Monday, 28 November 2011



Parked (free)in the Paradise Casino parking lot---Yuma, Az.--Hardly a care in the world--Living the good life.

Glancing to my left, I see the world famous Yuma Crossing---high bluffs of granite on opposite sides of the Colorado river--the perfect place for bridges--railroad and auto---built there in 1930.

And glancing just left to see the guard tower for the Yuma territorial prison. (remember the movie: "3:10 to Yuma)

My mornings are filled with beauty as balloons drift over my rig.

AND THEN---AND THEN---That very night a drunk smashes into my truck.

Two doors and this bed damage. 

The cops come---test him with a field sobriety test---handcuff him and take him to jail.

I'm able to get "home" but barely able to drive around.  Next day I get an estimate: $4,866.00.

While I'm waiting, I read this magazine and learn that automobile crashes, insurance, fault-finding, and repair shops, police reports are a vast web of money-making enterprises---with policy buyers footing the needlessly high bill. I also learned that I'm not likely to be reimbursed for my damages.  And that begins to upset me and mobilize my thoughts.

My friends are waiting for me in Borrego Springs, Ca--for our annual Thanksgiving gathering. Quickly, I gather facts---learn about the wrecking business and the nationwide linkup for used parts---order two doors (my truck is the 3 door model) for $500.00 and go looking for a reliable body shop. 5 shops later, I found my guy.  2 shops refused the job--at any price--replacing doors is highly tedious--I learned.  This one said yes when I sweetened the offer.  It took most of the day to accomplish this much.  I hung around out of curiosity.

And then things got very difficult--trying to fit the auxillary door into a damaged post.---THEN I saw why other shops refused the job.  They gave up for the night---tuesday night---the clock is ticking--my friends are 152 miles away.  In the night--believe it or not---I saw in my mind how to fit the door in place---I called the guy--Jacob Garcia--and told him---he said ok---and guess what--It worked---the door fit and the truck was drivable by Wed night. (not painted or undented--but drivable---good enough to travel) 

I was proud of my unconventional idea and surprised that the expert was open minded enough try it. He bit off a very difficult job for not a lot of money---I recommend him. (G-Styles Auto Body and Welding 928-726-6889----2766 Ave 3E---Yuma, Az, 85365)
I MADE IT--- by the hair of my chin chin chin---10 minutes before dinner was served.

My friends heard of my difficulties and saved a choice seat for me.  Our group ( ) gathers at this spot every year for a week of desert adventure.

This little triangle of land is famous in RVin circles---It is called PEG LEG SMITH'S in honor of an old prospector in this region.  One may camp free here indefinitely and many do. Orange groves green the environment to the right and the resort town of Anza Borrego, Ca lies against the distant mountains---2,500 desert loving citizens---completely surrounded by California's largest park.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I give myself decent marks for dealing rationally with this unpleasant episode.  I noted how vulnerable my whole lifestyle is---a simple crash could clip my high flying wings for some time as I carry most all my possessions with me.(yes my trailer was attached--but not damaged)  More importantly, I noticed my runaway feelings---I felt powerless in the face of an injustice (the drunk lied about the accident---it may go down as a "he said/he said" in the report and I may have to fix my vehicle.) A sad, numbing, depression settled on me for a few hours.   My mind replayed the facts over and over.  By morning, my WATCHER had kicked in:

 "I am not contained between my hat and boots----apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am----stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary---looks down with sidecurved head---curious what will come next---both in and out of the game---watching and wondering at it---I WITNESS---AND WAIT---(Whitman---Song of myself)

And I saw that it wasn't that big of a deal---a few thousand dollars at worst.  All over the world countless millions suffer real and enduring injustice.  And No doubt I have imposed much wrong on others. It's part of the cosmic drama.  So--slowly I came to acceptance--got cracking--gathering info--locating doors--ordering them, finding a body shop, etc.  In less than a week my joy returned -- I'm mobile again--and willing for the matter to take whatever course it takes.

Monday, 14 November 2011


THIS IS ME---BENEATH MY SKIN (an MRI)---and it must be obvious I've had extensive dental work. I've decided that I want ALL MY TEETH BACK---not partials and bridges--but individually anchored teeth---a mouth full of them---solid and beautiful---AND I'M GOING TO HAVE IT---thanks to a super dentist utilizing a wonderful new technique for growing bone.

Look closely at this side view---can you see that titanium implant? It was placed there  Sat the 12th of November--two days ago. Note the precision of its placement with computer assisted horizonal and vertical axes.  It is implanted in solid bone which grew there in the past few months.  In about 4 months it will firmly integrate itself and serve as the "root" of a lovely new tooth.
See how it distracts from my otherwise charming smile. I lost it due to an accident.

The problem---as seen on x-ray before the implant proceedure.  I appreciate the high-tech gadgetry that lets me see what's going on.

Meet Dr Carlos Rubio---a super dentist.
And two members of his team who will assist.

But first I am sent to this team member---an MRI specialist---He provided the images posted above.

Dr Rubio studied those images to certify bone density and thickness and to pinpoint drill position and angle.
And an impression specialist does his work.

Then on Saturday--all is prepared for the doctor.  An assistant suits him up.  I noted the drama as he entered the room---He commands the respect of a general---and it does not seem to be fear based.  They know that he has risen from the ranks of ordinary dentist by his learning, expertise, vision and leadership.
He began in a tiny one man cubby hole--doing such excellent work that word spread and he soon needed more space and personnel.  In 15 years he has assembled what amounts to a dental empire--with several buildings---a staff of at least 20---and a coterie of specialty dentist---oral surgeons--orthodontist, root canal etc.  He focuses on implants.
The operation is over---I felt no pain---Dr Rubio shares the glory with his assistant.
It feels very good to have a dentist you can trust.  He guarantees all work done in his offices for 3 years.
He took the time afterwards to give me a power point presentation of the new discovery that will give me all my teeth back.  Can you see the writing on this document: ADVANCED BONE GRAFTING.  Here in essence is the new discovery/technique:  No longer must bone be "harvested" from the patient.  Instead, a specially prepared cow bone aggregate is positioned into place with temporary screws and a membrane that covers the area to prevent contamination.  BINGO---in 4 months or so your bone embraces, infuses, integrates with the cow bone claiming it as its own---AND NOW YOU HAVE SUPPORT FOR IMPLANTS. I begin the process after Thanksgiving----Should be ready for implants  by April---and I'll get my new teeth by autum.  I'll also get the missing tooth noted above this april.

Some months of every year is given to advanced studies in dentistry.  His walls are covered with such as this.

The waiting room of his main office.
The reception desk. Yes--they all speak English.  Dr Rubio is very fluent in English.

He has an assistant show me around.  This is his seminar room where he instructs staff and other dentist in the latest techniques.

 Rubio's main office. or  phone 928-255-0897

There are at least a hundred dentist in Algodones, Mexico--(just across the border from Yuma, Az)-here is a string of them---I do not demean any of them..  Many are cheaper than Rubio and easier to see.  I will wait my turn and pay the few extra dollars because he's earned my trust. (Rubio estimates that he is 40% cheaper than American Dentists)
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I've known Dr. Rubio for about 17 years----watched him rise from cubby hole to Kingpin.  I feel I have participated in his success by recommending him so often.  I write this because I admire excellence----and vision and effective organization. Also to acquaint my readers who may not know----of  the savings possible in Mexico.  For the easy stuff, I'm sure many Algodones Dentists are competent---and many of my friends have ones they like.
The new bone graft breakthrough can make a huge difference in the quality of life.    
Finally, It has crossed my mind to write the President of Mexico---calling attention---to the genius of  Dr. Rubio--suggesting that he draft his visionary skills in the service of dental health for the whole nation.  I think he could do it.  

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Lessons From the Failure of Flash: Greed Kills

Adobe's decision to stop development of mobile Flash has deservedly gotten a lot of attention online.  It's a sad story for Adobe and Flash developers: a dominating standard on the PC web failed to get traction in mobile, and will now be abandoned gradually in favor of HTML 5.  But the story's not limited to mobile -- without a mobile growth path, I think Flash itself is destined to become a dwindling legacy standard everywhere (link).  I think the whole Flash business edifice is coming down.

How did Flash go from leader to loser?  There are a lot of explanations being floated online. Erica Ogg at GigaOm has a good list (link):

--Mobile flash didn't work very well
--It was opposed by powerful people like Steve Jobs
--It was out-competed by HTML 5

(And by the way, how in the world do you get out-competed by something as slow-moving as HTML 5?)

I agree with Erica, but it's more a list of symptoms than root causes.  It's like saying an airplane crashed because the wings fell off.  Yes, that's true, but why did the wings fall off?  If you look for root causes of the Flash failure, I think they go back many years to a fundamental misreading of the mobile market, and to short-term revenue goals that were more important than long-term strategy at both Macromedia and Adobe.

In other words, Flash didn't just die.  It was managed into oblivion.

The story of Flash is a great cautionary tale for companies that want to create and control software platforms, so it's worth looking at more closely.

A quick, oversimplified history of Flash

In the software world, there is an inherent conflict between setting a broad standard and making money.  If you have good software technology and you're willing to give it away, you can get people to adopt it very broadly, but you will go broke in the process.  On the other hand, if you charge money for your technology, you can stay in business, but it's very hard to get it broadly adopted as a standard because people don't want to lock themselves into paying you.

Clever software companies have long realized that you can work around this conflict by giving away one technology to make it a standard, and then charging for something else related to it.  For example, many open source software companies give away their core product, but charge for hosting and support and other services.  Android is another example -- it's a free operating system for mobile phone manufacturers, but if you use it in your phone Google also tries to coerce you into bundling its services, which extract revenue from your customers. 

In the case of Flash, the player software was given away for free on the web, and Macromedia (the owner of Flash at the time) made its money by selling Flash content development tools.  The free Flash player eventually took on two roles on the web: it was the preferred way to create artistically-sophisticated web content, including an active subculture of online gaming, and it became one of the most popular ways to play video.  Flash reached a point of critical mass where most people felt they just had to have the player installed in their browser.  It became a de facto standard on the web.

Enter Japan Inc., carrying cash.
  The rise of mobile devices changed the situation for Flash.  Long before today's smartphones, with their sophisticated web browsers, Japan was the center of mobile phone innovation, and the dominant player there was NTT DoCoMo, with its proprietary iMode phone platform.  The folks at DoCoMo wanted to create more compelling multimedia experiences for their iMode phones, and so in early 2003 they licensed Macromedia's Flash Lite, the mobile version of Flash, for inclusion in iMode phones (link).

The deal was a breakthrough for Macromedia.  Instead of giving away the flash client, the way it had on the PC, Macromedia could charge for the client, have it forced into the hands of every user, and continue to also make money selling development tools.  The company had found a way to have its cake and eat it too!  In late 2004, the iMode deal was extended worldwide (link), and I'm sure Macromedia had visions of global domination.

Unfortunately for Flash, Japan is a unique phone market, and DoCoMo is a unique operator.  The DoCoMo deal could not be duplicated on most phone platforms other than iMode.  Macromedia, and later Adobe, was now trapped by its own success.  To make Flash Lite a standard in mobile, it would have needed to give away the player, undercutting its lucrative DoCoMo deal.  When you have a whole business unit focused on making money from licensing the player, giving it away would mean missing revenue projections and laying off a lot of people.  Macromedia chose the revenue, and Flash Lite never became a mobile standard.

Without fully realizing it, Macromedia had undermined the business model for Flash itself. The more popular mobile became, the weaker Flash would be.

Enter the modern smartphone.  Jump forward to 2007, when the iPhone and other modern smartphones made full mobile web browsing practical.  Adobe, by now the owner of Flash, was completely unprepared to respond.  Even if it started giving away Flash Lite, the player had been designed for limited-function feature phones and could not duplicate the full PC Flash experience.  Meanwhile, the full Flash player had been designed for PCs; it was too fat to run well on a smartphone.  So the full web had moved to a place where Adobe could not follow.  The ubiquity of the Flash standard was broken by Adobe itself.

To make things worse, Adobe was by then in the midst of a strategy to upgrade Flash into a full programming layer for mobile devices, a project called Apollo (later renamed AIR).  The promise of AIR was to make all operating systems irrelevant by separating them from their applications.  At the time, I thought Adobe's strategy was very clever (link), but the implementation turned out to be woefully slow. 

So here's what Adobe did to itself:  By mismanaging the move to full mobile browsing, it demonstrated that customers were willing to live with a mobile browser that could not display Flash.  Then, by declaring its intent to take over the mobile platform world, Adobe alarmed the other platform companies, especially Apple.  This gave them both the opportunity and the incentive to crush mobile Flash.

Which is exactly what they did.

The lesson: Don't be greedy

There are a couple of lessons from this experience.  The first is that when you've established a free standard, charging money for it puts your whole business at risk.  Contrast the Flash experience to PDF, another standard Adobe established.  Unlike Flash, Adobe progressively gave up more and more control over the PDF standard, to the point where competitors can easily create their own PDF writers, and in fact Microsoft bundles one with Windows Office.  Despite the web community's broad hostility for PDF, it continues to be a de facto standard in computing.  There is no possible way for Adobe to make money directly from the PDF reader, but its Acrobat PDF management and generation business continues to bring in revenue.

The second lesson is that you have to align your business structure with your strategy.  I think Macromedia made a fundamental error by putting mobile Flash into its own business unit.  Adobe continued the error by creating a separate mobile BU when it bought Macromedia (link).  That structure meant the mobile Flash team was forced to make money from the player.  If the player and flash development tools had been in the same BU, management might have at least had a chance to trade off player revenue to grow the tools business.

What can Adobe do now?

The Adobe folks say the discontinuation of mobile flash is just an exercise in focus (link).  They point out that developers can still create apps using Flash and compile them for mobile devices, and that Flash is still alive on the desktop.  Viewed from the narrow perspective of the situation that Adobe faces in late 2011, the changes to Flash probably are prudent.  But judged against Adobe's promise to create an "an industry-defining technology platform" when it bought Macromedia in 2005 (link), it's hard to call the current situation anything other than a failure.

I think it's clear that Flash as a platform is dying; the end of the mobile Flash player has disillusioned many of its most passionate supporters.  You can hear them cussing here and here. Flash compatibility will continue to live on in AIR and other web content development tools, of course, but now that Adobe doesn't control the player, I think it will have trouble giving its tools any particular advantage.

What Adobe should do is start contributing aggressively to HTML 5, to upgrade it into the full web platform that AIR was originally supposed to be.  That's a role no one in the industry has taken ownership of, web developers are crying out for it, and Adobe implies that's what it will do.  But I've heard these broad statements from Adobe before, and usually the implementation has fallen far short of the promises.  At this point, I doubt Adobe has the vision and agility to pull it off.  Most likely it will retreat to what it has always been at the core: a maker of software tools for artistically-inclined creative people.  It's a nice stable niche, but it's nothing like the dominant leadership role that Adobe once aspired to.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


I'm camped at a remote picnic area south of Phoenix.

I notice a guy apparantly living in one of the  shelters.

                                                    Meet Lee, a refugee from Missouri

I engage --get to know him a bit---walk with him a few times and invite him to my trailer.
He's amazingly open as I  go for the gold (a meaningful insight)

He calls himself social misfit ---though he managed to serve in the navy and afterwards work for years in electronics.  He saved a stash of money and then, inexplicably retreated to a dark room in a small town and for years----just let life drift by----An extreme example of the "quiet desperation" described by Thoreau.  Then one day he mustered the courage to go camping and eventually to leave his dark room altogether for the open road----making his way to Arizona.   His self-described problem is anger---a huge and fierce ---near uncontrollable anger arising from an abused childhood. (I evoked a few stories and revenge fantasies to get a feel for the depth of his anger)  Wow! I was frightened just listening.  He understands that his fierceness frightens others away---leaving him alone---and lonely.  He has pondered how to "fix" himself and find peace-----and he thinks he knows how:  He is morphing into a wandering loner  losing himself in the Arizona wilderness---drifting from summer high country to winter warm lowlands-----simplifying radically---getting rid of his car---walking everywhere----pulling a specially designed---lightweight cart with his supplies.   
I showed  him my most treasured book----Walden Pond ---reading the paragraph  beginning:  "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."----showing him he was in good company.  I also told him about the Slabs---a place where even mavericks can live comfortably. (he seemed interested)
Losing onesself in the wilderness is a doable dream.  Next day he brings a catalog to show me various cart options.

In fact, he's excited to get on with the cart project.  He points to a nearby mountain as his first foray with the cart. (the advantage of the cart is that 100 or even 150 pounds of supplies can be carried without stressing your back)

I also told him about this guy----Bill,--from New Zealand that I met last week.  He had walked the Arizona trail---from north to south---across the Grand Canyon and down to Mexico---reporting that the experience was transformative---and joyful.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I like Lee's idea---It just may be theraputic to wander alone in the wilderness.  His anger is child abuse come to bloom.  I believe we all embody the effects of our childhood---developing a strategy to cope with painful feelings----and paradoxically---it is that strategy that is most likely to bless the world.  Opra's response to her abuse is a positive example.
I look at my life strategy---wandering about---noticing things----asking questions---brazenly speculating and ask myself what motivates me to do this.  And I honestly don't know.  I seem to have always been ,in essence, this way.  Hopefully I refine my "game" as time goes by and it may prove useful to someone somewhere,  

Wednesday, 2 November 2011



And this day it looks me in the eye.  A fresh cougar track, only a stone's throw from my door, hinted at what was to come

Then this:  Drag marks----I follow them--

To this! A cougar kill.
I look death in the eye---let it speak to me.

Death likely came upon it while it slept---grasp it by its throat. (The words of Livingston are somewhat comforting here---He was mauled by a lion in Africa and was rescued.  He later reported that the incident while occuring was painless and that he watched with curiosity--not fear or horror at what was happening to him) 
Of course the whole campground is now abuzz ---  I show my neighbors---We all want to acquaint ourselves with death. Authorities are notified---warning signs are posted .
This was a close call---the cougar could have gotten me or one of these kids walking about.
I use the occasion to reflect on close calls---How thrilling to approach the "dangerous edge"---how just the previous week I deliberately camped on the very edge of this canyon--for some mysterious reason. 

I remember considering this particular spot as a possible suicide place---when the time comes.  Only about 3 seconds of terror---then blessed oblivion. I quickly rejected it as an unseemly burden on those who must come get the body. I will find a better spot --- to vanish.
Kids experiencing the thrill of near death---a 50 foot fall into Lake Heron, NM.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:Life seems especially sweet after close calls---or perhaps just having a look at a death. I have deliberately risked my life a few times:  I jumped a blowhole on the Oregon coast once---and another time leaped a crevasse with a hundred foot drop---felt exhilerated afterwards.  Neither was any great feat---I just felt drawn to do it.  Once I went about a quarter mile into an abandoned mine and In louisiana I paddled into a pitch black swamp---my heart raced---and then soon calmed down---and fear went away.  I think all these experiences somehow blend into a larger truth about death putting urgency and even meaning into life. Victor Frankel's book, "Man's Search for Meaning" says that holocaust survivors emerged with an enhanced  joy of just being alive.  And Thoreau said: Living is so dear.
Once, I was camped with the WIN's ( in the desert near Apache Junction when rattlesnakes emerged from hibernation.  They were everywhere in our camp--under rigs---under doorsteps.  IT WAS WONDERFUL-- everyone was on high alert---discussions were animated---laughter and aliveness filled the campground. Life seemingly had more meaning with death at our doorstep.