Saturday, January 26, 2008


I love these rock formations in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona. I'm not sure why they're called hoodoos but the term seems perfect. I'm now exactly half a year's rotation from the trip that included this hike and it's time to finish the story that I started then, a novella. It's funny to think that I was carrying pieces of the story under my hat then that had not yet found the page. The trip was actually an MFA workshop with five other writers and a professor. You can see things in and among those hoodoos. Click on the picture to blow it up and take a good look. What do you see?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Just Like Las Vegas

The current stock market volatility (roller coaster style) is cyclical (but unpredictable) and it feeds media frenzy in the same manner as a hurricane, earthquake or tsunami. My demographic puts me in the class of an investor somewhat reliant in the future on the integrity of a system that has some loathsome aspects. Many of the decisions that affect the direction of the market are made by Wall Street professionals whose goals are extremely short term. What profit can be turned today? What scheme will result in a big return for those closest to the deal? The long horizon of the rest of "us" is not primary. Many folks who don't even think about the stock market are affected by it. Teachers and professors count on pensions that are in large part tied into the stock market. As to the individual investor, in order to outpace inflation, one just about has to have some savings invested in equities (stocks). Relatively safe money market funds do not beat inflation. The tragedy of these big drops is that tons of folks who can least afford losses panic and cash out rather than gritting their teeth to wait for the next up cycle. If an investor has a diversified portfolio and can resist the urge to try and time the market fluctuations, patience is the primary strategy. For those inclined toward Vegas type thrills, timing the highs and lows provides the same kind of rush and, often, the same result at the end of the day. Busted!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Kitties, Too

My last post may have given the impression that I was exclusively a dog person. Not so! Here are two guys, Woody and Lucky, that share our home along with our Benji-looking mutt, Casey. Lucky gained his name from circumstances. First, he was the "outside cat." He showed up one day as a pencil-thin stray kitten hiding under our deck. We had two cats already and decided to take him to a humane shelter for adoption. On the way (on the freeway), he pooped in his crate and when my wife stopped to extricate him to clean up, he bolted through her hands, but she caught him by a hind foot and held on; otherwise, he'd have been into the bush and probably never seen again. When she arrived at the shelter, it was closed. So, he was returned to our home and we decided he was simply a lucky cat. It was spring and we fed him and enjoyed his company on the deck everyday. When November arrived, we let him in the house and he decided that's where he would stay (at first, not a popular move in the eyes of our two older, now departed, indoor felines though they "accepted" him within a few weeks). The other guy is Woody. Anyone have an idea what kind of cat he might be? He's a mix and looks like his dad who we were told was not Siamese.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Read Merle's Door

Merle's Door by Ted Kerasote is a great read-but then I am commenting from the perspective of dog person and outdoor enthusiast. The book opens with the author encountering Merle at a put-in for a long river run. He gives Merle, then an eight month old stray but friendly pup, the choice of accompanying the group. Merle chooses and the two are together for the next thirteen years. The author lives near Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the book is laced with tales of hikes and hunts (he characterizes himself as an ethical hunter and says the only meat he eats is that which he has hunted). He makes his living as a writer and his work has appeared in several national publications (e.g. Outside). His home is not actually Jackson Hole (where Dick Cheney owns a spread) but Allen, a smaller settlement for the relatively impecunious. Some dog training lore and researched speculation on the evolution of canid domestication is interspersed but not to a point of distraction from the primary narrative, Kerasote's relationship with Merle. Oh, don't worry, there is also reasonable devotion to the presence of human friends and a little about his love life.