Rod McLaughlin

Las Vegas (18 feb 09)

Three days riding across almost empty deserts, then got one of those flat tires that somehow you just can't fix - new holes appear, the patches won't stick, etc... luckily, I was already in Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas. Luckily too, Henderson is the most outdoorsy part of Vegas. Although it seems to have a casino on every block, and gambling machines in every store, café and bar, it also has bike stores, bike lanes and an REI camping store, where you can always find advice on where  to camp, ride, etc. (though not necessarily from the staff, who are hired for the sales skills rather than their outdoor ones ;).

Luckily, also, I found a motel just as it started raining. I wouldn't say the motel  is cheap, but they have weekly rates, which I took. This was before I found that if you take the weekly rate, they only clean the room once a week. It and the pub next door are full of interesting characters, not at all like my pseudo-intellectual former associates. I've just had a big bust-up with some of these who called me a racist.

I still haven't made it to 'the Strip', which is apparently full of interesting buildings as well as mathematically-challenged people. Most of the economy of this state is gambling, one vice I have never indulged. On second thoughts... I wonder if my mate Con in London has lost less betting on horse races than I have on the stock market! Instead, I've ridden my recumbent around the endless suburbs of Vegas. There is an upscale shopping mall with an REI and a Whole Foods store that looks exactly the same as a mall in Portland. Even the door handles on the REI store are the same - ice axes with plastic transparent picks - cute, but such a huge country, so much homogeneity! Took a while to find a bike store with a 20 inch tire, but I found one and replaced my dodgy front tire.

Tomorrow I'll go downtown and check out the Strip, the University and the English football pub. Saturday I'll ride out to Red Rocks which is about 40 miles west - a straight run on a major road (not a freeway - an important consideration when trying to get directions from the bicycly-challenged). There is a campsite with water, apparently, but if not I can hitchhike into town with rock climbers to get supplies. Red Rocks has the best easy bolted multi-pitch climbs in the country, so hopefully I can get back in shape.

On long bike tours, you can do nothing for days and eat bad food with a clear conscience - you'll burn off those calories later. Right now I'm writing my blog (but I guess you know that) and watching TV. The sayshalists have taken over. The news is full of Obama (he's our new black president) talking about how ordinary 'merican famblies are badly affected by losing their jobs and their houses, like it's capitalism or something. He blames the economic recession on greedy bankers, not at all on the legal requirement of lenders to prove they are not racially discriminating, by lending to members of ethnic minorities against whom they would otherwise discriminate for economic reasons. This didn't start the cycle of junk loan defaults at all. Oh no.

The British online press is also predictably saturated with the resentment of the rabble. The cause of the recession is alleged to be the 'bonus culture' whereby, if you made £10bn. for your employer, your employer was allowed to give you £1bn. for doing it. That glaring example of corporate malfeasance is being banned, at least in the banks which are owned by the government, and I think that's all of them. So they won't reward success. That'll solve the financial crisis. Oh yes. The government will confiscate the pension of a retired banker 'if the law allows':

I have also been rewriting the software that runs this blog. I wanted the articles listed with the newest at the top, so I changed one line in one file from

<% @articles.each do |article| %>


<% @articles.reverse.each do |article| %>

and restarted the application. In Java, you'd have to hire half the population of India to do that.

I hope that's not racist.

Portland London