess—a bunch of rich people with pricey toys. I have a different take: Oshkosh is the embodiment of the human spirit.

More than a few aviation pioneers died for their troubles, yet this only seemed to spur the survivors to redouble their efforts. In 1896, following a fatal crash from 50 ft., glider experimenter Otto Lilenthal's last words were “Sacrifices must be made.” News of Lilenthal's death inspired Wilbur Wright to pick up the torch and begin experiments with flying machines.

When I look upon the lovingly restored planes of the '20s and earlier, I recall the stories my mother told me of the smell of butyrate dope that wafted out of the garage a few doors down the street when she was a little girl. That was where a young Charles Lindbergh was renting space to re-cover surplus WWI airplane wings, on a personal journey that would eventually lead to his triumphant solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927.

But more than anything, Oshkosh is about freedom. Whenever you find a country where individuals build and fly their own airplanes, you find a lot more freedom than in countries where only government factories and engineers can produce aircraft.

If you go to Oshkosh during the last week of July and wander around amongst the parked airplanes, you might meet a man from Florida who looks a bit like a gnome and, if you are under 45, that you might mistake for your favorite grandfather. This is the one man in all of aviation who, at the height of the Cold War, single handedly humiliated the entire Soviet and Eastern Bloc aircraft industry, and arguably their whole governments. His name is Curtis Pitts.

I first heard about Curtis when I was nine years old, looking through a book called The Aircraft of the World. It was my dad's, and he had put a red check mark next to the picture of every plane in the book that he had piloted, from 65 horsepower trainers to four engine transports to jet fighters. When I saw this I asked him which one was the best plane he had ever flown.

“That depends on what you want to use it for. The best fighter? The best for hauling people? Or the best for training?”

I thought for a moment. “The best flying. The one that you want to just get in to go fly.”

“The Pitts Special” he answered without hesitation. “Nothing flies better.” He told me about it. The Pitts Special, he said, was an airplane conceived in 1941 by a young man who had been told that the big 1930s Waco biplane was the best mount for aerobatics, had then flown one, and thought he could do better. A lot better.

The construction of Curtis Pitts' original Special was interrupted by WWII and it wasn't finished until shortly after the war ended in 1945. It had 45 horsepower and had been built for the designer's enjoyment (he had a crop dusting business for a day job) but he built a few subsequent planes in the ensuing years for interested customers. Dad showed me a picture of one. It was a tiny single-place biplane, with a seventeen foot wingspan. He said you could fit three of them in a hangar that would hold one Cessna 150.

The second Pitts Special that Curtis constructed had 85 horsepower and was eventually sold to Betty Skelton who used it to win the Women's International Championship (called the “Feminine International Aerobatic Championship”) in 1949 and 1950. He also designed and built a big version of the Special called Samson in 1948 for an airshow pilot customer. This Pitts used a surplus 450 HP Pratt & Whitney radial engine and would outclimb every fighter aircraft produced during the Second World War. It was destroyed in a fire in 1952.

By the 1960s, international aerobatic competition was heating up and the Eastern Bloc countries were letting American men enter their contests, knowing that the only planes we had to compete in were underpowered WWII biplane trainers like the Waco or Stearman, and modified underpowered civilian trainers, like the clipwing Cub or Taylorcraft. These planes were at a huge disadvantage to the powerful, purpose-built aerobatic competition aircraft like the Yak and the Zlin that were engineered by massive State-sponsored design bureaus.

American amateur aerobatic pilots who remembered Betty Skelton's remarkable aerobatic flying in the tiny Pitts Special more than a decade earlier convinced Curtis Pitts to produce a set of detailed construction drawings of the Special so they could build their own competition machines. He did, at $125 per set. The plane could handle any engine from 85 to 180 horsepower, and enthusiastic Americans got busy hacksawing aircraft tubing and cutting spruce. By the late 1960s the Pitts Special was a common sight at U.S. airshows and fly-ins.

It was also embarrassing the competitors on the other side of the world. When fitted with a 180 horsepower engine, the 690-pound Pitts had an amazing power to weight ratio, and the airframe itself was tremendously strong. The little buzz bomb could fly straight up farther than the competition, perform tighter maneuvers, and do them more quickly. The Pitts began winning, and by 1972 both the Men's and Women's Individual World Champions were Americans flying Pitts Specials.

Think about that for a moment. Imagine it's the late 1960s, and purpose-built competition aerobatic aircraft are being produced by Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas, Grumman, General Dynamics, and Northrop. These planes dominate aerobatic competition in this country. Then a bunch of Russians show up, flying homemade planes built in sheds and living rooms by the pilots themselves, and the Russians start winning. These planes are plans-built copies of an aircraft designed a quarter century earlier for his own personal amusement by some crop duster named Vladimir, working out of his barn in the Ukraine, with hand tools and in his spare time between dusting runs.

Americans might find such a story amusing and uplifting, but it drove the Russians absolutely batshit.

They hated the Pitts Special, but the only way for Russian pilots in Russian planes to compete with it was to greatly exceed the design limitations of their aircraft. All of the design limitations. If the airspeed limit was 190 MPH, they started doing 280. If the G limit was 6 Gs positive and 3 Gs negative, they would pull +9 and push -6. This kind of abuse had predictable results, and the former Men's World Champion, Victor Letsko of the Soviet Union, was killed when he tore the wings off his Yak 50 in midair just ten days before the opening of the 1978 World Aerobatic Championships.

The Soviet government sent out word to their design bureaus that creating an aircraft that would beat the Pitts was top priority, the checkbook was open, and failure would not be tolerated. Out came powerful designs that made liberal use of titanium, magnesium, and other exotic materials. Vertical penetration had become the key to winning competitions, and so they concentrated on sleek, powerful monoplanes that didn't have the drag-inducing struts and bracing wires of the tiny home built Pitts.

In order to wring the last bit of competition performance from their planes, the Russian designers had to make compromises that resulted in flying qualities that would be unacceptable to most pilots. Gone are the flight characteristics that make a Pitts such a joy to fly.

The ultimate result of all this feverish development was the Sukhoi SU-26, designed and then in 1984 built by the same factory that produced the SU-27, the Russian equivalent of the McDonnell-Douglas F-15 supersonic fighter. Now that the Soviet Union has collapsed, you can buy an SU-26 if you want. A 1940s era biplane just can't compete in unlimited-level competition with a purpose-built craft like the Sukhoi. (For that, you need to go to Guthrie, Oklahoma, and talk to Bill Zivko, designer of the Zivko Edge 540. This is the plane Curtis Pitts says is better than a Sukhoi, designed by the American voted Most Likely to Send Another Generation of Russian Aircraft Designers to the Gulag.)

What's Curtis been doing since designing the Pitts Special? In the late 1960s came a two-place version, the S-2, which Curtis certified and set up a factory to build. The first production one appeared in 1971. Then he certified the single place S-1. He eventually sold the factory, and the planes are currently produced by Aviat. The S-2 became (and still is) the premier aerobatic training aircraft in the world. Along the way Curtis designed a monoplane racer in 1949, and other craft, mostly aerobatic biplanes, around different engines, such as the S-1-11 using the 300 HP Lycoming.

In 1996, at age 80, Curtis got his hands on an aerobatic Russian radial engine from a Sukhoi (probably the best engine in the world for an aerobatic aircraft) and designed and built an appropriate-size Pitts biplane around it. This is the Pitts Model 12, his twelfth design, which I think of as a modern Samson. It uses everything Curtis has learned in the last fifty years about building aerobatic biplanes. As before, folks are buying plans to build it themselves, and over 200 are under construction with about fifteen flying so far. Go here to the Kimball website if you're interested, or want to have them build a Model 12 for you. I had the Kimballs build one for me in 2001. It is the best airplane I have ever flown. It goes vertical like a rocket. Dad would have loved it.

Curtis Pitts is long retired from crop dusting but he's still doing design work out of his skunk works in Homestead, Florida. The short man who has cast such a long shadow over the world of aviation will be 88 on December 9, as he was born twenty days before my late father.

I can't wait to see the next design that comes out of the master's shop.

John Ross 8/4/03

28 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The low was below freezing again this morning during our walk and still freezing at 8:00. There is the chance that I'll get to do a morning walk in above freezing temperatures again however. The 10 day forecast now expects the low to be in the 40s for about half of the 10 days. It will still be cold but maybe my hands will not be painful from the cold.

I got most of the household chores done yesterday. Today I'll get Desperado's windows cleaned up. That will help me see better after going to the two VA appointments tomorrow and getting my eyes dilated again.

I received the co-pay bill from the VA which included charges for the right eye cataract appointments/surgery. With the follow up appointment tomorrow the total will be slightly less than $250. The average cost of cataract surgery in the U.S. is between $3,500 and $7,000 per eye for someone without insurance. Medicare typically covers 80% of expenses so I'm far better off with the VA.

I'll let you know what the appointments tomorrow bring but I have another appointment on 5 December that will probably set the left eye surgery date.

29 November 2022
Red Barn RV Park
Benson, AZ
The VA appointments were all screwed up this morning. The 9:00 appointment with the cataract surgeon was canceled on 22 November but I never received notice. The 9:40 appointment with the retina surgeon could not be met because she was not available until 11:00 — maybe.

A nurse did see me and did eye pressure tests which was the most important thing that the 9:00 appointment was for. The right eye is now back to an acceptable pressure level. So, I now have two appointments on 5 December; one with the cataract surgeon and one with the retina surgeon. The retina one may be canceled depending on what the cataract surgeon sees and/or thinks.

A much better low temperature this morning (38.3°); not in the 40s as forecast but so much better than freezing. The forecast for the next two days is for colder mornings but then in the 40s or maybe even a 50 for the lows during the weekend. How I do hope the weather guessers are right.
This is my last Postings as the THE PEREGRINATING GRABERD.

This post will complete thirteen years of continuous posts that started on 30 November 2009. They were all a part of my website that started in 2000 on GeoCities and has gone through many different iterations over these past 23 years. The website has been all homegrown, that is to say I wrote all the coding for the site. Tomorrow I'll be posting on a Wordpress theme from Astra.

The Wordpress files are all now in a subdirectory but I'll post here on this domain with a link to the Wordpress posting. That will continue for a few days until I have time to learn how to transfer all the files from the subdirectory. Hopefully, you will not have to do anything to continue reading what I have posted except the inconvenience of a link for a few days.