Dad(s) Rock

It was not too long ago that I first ran across the term “dad rock,” but I recognized it as the unflattering term it was meant to be immediately.

And resented it deeply (sniff). Because they were talking ’bout me and my confréres in a low and dismissive way.

According to the users of the term, people like myself were locked into the rock music of 20 years ago or more. To make things worse, our dratted tunes keep being played over and over on the radio, in commercials, in movie soundtracks, etc.

Apparently this drives some music critics nuts, so they have retaliated by coming up with the term dad rock. I will admit that there is a trickle of truth in what they are saying. Studies have shown that we bond with the music we played in our adolescence and young adulthood in a way that never occurs again in life. The music we’re talking about today was rock and roll being born, in the most messy and uncontrolled way. Out of that mess came a mountain of forgettable (and forgotten) sound, but also one marvelous and memorable song after another.

So I feel for those men and women who can’t stand dad rock, because they are probably stuck with it as long as our generation still has a pulse.

And as far as most of the music I link to in this blog … well … pretty much unadulterated you know what, I guess. But there are two good things about it for you readers. Firstly, you don’t have to listen because it doesn’t start automatically, requiring action on the reader’s part.

Secondly, it’s free.

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Fighting the Good Fight Department

Biden Should Not Debate Trump Unless … by Thomas Friedman

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Dear Ragnar: Ragnar? Ragnar? RAGNAR?

Ragnar: Don’t bother me, boy, can’t you see I’m busy? I have to sign for something here.

Dear Ragnar: What’s in the boxes?

Ragnar: Mead.

Dear Ragnar: Mead?

Ragnar: And do I need it!

Dear Ragnar: Explain.

Ragnar: Why are you here?

Dear Ragnar: To ask you about our politics.

Ragnar: That’s why I have the need for mead.

Dear Ragnar: But you’re a spirit, right? Why should earthly matters trouble you?

Ragnar: Because I keep forgetting that I’m a spirit, so I pick up a newspaper, and by the time I remember I’m already nauseous from what I’ve read.

Dear Ragnar: I think I can relate to that.

Ragnar: You bet! Spirits have feelings, too. We’re only flesh and blood … wait … that’s not right …

Dear Ragnar: So can I ask you something?

Ragnar: Hit it, honey.

Dear Ragnar: If you were a registered voter come November, who would you vote for?

Ragnar: I’d go for Biden, myself.

Dear Ragnar: His age doesn’t put you off?

Ragnar: You’re asking a guy who is 400 years old?

Dear Ragnar: Sorry.

Ragnar: But let’s say age matters. So he’s got to get a younger person to run with him.

Dear Ragnar: Yes?

Ragnar: And he’s already said it will be a shield maiden.

Dear Ragnar: And?

Ragnar: Probably a good thing to have one of color.

Dear Ragnar: Okay, that’s been said

Ragnar: But … do you know any female candidates of color who are also Norsk?

Dear Ragnar: I don’t.

Ragnar: Me neither. Guess we’ll have to skip that category.

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We are back from our sojourn in the Silesca Guard Station, up on the Uncompahgre Plateau. Overall we had a great time, and found that the old cabin was only mildly full of allergens for Robin and I.

There was an oddness when we arrived. A very pleasant lady came out the front door and said that she had made an error, and thought she was also booked in through the night of the 8th of July, the day we arrived. She had just that morning recognized the mistake she’d made, and was in the process of feverishly working with her daughter to pack everything up. There was one slight additional hiccup. Her husband and son had left to go fishing at Ridgway (an hour away) early that morning, before anyone realized the problem, and now there was no way to contact them. This was at 11:00 AM, and we were finally able to take occupancy at 6:00 PM, when the fishermen finally returned.

Lizard track in sand

We didn’t waste all that time, however. During the waiting period, we decided to take a loop hike on something called the Buck Trail. It turned out to be a nine-mile loop, and by the end I was making tracks in the dust much like a lizard’s, feet on the side and tail dragging in the middle. But once the other family cleared out, it was all smooth sailing from then on.

The cabin was rustic, and is on the Register of Historic Places. The beds were comfortable – our sleeping bags atop their clean mattresses. The kitchen was well supplied and all appliances worked. There were two bathrooms, each with its own shower. Bathrooms and kitchen were in the basement, sleeping spaces and living room on the ground level.

Our view out the front windows was 0f a delightful meadow. Each visitor to the Silesca Cabin was expected to do the clean-up after themselves. There would be no one coming out from Montrose to help with that. As a result, it was all reasonably clean, although Robin did notice the need for a deep clean sometime in the near future.

Overall it was an interesting couple of days, and we developed more of an appreciation for the 2290 square miles of the Uncompahgre Plateau. A huge area for us to explore on future trips. Endless places to practice dispersed camping.

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Some photos from the Uncompahgre Plateau and the cabin.

Ducks In A Row

I will go out on a limb here and say that Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz are awfully poor examples of their professions. This disreputable pair sold their souls to the Devil and Oprah Winfrey long ago, but all they got in the deal was a tawdry sort of celebrity in the world of the suggestible.

(Robert Johnson allegedly made the same trade-off but became a terrific guitar player and bluesman as a result of his own arrangement with Old Nick.)

Phil/Oz have popped up recently on FoxNews weighing in with blatherous pronouncements and opinions about Covid-19. We knew that it was only a matter of time before those lips for hire began their dreadful flapping. It’s a perfect marriage of shoddy network and shoddy professionals.

Lord help us (and thank you again, Oprah, for your hand in getting them started).

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Ran across these on The New Yorker. See ’em, love ’em, share ’em, is my motto.

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When I read of the new Youth Poet Laureate, at first I felt badly because I didn’t know the former one. But then I learned that there wasn’t a former one. Amanda Gorman is the first.

Watching the following video made me somehow proud. Proud to be a tiny part of a country that gives people like Ms. Gorman a chance to have their voices heard.

Here she is on CBS’ Sunday Morning show, reading one of her works. The production is a little schmaltzy, but y’know, I can use a little more schmaltz these days.

Her words are inspirational, and what do you think about her performance? – to me she sounds like Maya Angelou, rapping.

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Almost everybody we know here in Paradise is Zoom-ing these days. All that was needed was a platform that was a little easier to use than its predecessors, and off went America into video-conferencing. Yesterday morning we connected with daughter Maja in Lima, and we were going to catch up later in the day with our grandchildren in Denver but that was postponed, because they were all Zoomed out for the day, having just finished an hour online with some other folks.

Robin meets with her church committees and book clubs in this way, and we both attend virtual AA meetings, all of these using the free version of the app. Pret-ty cool, I’d say, to be able to so easily fill in some of the gaps that geography and Covid-19 create.

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If you look closely, you will see that there is a duck, a mallard to be precise, in our front yard. He showed up Monday morning. This has never happened before, and personally I took it as an omen.

My only problem is that I don’t know what it predicts, or augurs. I have consulted all of my learned books, which are sadly silent on the subject of ducks. But it really bothered me, as who wants to begin any serious enterprise if it’s all for naught because the celestial plug has already been pulled … you just don’t know it yet?

So I turned to the only person I knew who might shed light on the subject – Ragnar the Imperturbable.

Dear Ragnar: Do you know anything about ducks in the yard? Is there any cosmic significance?

Ragnar: Ducks? You wake me up for ducks? By Freja’s golden hair I’ll …

Dear Ragnar: Really, I do apologize, it’s just that we’re all dithering out here, not wanting to do anything to mess with the gods’ plans. But again, anything at all?

Ragnar: Of course we have duck stuff. The only problem is sorting through it, there’s so much. I need to ask a couple questions of my own, first.

Dear Ragnar: Of course. Go right ahead.

Ragnar: Was it just the one … duck, that is?

Dear Ragnar: No, there was a hen, but she isn’t in the picture.

Ragnar: And what sort of bird was it? Could it have been a Mandarin duck? Or a Baikal teal?

Dear Ragnar: I’m sorry, we believe it to have been a common mallard.

Ragnar: And was it wearing anything … like an item of clothing … or spectacles, perhaps?

Dear Ragnar: No, nothing at all. It was very plain.

Ragnar: Was it up to quite a bit of quacking? More than a duck might usually be expected to do?

Dear Ragnar: It was a singularly quiet waterfowl.

Ragnar: Might it have been mute? That would narrow things down considerably.

Dear Ragnar: We really couldn’t say. We heard nothing.

Ragnar: Alright, here we go then. If a person finds a duck (or ducks) in their yard, nude, mute, and not wearing glasses, there is a very good chance that it might rain before twilight of that same day.

Dear Ragnar: That’s it? It might rain?

Ragnar: Well, what do you want? I don’t make this stuff up on my own, you know. It’s all there in the Book of Aqvavit, one of our most important sources to consult on weighty matters.

Dear Ragnar: Who in the world would bother about such an omen?

Ragnar: Well, let’s say you were planning on hanging out some laundry in preparation for pillaging England …

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Big Dominguez

A warmer Wednesday morning … 45 degrees way before the sun comes up. We took a longer hike today, revisiting Big Dominguez Canyon. It’s about an hour and a half away, and was completely free of snow, as we had hoped. So many of our favorite hiking areas are above 8000 feet, where snow is still an issue.

If you walk the whole length of the canyon it’s a trip of about 24 miles out and back, but we’ve never gone that far. Ordinarily we go up about 5 miles, have a nibble, then return. It’s not a hard walk, but can be brutal in midsummer, since the landscape is pure desert – hot and dry.

But Wednesday was a perfect day for this walk. And at least a hundred other very pleasant people thought the same.

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Some of you have seen these videos, which are both timely and hilarious. Both are take-offs on pop music tunes, one by Adele and the other by The Knack.

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Since we can’t go to the gym because of the pestilence, we’ve resorted to walking and bicycling on actual dirt and sidewalks. It’s really amazing what you can do without an electrified treadmill or elliptical. Why didn’t somebody tell us? Sheeesh.

For resistance training, we’re using a box of SKLZ latex cables that we’ve had around for years, but never got serious about until it was necessary. They don’t cover all of the territory that a universal gym does, but are simple and unglamorous helpers.

When you have a sculpted physique like mine, you can’t let a day pass without pushing or pulling on something or it will go all soft on you. If that something has to be a set of rubber bands, so be it.

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Dear Ragnar: So, Ragnar, how do you think America is doing in dealing with this latest version of the plague? I know you’ve seen quite a few of these come and go in your time.

Ragnar: Well, it’s kind of a mixed bag, isn’t it? You average Joe is doing okay … following the rules and taking care of business. On the other hand your average Yahoo is running around claiming it’s a sunny day and why are all the bars closed?

Dear Ragnar: So you think that “staying in place” programs are the right way to go?

Ragnar: Well, of course. We had our own guidelines back in the day, we called them “get back in your damned hovel or else!”

Dear Ragnar: Really?

Ragnar: You bet. We had two guys, Einar and Lothar, who did nothing but walk around the village and smite rule-breakers right and left.

Dear Ragnar: So strong leadership was important?

Ragnar: Well, duh! And that’s something I haven’t yet been able to figure out. We’d pick the bravest, strongest, and smartest person in the village to be our leader. But you guys … what’s the deal here?

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BS

Well, Mr. Sanders is a tough old bird, for certain. Not even having a heart attack during the campaign can make him take time off. He obviously desperately wants to be president – enough to gamble with his life.

Now, we need to re-emphasize the obvious here, and that is that no normal person wants to be POTUS. Period. End of story.

We, the people, can hope that the particular pathology of the one that gets the job doesn’t sink us altogether. The present holder of that office is currently involved in some serious foundering of the ship of state, so his time is up by any reasonable standard (mine, of course, being the most reasonable of all).

But Bernie? Can he lead? Who will follow? I remember too well when a charismatic and decent man with a fervent (and younger) following was nominated by the Democrats and went on to one of the worst electoral defeats in modern political history.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled on the night when George McGovern was nominated, nor more saddened at the magnitude of his loss the following November. And that loss was at the hands of a crook. So you’ll have to excuse me if I dither a bit about Bernie.

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Dear Ragnar: So, Ragnar, how does the American political landscape look to you today?

Ragnar: It’s fun to watch, but then I don’t have to live there.

Dear Ragnar: What do you mean?

Ragnar: Well, you’ve got this tangerine guy in charge who is just begging for someone with a strong right arm and a broadaxe …

Dear Ragnar: Better stop right there, Ragnar.

Ragnar: Okay, then. But then there is this other guy with the unfortunate initials, BS, who is running for the wrong job.

Dear Ragnar: Explain, please.

Ragnar: Let’s say we were picking a crew to get on the boat for a raid on England, one of my all-time favorite countries to attack.

Dear Ragnar: Go on.

Ragnar: Now who would I want to lead the charge once we hit land in Britain? I would want the fieriest member of the crew, the one with blood in his eye … and that’s BS.

Dear Ragnar: I’m beginning to see where this is going

Ragnar: So take this superheated guy and give him a sword and three cans of Jolt and turn him loose! Then you’d be playing to his strengths. But … and this is a big one … don’t let him do the planning.

Dear Ragnar: Yes, and why not?

Ragnar: Because when the chips are really down, the rest of the crew wants a cooler head to run the show. They’re all in the boat together, and as much fun as a good battle can be, eventually they’d like to get back to home and hearth and a flagon or two.

Dear Ragnar: So, Ragnar, in your estimation, who is that cooler head for the Democrats this time around?

Ragnar: Everybody else.

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These next two pics are for my brother Bill, who has fond memories of driving his pickup camper up Camp Bird Road to this famous rock overhang.

Spooked on the way up. Spooked on the way back down.

This past month a large chunk of that overhang fell off, and local jeepsters are lamenting its loss.

So unfortunately for Bill, it won’t be there for him to drive under when he returns to Camp Bird Road.

You were coming back, eh, Bill?

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Took in the Sunday matinee and saw “The Call of the Wild.” We enjoyed it. It is remarkable for having a Harrison Ford that is completely CGI’d, and a wonderful canine actor as well.

Wait a second, Robin is signaling me …

What? Huh? Nooo, really?

Well, dang. Apparently I had it all wrong, and it is the dog that is CGI’d and not Harrison.* Coulda fooled me.

I suspect that Jack London might have a quibble or two with the storyline of this latest adaptation of his famous novel, but no matter. No one has heard from Jack lately. It’s like he just disappeared.

*(I dunno. Robin’s usually right, but look at the photo. Who looks most like they are computer-generated, to you?)

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Follow Me …

We couldn’t quite make it all the way through Tuesday night’s debate. By now the candidates’ soundbite strategies were pretty well established, and the 90 minutes that we did watch didn’t move my opinions much at all.

Except that Joe Biden’s age seemed to wear on him more than on previous evenings. He did make one strong point, though, when he said that of all the people on that stage he was the best at building the kind of coalitions that will be needed in November. And I think he may be right on that.

One thing. I really disliked how the questioners framed their questions this time. It was all “Why are you the best one to be Commander-in-chief,” or the best one to do this or that. We Minnesota Norsk-people are not brought up this way – to toot our own horns in public – so that approach didn’t sit well.

Let them tell us what they’d do if given the chance, and we’ll make up our own darn minds who’s best.

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Dear Ragnar: Do you have an opinion on this latest controversy? As to whether President Cluck had justification for killing that Iranian general?

Ragnar: What controversy? He killed him. End of story. Anybody who bothers to listen to Cluck tell us why he did it should have his belt taken away and somebody cutting up his food for him.

Dear Ragnar: I don’t think I quite understand.

Ragnar: Maybe this will help. I was reading some of your history the other day, the part where little Georgie Washington said: “I cannot tell a lie.” Now that may have been embellished slightly, but it made a nice story for the kiddies. This other guy, now, when the Golden Book about him comes out it will read: “I cannot tell the truth, so help me God.”

Dear Ragnar: So aside from that, you have no opinion as to the morality of this situation? Whether we should accept assassination as a legitimate political tool?

Ragnar: Really. You’re asking a Viking warrior’s opinion on slaughter?

Dear Ragnar: Okay. Last question today. Recently a member of our family made his own lutefisk. Went to all the trouble involved, but when the final product hit the dinner table, no one would eat it. Do you have a comment?

Ragnar: I’ll just say this about that. As soon as I was dead and had more choices, I gave up lutefisk as a bad idea. These days? Give me a big plate of butter chicken and I’m a happy Norseman.

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From The New Yorker

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More on the continuing and rapidly evolving saga of electric bikes and trikes. If they are not the wave of the future, they are at least a healthy ripple.

First, here’s the prettiest ebike I’ve seen yet, and it comes from the French.

It’s called the Angell, and hides its battery in the luggage rack. Its range is 70 miles, but if you bought one of these beauties, would you really want to get it dirty? I think not.

The second one is something truly remarkable. It is the Danish VELOKS MK3. It’s a recumbent tricycle that costs a bit over $6000, which exceeds my trike budget by about $5900, but here’s the deal. It’s top speed is 37 mph and it will go more than 400 miles before it needs recharging.

That’s 400 Miles!!

F-o-u-r-h-u-n-d-r-e-d-m-i-l-e-s!!

Of course, at the end of such an epic trike ride you might need to roll yourself straight to a chiropractor’s office to be extracted from the cycle and adjusted back into a standing posture. But what an achievement this is.

The one shown in the photo is a rear-wheel drive trike, but the company has front-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive models in the works. Amazing.

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Last night Robin and I watched A Marriage Story on Netflix. It was one of those well-acted, wrenching films that I never wish to see again. To watch two characters who had been in love, but now were less so, crack open the door to divorce and discover that they had no idea what things could be lurking behind that door … . The movie brought that scary territory into full view and did it very well .

My own divorce happened more than thirty years ago, and what a learning experience it was. This picture tapped into some of those old feelings, and even though its particulars were different in very many ways from my own story, I strolled through some old neighborhoods last night that I hadn’t planned on revisiting.

Good movie, though.

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