Jul 10


Posted by Simon

“It’s time to get in touch and get outgoing.”

is the opening line in the glossy full color brochure from



On the website it says:

“Welcome to Sherpa -an innovative membership community

and your bridge to a world of new opportunities.”

It appears that it is an organized meetup type of organization that will help people (probably retired people) find new activities, friends and places.

Will it work.  Even if it doesn’t it is a good idea.  Baby boomers are retiring in droves and not all of them golf, hike or quilt.  This type of organization might be just the thing.  I’ll report back in a year or so and let you know.

Jan 28

Carnegie Libraries

Posted by Simon

On our drive from Santa Fe to visit the Pecos Pueblo we visited the Carnegie Library in Las Vegas, New Mexico.  It was Sunday so the library was closed but as we drove up the sky cleared and I got this great photo.

Yes it was designed as a copy of Monticello.  The building of the Carnegie Libraries was an amazing thing.  It seems that someone like Stephen Fried who wrote Appetite for America about Fred Harvey and the Harvey Houses could do a great job telling the Carnegie Library story and sell a lot of books.

From the Wikipedia article: ” 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929″

When in Las Vegas NM eat at Charlies Spic & Span.  They have excellent Sopapillas and even better freshly made flour tortillas.

Dec 7

Smart Phone Holiday

Posted by Simon

If you have a smart phone here are a few easy things you can do to with it to improve the holidays:

  • When you get a gift from Aunt Sally in Coral Gables immediately take a photo of it and email her  a thank you. The photo email is the new thank you note.
  • Take a photo of a particularly nice Christmas display and email it to the oldest person in your family.  Say “I saw this and wanted to share it with you.”  Be sure to copy or blind copy your Mom.
  • Set your ring tone to a holiday jingle
  • Give the gift of Apps.
  • Learn to dictate and transcribe notes.  Then teach someone else.
  • Use a holiday symbol, Tree, Star etc as your background in December.
  • Use Postagram to send some real cards without ever going to the post office.
  • Share pictures of a few things that made you laugh.
  • Email your grandmother a picture of you having fun.

“Thanks Aunt Sally.”

Nov 28

Baby Food Update

Posted by Simon

This post is for those of you who are not in the child care loop.  It used to be that when a baby was ready to switch from a bottle or breast to more solid food she was literally spoon fed baby food.  Now those clever people at Gerber (owned by Nestle) have taken the mess, and the acculturation out of feeding toddlers.  They are marketing tubes of food.  It is a great idea, in the short run.  Grabbers are cleaner, more convenient and more hygienic.

But think about the long term effects.  It is now theoretically possible for a young person to grow to adulthood without ever having to chew food or learning to use a spoon or fork.  I can visualize a world where all food is the consistency of soft Brie.  And teeth are no longer necessary.  But eating will be more convenient.

You’re laughing but exactly the same thing is happening with the need to run and with the need to read.  Video has to a large extent ended the need to read and almost all running today is for pleasure.

I can visualize life without forks can you?

Jul 25

While traveling on the lifts and trains in Switzerland we met some young men who were base jumpers.  It is a sport in which you jump off a cliff and free fall for a few seconds then release a parachute. For those of you not familiar with this seemingly irrational behavior there is more on Wikipedia.  The few base jumpers we met were handsome, virile young men from middle class backgrounds.  The question raised in our minds was: “Why do they do it?  They have about a one in fifty chance of dying!”

Base jumping is regulated behavior in Switzerland

The only answer I could think of was that they are base jumping for the same reason that other young men join gangs, deal drugs or drive cars too fast.  They have a genetic urge to be virile, to tempt fate.  They want risk.  It seems to me that a successful society should allow young people space for this risky behavior.  The ideal space will be one in which they risk their lives without putting anyone else in danger.  So, by my criteria base jumping is a good sport. Drug dealing is not so good because it risks the lives of others.  Street racing is bad but NHRA racing is a good.

A perfect base jumping cliff


Jul 6

Remote Idea

Posted by Simon

At a hotel I stayed at in North Carolina they had a “Clean Remote” for the TV.

Apparently there are enough people in the world who worry about germs on remote controls to make this product feasible.  It reminded me of when remotes were new and the hotels bolted them down to keep them from being stolen.

“Lets stay at the Blank Hotel they have a clean remote.”

What an amazing world we live in.

Jul 2

Google News

Posted by Simon

“If it isn’t on the first page of Google search results,

it doesn’t exist.”

See my idea for Facebook Search

Jun 13

Ore Cart III

Posted by Simon

I may have to start an ore cart factory in order to get one for my yard.

Here I am posing with the one up at Henninger Flats.  It may become the prototype for the factory.  My brother Matt in the UK who is in the railway equipment business has found some wheels in a yard in the rural UK.  We aren’t sure how we are going to get them to the USA yet.  They don’t look like carry-on luggage.

There is lots to do but an ore cart will be a great addition to the garden.  And the perfect place to display all of the rocks and minerals I have brought home from various trips over the last 30 or 40 years.  They are currently stored in many large cartons in the garage.

May 27

Ore Cart II

Posted by Simon

I want an ore cart to display my rock samples and I saw one in Las Vegas and blogged about it.  My feeble efforts to find one or get one made were fruitless and I had pretty much given it up as another one of those wild ideas I have that come to naught.  Then on a hike to Henninger Flats last weekend I saw an ore cart.

In fact two ore carts:

They were part of a display about mining in the San Gabriel Mountains in the 19th and 20th centuries.  The thing I learned is that the wheel assemblies (trucks) are a separate piece from the cart.  I’m back to dreaming about ore carts.

Apr 15

The Marshmallow Test

Posted by Simon

The1972 Stanford Marshmallow Test has been in the news lately.  It has been 40 years since 600 preschoolers first participated in this test of deferred gratification.  The tests and the subsequent followups are important because they are relevant to the national debate about saving, home ownership and education expense.

The experiment worked like this: “The children were led into a room, empty of distractions, where a treat of their choice was placed by a chair.  The children could eat the marshmallow, the researchers said, but if they waited for fifteen minutes without giving in to the temptation, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.”  A third of the children held out for the second treat.

Follow-up studies have shown that there is an unexpected correlation between the results of the marshmallow test, and the success of the children many years later.  The children who could defer gratification for fifteen minutes ended up with more successful lives by almost any measure.

So self-restraint and deferred gratification are important to the success of individuals.  How about for countries?  I would say yes and so are the lenders to European countries.

The lesson also applies to saving, home ownership and education. These three, used to be symbols of middle class success.  They were what people with self-restraint who were willing to defer gratification used to earn as a reward.  Now the government is trying to give the reward to everyone.  And as a result we get the housing crisis and the coming student debt crisis. See my earlier story Degrees and Sneakers

The Marshmallow Test and it followups show the link between the cultural expectations of the people and the way government operates.  Arguing about how to lower the deficit is a fools game until we all start exercising a little self-restraint and accepting a little more deferred gratification.

Thanks to Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute for an article in the WSJ were I first heard about the Marshmallow Test.