Ruth Galanter’s poetically sage advice for me to follow during the monsoons.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
1. Escape from Bangkok:
Actually, leaving BKK was quite easy. The taxi arrived at my apt. promptly at 3am as promised and the driver only charged me a little more than normal for his trouble. It saddened me to leave BKK. Despite its gloomy skies, curfews, air pollution, broken sidewalks and fetid canals, it is, after all, my home now. I am a city boy. There have been four cities that I have called home, New York, Rome, San Francisco and now Bangkok. As cities go those are as good as any and better than most.
The problems started when I got to the airport. My retirement visa was due to expire a few days after my arrival. Unknown to me, I did not receive the normal 30 day visa upon entry. My entry visa expired on the same day as my retirement visa, so I had to pay a $400 dollar fine for overextending my stay.
On my flight from BKK to Seattle two people reading the Bible sat next to me. Now I have no problem with anyone reading anything and I am not overly superstitious, but given my concerns with Delta Airlines, I’ll admit to some anxiety.
In Seattle, as I went through customs, they discovered several packages of dried soup in my luggage. The inspector, a middle aged white man, asked me if I spoke english. I do not think he could have thought I was Thai so I assume he thought I was Mexican. I answered in the positive. Then he went all cop on me tearing apart my luggage and throwing LM’s knit caps all over the counter and on the floor. Upon locating the packages, he angrily shouted at me, “These packages contain meat projects. Why did you not indicate that you were carrying meat products?” I responded that I did not realize they did and in any event thought it applied only to fresh meat and products made mostly of meat. I shrugged. “Don’t get smart with me,” he screamed. “I could charge you a $1000 fine and have you arrested. You have done this before you know.” I thought silence at that moment was my best approach. He then strangely confiscated only two of the about 25 contaminated packages I had. He turned suddenly, said over his shoulder “I’m going to report you” and walked over to a table with a computer and sat down leaving me standing there amid the rubble of the contents of my luggage. He ignored me and typed away. I stood there. Finally one of the other agents motioned to me to pack up my things and leave, which I did.
Eventually I made it back to El Dorado Hills about 30 hours after I left my apt. in BKK. I took a shower and went right to sleep and did not wake up for almost 20 hours.
2. Morning in El Dorado Hills:
When I woke up, I walked the dogs. All trace of green has disappeared from the hills except for the leaves on the Valley Oaks. The houses along the street supposedly have drought resistant landscaping. Grass, only used along the borders, has started turning brown. When I looked closer at the landscaping, I saw that much of the ground cover and low bushes were dead or dying. Spider webs have begun covering them. It’s a bit creepy. So this is how it ends, neither in ice or fire nor with a bang or a whimper but desiccated and covered in cobwebs.
3. Exercise or bust:
I lost about twelve pounds during my stay in Thailand. Since returning I already feel as though I am gaining it back. Snacking is a way of life in the US.
I was given a two week trial membership in the El Dorado Hills upscale health club. Not as upscale as the country club, but more upscale than my existing proletarian health club. The new club has a pool. I now swim there in the morning and try to go to my old club in the afternoon. After that, I usually go to the man cave across the parking lot from my old health club for a beer and a cigar while I watch the world cup on a giant TV screen. The man cave is dark, dingy and comfortable with large overstuffed chairs and ottomans. The guys at the man cave are mostly overweight, tattooed and friendly. I’ve got the overweight part covered. Tattoos are out for me and friendly is just not my thing at this age – if it ever was.
Outside the man cave.
I feel uncomfortable at the new health club. Perhaps it’s the lack of tattoos. Also, people seem less inclined to talk or joke with one another there. In fact, I do not recall seeing anyone smiling.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Many years ago when I was involved in coastal protection matters in California, I went for a walk through Point Reyes with Bill Yeates who was at that time, I believe,a Graduate Legal Assistant working with me. As we walked along, I was amazed at how Bill could predict what birds we would see in each bush and what a bird would look like from just hearing the sound it makes flapping its wings. Like any person lacking knowledge, I considered his abilities almost magical. On the other hand as a confirmed cynic, I suspected he was bullshitting me.
Sometime after that walk, Bill jokingly (or not) mentioned to several people that I could not be a real environmentalist because I knew little about the natural environment.
That is not completely true. As a city boy I know a lot about urban fauna. For example, I know a lot about rats, pigeons and cockroaches. I can tell the difference between a giant Norwegian Roof Rat and an ordinary brown or black rat by the sounds it makes as it scrabbles through the walls at night.
I know that, wherever old people sit on benches, pigeons will soon congregate. When entering a room, I can tell instantly under which appliance or piece of furniture a cockroach is hiding.
I do not understand why there are no groups or organizations dedicated to the protection of these urban species. I suggest that a Society for the Preservation of Urban Vermin (SPUV) be created to defend our urban friends from the millenia of bad press they have received and to shield them from wanton slaughter and cruelty to which they have been subject.
Why, for example, do we allow the existence of individuals and organizations whose sole purpose is to be paid to come on to your property and kill rats? Some even publicize that they eschew environmentally unsound killing techniques (poisons and gas). Instead these defenders of the environment smear peanut butter on rat traps that snap the necks of the unwary, if greedy, rat. Now I realize that, in the case of rats, catch and release poses some problems. For example, what would be an appropriate place to release these critters – your neighbors house?
Now pigeons are unique. They only exist as adults. Has anyone ever seen a baby pigeon walking around a city? I believe they reproduce like amoebas. They simply split down the middle when they need to create another pigeon. Have you ever noticed, for example, should a hawk decimate a flock of pigeons over say a particular town square, the next morning there appears to be exactly the same number of pigeons flying about?
Humans consider the juvenile of almost every species on earth cute. Even baby sharks when emerging from their mothers womb exude cuteness. Not cockroaches. Does anyone believe smaller cockroaches are cuter? Would you want to cuddle one?
For these reasons and more, I believe our urban friends need protection. Remember, when we all retreat again into deep dark caves because we have burnt the world to a crisp, who will accompany us? Why our friends the rat, pigeon and cockroach will. And when the earth has cooled and we leave again, only we and our friends together will greet that world. A world bereft of all living things – except gorse, broom and tumbleweeds. Gorse, broom and tumbleweeds survive because they are not of this universe and can never die.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
Why should taxpayers subsidize businesses that ought to compete? Perhaps there may be a reason in the case of introducing an important new technology, but subsidizing an almost 100 year old mature technology seems unreasonable.
B. Tales of Nasruddin:
The king once summoned Nasruddin to court.
“Tell me,” said the king, “you are a mystic, philosopher, a man of unconventional understandings. I have become interested in the issue of value. It’s an interesting philosophical question. How does one establish the true worth of a person or an object? Take me for example. If I were to ask you to estimate my value, what would you say?”
“Oh,” Nasruddin said, “I’d say about two hundred dinars.”
The emperor was flabbergasted. “What?! But this belt I’m wearing is worth two hundred dinars.”
“I know,” said Nasruddin. “Actually, I was taking the value of the belt into consideration.”
Erick Erickson, Conservative opinion leader and blogger in Redstate.
“I’m just not sure what the Republican Party really stands for any more other than telling Obama no and telling our own corporate interests yes. That’s not much of a platform.
Trenz Pruca, spokesperson for himself and an unread, occasional blogger.
“Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?”