Monday, May 22, 2017

New culinary delight

I had a taco Al Pastor at the golf course restaurant in Nuevo Vallarta, so when I saw Al Pastor on the menu at Casa Blanca, in Cathedral City, CA, I ordered it.  Vicki ordered the carnitas, which I had two nights before, and she didn't like them (too "porky") so we switched.  We both liked the Al Pastor a lot, so when we saw a package of Al Pastor in Stater Bros, we got some.

I grilled it tonight, and grilled some pineapple chunks, and the tortillas, and we dressed the tacos with fresh cilantro, fresh squeezed lime juice, and Newman's Own pineapple salsa.

The palette of flavors was exquisite.  Next time we'll get sliced pineapple, so it can be grilled directly on the grate and cut up later.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cabot Pueblo Museum

One of the first white settlers in the Coachella Valley was Cabot Yerxa.  His first name is his mother's maiden name - yes, those Cabots.  His family founded the Yerxa Mercantile stores, and at age 15 Cabot managed one of them, with 20 employees reporting to him.  Following some adventures in Nome, Cabot paid $10 for a 160-acre homestead in the Mohave desert.  For a year, he walked 7 miles every 3 days to Palm Springs, an Indian village, to get water and carry it back to his homestead.  One day his Cahuilla friend asked him why he didn't use the abandoned well at the old Indian village, on the hill near his house.

That well was too alkaline, but Cabot started witching and digging for water, and discovered Desert Hot Springs.  And a cold water aquifer close by it, which is now the source of the award-winning city water in DHS.  Because the hill had both hot and cold water, he named it Miracle Hill.  That was 1913, and in 1917 he joined the Army to fight in WWI.

In 1941 he returned to his old homestead and began building the Pueblo, using materials found in the desert or scavenged from abandoned structures nearby.  It eventually expanded to 35 rooms and 5000 square feet.

He made it a museum and artist colony.  One of his Cahuilla friends made him a sculpture

called two-faced white man.

On the property is a 43-foot tall sculpture of Waokiye, the "traditional helper" of the Lakota, and part of the Trail of the Whispering Giants.

There are 74 whispering giants, at least one in each state.  Sounds like the next quest, after I finish playing the top 100 golf courses.

More pictures.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Rocky start

We were trying to get to Aguanga, CA, but didn't make it.

It all started almost two months ago, when the GMC dealer said we needed all new hoses.  Which seemed likely, because they were the original equipment from 11 years and 170,000 miles ago.

Then about a month ago, we got a "low coolant" alarm from the computer.  So we added coolant, and the alarm went away.  It didn't register that when they changed out the radiator hoses all the coolant would have drained out and been replaced.  I figured maybe it was a slow leak, or normal losses to evaporation or something.

Friday, on the way up the mountain from Palm Springs, the engine overheated and the low coolant alarm came on again.  Luckily, there was a pullover only about 1/4 mile ahead, so we got off the narrow, winding, 2-lane road to safety.

We had a container of coolant in the RV, and began to pour it in, and it ran out from under the truck onto the ground.  I crawled under the truck and found a radiator hose disconnected from the thing it was supposed to attach to.  It had some sort of clamp that should hold it on, but I could only see one side of it and couldn't get it securely reattached.

Luckily again, there was an emergency call box, because there was no Verizon cell service on this mountain road.  Which I told everyone who could possibly need to know.  They all wanted my phone number, so I made sure they knew there was no service there.

The operator who answered the emergency phone transferred us to USAA, which includes roadside assistance in the auto insurance for the truck.  They sent a tow truck and took us and the truck to the local GMC dealer, leaving the RV in the pullover.  I figured they would be able to reattach the hose in 30 seconds, and we'd be able to continue on our way.  HAHAHA!

They needed a part, and couldn't get it until Saturday.  So we made a reservation at a nearby RV park, and I called Progressive, who provides the insurance for the RV, and also includes roadside assistance.  They agreed that we were covered, and said they would dispatch a tow vehicle to take the 5th wheel to the RV park.  The GM dealer had no loaners, and the Enterprise Rent-a-Car down the street had nothing to rent, so we got an Uber to take us back to the RV to meet the next tow company.

And then we waited.  After an hour, I used the emergency call box again, and got transferred to Progressive, and got a different agent who asked all the same questions again, and said she would try to find a tow service to come get us.

After another hour, I called again, same thing.  Oh, when Progressive puts you on hold to find a tow company, they drop the call after a while, so I had to call back to the emergency operator - a new one, who didn't have the info from my previous call - and get transferred to Progressive again - a new agent who didn't have the info from my previous call ...

Then a good Samaritan stopped by.  She is an Uber driver, and offered to go down the hill and use her cell phone to call Progressive and see what was going on.

After another hour, I was on the phone again holding for Progressive when she came back, and said she had convinced them to send a tow truck for us.  And, finally, after 4 hours, after dark, the tow truck showed up.  By then the RV battery was run down, and we had a hard time getting the jacks up so we could be towed, but finally we did, and then I remembered that the RV power cable was in the bed of the truck, which by now was locked in the GMC dealer's lot, because they were closed.  So when we got to the RV park we had no power.  The tow truck had a battery charger so we were able to get the jacks down and the slides open.  I did have cell service, and I had 6 messages from the tow company asking me to call them and confirm the information I had given to Progressive, so that they could dispatch a truck to tow us.

Saturday, GMC had their part, and did the repair under warranty, and we got the truck and the power cord back.

Sunday we rested.  I played golf today at the #94 best course you can play in the US, La Quinta Mountain Course.  Read about it here.  I'll play the #56 course tomorrow.  Vicki got her nails done, and became a hand model.  They took pictures of their work on her for their web site.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Angry Birds

We're in a new site, still here in Fort McDowell waiting for a new grey water tank, and there is a pair of flickers that think we're a rival flicker family.  This is the female, the male has a red spot on top of his head.  They see their reflection in our back window, and do this


over ... and over ...

If you don't see the video above, try this link.

Saturday, April 1, 2017


In response to comments of my readers, this blog will focus only on our travels, and RV life.

My golf experiences will be here, and my economics here.

Please follow whichever ones interest you.

The shot that never happened

I volunteered at the Mesa Gateway Classic, the local Symetra Tour tournament, this week.  They don't have walking scorers, they have "cart drivers" who call in the scores for each hole on the radio, so that's what I did.

On Thursday I rode with Carlie Yadloczky, Isi Gabsa, and Allison Emrey.  Isi shot 72, Allison 71 in the first round, but without my help on Friday they all three missed the cut.  Allison was the winner of the 1000-watt smile-of-the-day award.  She has her own blog.  We started on the back 9, and she was 5 under par through 13 holes, one out of the lead, but made bogey on 5 and triple bogey on 6.

Isi is from Germany and pronounces her name "easy".  I can only imagine McCord and Feherty dealing with that on TV.

Friday I rode with Dottie Ardina, Savannah Vilaubi, and Bertine Strauss.  Dottie is from the Phillipines, shot 77 to go with 78 Thursday.  She averages only 236 yards off the tee, so it's hard to imagine her being highly successful without more length, but then again she's been on tour 3 years and has 9 top-10 finishes.  Bertine was an LPGA rookie last year, but lost her card.  She was very gracious, shot 72 and made the cut.

Savannah was the day's winner of the 1000-watt smile-of-the-day award.  This was her second Symetra tour event.  Her parents walked with us, and were way more stressed about it all than she was.

They told me she had shot 73 Thursday, but signed an incorrect scorecard (74).  The rules of golf concerning signing a wrong scorecard are clear and simple:  if you sign for less than you shot, you're disqualified;  sign for more, and you're stuck with it.  Mom said she fumed about it for 10 minutes, then reverted to her normal happy self.  She played well Friday, and was 2-under for the day, even par for the tournament, after 16 holes, with the cut line at +3.  Her par putt on 17 lipped out, and then she hit her drive on the par-5 18th into the desert, unplayable.  When the dust settled, she had a 7 and missed the cut by one shot:  the shot she didn't hit on Thursday.

As I was leaving, she and her caddy were heading to the range.  Watch for her on TV soon, she doesn't know how to quit.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Trees and cars

This is from Warren Mosler's blog:

They used to tell the story about a guy who claimed he could make cars out of wood, and he started a company in Oregon that brought trees into one door of his giant building with new cars coming out of another door, and he wouldn’t let anyone inside to see how it was done. He was given an award for innovation and widely acclaimed, until one day someone got inside and saw he was shipping the trees out the back to Japan and bringing in new Korean cars. He was then arrested and jailed, etc. etc.

The point is, for the macro economy it didn’t make any difference what was going on behind those closed doors, and that for purposes of understanding one can think of foreign trade as a company that takes in all that you export and delivers back whatever is imported.

This model also promotes the understanding of how, in real terms, exports are the costs of imports, and optimizing real terms of trade is about getting the most cars for the fewest trees, which is likewise what productivity is all about for the domestic economy.

What about the jobs lost due to increased productivity? Well, history shows it used to take 99% of the workforce to grow the food we need to eat to live, and today in the US it takes maybe 1% of the workforce to grow enough food to eat with a lot left over to export. Yet unemployment isn’t necessarily any higher today than it was back then. Why? Because there’s always a lot more we think needs to get done than there are people to do it, and unemployment comes from a lack of funding, and not a lack of things to do. Today the service sector dominates, and more so every day, with no lack of services we’d like to have done as far as the eye can see. And unemployment, as currently defined, is necessarily the evidence that for a given level of govt. expenditure the economy is that much over taxed, as a simple point of logic. Not that policy makers understand that, of course…

Now let’s add a border tax to the model, for the purpose of creating jobs, not withstanding how that premise is categorically ridiculous, as per the prior discussion. But, to quote Don Rumsfeld, ‘We’ve got to fight with the army we’ve got.’ Anyway, a border tax would put a tax on importing the cars to attempt to keep us from buying them so we would have more jobs building cars domestically, and reduce the tax on exporting the trees so we would have more jobs cutting down and shipping out trees.

Let’s assume that’s what happened and look at those consequences. First, we would be shipping out more trees and getting fewer cars. This makes the nation as a whole worse off due to those reduced real terms of trade. The next step is to identify the winners and losers, recognizing the losses to our standard of living are higher than the gains. Best case we put more people to work growing more trees so we have just as many trees for ourselves, and we’d put more people to work building cars so we’d have just as many cars as before. So what we accomplished is that we are working more to be left with the same amount for ourselves.

That’s called a drop in productivity, and a decline in our standard of living, as work is an input and a real cost of production. Work itself is not an economic benefit. The economic benefit of work is the output produced. And the whole point of producing output is consumption of some type, either for immediate use or for future use. That is, it makes no economic sense to work and produce output for the purpose of immediately throwing it away.

So with the above ‘best case’ assumptions, the border tax does work to create jobs, and unemployment is a political problem, which is why the border tax has that element of political appeal. Not that it matters, but my first choice for job creation would be a fiscal adjustment, either a tax cut or spending increase, large enough to promote sufficient spending to increase sales, output, and employment to produce that additional output. That way we have that much more domestic output to consume plus all the imported cars we were buying before the border tax, and we don’t have to give away the extra trees due to the border tax proposal.

And how does it look from the government’s point of view?

First, the government expects extra revenue from the tax on the imported cars, net of the revenue lost from tax benefits for exporters. This means less spending power for consumers paying the tax, presumably offset by new tax cuts, making it all revenue neutral, which through some presumed channels is theorized to have its own positive consequences.

So in this ‘best case’ scenario Americans work more and get less, while consumer taxes go up and other taxes go down. Hardly seems worth a second look?

But that is only the economic best case scenario. All kinds of other things can happen, with the same model used for purposes of analysis.