Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Yosemite Follow-Up!

As always, being in Yosemite was an inspiring experience.  The main difference this year from recent years was the amount of water.  I’ve never seen the waterfalls flowing so heavily; there was a little flooding here and there, but nothing serious.

So being there is as wonderful as ever.  However, getting there and dealing with the vehicular and human congestion that is an existential reality these days is a major disincentive.  Inside the park we encountered bridge, road and parking construction projects that slowed traffic to a crawl.  We inched forward a car length at a time for hours.  I’m not exaggerating – it took us an extra 2½ hours to go the last few miles.  Once in the queue on what is a one-lane one-way road there is no way out.

Maybe when the construction is complete the traffic will ease.  But I wouldn’t count on it.  Why?  People and the vehicles they drive.  From 1984 to 2014 the number of visitors to Yosemite was in the 3 million a year range.  In 2015 it was 4 million something.  In 2016 it was more than 5 million.  Estimates for this year are that visitors will exceed 6 million.  Unless limits are put in place, the inevitable congestion will continue to worsen.

A few years ago foreign visitors accounted for 9% of the total.  These days, given the languages I heard on my visit this year and the last two, my estimate is that more than half the visitors are from outside the U.S.  I don’t think we should impose quotas and limit the number of foreign visitors.  I do think we should impose quotas and limit the total number (wherever they come from) to a manageable size.  Same with vehicles. 

Given the Internet, implementing an advance reservation system wouldn’t be difficult.  What will be difficult is agreeing that it should be done.  An employee of the park told us that income from Yosemite is used to subsidize national parks that are not financially viable, a clear disincentive to reduce Yosemite’s revenue.  And many members of the public will cry foul if limits are imposed.  Too bad!  There is no point in destroying the incredibly positive experience that Yosemite now provides by allowing overcrowding to continue.

The time to take action is now!

Monday, May 22, 2017


Tomorrow morning we will head to Yosemite for our annual pre-Memorial Day pilgrimage to a place like no other on this planet.

I was awestruck the first time I laid eyes on Yosemite and my awe has never diminished.  The individual iconic natural wonders – Yosemite Falls – El Capitan – Half Dome – Mariposa Grove – and more are incomparable on their own.  But it is the totality, the feeling, the experience that makes it even more special.

I know the geologic history – the earthquakes, the glaciers, the water and ice that worked for millions of years to give us what we have today – but I still find it near impossible to get my head around how it happened.  Granite cliffs and valleys formed millimeter by millimeter day after countless days.  Amazing!

So I shall go – and bask in the wonder – awestruck one more time.  Lucky me!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Thoughts for Today!

Trying to use rational thinking to figure out irrational acts by an irrational president is an exercise in futility.  The pundits who do this are wasting their time.  Best to just sit back and wait for the next irrational act that will astound, appall, dismay, surprise – whatever.  It’s an ongoing process that isn’t going to end soon.

Good news from Europe this morning: A surprise victory for Merkel in a usually unfriendly (to her) part of Germany.  Macron is moving quickly in the right direction.

The Chinese are filling the global leadership vacuum left as the U.S. turns inward.  They’ve committed the first $100 billion of what could be a trillion dollar “One Belt, One Road” development project stretching through Asia and Africa to Europe.

North Korea’s latest missile test again ups the provocation index.  Unless they change their ways they will have to be stopped.  A diplomatic solution would be nice, but may not be possible.  I lay the odds at 50-50 that force will be needed to stop them.  What happens when a crazy one faces off against a crazy one?  Your guess is as good as mine.

The Warriors came from being down 25 to win.  An amazing feat, even though an injury to Kawhi Leonard made the comeback easier.  Go Warriors!

The Giants have won three in a row.  Given their woeful display so far this season, three in a row can be classified as a miracle.

Sticking with sports to round this out:  Even if you don’t like Chelsea, you’ve gotta love Antonio Conte’s enthusiasm and unrestrained joy at finishing atop the Premier League.  Well done!

Sunday, May 07, 2017


Some things are mysteries to me.  For example:

Why do people support things that are not in their self-interest?  For example, health care changes may be bad for them, yet they say they support the changes?  Why?  I don’t know.

Why do people continue to support their hometown team, even when the team stinks?  This probably has something to do with their concern that their neighbors will call them traitors if they withdraw their support.  Or maybe their DNA demands they behave this way.  Whatever – makes no sense to me.

Why do people continue to patronize merchants when it is inconvenient to do so or when there are less expensive alternatives?  Because we’ve always shopped there?  Because daddy was a loyal client?  Who knows?  But be careful – once they’ve given up on ‘old reliable’ it’ll probably be a permanent change.

We are well into the digital age.  Why, then, do people continue to want hard copies of invoices, receipts, statements, etc.?  Maybe because they don’t trust that their computer, or device, or the cloud will produce should it really be necessary.  Or maybe just because the ‘tried and true’ is more comforting.

I hear that only 25% of people prefer watching programs or news on their TV screens.  75% prefer iPhones or iPads or whatever.  Not me.  Those devices are too small and/or are contrary to my life style.  If I need any evidence about how far removed I am from the millennial generation, this is it.  They are indeed a mysterious race of people.

At the same time, I am interested in watching Vice News along with their main demographic, millennials, so go figure.  Of course, I watch on a big screen TV.