Friday, September 6, 2013

Random thoughts and observations

1. I've been hooked on AMC's "Breaking Bad" for a several years now.  The thing that hooked me was trying to figure out how Walter White was going to get back up once he found the bottom of the slippery slope.  The glimmer of hope gets smaller and smaller with each episode.  Walter White is completely rational but amoral.  Everything he does is rationalized in his own mind as the most reasonable alternative.

His sin is pride. He's brilliant, but he thinks smarter = entitled.  It's an easy trap.  CEOs fall often because they start reading and believing their own press releases.  Athletes fall often because they watch their own highlight reels.  Entertainers fall often because they mistake attention for affection. We seem to take great interest in watching others fall from great height, I think because it makes us look better in comparison. Sin is serious business.  There's a chunk of Walter White in all of us, I think.  Good thing there are "mirrors".

2. I like playing tennis.  I'm just not very good at it. No highlight reels for me to watch!  But, I'm not going to quit, either.

3. The business class seats on domestic flights are nicer than coach.
They give you extra snacks and free drinks.  You don't have to worry about bumping your knees when the guy in the seat ahead of you reclines.  You get to check a bag for free.  But, the seat really isn't any nicer or bigger than a regular Amtrak seat (except for the center armrest),
you don't get there any faster, nor are your bags the first ones on the carousel, the upgrade is rather costly and you still have to do the same TSA cha-cha and hokey-pokey.  Is it worth the cost?  Sometimes.

4. Old cars are a pain.  They are a bigger pain if you bought one used.  You might know the title history, but you don't know where they've been, what they've been doing and which glitches are merely "warts" and which are real problems. Some things you can see and feel, but some are hidden.  I think I'm going to stay away from older used cars.  Anyone want a 2001 Mercury Sable?

5. Colorado is a fabulous place, but the mountain pine bark beetle is depressing.  Lots and lots of dead lodge pole pines.

Whole mountainsides.  It seems the problem stems from the mining era.  Huge areas were logged off for mining exploration a century or more ago.  The trees that grew back were mostly lodge pole pines. They are now all 80-120 years old. There has also been a drought lately. And, the winters haven't been cold enough lately to kill many beetles.  Pine bark beetles like lodge pole pines.  They like old trees.  They like distressed trees.  So, dead trees rule the landscape.  The good news is that it appears that a more diverse set of trees are replacing the dead lodge pole forests, so that might set the beetle back a good bit.

6. I know of two "fake Alpine" towns in the US. One is Vail, Colorado.
The other is Helen, Georgia.
Actual, real Germany

They are very different.  People are as likely to arrive in Vail by Gulfstream as they are in Helen to arrive by Harely-Davidson.  A meal in Helen costs the same as a snack in Vail.  Vail has skiing.  Helen has river tubing.  What they share is a desire to present an image of something they are not.  Under the "skin", they are both very American in their own way - which is not bad.  So, why the need to pretend?  Are there fake American towns in Germany, Switzerland or Austria?  I think I need to do some in-person investigation!

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