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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for May, 2010

Claire Wolfe

Monday miscellany

Monday, May 31st, 2010
  • I know this is last week’s news and it’s already gotten a fair bit of circulation. But I think it’s worth a second read. Or a third: “Warning: Crash dead ahead. Sell. Get liquid. Now.” Paul B. Ferrell. I know that much doom-gloom needs to be taken with a healthy sprinkling of salt. But you do gotta wonder when we’re finally going to teeter over this brink we’ve been wobbling on.
  • “The part of me the Watchers couldn’t see.” Encouraging.
  • And apropos of nothing except a coincidence of wording (and some evils of government), I’m currently re-reading one of my favorite Dean Koontz novels, called Watchers. Dogs. Triumph of human (and canine) spirit. Hair-raising adventure. And even a terrifying (yet ultimately almost sympathetic) monster. What’s not to like? I was never a fan of Koontz’s early stuff. But since I stumbled onto his Dark Rivers of the Heart back in the ’90s — with its eloquent and outraged description of government abuses of the Randy Weaver family (wrapped up in a gripping thriller of a story, not to mention another dog on the run with its humans from a murderous Orwellian government agency) — I’ve been hooked.
  • And apropos of too very sadly much: The The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State by Shane Harris. It’s a good, balanced read about how we got where we are. Yes, the last three links in this blog entry all go to Buy stuff if you’re so moved. It helps keep my puppies in kibble. :-) I bleg to blog. But I really do have to stop reading so many things with “watchers” in the title. Keeps me awake at night.
  • It might be easy to dismiss this idiot legislator as an idiot legislator. But the government really does aim to prop up those “journalists” who do its bidding most faithfully. Yes, indeedy: “Legitimate media sources are critically important to our government.” We know just how critical. And how “legitimate.”
  • But then, the idiots have always been with us, even if back in the olden days you had to be a poet to really rise to the ranks of Damnfools.
  • And yes, the more researchers look, the more links they find between creativity and insanity. It’s just that creative people organize the weirdness more effectively. If you follow that link and you have some time, check out the related stories in the sidebar. Fascinating stuff for anybody who’s tried to plumb the mysteries and the all-too frequent (if often highly over-dramatized) pains of Art.
Claire Wolfe

Friday follies

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Total follies:

Plain old informative or thought-provoking weekend reads:

And in the good news department:

Have a great weekend.

Claire Wolfe

BOHICA: Consumer “protection”

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Okay, we all knew the Wall Street regulatory bill wasn’t really going to regulate Wall Street. And we could be sure that the new “consumer protection” bureaucracy the bill proposes wasn’t going to protect consumers, right?

But there was still a shoe that hadn’t dropped. We hadn’t yet heard about the inevitable something in the bill, the teeny, tiny little let’s-not-mention-this provision that would turn out to be the real purpose of the upcoming new law.

The shoe has struck. Via, here it is:

The bill, if it becomes law, would create the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and empower it to “gather information and activities of persons operating in consumer financial markets,” including the names and addresses of account holders, ATM and other transaction records, and the amount of money kept in each customer’s account.

The new bureaucracy is then allowed to “use the data on branches and [individual and personal] deposit accounts … for any purpose” and may keep all records on file for at least three years and these can be made publicly available upon request.

Helllllooooo again, Big Brother. Josef Stalin and Erich Honecker would be so proud.

Claire Wolfe

Karl Hess

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

P.T. reminded me that today is the birthday of the late, great (and sometimes rather quirky) Karl Hess.

She pointed me toward his 1969 Playboy article, “The Death of Politics.” Yeah, bits of it are dated now. But even those parts give an interesting look at the way politics and government never fundamentally change, even as the world shifts around them.

If I have one hero in the ranks of libertarians and market anarchists, it’s Hess. Whatever else the man did, he seriously tried to live by his principles and implement them in the real world.

Claire Wolfe

Monday miscellany

Monday, May 24th, 2010
  • A touch of humor on the Euro-debacle. Funny how comedians get what most economists miss.
  • Speaking of which, is this a sign of the contagion moving beyond Greece?
  • A few mainstream commentators do get it, though. Here’s the sort of vaguely-libertarianish-when-he’s-in-the-mood-to-be Tyler Cowen in the New York Time, telling some truths about Greece.
  • And speaking of missing the obvious … Lessee … You note that a particular function of government is bloated, inefficient, and dysfunctional. So you propose adding yet another layer of bureaucracy. The government (no surprise) hastens to follow your recommendations. Then you are shocked, simply shocked that the bloat, inefficiency, and dysfunction get worse. Only government people could possibly think like that. That they invariably do think like that is scary. Pardon me. “Think” might be the wrong word here.
  • I admire this man. Oh lord, how I admire and thank him for his gutsy work. But I could never, ever do what Julian Assange does.
  • How come the word “earthquake” is never mentioned this op-ed?
  • Is the U.S. on the path of Japan? Here’s a graph. The three lines aren’t tracking the same time period. It takes a bit of eyeball-crossing to see what’s being compared with what. But the pattern is intriguing. So, is this a real predictor? Or is it just another example of “I can do anything I want with statistics, as long as I manipulate them cleverly enough”? Along those lines, here’s the Dow in gold.

Apologies to faithful reader Winston, who once praised this blog for not being all about economics. Sorry, Winston, I promise I’ll never go “all Austrian” on you. But watching the western world teeter on the brink of its own self-created catastrophe is fascinating. Can’t take my eyes off it.

Claire Wolfe

High-wind warnings

Monday, May 24th, 2010

This is my first full spring in the desert and I’m not loving it. I knew, from word and brief visits, that it could be windy here in springtime. “Heck, it’s windy anywhere that time of year,” I thought. But wind here is something cosmic — even worse at times than the howling gales that are part of Wyoming’s very identity.

We’re under high-wind warnings two to three days a week right now. And that’s not to say that the other days are calm. Merely that they’re windy enough to be annoying and to make havoc of both your housecleaning and your hair, but not likely to blow large objects or columns of stinging, blinding sand at you.

There was a time when winds like these would have driven me to screaming-mee-meeism. A few days of this and I’d weep and wail and have fits of melodramatics I never knew the adult me was capable of. Now I merely hate them with every fiber of my being and long for brighter latitudes every moment of every endlessly windy day.

And “better” yet — I’m currently living in a friend’s trailer (sans friend) which rocks back and forth in every tiny zephyr. And is as perforated with air-holes as a trespasser’s fanny after an encounter with bird shot. Heavens, what a saint I am for enduring such trials so patiently!

Uh oh. Was that another attack of melodramatics coming on? (Actually, use of the trailer has been a great bounty; I just like to whine sometimes.)

Funny how movies set in these high-desert places never show the perpetual Chinooks. Oh, they’ll show wind if the plot calls for surviving a sand-storm. But daily life in the movies’ desert west will be conducted in the calm — nary a cowboy hat or golden lock out of place. How do they do that, anyhow? They can’t have filmed “High Noon” or “The Outlaw Josie Wales” on a sound stage.

Here, in reality, the wind blows. And so it goes for weeks and months — ironically those very months that should be the best times of year. Hunching against the unholy blast of the dry blizzard, sand in your hair and grit on your skin (not to mention red dust clogging up the works of every electronic device you own, giving them all an average lifespan of six months), you dread stepping outside — but in a life of living off-grid, you have to because you can’t even take a shower unless you trek to the barn — and when you have to go out, you feel you’re being buffeted by the demons of fate (uh oh, there I go again). (I think that was just a completed sentence, but at the moment I’m not sure, so please pardon me.)

You find yourself almost longing for winter, when days are often as still as a Christmas card. Ten-below? Who cares? When it’s that cold, the wind isn’t blowing. A snowstorm that traps you behind the washes for two days? No big deal. Just let me have some days afterward of calm, still air. That’s how crazy is this place. No sane person would want to be here. It’s miserable when it’s miserable. And it’s even more miserable when it’s supposed to be nice.

And finally — yes, really finally — after all of Deepest Dantean Hell’s unleashed unnatural forces (yeah, there I go again) — the nearest neighbors and we were just having a lunchtime chat yesterday about how many of the rattlesnakes on our respective properties are the dreaded Mojave greens — serpents whose bite would be fatal to any human and to any dog — even if the dog has had a course of rattlesnake immunizations, as my youngest and dearest has. (With my older two, I rely more on their brains to keep them out of the snake’s mouth.)

Nobody was really quite sure about how many of our poisonous snakes are those green killers. But the neighbors do commonly vie with each other for the most dramatic snake-encounter reports, and even your basic garden-variety rattler, of which there seem to be dozens of kinds, will make your life wretched enough. This is a common topic over coffee in these parts.

We’re the Edward Abbey version of garden-club ladies discussing begonia blight. That’s us. Only our blights will kill us.

Yep. Lovely place this is. Drive a body to suicide — or drive a more sensible body OUT. It may eventually beat me. I was not made for this. I was born to green and blue, to water flowing everywhere, all the time. I was born to land where you could come upon a waterfall in any empty acre of the forest — small, humble waterfall, but waterfall nonetheless — and where wild cress grew in stagnant pools and deer peacefully grazed — on actual grass that actually grew without the help of five Mexican gardeners — and I’m not sure whether that was just a full, coherent sentence again, but anyhow, I belong in drippy, wet places where the native joke (every region has one) is that if you stood to long in one place you’d grow moss on your north side. Places where wind, when it rises at all, rises only in conjunction with proper rain or snowstorms, which of course make it a perfectly understandable phenomenon and totally acceptable as a temporary visitor.

And this, do I need to say again, is not my native land?

Yet I may be soon (or not, it’s uncertain) committing to a deeper level of involvement here. It’s not sure yet.

But if I do it will be for one reason: friends. Although I, the hermit, require days of solitude and hours of silence, friends matter more than the double-damned winds.

Well, it’ll be for that one reason and a bit of luck. Also a bit of random choice. Perhaps more on that later.

And beauty. Can’t forget beauty as a motivator. She’s one alluring phantom. And in its grand, dry, sweeping-to-the-horizons way, this place is beautiful.

Oh, and because all that wet only gets warm about 20 days out of the year, the region has the highest suicide rate in the nation due to its perpetual and pervasive gloom, and your entire collection of firearms (already quite feeble) rusts, and there are slugs the size of baby whales slithering all over your lawn. (Salt. It’s both pesticide and extremely morbid entertainment in the Great Northwest.) Not to mention that the first European explorers who sighted the place took one look at its dark, impenetrable forests and declared it “uninhabitable.” I was fond of it. It was my world. And there were (and are) friends there, too.

Yeah, there’s all that.

Claire Wolfe

Saturday stuff

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010
  • I don’t care what their stated intentions are, or how innocent the people involved. To call this tasteless would be like calling the Titanic’s iceberg encounter “a scratch.”
  • I’m no particular Rand Paul fan. But the flap over his “racism” is nothing but a nonsensical refusal by the media to recognize that public issues are subject to nuance. What kind of world is it in which “yes” or “no” are the only possible answers to every question? It’s good to see David Weigel of the Washington Post defend Paul on exactly the right grounds.
  • Let me get this straight. Priests who molest children are entitled to years of defense (and even given new pastoral ministries) before the Church will even think about thinking about defrocking them. And church officials never even entertain a ghost of a notion of excommunicating even the worst serial offenders. But a nun who allows an abortion to save a mother’s life …?
  • You and I already know we’re chronic lawbreakers. Some other folks are just waking up to the fact.
  • From A.G. comes this creepy speculation about a military coup against Obama. What’s scary is that the writer mentions the Constitution as a partial excuse for booting the Big O — then goes on to detail a grotesquely unconstitutional military-intelligence-security state far worse than anything the dreadful Obama is likely to come up with. And he (wink-wink-nod-nod) approves! Urk. And what’s with that line about Obama “waging war” on the “intelligence community”? And when in all hell did that “community” ever perform “rigorous and independent functions”? Um … aren’t those the folks who lied us into Vietnam and Iraq? The folks who totally missed 9/11? The folks who haven’t found Osama bin Laden after a decade of looking? And yet who’ve recently been given the power to blast anybody into oblivion with their unmanned drones? From A.G. also comes a brilliant and well-researched, if kinda boring, 1992 analysis (pdf) of just what a military coup in the U.S. might look like.
  • Oh yes, Obama is horrified, simply horrified that big oil might have a cozy relationship with government. (Cartoon. Hat tip to Wendy McElroy.)
  • Bucharest: 1987. We can be glad we’re not quite that bad yet.
  • Politicians as children. Yep, you nailed that one, Ruth Marcus.
  • From P.T. — and from the man who gave us Arizona’s new we-really-won’t-racially-profile-those-brown-people law (aka the we-really-won’t-ever-ask-you-white-folks-for-your-papers-please-only-those-other-folks–for-now law) — a proposal to eliminate citizenship-by-birth. I hate to say it, but I sort of agree. And on the other hand don’t. Part of me thinks the whole notion of citizenship is absurd — all that should ever count when it comes to our place of residence is personal choice and merit, neither of which can be conferred by any government. But given that we have the institution of citizenship, accident of birth seems a poor grounds for granting it. I expect I’ll get in trouble for this one. Ah well.
Claire Wolfe

Naughty, naughty

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Okay. It’s Friday. It’s May. The weekend is coming. The sun in shining. It’s a good day for being naughty here at the blog. Don’t tell Dave Duffy (aka The Boss), but today let’s cover things strictly illegal and fattening. To wit:

  • You just know cannabis is finally out of the Reefer Madness days and inching toward the mainstream when the New York Times runs a straightfaced article on how chefs’ and other staffers’ personal use of the herb is influencing both food and atmosphere at restaurants. Well, makes sense. Cannabis. Munchies. Yeah.
  • And along those lines: Dan D. Lyon, you are no longer alone. Two pages of results at for books on cannabis cookery!

I don’t personally indulge in cannabis cookery. Partly because cookery of any sort is against my religion. (Except, naturally, whipping up the occasional pan of fried Cheerios; we all have our vices.) Partly because — long ago and far away — a friend once gave me a “special” brownie formulated with enough herb to make me unable to walk. I darned near threw up on my friend’s shoes, besides. Not cool. Until then, I had no idea that innocent old “marijuana” could, anywhere in this universe or any other, produce results more impairing than alcohol or acid. Since that day, I’ve once or twice experienced more normal Alice B. Toklas brownies — and they’re still just not for me.

Nevertheless, a bit of shrimp sautéed in butter with a few drops of special oil added, or nice fresh salad with a touch of enhanced oilve oil could make a delightful dinner. And oh. Hey. Maybe a little extra something would make those fried Cheerios even better, too. No toking and choking.

But mainly, just for freedom’s sake (and the sake of common sense), regardless of personal tastes (or lack thereof), I can’t wait for the day when Backwoods Home feels free to print articles on fresh and nourishing cooking with cannabis, how to tend your very special herb garden, and various ways to improve your health with homegrown herb.

Claire Wolfe

Markets, politicians, and other maunderings

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I tried. I did. I really tried to work up enthusiasm about Tuesday’s red-hot primaries. I mean, Arlen Spector being thrown out, Rand Paul being thrown in (maybe) … that oughta be exciting. Especially to an old political junkie like me — who started collecting politicians’ autographs when she was 12 (I still have my Richard Nixon) — who used to stay up into the wee hours to track election results — who, as recently as 1994 actually went to the local courthouse to be among the first to get precinct results.

But no. Couldn’t even work up a good yawn. Could you? Spector’s an old tyrannosaurus who’s already done all the damage he can. Paul may be a smarter politician than his daddy, but he’s still just a standard-brand conservative (even if not, thank all gods, quite of the Bush-Cheney ilk). (Here’s an interesting difference of opinion, though.)

The best I can do this week is give a grin of schadenfreude over the gloriously exposed hypocrisies of Connecticut A.G. (and would-be senator) Richard Blumenthal (William Salatan of Slate gives him a glorious working-over, using Blumenthal’s own “righteous” standards). And oh my lord, how about “Christian” fundie married drug warrior family-values do-as-I-say bully Mark Souder earnestly discussing the virtues of abstinence. On television. With his also-married mistress. Then blaming “the poisonous atmosphere of Washington” for his downfall.

That’s rich. You really can’t make that stuff up. These people’s brains are on some other planet.

But at the same time, my brain hurts from reading the hundreds of post-primary articles like this one. “Primaries reveal ‘new rules’ in U.S. politics!” “Voters upturn political establishment!” “Big change from politics-as-usual!”

Yeah. Right.

Are these writers all fresh out of high school, or what? Have they lived their entire lives in a cave? Every decade or so, we get “sea change in politics” exactly like the one that supposedly happened on Tuesday (and started happening earlier with the election of Scott Brown and other newsbits). Every few election cycles we also get pundits proclaiming that one party or another is “dead” and will never rise again in our lifetimes. R’s, D’s, the party varies but the story never changes. This time it’s “anti-incumbent fervor” or “anti-establishment anger” — as if we hadn’t been seeing that since 1994, at least. Or 1968. Or whatever. No. Nothing changes in politics. Or reporting about politics. (Even if some of the reports, like the one just linked, are quite thoughtful.)

And nothing in government changes, either. Unless you consider more of the same — and more, and more, and more — to be change.

You know that. I know that. Do all these hundreds and thousands of professional commentators seriously not know that? The longer I live, the more all these declarations of “change” sound like Stalinist propaganda. “Look, little people! Your leaders heed the awesome power of your votes — and they respond!”

Pardon me for not getting all tingly about it.

But I wish I could. I really wish I could.


Meantime …

The Euro isn’t actually the ugliest currency in the world right now.

No surprise, the U.S. housing market is suffering from a post-April-30 hangover

Just in case you were wondering why people choose “illegal” over “legal” immigration, here’s a pretty funny look at some of the reasons. Bureaucrats> Gotta love ’em; can’t shoot ’em. (Some language NSFW.)

And there is political hope elsewhere, if not here. I really will get all tingly if it turns out to be something other than mere words.

“European dominoes turn into global cascade.” Read that even if you don’t follow any other links today.

Claire Wolfe

Tuesday miscellany

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
  • Is this the best fake-ID site on the planet? So some have said.
  • On a more respectable note: Has anybody here ever used, the goal-oriented savings site? It pays higher interest than your local bank probably does, and for amounts that can be very small. (But as with the fake-ID site, I don’t have any personal experience. So caveat emptor and all that. And “high interest” these days is still, relatively speaking, a joke. Trillions go to foolish, but well-connected banksters; peons pocket a pittance.)
  • More from Freedom’s Phoenix: Gotta love that Ernie Hancock. Here’s what happens when a “tentacle of the omnipotent state” (that is, a poor, befuddled census taker) probes his residence (short video).
  • Free Marc Emery!
  • Detoxing America after it hits bottom in its government addiction.
  • This blog has recently been graced by the presence of SF writer Victor Milan (Hi, Victor!), who has a pretty good blog of his own. Here’s his take on the old “The enemy of my enemy is …”
Claire Wolfe

A duty to disobey?

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I don’t know Larken Rose but I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a fine writer and a hardcore thinker, and he’s clearly a man who lays his own life on the line for what he believes.

I don’t agree with everything he says here. But he asks some damnfine questions.

Do good, upstanding citizens have a moral obligation to allow themselves to be oppressed, harassed, terrorized, assaulted, and wrongfully detained or imprisoned? Most people would say “no.” But would most people actually mean it?

There are many examples of “law enforcers” treating innocent people like dirt. Random stops at “sobriety checkpoints” is a favorite of mine, since the local jackboots do that in front of my house on occasion. (In fact, they’re doing it right now, as I write this.) The border Gestapo is even worse. And a YouTube search for “police abuse” will provide you with hours of infuriating examples of fascist pigs in action.

So, do we have an obligation to put up with being treated like that? Think carefully before you answer. Because an answer of “no, we don’t,” implies that we have a right to resist it, to not cooperate. And, of course, the control freaks and megalomaniacs with the badges aren’t going to react kindly to anyone disobeying their gang. They will always escalate things to violence until they get their way.

If, for example, you believe that you have a right to not be searched without cause, a right not to be interrogated for no reason, and a right not to be detained for no reason, then logically you must also believe that you have the right to drive right through a “sobriety checkpoint” without stopping. And what if they try to forcibly stop you–as they certainly would–for exercising your rights? Do you then have an obligation to be oppressed? Or do you have the right to respond with force against force, in whatever degree it takes to overcome their attempts to detain you without just cause?

This is the horrible choice tyrants force everyone to make, on a regular basis: you either submit to their will, or you react with violence. And, unlike the badge-wearing crooks who call themselves “law enforcers,” the good people don’t like to use violence.

I don’t agree that our only choice is between cowering submission and violence. There are alternatives, even when face-to-face with force. Even in these brutal days, you may be able to stand up to a cop with knowledge and dignity and assert your legal rights as the good people of the Flex Your Rights advocate. (And BTW, I’ll soon have a review of their latest production, “10 Rules for Dealing with Police”.)

Even if you get tased or beaten or arrested, you aren’t necessarily submitting to oppression. You may instead be using your own life to show others what oppression looks like — thereby turning your suffering into a form of activism (as many members of the Free State Project have done. ADDED: Not to mention members and supporters of FIJA.)

Plus there are all those wonderful things I’ve always advocated: monkeywrenching and creative disregard (as opposed to in-your-face civil disobedience). That is — living around the state and its rules — subverting “authoritah” by living as you please, out of its sight. And let’s never forget the power of ridicule. And now, the power of YouTube and the cellphone cameras in our pockets.

No, we don’t always face a yes-no, black-white, no alternatives choice between slavish submission and violence.

Still, Larken’s right in another sense. Tyrants always do succeed at one type of force: Whatever we do, however we live, whatever choices we make, whatever risks we take, we’re constantly forced to pay attention to the wishes of tyrants and their bully-boy agents. We may scorn their rules, but we can’t escape the need to be constantly aware of both the rules and the potential punishments. We may calmly assert our rights, but to do so, we’re forced to study law and work out scenarios of confrontation in our minds when we’d be happier and more productive thinking of other things. We may practice creative disregard, but even that requires using our creativity in ways we wouldn’t resort to in a truly free society. Even those who simply turn their back on their increasingly unfree country and go elsewhere are doing it because they got tired of being forced to pay attention to the constant threats of official thieves and bullies.

And sadly, sometimes we’re forced to pay attention to tyrants because their hired thugs bust right into our houses and kill the people and the creatures we love. And they do it no matter how many times people point out alternatives. Because of course, terrorizing us is the power of tyrants and the joy of thugs. Not to mention that millions of fools find official violence entertaining — and so satisfying when it happens to other people.

And there’s no getting around it. Ultimately, Larken Rose is right that we need to think about this:

With that in mind, ask yourself, what would your local “law enforcers” have to do before you would resist by force (thereby making yourself a “criminal” and/or a “terrorist”)? Try to take your guns away? Try to take your children? Try to arrest you for criticizing “government”? In other words, what level of oppression will you actually not tolerate. Because so far, you’ve tolerated pretty damn much. Yes, lots of people whine, complain, and criticize, but until you actually resist, you are, by definition, tolerating the injustice, by allowing it to happen (to you and others).

Of course, I “tolerate” it, too, as demonstrated by the fact that I’m not dead, and not a fugitive. I’m not advocating martyrdom here. But it’s about time for Americans to start thinking about things they’ve been trained to not think about. The bogus tripe about “land of the free and home of the brave” is sounding pretty lame these days, when you look at what Americans quietly submit to on a regular basis. Of course, it’s not up to me to tell you at what point you should resist. But you ought to start thinking about it. Because somewhere between where we are now, and complete totalitarianism–and that gap is shrinking all the time–you will have to decide between being a slave, and being a “terrorist.”

… Not only the point at which we’ll resist, but how we’ll resist. Because despite all our civility and restraint, “our” government has already decided we’re all criminal suspects and dangerous “extremists.” And we know that their criminal violence is getting worse every moment. A day will come when we don’t have much left to lose.

Claire Wolfe

Friday on the road

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Sometimes when you travel the backroads, you end up at the Bates Motel. Other times, for a pittance in some old tumbledown place, you get blazing-fast wifi, a no-charge stay for your dog, and a picture window through which you can watch the sun set over mountains. Not bad.

Then some woman (apparently in charge of rousing the members of a work crew) knocks on your door at 4:32 a.m. Apologizes. And comes back 10 minutes later and does it again. This time with no apology. Just turns and walks off when she sees you’re not the person she wants. (Have I mentioned how much I hate traveling?)

I also have to take back what I said the other day about Utah having the biggest stretch of empty in the lower 48 (Okay, K.W., Alaska’s got the rest of ’em beat). Yesterday I traveled less than 400 miles, but that included two stretches of mind-bending emptiness, each more than 100 miles (the longest 120 miles) without so much as a gas station. Nothin’ but sagebrush.

I dunno. Some of you guys can say you love this stuff. But as a woman traveling alone in a 10-year-old vehicle, I find this landscape absolutely scarifying. I keep running “what if I break down” scenarios through my head; none of them are pretty, and the two boxes of emergency gear in the back don’t lighten my mood.

When not inspiring thoughts of abandonment, this landscape is mind-numbingly dull. Thank heavens for Ethel Merman. A remastered CD of the original Broadway recording of “Gypsy” has been stuck in my car’s player for months, and Mermanic song-belting is better than Red Bull for staying awake. The ebullient goofiness of “Have an Eggroll, Mr. Goldstone” is good for about 50 miles, all by itself.

Okay, back on the road in a few minutes. But in the meantime, here’s some stuff I found via that rocket-fast wifi:

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