January through March 2018

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 Mopey 0007 (February 10, 2018)




“What good is seeking a greater law, when that law can be the whims of a man either stupid or ruthless?”

Sanderson, Brandon. Edgedancer: From the Stormlight Archive. Tom Doherty Associates.







Almost a week has gone by since I returned from Mendocino. Most of the time, I have felt too exhausted to do much other than driving HRM to and from school, sleeping, and reading. Hopefully, I will get back to swimming this weekend. The weather seems to be getting warmer.

SWAC returns in early March. It will probably better for all concerned that I leave for the month or so that she will be here. While it is a bit of a bother, I look forward to a little traveling if my health allows. The problem I have is in deciding where to go and what to do when I get there.

On March 24th, I intend to accompany Peter to another concert at SFJAZZ. That breaks things up nicely in the middle. Two weeks in March during which I can travel visiting friends in other parts of California and perhaps stay with my sister and George in Mendocino for a few days. Then, my finances willing, spending the next three weeks or so in Italy, or Thailand or on some adventure cruise somewhere. Alas, this needs all too much planning. I hate that. Probably, i’ll just drift and see what happens. Something always does. Didn’t I just go through this a month ago?

Recently, Dick requested an update from the school counselor about HRM’s performance. Amid a generally upbeat report, the counselor mentioned that in a recent History exam on a question to be answered in three paragraphs, the first two paragraphs of HRM’s answer were “positively brilliant” but the third was, “from Mars.” Should we worry?

On Saturday, after almost a month of finding reasons not to do so, some real others make believe, I got it together to exercise again. Even while I sat at the edge of the pool, I still told myself it would be too cold, I was too sick or tired yadda, yadda, yadda and I should simply return home, clutch my hot pad, and put myself back to bed. But, in the end, I dove in and enjoyed myself immensely. I feel good tonight, better than I have felt in a while.

That same night, I had a wonderful dream that seemed to last for hours. In that dream, there was an ancient Roman Ruin located on San Francisco’s shoreline somewhere near Candlestick Point (this is a dream after all). There the Roman Nobility would greet the ships returning from war, their holds full to bursting with treasure. It was decided by the present day city fathers to restore those ruins as another tourist attraction — sort of like Fisherman’s Wharf. To kick everything off, they held a grand party in the ruins prior to restoring them. I assisted in the preparations for the party throughout the day. That night, the rich and the powerful and even the not so rich and powerful arrived dressed in period costumes, togas, chitons and the like. The richest and most powerful men were often old and shriveled with paper thin skin and blue veins pulsing beneath. The women came in all shapes and sizes and were aggressive and bejeweled.

Each room had something different going on — different food, music, dances, conversation, drinks and the like. I visited most of them and enjoyed it, especially the dancing and the music.

During the evening, I noticed there were about five or six people who traveled through those rooms and hallways that had not been fixed up for the party. They clearly were searching for something. One large room was filled with water and they used small boats to search for whatever they were looking for. They appeared to be led by a tall, handsome man dressed in a tuxedo.

Later, after most of the guests had left, I joined them. I never learned what it was they were looking for, but I enjoyed going from room to room with them looking for it. Later, we all sat by a campfire in the corner of a vacant roofless room and talked about lots of things for awhile.

Dawn came. I knew that I would have to wake up soon and rejoin my waking life. I was a bit sad knowing I probably would probably never return.

While I lay in my bed in that grey time between sleep and wakefulness, I wondered if the dreams of our waking life were our reality — whether life was just a long daily slog from the darkness of the womb to the night with no morning or if it was a series of time garbled one night stands that go on changing each night forever.

The week has gone silently by. Looking out the window as I enjoy my afternoon snacks of Oreo cookies dunked in milk, I watch the days zip by like cars on a freeway.

I have given some thought to my spring travels. One half or about 3 weeks I probably will wander about California visiting friends. The other half, when I began to look into it, seemed to depend somewhat on cost.Thailand, Italy, A Caribbean cruise, and Cuba all seem to cost about the same and may be affordable. Only my dream boat trip down the Peruvian Amazon looks as though it is too expensive. I still need to get a new car. Oh well, I guess I will kick the can down the road for another week or so. Maybe something will happen to force a decision or change my options.

The week has trundled by. During my walk around the lakes this morning, I saw the first greening of the trees. It seems to be a bit early for that. I think of the wintertime in the golden hills as the silver time. The naked deciduous trees have a silver cast to them and the often overcast skies are silver also. Late summer is the gold time — golden hills with deep blue skies. Autumn — red, brown and yellow, and spring — virescent and speckled in brazen pastels.

One morning while driving HRM to school, I in my grandfatherly mode mentioned to him that he is now getting big, adult-sized, and that simple physical actions like suddenly spreading his arms wide or rushing through a restaurant that to an adult would seem cute were he a small child, now that he is almost man-sized would make some people frightened and when frightened adults often act angry. I wanted to warn him that now that he is a teenager simple physical actions that may have drew smiles when he was little may cause a different reaction now that he is becoming man-sized. “Stop!” he responded, “I do not want to hear that. I do not want to be a teenager. I do not want to grow up. Why should I want to?” I could not answer that. Sometimes, grandfathers are just old and not too wise.




End of January means it is time for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch – like many of you I’ve been doing this for years and it is always interesting to read on other blogs what people have seen in their gardens.

It was raining heavily on Saturday and there were few birds about so I did my birdwatch yesterday when it was dry and sunny. Our garden faces South making photography (and even watching birds at times!) a bit of a challenge but it did cloud over a bit for the last half hour.

So what did I see?

House Sparrow x 5
Wood Pigeon x 5
Robin x 2 (sometimes we get 3 in the garden and it is amusing to watch the “resident” robin chasing away the other two intruders!
Blackbird x 2
Great Tit x 1
Blue Tit x 3
Dunnock x 3
Goldfinch x 3
Pasted Graphic
Starling x 1
Long-tailed Tit x 2

As many of you have commented several species fail to put in an appearance during the hour – here it was Magpie, Carrion Crow, Stock Dove, Wren and Coal Tit. The Blackcap we had on the feeders for about two weeks has disappeared but the Ring-necked Parakeets are still visiting – they turned up an hour after the Birdwatch finished.

(JP — It appears that the non-native Parakeets have become as common in the English Midlands as Parrots have on San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill. Sometimes, when I used to walk home from my office in Embarcadero Center to my apartment, the parrots would congregate in the trees that grew in the little park I crossed to reach my building. They were a raucous bunch, as noisy as a singles bar on Friday evenings. Perhaps they were mating too.)




Karoshi is the Japanese word for “death from overwork.”







A. On Top — Another Florid Sentence by James Lee Burke:

“(O)n Monday I woke with a taste like pennies in my mouth and a sense that my life was unspooling before me, that the world in which I lived was a fabrication, that the charity abiding in the human breast was a collective self-delusion, and that the bestial elements we supposedly exorcised from civilized society were not only still with us but had come to define us, although we sanitized them as drones and offshore missiles marked “occupant” and land mines that killed children decades after they were set.”

Burke, James Lee. Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 393). Simon & Schuster.


B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:



A lecture by Brad De long in which he argues that although He Who Is Not My President is undoubtedly a fascist, he is a soft fascist and an incompetent one to boot. “We are not yet in trouble,” he suggests, because, “in other countries that have competent fascists, their democracies have died.” Our’s has not…Yet.

However, in a comment on his post, a student of his takes issue with this:

i admire your optimism but I’m afraid the Republic is indeed lost. A full 40% of the population admires Trump and his programs. Moreover, the current system (2 senators per state, electoral college, Citizens United, etc.) gives this population a structural advantage that cannot be overcome. On top of this, you have a conservative media-industrial complex that expertly manipulates popular opinion with manufactured outrage. The white working class in this country always votes against its class interest. Seriously, what mechanism will cause this to change?

I think you are deceiving yourself on the ability of the system to regenerate positive change. The best hope for California is some type of peaceful dissolution from the rest of the US where Cali can be a France on the Pacific and the Deep South becomes South Africa. On the whole, the USA should become an EU-type union.

I just think we are so polarized and the forces causing polarization so powerful that we cannot be put back together again.

(JP— Sigh! DeLong overlooks that Hitler’s “incompetents” were eventually purged while his student seems to suggest that had, for example, Saxony withdrawn from Germany in 1932 it would have survived the war. In fact, arguments like these also were made in the 1930s. They encouraged passivity and ultimately were proven to be dreadfully mistaken.)


C. Today’s Poem:

The following is not so much a poem as an experiment. I took the James Lee Burke florid sentence I quoted in a previous T&T post and broke it up into one image per line producing something appearing like a poem but lacking the rhythms of most poetry. Still, read slowly and pausing at the end of each line to take in the image, it overall leaves one with the essential compressed imagery of poetry along with two contrasting overriding concepts, one of growth and one of decay, one of nature and one of the works of humanity, one of hope and one of sadness.

Regardless of the time of year
Even in spring
When the petals of the azaleas
Were scattered on the grass
And the sunlight
Was transfused
Into a golden-green presence
Inside the canopy
Of the live oaks

The rooms of the house
Remained cold and damp,
The lichen on the trees
And the flagstones
And birdbaths
And even the tombs
Of the original owners
A testament to the decay
And slow adsorption
Of man’s handiwork
On the earth.
James Lee BURKE


D. Snippets from Comments on Prior Posts:


1. From Peter

Just finished reading a fascinating book called “The North Pole” by Kathan Brown, another Antioch graduate, and creator and owner of Crown Point Press in SF, around the corner from MOMA – an account of trips she took to the North Pole in 2002 and Spitzbergen in 2003. Includes many great photos she took, and discussions with scientists and others who had made the trip (by Russian icebreaker [tourists in the summer, breaking channel through the winter ice for shipping through the Northeast Passage]) or were/are otherwise interested in the polar regions, and historical references from earlier arctic explorers. Wonderful descriptions of the ice, the stillness, the light, and the comparatively few people who go there (seems only about 14,000 people have ever been up to the far north polar region).

Also some very thoughtful observations on the severe impacts of climate change on the world, especially the far north, and continued bad news if we don’t mend our ways. Apparently, the earth has experienced fluctuations of temperature over time, roughly 100,000-year glacial periods followed by roughly 10,000 year interglacial periods of warmer temperatures. No one knows for sure, but some think the “little ice age” of 1300-1800s may have been the start of a new ice age after 10,000 years of moderate climate, except that human-caused global warming, with greatly increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, began around 1850 and may have interrupted the pattern. So now we’re experiencing warmer temperatures and droughts, with the catastrophic results being mass uproars and migrations from the Mideast (e. g., Syria, and Iran’s mass demonstrations resulting from dried up farmland after several drought years), and chaos about to happen in South Africa with the water shortage, but eventually the glacial cold will return.


2. Adrian:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Leisure by W. H. Davies (3 July 1871 – 26 September 1940)


E. Xander’s Post

Several years ago I posted a piece about fishing on the Blackfoot River in Montana ( https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/musings-on-the-blackfoot-river-fly-fishing-and-hiawatha/ ). Recently, I came across an interesting Facebook post by Pete Xander about fishing and the environment along California’s southern coast. The following is an excerpt from that much longer piece containing Xander’s musings about fishing on Malibu Creek.
Hook, Line, and Sinker

… Steelhead in Malibu Creek? That’s right. And you thought the only steelhead in Malibu was Nick Nolte after one of his infamous drunken incidents (my mom and I saw him in the supermarket at Pt. Dume one 4th of July, squeezing cantaloupes, and I asked my mom who she thought he was. “Some hung-over beach bum,” she said, all too accurately….

SO, steelhead spawning in Malibu Creek. Absolutely there are. Hell, they used to spawn in rivers in San Diego County, and the rainbow trout that now occur in Pauma Creek on the southwestern shoulder of Palomar Mountain are the last of the original populations, the fires in 2003 having literally boiled away the water in the upper Sweetwater River west of the Laguna Mountains, killing the remaining native trout. The very last one died in a fish tank poorly managed by DFG personnel. …

Regarding Malibu Creek, in the early ‘80s, a biologist with the Department of Fish and Game (now known as the Department of Fish and Wildlife), Dave Drake, took me all throughout the Malibu shoreline, from Topanga Creek (where steelhead still spawn in years of average rainfall) to the Ventura County line, giving me a one-day crash course on the biota of Malibu. Even today there’s a creek I can take you to, where the stream goes under the road and a large pool is formed just before it, where there will be a decent sized steelhead, facing upstream and waiting for food to drift down. The quickest way to ID a steelhead from a rainbow trout is that steelhead have very few spots below the lateral line, while rainbows have spots all over.

So during the crazy El Nino storm season of early 1983, there was a break of several days around the second weekend of February, with a Santa Ana pushing the temperatures into the low 80s. I called my brother down in San Diego and had him come up to fish for the steelhead. The mouth of Malibu Creek was open to the sea, and so I knew steelhead would be in there, on their first spawning run opportunity in three years. But just a little over a mile from the ocean, a dam built in the 1940s — which silted up almost immediately — blocks their access to miles and miles of suitable spawning habitat of the upper Malibu Creek watershed and its major tributaries, Cold Creek and Las Virgenes Creek. The damn dam is scheduled to be taken down but that still has not started yet. The creek was full of first-year fish, bright as a newly minted dime and flashing a pale rose/lavender color and still with a few sea lice attached to their fins. They were far too young to spawn, but they wanted to check things out, a phenomenon previously thought to occur only on the Eel, Klamath, and a couple of other river systems in northern California and southern Oregon, where those yearling steelheads are known as “half-pounders.”

My brother and I caught and released over three dozen steelhead smolts apiece, each of them fat, healthy, and around 9” to 12” each that gorgeous Saturday afternoon, and personnel from DFG were there with avid L.A.area fly fishermen, there to assist DFG in sampling the steelhead population and bolstering the case to protect these critically endangered fish. We used ultralight gear with 2# test line, and Dardevle “Skeeter” spoons, weighing only 1/32 of an ounce, less than an inch long, and with barbs on the hooks crushed flat with needle-nosed pliers, to make it easier to release and less injurious to the fish (which is how I always fish).

After spending the night at my apartment in Long Beach, my brother went back up to Malibu Creek on Sunday. I had staff reports to write and couldn’t go back for another fun day of fishing. When he got back early that evening, I asked how he’d done, and his face grew pale. He had hooked and lost an enormous fish — nearly a yard long and weighing at least 15 pounds. There was no way he should have been able to fight such a large powerful fish with his tiny rod and light line. It has probably just spawned and was exhausted from the effort.

The pool was a long and deep one, with the water up against a steep rock wall on the west side and willows choking the east side. Had the fish gone upstream or downstream, it would’ve popped the line. As it was, my brother had it on for maybe ten minutes, thrashing up and down in that same pool. Exhausted, the fish surfaced and rolled on its side. When my brother reached down to grab the fish by its gill cover, it twisted away from him, and the line popped. He would’ve released it, of course, but it was every bit as large as the fish Dave Drake titillated me with during his telling stories of the fish he’d personally caught (a cleaned one was over 12 pounds).

This steelhead, officially referred to as the southern population or southern race of steelhead, are protected by the Endangered Species Act, and fishing for them is not allowed. The Santa Clara River in Ventura County and Sespe Creek, a major tributary, have good populations of steelhead (though only a small fraction of the historic levels), and the San Luis Rey River in northern San Diego County, with its tributary stream, the aforementioned Pauma Creek, can have a good population . . . IF alterations to the stream course and water withdrawals for agriculture don’t fill it in and desiccate it beyond sustainability….

Will I ever live to see a catch-and-release sport fishery for steelhead in southern California? I sure hope so. From just one action on my part in the early ‘80s, when I was on the staff of the Coastal Commission, I was able to keep the southern steelhead from extinction. It was for the expansion of the Tapia Water Treatment Plant in upper Malibu Creek. Although the service area is all outside the Coastal Zone, the plant itself is inside and subject to our jurisdiction, and so they needed our approval to expand to 8 million gallons of treated effluent to be discharged into the creek. I placed conditions of approval on it, requiring they upgrade to tertiary treatment and to discharge all of the treated water into

Malibu Creek. “Well . . . that’s what we want to do,” said one slightly perplexed engineer. I explained that I didn’t want it sold off to water the landscaping on Hwy. 101 — I wanted it all discharged into Malibu Creek. The upgrade to tertiary is what they as professionals wanted, but they knew their board of directors would never approve of it. But jeez — with that mean guy at the Coastal Commission FORCING them to upgrade, well, they had no choice. And with a wink and a nod, our meeting finished to the satisfaction of all of us.

Turns out that throughout much of the 1990s and 2000s, extended droughts dried up all of the streams in southern California, except for Malibu Creek, with its augmented flow keeping the stream and its inhabitants alive. Malibu Creek was the only supply of water for spawning, and while its spawning habitat is extremely limited, it kept the fish from becoming extinct. If I never did anything else noteworthy in my life, I’ll always be proud of keeping a magnificent species of sport fish alive through my actions. I was the right person, at the right place and at the right time to affect positive change, and I’ll wear that as an honor badge, and with pride, for as long as I live.













A Path Through the Redwoods



Categories: January through March 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. Mopey 14, 0007 (January 31, 2018)



“Instead of being born again, why not just grow up?”
~Author Unknown







A very pleasant thing happened to me this weekend. I drove to San Francisco to spend the Saturday evening with Peter and Barrie. Peter had acquired tickets for a concert at some place called SFJAZZ. Barrie was entertaining a friend and couldn’t go, so Peter invited me to accompany him. I agreed.

I never heard of SFJAZZ. Peter explained that a few years ago a wealthy Techie funded and built a jazz venue and institute located in the Civic Center area of the City that already houses the Opera and Ballet. The institution provides Jazz education and performances.

The building that houses it contains a number of places to eat and drink (especially drink) and at least two auditoriums. The Main auditorium is a marvelous thing that sits almost 1000 people. The acoustics are great. We sat in the third row.

Vijay Iyer performed with his sextet. Iyer from Albany NY, the son of Tamil Immigrants, studied math and physics at Yale and received his doctorate from Berkley. His thesis was, “Microstructures of Feel, Macrostructures of Sound. Cognition in West African and African-American Musics.” Among his many awards, in 2012, he was declared Artist of the Year, Pianist of the Year, and with his trio, small group of the year.

While Iyer’s style of Jazz is not for everyone, the performance, nevertheless, was great. I loved the entire evening. During the concert, I sipped saki from a can. It was like drinking Red Bull while racing in a Ferrari.
Pasted GraphicPa


The next day I drove (Naida lent me her car) out to an auto dealership in Pittsburg. I hoped to buy an automobile to replace the one that went bust last week. Unfortunately, George who accompanied me and I were unable to close the deal, so I remain car-less but for Naida’s generosity. What to do? — What to do?

Anyway, after leaving the dealership, I drove from Pittsburgh to Sacramento through the always interesting delta to attend the memorial for Bill Geyer. There were a lot of people gathered in the community center at Campus Commons. Judge Ron Robie, an old friend was there with his wife. Bill, Ron, and I shared a condo in Kirkwood for many years. Also present were a good number of the aging lions of the State Legislature and government from the Reagan and Brown 1 administrations as well as Bill and Naida’s family and friends. After the speeches, we gathered for food, cocktails, and conversation. I do not do so well at social events with people I do not know well and quickly felt uncomfortable so, after a few minutes and downing a couple of chocolate cookies, I left and drove home.

Adrian arrived on Friday to spend the weekend before returning to Hong Kong. Naida mentioned that she would like to visit someplace near Point Arena where she was considering spreading Bill’s ashes. I agreed to drive her there.

On the way, I learned a lot about Carmel during the years that Naida attended high school there in the sixties and seventies and of her friends and acquaintances of note from Henry Miller to Kim Novak. The stories made the five-hour drive seem to pass in minutes. Still, by the time we arrived at my sister’s house, I was exhausted and took a long nap. After I woke-up, Mary and George left for dinner with some friends so Naida and I drove to Noyo Harbor for a fish dinner. I had a passable calamari steak and Naida’s petrale sole looked quite tasty also. While we ate overlooking the harbor, the night fishing fleet their decks piled high with crab pots, mast lights stunning the dark, and seals trailing in their wake paraded under the Highway 1 bridge and out into the black ocean

The next morning we traveled to Point Arena to check out a place to spread Bill’s ashes. A company had purchased a redwood grove and were selling trees under which one could spread the ashes of the deceased. The company would maintain the grove in perpetuity like a normal cemetery. They promised to construct paths and pavilions and provide a memorial stone at the base of the chosen tree. I walked around the forest and communed with the sun sprites while Naida discussed more important things with the company’s representative.

Choosing the Ideal Tree


Pookie in the Forest Primeval

Later, with my sister, we drove out to Pacific Star Winery. There we bought a bottle of Pinot Blanc from the ever vivacious Sally the winemaker and spread out a picnic lunch on the bluffs overlooking the ocean.
Maryann and Naida at Pacific Star

We then walked along the bluffs to “Dad’s Bench,” where we sat awhile, talked of this and that and watched a pod of whales mosey on down the coast on their way to their summer feeding grounds in Baja.
Pookie on Dad’s Bench.

On the drive back to Sacramento, there were many stories: of dinners with Ronald and Nancy Reagan and of Nixon and his thuggish henchman; of the sad decline of men of influence and power: and the struggle of women trying to survive in an uncaring and possibly malicious world. And then, I was back in the Golden Hills too tired to think and so I went to bed and dreamed a lot.



American Relations

Another grim day, but not entirely without bird interest for me. Pam and I visited the “Dogs Trust Canterbury,” which is nearly up to Whitstable, to meet a small friend. While we took her for a walk in the grounds I was delighted to hear a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling. I didn’t have my bins on but we will be returning and I’ll have another look. While I was looking through what was being I was pleased to see that there is still a Waxwing in East Kent. Waxwings are in a small family of three species. The Bohemian Waxwing, which occurs in Europe, North America, and Asia.The Cedar Waxwing, from N America and the Japanese Waxwing from E.Asia. A closely related family is the “Silky Flycatchers” from North and Central America. The last of the closely related families have just one member, the enigmatic Grey Hypocolius from the Middle East. I’m not going to pick out a favorite, but the long-tailed Silky-flycatcher is stunning.
_W4A2746 Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher

Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher.

January 21, 2018

(JP—What is a “bin” that one would “put on”? I picture a plastic garbage bag.)






My account of my recent contretemps with the possible return of my cancer prompted a number of friends to express their concern and support, for which I am both pleased and humbled. On a less uplifting vein, some also reported on the recent deaths of a number of friends and acquaintances that I previously had not known about. Like most people I suppose, throughout my life, I would learn, now and then, about someone I knew who died. But this seems different. As we reach the latter part of our seventies, it is no longer the few who fall by the wayside every year leaving only the hardiest or luckiest of us to drag ourselves the last few meters into our crypts, but the remnants of an entire generation that now marches together to its inevitable end.

As I thought about this, I realized that our current situation seems different from the periodic winnowing over the years of individuals through, sickness, accidents, violence and the like that humans have experienced throughout the age. It is more like a sudden harvesting. We, who were born around the time penicillin came to be used and survived in unprecedented numbers, strode confidently en masse into the folk-rock and acid kool-aid age of the 60s and 70s, and then found money to be more psychically rewarding than meditation in the 80s, may be the first humans to experience the abrupt disappearance of an entire generation.

During our lives, we saw the ending of those universal scourges that caused huge numbers of deaths from childbirth, childhood diseases, plagues and epidemics, famine and malnutrition and even quite recently have seen a reduction in the percentage of deaths from violence or war. As a result, we may be the first generation where most of us managed to survive long enough to pass into old age. Now perhaps for the first time in human history, we will experience the death of an entire generation seemingly all at once in a relatively few scant years. What does that mean?

Before, when we got as old as I am now, we were the few, the survivors — those who escaped the plagues, wars, and privations that were our heritage. Now, all of our age group will disappear virtually at once. Rather than harvesting a few bales of hay from the field throughout the year, now the scythe will cut down the entire field in autumn leaving only a very few stalks standing until the fast approaching winter. Unlike previous generations, we never experienced the death of many if not most of our friends, lovers, and peers as we grew older. And, that is a good thing. But most of us alive today, as a result, lost the opportunity to acquire the wisdom that comes from dealing with our mortality in small doses as we ramble through life. In effect, most of us never learned how to grow old and wise. What do we do now?







The following post from 2011 describes some of my impressions of California upon returning after spending one year living in Thailand.

“I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.”

“Some of my Impressions of America after a one-year absence”:

“Following the adjustment of my system to the shock of the relatively cool and dismal weather, my initial impression was distress at the dark, drab, shapelessness of the clothing that everyone seems to prefer wearing. It was interesting to me that when I commented to others about my perception they readily agreed that the fashion was indeed dark and perhaps drab, but they denied it was shapeless. One person even went so far as to hold up a dark grey T-shirt as evidence that some people (himself in particular) did not wear shapeless clothing. And indeed, I could discern that it had the classic shape of a T-shirt.”

“Although the Bay Area looked mostly the same wherever I go, the latinization of the Mission district in San Francisco continues unabated, extending at least another 5 to 10 blocks in either direction along that thoroughfare and into the neighborhoods surrounding it. On the other hand, the Sinoization of North Beach appears to have slowed in favor of the Sunset.”

“The Holidays were, as usual, a mixed bag and the serious illnesses and suffering of several of my friends made almost everything appear listless. Nevertheless, my traditional Christmas Eve dinner with my daughter and seeing my son and his family along with my sisters family and my grandchildren cheered me up.”

“During my stay, I re-connected with many friends, Maurice Trad and his daughter Molly, Bill Gates, his daughter and his friend Tiffany, Peter and Barry Grenell, Sheldon Siegel, Terry Goggin et.al. and Bob and Charlotte Uram. Unfortunately, I was only able to contact others by phone.”

“In Sacramento, I spent three lovely days with Bill Geyer and Naida West on their ranch and a day with Stevie and Norbert Dall. Surprisingly, I was asked to take Hayden with me during this time so that his mother could go off to the coast (Pismo Beach) with “friends”. He had just returned the prior evening from spending 5 weeks with a family he hardly knew in Seattle while his mother traveled to Thailand to have what appeared to me to be a facelift. Nevertheless, I enjoyed his company and was quite sad when I had to leave him and return to San Francisco.”


Hayden and I, March 2011.








There are many types of self-identified witches. The common or garden variety is generally harmless—women of a certain age who wear purple disgracefully, have two or more cats, run a new age shop, recycle fanatically, and sometimes believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden.

The witch who lives in this particular house doesn’t wear purple, can’t be bothered with pets, prefers wholesale to retail (but quit both trades some years ago), pays a cleaning firm to take care of the recycling, knows several demons personally, personally, and is not even remotely harmless.

Stross, Charles. The Apocalypse Codex (Laundry Files Book 4) (p. 33). Penguin Publishing Group.






A. On Top: Another Florid Sentence by James Lee Burke.

“The long bar and brass foot rail, the wood-bladed fans, the jars of cracklings and pickled eggs and sausages, the coldness of bottled beer or ice-sheathed mugs, the wink in the barmaid’s eye and the shine on the tops of her breasts, the tumblers of whiskey that glowed with an amber radiance that seemed almost ethereal, the spectral bartender without a last name, the ringing of the pinball machine, all these things became my cathedral, a home beneath the sea, and just as deadly.”

Burke, James Lee. Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 394). Simon & Schuster.


B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:


Snagged from Charlie’s Diary http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2018/01/dude-you-broke-the-future.html

Perhaps the scariest post of 2018 so far. Here is an excerpt:

“Topping my list of dangerous technologies that need to be regulated, this is low-hanging fruit after the electoral surprises of 2016. Cambridge Analytica pioneered the use of deep learning by scanning the Facebook and Twitter social graphs to identify voters’ political affiliations. They identified individuals vulnerable to persuasion who lived in electorally sensitive districts and canvas them with propaganda that targeted their personal hot-button issues. The tools developed by web advertisers to sell products have now been weaponized for political purposes, and the amount of personal information about our affiliations that we expose on social media makes us vulnerable. Aside from the last US presidential election, there’s mounting evidence that the British referendum on leaving the EU was subject to foreign cyberwar attack via weaponized social media, as was the most recent French presidential election.”

“I’m biting my tongue and trying not to take sides here: I have my own political affiliation, after all. But if social media companies don’t work out how to identify and flag micro-targeted propaganda then democratic elections will be replaced by victories for whoever can buy the most trolls. And this won’t simply be billionaires like the Koch brothers and Robert Mercer in the United States throwing elections to whoever will hand them the biggest tax cuts. Russian military cyberwar doctrine calls for the use of social media to confuse and disable perceived enemies, in addition to the increasingly familiar use of zero-day exploits for espionage via spear phishing and distributed denial of service attacks on infrastructure (which are practiced by western agencies as well). Sooner or later, the use of propaganda bot armies in cyberwar will go global, and at that point, our social discourse will be irreparably poisoned.”

Charles Stross


C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Mob bosses prefer to operate outside the law because it pays them well. The owners of large business enterprises prefer to manipulate the law because it pays them well. Both provide products consumers want. Neither can claim moral superiority over anyone.

D. Today’s Poem:

Pasted Graphic 4Pasted
O beautiful wine-bearer, bring forth the cup and put it to my lips
Path of love seemed easy at first, what came was many hardships.
With its perfume, the morning breeze unlocks those beautiful locks
The curl of those dark ringlets, many hearts to shreds strips.
In the house of my Beloved, how can I enjoy the feast
Since the church bells call the call that for pilgrimage equips.
With wine color your robe, one of the old Magi’s best tips
Trust in this traveler’s tips, who knows of many paths and trips.
The dark midnight, fearful waves, and the tempestuous whirlpool
How can he know of our state, while ports house his unladen ships.
I followed my own path of love, and now I am in bad repute
How can a secret remain veiled, if from every tongue it drips?
If His presence you seek, Hafiz, then why yourself eclipse?
Stick to the One you know, let go of imaginary trips.



E. Definition of a House Cat:

“Basically it’s a velociraptor with a fur coat and an outsize sense of entitlement — lap fungus… [with the]…hedonistic whims of a furry egomaniac…[and]…a brain the size of a walnut—“
Stross, Charles. The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files Book 5) (p. 231). Penguin Publishing Group.






“Hitler is a fool,” (Oswald) Spengler (Author of Decline of the West) said in 1932, then voted for him for president anyway, because he thought that only strong leaders on the model of the Caesars might save the West from further decline.

Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 440). Random House Publishing Group.




Pasted Graphic_1






Categories: January through March 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Mopey 0007 (January 16, 2018)



“[T]he only way to live without failure is to be of no use to anyone.”

Sanderson, Brandon. Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive (p. 789). Tom Doherty Associates.







It was still raining as I set off for my biopsy appointment this morning. I soon discovered something wrong with my car. It would suddenly slow down as though climbing a great steep mountain while the engine screamed like it raced the devil himself. Nevertheless, I had little choice but to push doggedly on if I were to enjoy the pleasure of having needles poked into my throat today.

But, it was not to be. The car gave out on the freeway, all smoking, and rattling. I managed to get it to roll into a nearby gas station. Luckily, Dick was in the area and picked me up on his way to work. He drove me to my appointment in Sacramento. After, an anticlimactic but still unsavory experience having someone jab needles into my neck, I found myself without a means to return to EDH and attend to my automobile crisis. So, I called Stevie and Norbert who, once again, rescued me without complaint. Norbert drove me back to EDH.

Unfortunately, it appeared my car had blown a gasket and remained little more than junk and sat uselessly at a gas station in Folsom. Woe is me.

I needed to spend the day figuring out where to tow it to and find another car to buy. So, I got to work and soon rose to the level of my incompetence and began to panic. For someone who has managed significant organizations now and then, panic should not be in my vocabulary, but alas, there it was peeking up at me like a rattlesnake in a leaf pile. What would a high powered executive do in this situation? Simple, I thought, find someone else and tell him (or her) to do it. But, who? I am not paying anyone who I could inspire (trans. terrorize) to do it. Perhaps, it is time for a nap I suggested to myself — that always makes me feel better.

I didn’t nap — ate a sandwich instead (peanut butter and jelly on an English muffin) and turned to the Amazon website and bought some books — the newest James Lee Burke novel “Robicheaux,” and the third book in a series with a video game plot where the adventurers explore a dungeon and kill things in order to amass wealth or are often themselves killed by the dungeon. What makes it even remotely tolerable is that it is written mostly from the dungeon’s perspective. These books, in addition to the two I am currently reading, should occupy my time until January 16 when two novels I have really been looking forward to are scheduled to be published.

Having done that, I was still stuck deciding what to do about my car. It was 4:30 PM so I thought it was a good time to finally take my nap.

Anyway, to make what is becoming a long story a little bit shorter eventually, I thought I had resolved everything. Alas, here it is two days later and most of my resolving has fallen through. The broken down car remains parked at the gas station waiting for the charity I blessed it with to pick it up on Monday. My inability to arrange until next weekend for a co-signer on the loan for the car I chose to buy to replace my charitable donation leaves me carless for the next 10 days or so. Oh well, as Terry says, “Onward and upward.” Well, perhaps not so much upward…and maybe not so much onward either…so, I guess I am left with just, “Whatever.”

Today, since I still do not have a car, Dick, after taking HRM to school, dropped me off at Bella Bru for my usual breakfast. The walk back home was pleasant. It is about as long as my daily walks around the Lakes. I passed the Indomitable Oak on the way. It finally lost its leaves.
The now leafless Indomitable Oak.

I have finished reading Dungeon Calamity and am half-way through Robicheaux. Dave and Clete continue their bromance while, with their usual violence and self-indulgence, maneuvering through Burke’s typical plot focused on Southern guilt and Dave and Clete’s maudlin memories. (It should be noted that whenever Dave does something wrong, he either get’s drunk, goes to an AA meeting or goes to church. Sometimes he just beats someone up. Clete, on the other hand, either gets drunk [he never goes to an AA meeting or into a church], beds the wrong woman or lifts weights. Sometimes he too just beats someone up. They both like to fish from a pirogue floating on the bayou — it seems to relax them.)

I cannot get enough of Burke’s lush poetic sentences.

“Regardless of the time of year—even in spring, when the petals of the azaleas were scattered on the grass and the sunlight was transfused into a golden-green presence inside the canopy of live oaks—the rooms of the house remained cold and damp, the lichen on the trees and flagstones and birdbaths and even the tombs of the original owners a testimony to the decay and slow absorption of man’s handiwork on the earth.”

Burke, James Lee. Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 163). Simon & Schuster.

In two days, I have my appointment with the doctor who will tell me if my cancer has returned. Obviously, it is on my mind. Tonight, I feel neither fear nor despair — just the sense that life goes on and on until it no longer does and worries about the inevitable have little reason to impact my consciousness, emotions or behavior.

Today was overcast. Dick dropped me off at my usual breakfast place. But because it looked like it was going to rain, I walked home instead of going on to the HC. Back at the house, I took a dollop of medicinal MJ and then, for about an hour, listened to Astrid Gilberto and Brubeck’s, A Girl from Ipanema, and U2’s, Songs of Innocence; finished reading Robicheaux; started on the 4th volume of Maxwell’s Shifting Tides series; and tried not to think too much about the next few days. Then, I took a long nap. When I awoke, it was time for dinner. Tomorrow is more than another day for me.

It’s Wednesday morning, Dick dropped me off an IHOP about 3 or 4 miles from the doctor’s office. After breakfast, I walked to my appointment. Walking through the commercial areas of suburbia is not for the faint-hearted. The drivers cruise down the main streets or squeal out of driveways seemingly oblivious to what their metal clad vehicles could do to flesh and blood should they strike the rare pedestrian walking along. To make it worse, the constant repetition of the built environment lulled me into a drug like trance as I rambled on oblivious to the cars whizzing by and the world around me.

At one point, I spotted a historical marker in the bushes. It identified a strip mall parking lot as the place where in 1848 a Mormon prospector sent by BY himself to scout out a location on which to build the Mormon homeland and to find gold to pay for it, actually did find gold — a lot of it. BY, however, decided he and his co-religious minions were not going to travel any further west than the shores of the Great Salt Lake. So, he ordered the prospector to close up shop and bring the gold with him to Utah. The prospector did so, hiding it in the wagon that transported him and his family over the mountains and across the desert. Once he arrived at the Great Salt Lake they used the gold to finance the local mint, the profits from which funded the Mormon Empire back when it was just a struggling start-up.

Anyway, eventually, I arrived at the doctor’s office fully convinced my dark thoughts were to become even darker following his report.

I was surprised. The doctor bounced into the examination room, said, “Good News. The biopsy was negative,” and after a few seconds of happy-talk sent me on my way with an appointment to see him again in May. It seems, this month so far has been a series of anti-climaxes.

As I waited for the Uber driver to pick me up and drive me back home, I felt both elated and embarrassed. Elated because I now could get on with my bucket list knowing that the inevitable pain and misery that usually comes with the winding down of our clock as we age has been put off for at least another year or two. Embarrassed, because for the past month or so, I have been busily bemoaning to all who would listen to the emotional sufferings generated by the inevitability of my early demise. To all that I have burdened with my now obviously imagined concerns about my health, I apologize.



“I just loved this book — a young botanist’s story of his quest to see every UK orchid in one year. His passion shines through and there is so much information on orchids. It certainly made me want to go out and search for some orchids of my own — a very inspiring writer.”


JP — Every orchid in the UK in one year? Wow! People with obsessions sure make life interesting for those of us who choose just to sit around and watch.

( http://raggedrobinsnaturenotes.blogspot.com/2016/03/ )






Since this is the beginning of the New Year, and a time to reminisce as well as to plan for the future, I thought it appropriate to re-post a portion of a prior T&T issue written in 2010 shortly after I had begun living in Thailand:

I last wrote on Friday while waiting for the plane to take us to BKK. Today is Wednesday, March 31 in Thailand. I am sitting in a restaurant in Jomtien Beach situated across the road from the sand and water and in front of the condo complex in which I have rented a studio apt. for the next six months.

When I arrived in BKK from Chiang Mai on Friday, I had a little boy who loved me and who I loved in return and had a large house in Paradise. When I left BKK Tuesday for Pattaya, I had none of them. His mother (SWAC) decided to take him on to Italy and then the US and was not planning on returning anytime in the foreseeable future.

In my life, I have lost a child to SIDS, and two children to domestic turmoil. Eventually, the two returned — one after eight months, surrendered by his mother who could no longer cope, and the other, years later. She returned on her own through an act of courage and self-awareness far beyond that usually found in an eight-year-old. And now, thirty years later, an innocent little four-year-old boy wanting not much more than security and stability is wrenched away from his home back into aimless wandering from place to place and sudden abandonment. With each loss, the pain is deeper but the mourning briefer.

I have moved from Paradise in Chiang Mai to Pattaya that some say is more than halfway to Hell. Jomtien Beach is considered the quiet side of Pattaya, but it still sits squarely on the road to damnation.

No more, the well-tended lawns of Paradise in the Mountains or the panting missionaries out to save my soul; the quiet nights were broken by the moans and screams as the rodents, snakes and feral cats play out the drama of life and death in the wild lands surrounding the walled gardens of that Paradise. No more, the bird songs and flowering trees. I realize now that even Paradise without the laughter and squeals of children playing seems dull indeed. No more, the tall blond uniformed children on the manicured playing fields dreaming of a world with a Jesus whose only demands on them are to believe in him and to vote Republican. Instead, I now reside somewhere on the road to hell, peopled by boney nosed tattooed pot-bellied men worshiping the goddess “poon-tang” and slight pretty women dreaming of salvation from the poverty and penury of their lives by the wealth extracted from their tattooed pot-bellied devotees.

As irony would have it, my apartment is located in the Jomtien Paradise Condominiums. At night I can look out from my balcony towards the lights of Hell (Yes, you can see Hell from Paradise.) In my mind’s eye, I see neon reflecting like jewels from the dragon’s fire on the beads of sweat spawned by the desperation of desire. And do you know something, for the first time in three months, I feel like I can breathe.






From Brad Delong’s blog, Grasping Reality with Both Hands:

180.8 Million people are represented by the 49 senators who caucus with the Democrats.
141.7 Million people are represented by the 51 senators who caucus with the Republicans.
65.9 million people voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tim Kaine to be their president and vice president
63.0 Million people voted for Donald Trump and Mike Pence to be their president and vice president.

JP — This seems to indicate we are something less than a functioning democracy.






A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blogs of the Week:

1. http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/tesla-amazon-and-bitcoin

This article by Dean Baker appears in a blog published by The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). It discusses and analyzes the market values of Bitcoin, Amazon, and Tesla and concludes they all are bad perhaps even catastrophic long-term investments for anyone.

2. http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/california-is-working/

This site contains the study by the Labor Center of “the California Policy Model,” a set of 51 policy measures enacted by California between 2011 and 2016 addressing workers’ rights, environmental issues, safety net programs, taxation, infrastructure, and housing. Critics predicted that these policies would reduce employment and slow economic growth, while supporters argued that they would raise wages for low-wage workers, increase access to health insurance, lower wage inequality, and reduce carbon emissions. The paper assessed some of these claims and concluded that employment and GDP growth were not adversely affected, wages for low-wage workers and overall health insurance rates rose, wage inequality declined modestly and the State was on its way to meeting its 2020 carbon emissions reduction goals.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

1. No society, if it hopes to survive, can, either directly or indirectly, surrender to an individual, institution or groups of individuals or institutions unbridled and uncontrolled dominance over its economic and political well-being, no matter how apparently beneficial it appears at the time.
2. We are better off as a society to first agree to what we want our society look like and then act to make it so than to just hope for the best or trust to individual efforts alone.
3. A fair and just society never ever follows the advice of those with the most to gain financially.
4. A fair and just society resists giving collective funds or financial advantage to those with the resources to compete for them on their own.
5. There is no magic wand, invisible hand, or strong and brilliant leader that can save us from our folly. If we believe that, then Pogo was right when he said so long ago, “We have met the enemy and he is us“.

Quotations to ponder and ponderous quotations.

Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.
Henry Ford

Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.
Thomas Jefferson

C. Today’s Poem:


Song to Mead
Book of Taliesin XIX

I WILL adore the Ruler, chief of every place,
Him, that supports the heaven: Lord of everything.
Him, that made the water for every one good,
Him, that made every gift, and prospers it.
May Maelgwn of Mona be affected with mead, and affect us,
From the foaming mead-horns, with the choicest pure liquor,
Which the bees collect, and do not enjoy.
Mead distilled sparkling, its praise is everywhere.
The multitude of creatures which the earth nourishes,
God made for man to enrich him.
Some fierce, some mute, he enjoys them.
Some wild, some tame, the Lord makes them.
Their coverings become clothing.
For food, for drink, till doom they will continue.
I will implore the Ruler, sovereign of the country of peace,
To liberate Elphin from banishment.
The man who gave me wine and ale and mead.
And the great princely steeds, beautiful their appearance,
May he yet give me bounty to the end.
By the will of God, he will give in honour,
Five five-hundred festivals in the way of peace.
Elphinian knight of mead, late be thy time of rest.


This poem refers to the famous drink of the iron age, mead, the honey wine. It is associated with warrior bravado (especially as it appears in the Gododdin) and with poetic inspiration (as in Norse literature). Along with being about mead, it refers to the Ystoria Taliesin, wherein the young Taliesin has to free his patron and foster-father Elphin from Maelgwn Gwynedd’s prisons.


D. Andy’s Musings:

Andy’s father was a pharmacist for most of his life. At 60 years of age, he decided to go to law school and graduated. According to Andy, here is what happened next:

“Then when he passed the bar he joined a firm doing family law. That was the beginning of the end. “That’s a slimy business,” I warned him with my snarky sense of things. “Just you wait.” And for him, it was true. He was now in a profession that forced him to dole out eviction notices and advise women who called him up at 2:00 A.M., telling him that their husband was beating down the door, what should they do? After six months he quit the firm and started working for legal aid. But that wasn’t much better. Most of his clients were drug dealers and multiple offenders, and, yes, they deserved a fair trial, but everyone (including my dad) knew they were guilty. And that fact by itself would have robbed him of any satisfaction if he ever managed to get them off the hook.”

And Weinberger. The Ugly Man Sits in the Garden.

JP — Having done family law, legal aid, International law, real estate and a bunch of other types of law representing clients from the dredges of the earth to the masters of the universe, I can add that all law business could be considered “slimy business.” After all, don’t we learn in law school that our job is to give the best representation and advice to our clients that we can, no matter what scumbags they may be or even how many people may die because of their actions? And, don’t we get paid for doing it? And aren’t we paid well for doing so? And aren’t we happy we are? As someone inquired of me not too long ago, “Given the moral relativity with which lawyers like you must practice their profession, wouldn’t you agree that it would be better for everyone if you were an Uber driver instead?”
E. Some Comments on Previous Post:


1. Ruth L.

My friends and relatives are disappearing quickly, too, and I suppose my phone book will need more and more deletions as they depart.

We’re often told not to dwell upon the past. Well, perhaps we shouldn’t “dwell” on it, but I find it rewarding to examine it frequently and I often end up thinking: “Ah, so that’s what it was all about” concerning incidents I hadn’t truly looked at before. New insights all the time, particularly about my parents. I’ve found a great source of information at newspapers.com, some of it confirming family stories. The Brooklyn Eagle has been particularly interesting.

Keep walking, keep loving this earth and keep sending us your beautiful photos.


2. Nikki.

Hi, I am ok, You guys? That friend of yours that just passed away is the one who had those vintage cars parked in his yard? Remember we visit him a while ago. I liked one car I believe was an Italian model of some type or French. Curious what is going to happen to those old cars. How HRM is doing in school now?


3. Peter.

Glad you liked Andy’s musings. Thought you would. I haven’t seen him/them in several years. They’re back in Sonoma running the bookstore; his brother John and wife live nearby. John was our neighbor in New Delhi in 1972-4. That’s where I met Howard, convalescing from dysentery acquired in Nepal.

I’ll be around next weekend, except for a Saturday night gig in Kensington (North Berkeley). Alex’s girls will be up then; looks like we’ll take them to the Discovery Museum at Fort Baker (Sausalito) at some point. Anyway, if you are in town, we can hook up somehow.

I am in the middle of “Fantasyland”- fascinating book, compliments of our local library branch. Makes stuff seem even more amazing and hopeless. Thanks for the tip in previous TAT.


4. Naida.

Every day at least one bad thing happens, and usually at least one good thing happens. Today I left my purse in the basket of a grocery cart in the Target parking lot. I came home, put things away and was settling down with a cup of coffee when the cell phone actually rang! A man on the other end said he found my purse and would drive it to my house. He did, The good and the bad were wrapped together in that instance.

I also got the obit to The Bee, My computer is so messed up without Word that I couldn’t write the obit, and my daughter Jennifer drove over with her laptop — wiped out half a working day for. It was slow and difficult using that different format. Then the deadline loomed so I had to get it in today.



“Every society needs a cry like that, [Remember KoomValley] but only in a very few do they come out with the complete, unvarnished version, which is “Remember-The-Atrocity-Committed-Against-Us-Last-Time-That-Will-Excuse-The-Atrocity-That-We’re-About-To-Commit-Today! And So On! Hurrah!”

Pratchett, Terry. Thief of Time: A Novel of Discworld (p. 421). HarperCollins.





Postcards from Sabina


Categories: January through March 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 20 Joseph 0007 (January 9, 2018)




“Everything that happens, stays happened.”

Pratchett, Terry. Thief of Time: A Novel of Discworld (p. 145). HarperCollins.







The old year thankfully has passed away. It was not a good year for me nor was it, I imagine, good for the nation or the world for that matter. Alas, there is little that I or anyone else, can do about that other than to get on with it — our lives or whatever else it may be. Oh, I guess we can also vote — early and often as they say.

The cold white sun glares through the silver overcast sky throwing its shadowless light across the path I walk on during today’s morning stroll around the lakes in Town Center. The leaves from the now mostly denuded trees crackle as I step on them while I amble by. My mind rumbles on inside me while I walk along, preaching about years past and possible futures. It annoys me a lot — like I am in the grip of a malevolent being making me plod, head down, walking faster and faster as it feeds my obsessions. Then, having circled the lake the required number of times, I finally rest. The dark voice dissipates, replaced with simple questions like, “Shall I have coffee now or should I continue on to the health club?”

This Morning, I noticed that Bistro 33, the restaurant overlooking the lake, had closed. I enjoyed eating lunch there, outside near the water, often with Norbert, Stevie, and HRM. In the evenings, the local divorcees would gather around the circular bar inside hunting and being hunted in turn. The food was good. I will miss it.

While doing some research on Julian of Norwich (see below), I came across a blog entitled, Ragged Robin’s Nature Notes written by someone living in Warwickshire, England somewhere near where the good Julian spent her days during the far Middle Ages. It seems the blogger, in proper British countryside tradition, spends most of her time in her garden photographing things and posting them in her blog. There, she happily but unnecessarily describes to all that which clearly appears in the photograph. I found her delightfully odd but serious about her preoccupation so I decided to follow her. Besides, how could you not love someone who gives herself the nick-name Ragged Robin and is infatuated with alliteration?

Speaking of the posting of inane photographs of local interest, here is one taken today on my afternoon walk around the lakes in Town Center. I have no idea what kind of trees those are, so don’t ask.

Recently Ragged Robin posted the following:


Pasted Graphic 1
New Government e-petition from Simon King to End the Badger Cull instead of Expanding It Into New Areas. Please click on the image for a link to the petition.

Save the badgers

Note: It appears that in this part of England, the government sends out petitions for the general public to comment on pending actions and legislation. What a marvelous idea.


This morning on my walk around the lakes, I decided to walk the full three miles and forgo the health club because I still was not feeling right. It was another silver skyed shadowless day, a bit warmer than it had been for the past few days. About halfway through my walk, I received a call from the Good/Bad David. I gave him that name because SWAC would refer to him as either good or bad depending on how she felt about him that week. I had not heard from him in over a year. I was glad he called and took the opportunity to sit on a bench and rest while I spoke with him.

David was a well-known hedonist among the Thailand ex-pat crowd I knew. When he wasn’t carousing in Bangkok or Pattaya, he was working on contract as a supervisor of environment, safety, and security for various oil companies around the world. Because his job at times included leading armed mercenaries through a number of jungle or desert hot spots around the world, I would teasingly accuse him of being a mercenary and CIA spy, which he vigorously denied, as one would expect a proper spy to do. For this reason, I gave him the name “Spy” in the Adventures of the Geriatric Nights of The Oval Table I wrote about here a few years ago.

Anyway, with the collapse of the petroleum exploration industry, the contracts he relied upon for maintenance of his licentious and thoroughly enjoyable lifestyle ended and he was forced to return to South Dakota from whence he came and resume the life of a farmer. Now, I do not really know what a farmer does beyond getting up well before sunrise and developing a close relationship with manure, but I doubt it includes a licentious and thoroughly enjoyable lifestyle. I feel his pain.
Spy and I in Jomtien Beach

If upon reading what I have written so far gives you the impression I now do little with my day except stroll around the Town Center Lakes, you would not be too far from the truth. It takes a bit of effort to distinguish the variety of my days this past week from my nights. Actually, the lack if nighttime diversity is not precisely true. For the past week or so, I appear to have come down with the stomach flu that everyone seems to be getting — at least I hope that is all it is. It often wakes me up in the middle of the night. So until the episode lets up, I aimlessly play on my computer — like I am doing right now at 3AM.

Overcast skies and rain this morning as I left for the first of my medical appointments this week. I left the house before 6AM leaving HRM to rouse himself, prepare breakfast and await his friend tall long haired Jake and his parents to pick him up and drive him to school. Dick is in San Diego at meetings with the University there. I was anxious about leaving HRM alone for the hour until he got picked up. While lying there at the clinic awaiting whatever radio-active substance they injected me with to permeate my body, I called HRM every ten minutes or so to see if he was OK. He was.Then, after being required to lie perfectly still for an additional twenty minutes while being trundled back and forth through the PET scan machine, I was released to continue my day. First to IHOP for breakfast and then home and back into bed to catch up on the sleep I had lost worrying about the results of this week’s tests.

If upon reading what I have written so far gives you the impression I now do little with my day except stroll around the Town Center Lakes, you would not be too far from the truth. It takes a bit of effort to distinguish the variety of my days this past week from my nights. Actually, the lack if nighttime diversity is not precisely true. For the past week or so, I appear to have come down with the stomach flu that everyone seems to be getting — at least I hope that is all it is. It often wakes me up in the middle of the night. So until the episode lets up, I aimlessly play on my computer — like I am doing right now at 3AM.

Overcast skies and rain this morning as I left for the first of my medical appointments this week. I left the house before 6AM leaving HRM to rouse himself, prepare breakfast and await his friend tall long haired Jake and his parents to pick him up and drive him to school. Dick is in San Diego at meetings with the University there. I was anxious about leaving HRM alone for the hour until he got picked up. While lying there at the clinic awaiting whatever radio-active substance they injected me with to permeate my body, I called HRM every ten minutes or so to see if he was OK. He was.Then, after being required to lie perfectly still for an additional twenty minutes while being trundled back and forth through the PET scan machine, I was released to continue my day. First to IHOP for breakfast and then home and back into bed to catch up on the sleep I had lost worrying about the results of this week’s tests.



Well, what a pleasant surprise I received today after waking from my post PET scan nap. In the mailbox, I found a package from Peter. It contained a book entitled, The Ugly Man Sits in the Garden by someone named Andy Weinberger. Andy (I am sure he won’t mind me calling him by his first name) lives in Sonoma and his book resembles a polished and much better-written version of T&T — a humorous gentle recording of Andy’s adventures and musing as he goes about owning a bookstore in Sonoma and doing Sonoma type things.

Maybe if I had a loving long-suffering wife willing to type up my musings and edit them while I putter around my bookstore schmoozing with friends like Andy does T&T could be immeasurably improved. Although several of my wives may have been long-suffering, none, I am sure, would ever have considered sitting around editing and typing up my meanderings.

I think the blurbs on the back of the book capture the book’s essence best. Here are two:

I’m sorry I didn’t get to see this book for myself, but a person can only live so long, and then God takes him away to a better place. Vat can one do? Still it’s a great accomplishment, and of course, I am proud of him. All those fancy schmancy words.
Tillie Seigal, Andy’s grandmother. (JP — Note: Andy’s grandma died many years before the book was written, but not even God can hold back a loving grandma when she wants to praise a favored grandson.)

Who knew then someday Andy Weinberger would turn out to run a famous bookstore in California and write a book? Not me. In fact, after he left Long Island I never laid eyes on him again. But even as a toddler, I could tell he had talent. He could really throw a snowball back then. That’s what I remember.
Garry Gullicksen, Andy’s childhood friend, Huntington, NY

From what appears in his book, Andy seems to be a jovial easy-going guy interested in other people. I do not see myself being like Andy at all. Talent aside, I believe my attitude more resembles Proust, self-important and indulgent, solitary and cynical. Nevertheless, Andy might be right. On the whole, life is good. There is really not that much to complain about — well…no there really is a lot to complain about, but maybe Andy’s sunny amused disposition helps in dealing with it. It can’t hurt.

I may from now on add a section to Pepe’s Potpourri called, Andy’s Musings and upgrade things a little. It can’t hurt.



Still raining. No walks around the lakes today. Nevertheless, for the first time in a long while, I enjoyed myself exercising at the Health Club. Spoke with Naida. She seems to be getting on with her life. Still cleaning up the old but I am pretty sure she will soon be getting on with the new. HRH after two days of rain seems to be coming down with a bit of cabin fever. He is eager to get back to blowing off his excess pre-adolescent energy at the skate park, Tomorrow comes the biopsy — the joy of having one’s neck stuck with needles.

You all have a good day now.






On Bitching:

The new year has begun. The quote by the ever-delightful satirist Terry Pratchett that begins this post might lead one to conclude that bitching about the past changes nothing. Nevertheless, true or not, I like to bitch. It is my default setting. I always found it made me feel better. Admittedly, it usually made everyone else feel worse. Still, I believe bitching is a good thing. Even if I had nothing to bitch about, I would still bitch about that.

On the other hand, way back in the Middle Ages, Julian of Norwich who wrote the first theological book written in English by a woman opined, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” These are words to live by — to ponder. They are after all ponderous indeed.

One could argue that not only would accepting Julian’s view of things (and even often reciting her words now and then instead of, “Ohm,” “Wow,” “Oops” or the like) be a good way to start off a new year, it would seem to represent the exact opposite of or an antidote to bitching as a means of handling the stresses of life. In other words, a yin to my yang. Or is it a yang to my yin?
Pasted Graphic
In case you are curious about the difference.

Julian was an Anchoress (a special kind of female anchorite — you wouldn’t think there would be rules about having yourself bricked up in a cave, but there are). At an early age, she was bricked up into a small cell where she spent the rest of her life accessible to the outside world only through two small holes, one to allow food to be inserted and refuse removed and another to allow seekers of wisdom and penitents to receive her advice and counsel.
Pasted Graphic_1
Julian’s window on the world.

Julian could have bitched about her circumstances. I would have. She certainly appeared to have a lot to bitch about. But, she didn’t. On the other hand, maybe, she was nuts. Wouldn’t you be, bricked up in a tiny dark cell like that for most of your life?

Anyway, Julian’s lifestyle choices aside, to bitch or not to bitch that is the question (I could not resist). Since, as Pratchett assures us, neither bitching nor enduring can change the past, can either change the future? I maintain that in at least 8 out of 10 cases bitching will prompt change where grim acceptance would not.

So, for the new year, be happy and bitch, bitch and bitch.

And, more importantly, make sure you do not forget to vote.

Julian Before She Became an Anchoress.



“According to a 2014 Pew survey, the Americans who most frequently ‘feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe’ are agnostics.”

Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 440). Random House Publishing Group.






A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blogs of the Week:


1. http://www.resilience.org/stories/2018-01-04/systems-suck-less/

An interesting article that promotes Syndicalism (worker ownership of individual businesses) as an alternative to the current debate between Capitalism and Socialism about control of the means of production. I am not too sympathetic to the author’s arguments. They fail, I think, in part because they avoid the inescapable political problems raised by the inevitable centralization, over time, of power in ever larger more successful entities (by business in the case of Syndicalism and liberal Capitalism and bureaucrats in the case of Communism and Socialism). Power not only corrupts it metastasizes. Also, the inevitable conflict between the self-interest of individual entities and the public good,— e.g., the ability to effectively deal with things like Climate Change, welfare, migrations and so on — seems to be no better handled than the current systems that govern us today. The hope that these current problems and the controversies they engender will somehow be handled better by one or another of these isms, seem to me to be almost like mysticism. I get the feeling that when one peels back the layers of all these isms, one discovers wriggling at the center of it all, that irrepressible maggot our old friend, the Invisible Hand in one form or another. It seems as though the advocates for these isms are not too far removed from the promoters of most religions, “Believe what we tell you and believe only us. The rest is in God’s hands.”

Ideology, like religion, is not science. Science is something on which we can rely without resorting to Invisible Hands or mysterious beings. Unfortunately for us, science is still far from knowing all the secrets of the human heart. So, like it or not, we’re still all fucked.


2. https://mises.org/blog/could-banks-become-public-utilities

This post discusses with approval the possible conversion of the banking sector of the economy into a public utility, a proposal I am in general sympathy with. What is especially interesting about this article is that it appears in a blog devoted to the opinions of free-market conservative economists. I assume from the article that the authors separate personal banking (which would become the public utility) from commercial banking.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Sooner or later, we humans always manage to find ourselves balanced on the edge of sustainability and little more than one step from starvation.

Trenz Pruca (Malthus by way of Sanderson)


C. Giants of History:

Donald Trump will go down in history as the most despicable leader of a democracy to sell out his country to its adversaries since Alcibiades sold out Athenian democracy to Sparta.


D. Andy’s Musings:

Andy writes that his mother would often take foreign language courses in Pasadena Community College just so that if she met someone from a country that spoke the language she had studied she could then say, “how are you” in their language. That did not always work Andy admits.

“I remember her saying that the hardest course she ever took was Arabic, from which she only could retain one exasperating sentence: The ugly man sits in the garden.”
E. Today’s Poem:

The King of the Seas – Poem by Stephen Crane

The Ocean said to me once,
Yonder on the shore
Is a woman, weeping.
I have watched her.
Go you and tell her this-
Her lover I have laid
In cool green hall.
There is wealth of golden sand
And pillars, coral-red;
Two white fish stand guard at his bier.

Tell her this
And more-
That the king of the seas
Weeps too, old, helpless man.
The bustling Fates
Heap his hands with corpses
Until he stands like a child
With surplus of toys.’


F. Excerpts from Comments on the Previous Post:

Will you send my regards and condolences to Naida. Bill was a great friend and mentor to me in the early years after you sent me up to Sacramento. He and Naida were both very kind to me when I had nothing to offer back I always wished I knew what he knew. I was also so impressed that Bill would just walk around the Capitol in his street clothes (no tie or suit). He had been around so long that he didn’t need to play the game anymore. He had complete confidence in his understanding of the political world that he worked in. I’m sad for his loss.



Hi, Joe and Happy new year!!!
I’m sorry for your friends… this year hasn’t started well for you 😌
Sending you a kiss and I hope to see you soon!
On Feb 24th I’m going to Thailand with some friends, but only for a week 🤷🏼‍♀️



Condolences on Bill’s passing. I know you were very close. I am glad to see that, even at the end, he retained his sense of humor.

Hope you are on the mend; you sounded like a foghorn reject on the phone the other day.

More Peter.

It’s Oy Vay. [Technical Note: I had to type this twice because the code-writers, who want to be So Helpful, made the unilateral decision to make this machine show Oy Way (and right here just now, it tried Oy Bay!). This helpful intention results in inefficiency and irritation. Of course, the code-writers are all goyem. (Get this: it just typed “gooey” instead of goyem.) Start a movement: More Yiddish-fluent code writers needed. Fill the Washington DC Mall with hundreds of thousands chanting and waving banners emblazoned with “Oy Vay! All The Way!” (it just tried Oy Bay again).

My response.

Thank you for the book. I love it. I bet Andy Weinberger does not have trouble with auto-correct. He probably writes in longhand on a  yellow pad and his long-suffering wife has to type it up. Recently when I typed the word — edit — the auto-correct printed — toe dit. I tried to work that into what I was writing but it was beyond me. Now with — toe did — I could probably work something out, but the Gods of computer-talk are never so helpful.

Take care. I will try to deliver the cane to you this weekend if you are around.

Still more Peter.

Glad you liked Andy’s musings. Thought you would. I haven’t seen him/them in several years. They’re back in Sonoma running the bookstore; his brother John and wife live nearby. John was our neighbor in New Delhi in 1972-4. That’s where I met Howard, convalescing from dysentery acquired in Nepal.

I’ll be around next weekend, except for a Saturday night gig in Kensington (North Berkeley). Alex’s girls will be up then; looks like we’ll take them to the Discovery Museum at Fort Baker (Sausalito) at some point. Anyway, if you are in town, we can hook up somehow.

I am in the middle of “Fantasyland”- fascinating book, compliments of our local library branch. Makes stuff seem even more amazing and hopeless. Thanks for the tip in previous TAT.



So sorry to hear about Bill. How is Naida doing? Let me know if there is a memorial service.

Bill was one of the funniest people I ever met. Sometimes without meaning to be funny. But often just being so understated in such a high-stress profession. It was quite humorous to watch him interact with agitated people in a very calm manner and seemingly always get his way with them. Like your Denny Carpenter story. God Bless him!

I’m on my way to Dunsmuir and my new apt. If you want a break from the EDH, come on up. I have not been out your way lately but as soon as I am, I’ll give you a ring.

Don’t get too depressed about losing friends. THEY REALLY ARE NEVER GONE. Most of my old friends are still alive to me in my dreams and rambling thoughts. They are not gone, just on a lengthy vacation. And having been “gone” myself and brought back by a great paramedic, I can tell you the other side appeared very blissful and relaxing. So don’t worry. And our friends will be there in whatever form “The Great One” allows. We are the chosen survivors. And that’s not so bad!

More from Terry.

As I said, modern medicine creates miracles. Throat cancer does not seem to be a large part of cancer fatalities. Of course one never knows, but I’m optimistic about your prognosis. And the stats don’t lie.

Here’s a story from The New York Times that I thought you’d find interesting:

More than two million patients have been saved by advances in diagnosis and treatment since 1991, according to new data.


I’m sorry to hear about Bill Geyer’s passing. I’m finding with respect to Moe, as I know you are with respect to Bill, that knowing it was coming does very little to cushion the blow. I barely knew Bill, but I’ve heard you talk about him for years and I know he meant a lot to you.

Let us hope that 2018 is an improvement over its predecessor!



I am so sorry to hear of your friends passing. May he rest in peace.
I wish you Blessings in the new year, with good health and happiness.






“As long as there are fools and rascals, there will be religions. [And Christianity] is assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd…religion which has ever infected this world.”

Voltaire (1767)








Categories: January through March 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Joseph 0006 (January 2, 2018)






“We all do no end of feeling, and we mistake it for thinking. It is held in reverence. Some think it the voice of God.”
—MARK TWAIN, “Corn-Pone Opinions” (1901)








I went to see Bill on Thursday having received an email from Naida asking me to come to visit him as soon as possible and containing the following:

“I have been sitting with Bill next to his bed. His coughing woke me at 5 a.m. He asked me what my name was. I told him and, when asked what I’ve done all day, explained that I am his wife and I’ve been taking care of him. He said he’d been put away into in some attic. I told him he’s downstairs. He said he wants to see out the window. I explained that the sun wouldn’t come up for a couple of hours. He said, ‘OK. When it’s light I want to see out the window.’ He also said, ‘I feel weird like I’ve been separated from all civilization’— followed by his characteristic sarcastic ‘huh’ of a laugh.”

I found Bill lying in bed. He appeared relatively upbeat. While Naida was out of the room scurrying about with the two full-time caregivers and the visiting nurse, I sat with him and held his hand. Later, Naida brought us some cookies and milk. As we drank the milk and ate the cookies, Bill turned to me and said, “You know, I always thought I was going to die with a shot glass full of whiskey in my hand, now it looks like instead, I will go out holding a glass of warm milk and a soggy cookie.”

We mostly sat in silence but now and then we talked about old times or about our respective maladies. After a few hours, the skies began to darken and I left promising to return again tomorrow or Saturday on my way to San Francisco to return the cane Peter left behind at my sister’s house.

On my way home, I wondered about how brave people die and why we do not throw up monuments to all those who face the endless dark with grace and humor.

I have not gone swimming in the pool since I returned from Mendocino. It is not that it has been too cold. It is more than I have felt too cold. I walk and lift weights but I feel especially tired and lethargic. Is it a harbinger or merely a result of sleeplessness? My nights are spent in repetitive dream states both exciting and disturbing. I wake often and now and then fear going back to sleep. I have a disturbing feeling in my stomach — heavy like constipation but it does not move.


Moe has died. I received this from Ruth today:

“I’m not sure how far the grapevine has already reached, so you may already know that, alas, Moe passed away yesterday afternoon.”

“His last round of difficulties began a few days after Thanksgiving with overwhelming inability to breathe. Luckily the property manager stopped in as he was gasping and called 911. I didn’t find out about any of this until the following Monday, by which time Moe was able to talk on the phone. He made it out of hospital into rehab a few days after that, and Jeoff and I visited him on Saturday 12/15 where we ran into Olga and Marshall. He was to go home, with help, the next Thursday–which was the day I flew to Vancouver, where I still am. Apparently, he did go home but then had another no-breathing episode which put him back in the hospital. He was in a ventilator, but they were unable to wean him from it and he seemed to lose brain function, at which point friends and family did what they (and I) were sure he would have wanted.”

“All I have heard so far is there will be a memorial but not immediately.”

“Please notify anyone you think may not already know and would want to.”

“And I wish you a happier year next year.”

More than an acquaintance and less than a companion, Moe was someone whose life and mine have intertwined or another one way for over 40 years. Rest in peace Moe.

Is it my age or the time of the year that is bringing such sorrow and loss? I do hope it will be a happier year next year.

HRM’s winter vacation is drawing to a close. I do not see him too often. He is at the age where he drifts in and out of the house, a sly smile on his face as though he has just discovered something that the rest of us could not possibly know or understand.


I was too ill on Friday to drive to Sacramento and visit Bill but on Saturday, feeling a bit better, I set off again. I first stopped at Raley’s and bought some cookies, candies, and dates for them. Remembering Bill’s quip about milk and booze, I purchased a small bottle of Jack Daniels.

When I got to the house, I found Bill fairly comatose and Naida understandably distressed. When I showed Naida the whiskey and explained my reasons, Bill, who we had thought was asleep, let out an explosive laugh and whispered something that sounded like, “I don’t believe it.” Naida found a shot glass and we put it into his hand, filled it with the Jack and helped guide it to his lips. He drank it down, gave the expected cough and went back to sleep. It was probably my imagination but I thought I saw a bit of a smile play across his lips.

Back in EDH, I drove HRM and his friends here and there, read a bit, and spent more time than I would like in bed feeling a bit under the weather. On New Year’s Eve, we all retired early. The next morning I drove HRM and his friend, Tyson, to the Skate Board Park. From there I called Naida to see how Bill was doing. She told me that he had died in the middle of the night just as the old year also passed. She was understandably quite distressed. During her ramblings about his last hours, the many things that need doing now and reminisces she mentioned something about Bill that I had not known before.

Apparently, many years before Bill, Naida and many other parents in the neighborhood were upset with Little League because its rules and regulations excluded many children from participating, so Bill created and for several years managed a youth baseball league open to everyone, boys, girls, and those too young or too un-athletic to thrive in the Little League. The kids loved it. Naida added that throughout the years since they would run into people who had played in that league who would tell them how much it meant to them and how much they enjoyed it.

I spent the rest of the day moping around the house.

2017 was an awful year. It began awful and ended even more so. It began with “Not My President” taking the oath of office and me in treatment for throat cancer and ended with the death of friends, fear of cancer’s return and “Not My President” still in office. I hope for all our sakes we do not experience its like again.


January 2, 2018, began with clear cold sunlight slashing through the windows. Dick had already left for work and Hayden was still asleep in his room. I puttered around a bit hoping that H would wake up soon so that I could take him and his friend Tyson to the Skate Park. After all, this is the first day of the rest of my life and I am determined to make it a good one. A great day is not required, pleasant will do —even better than average would be acceptable but I will try for great. I think I will do the laundry today.

As that great American philosopher Scarlett O’Hara opined, “Tomorrow is another day.” I certainly hope so.






Who am I?

I am at that point in my life where, I suppose like many people, I begin to contemplate that ineffable question, “Who am I?” — or perhaps “Why?”— then again maybe not. Who cares?

Let’s cut to the chase. I have always thought of myself as… Well, in a quantum world “always” does not exist or matter. So let me instead begin with — As I write this, I think of myself as an ascetic hedonist. That makes no sense you may say. How can one be both ascetic and a hedonist at the same time? (I guess, a person who gets pleasure out of self-flagellation can be described that way. But, that is beyond what I can handle right now.)

Anyway, let me explain the image I have of myself. I picture myself as a hermit living in a remote cave in the middle of a great desert somewhere. Every morning I get up just before sunrise, go out to some miserable rocky place, contort myself into an unpleasant and uncomfortable pose and contemplate or hum or something else all day.

I would contemplate life’s meaning — real meaning like, “Why was I doing this in the first place?” “Am I just a sick human being?” “What happens after this, whatever this is ?”

If I may digress from my digression, let me discuss my problems with what some large groups of people say comes after this, whatever this is?

There are, for example, a large group of people who believe that if you are male and an efficient killer after you die you get to be locked up forever with a bunch of young virgin women who probably will not remain virgins for long. Everyone else, other than other killers locked up like you, gets to sit on the outside doing nothing apparently except wondering what you guys are doing inside. I think I would prefer to be with the outsiders, at least we probably get to shrug our shoulders and roll our eyes now and then.

Another large group seems to believe that if in your life you get to avoid people who disagree with you, or force them to agree with you, or kill them if they don’t or they get too close to you, you then get to spend all eternity staring a some self-important serial killer surrounded by armed hermaphrodite thugs and listening to Gregorian Chant. Those not so lucky get to spend their time boiled in flaming vats of sulfur and oil. Now I have nothing against Gregorian Chant, but I think I prefer being boiled in sulfur and oil if I could not hear something else now and then — even country and western. Well, maybe not that.

Then, there are those that believe if you do nothing but not hard enough or if you do something during life after you die you return as a maggot. If you’re lucky, you get eaten by a crow before you do anything and if you come back again, say a thousand times, doing nothing you may get to be good enough at doing nothing other than thinking about yourself so that after you die you then get to come back as… well, nothing, forever. What’s the point?

There are also those who believe that, if you spend your life running around killing people and you get to be so good at it that other people make up songs about how efficient you were at mayhem, or they erect statues to you, you then get to spend all eternity with homicidal maniacs like yourself in a sunny place with a lot of grass playing something like football and drinking warm beer. Everyone else gets to live in a cold dreary place weeping and crying forever, except for one or two who get to push rocks up hills or have their liver torn out every day by hawks. Given the choice of eternal football and warm beer or weeping and crying in a cold dreary place, I’ll take the latter. It seems more like life, doesn’t it?

Well, enough of that. Let’s get back on topic, “Who am I?”

On the Hedonist side, I would want my cave to have a nice bed, internet connection, food delivery, maid service, a sauna and of course hot water. Even at a minimum, I could tolerate a well-padded sleeping bag as long as all the other things were included especially hot water preferably in a tub or a pool and in my espresso.

Once a week, I would travel to nearby podunk town, go to a loud crowded bar (if loud and crowded were unavailable any bar would do) order a beer, take it to a table in a far corner or the far edge of the bar and sit quietly nursing my beer and watching everything or if there is no one but an old drunk sitting at the other end of the bar then staring at my beer wishing I were back in my cave tucked warmly in my bed. Later, I would return to my cave and, after a warm bath and a joint, crawl into bed, spend a few moments of what is euphemistically called self-love and then drift off to sleep contemplating the pleasures of crouching on the stony ground pondering “what’s it all about?”

What’s it all about? Well, it’s not existentialism. After all, I think I have meaning even if you don’t. It’s not about, oh,… say solipsism. When you think about it, when you’re deaf dumb and blind crawling face down through a sea of mud and you strike something else, it is not just you alone, is it? There are other isms too, a lot of them, but I think they all end up in more or less the same place— usually not someplace I want to end up. As for a Supreme Being who actually cares for you, I think we’ve disposed of that above.

So what else is there? There’s you and there’s me. We may never meet or be the same, but I think that’s the way it should be, don’t you?

And, that is who I think I am —then again, maybe not.






A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

America was built on the premise of avoiding the question of whether something is true or is fantasy. Whenever, however, such questions could not be avoided, Americans usually chose fantasy.


B. Today’s Poem:

The God Who Only Knows Four Words

Has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts,
Not the God who ever does
Anything weird,
But the God who only knows four words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come dance with Me.”
Hafiz (14th Century Sufi poet)



C. Some Comments on Previous Post:

Ann Marie.

I loved reading about Christmas in Mendocino, brings back many wonderful memories. We always said it doesn’t feel like Christmas until Christmas Eve at MaryAnne’s. The sentiment remains true. I am thinking next year I’d like to go away to Mexico.

Reading about Molly warmed my heart. She has indeed been like a daughter to me since the first summer she spent here with us.

I’m so sorry to hear about your friend Bill. Much love to you ❤️

Let me know if there’s any possibility of traveling with you in September. The kids & I will look forward to it.

From Peter.

We returned then because Blind Lemon Pledge had a street gig on 24th St the next day. The Noe merchants each year in this holiday season promote some music in the mini-parks on the street where car parking used to be. We’ve played these a couple of years now. Small world frolic — or, a vigorous response to the stochastic dreariness of large numbers – During our performance, a man came up, listened, and after the song introduced himself as a music writer (among other things). Turns out he wrote the article in the recent N.V. Voice that mentioned that Chez Marius, our local bistro, was having music. I had read this and arranged for us to play there (including last night!) and told the writer that he, and his article, were responsible for that.

More Peter.

All those Buddhist monks in their gompas have it, but they have to do a Lot of work, drink that nasty yak butter tea, and wake up at 3 a.m.

Still More Peter.

On the other hand, non-Americans look bemused at Americans’ apparent overriding fixation on money. What is happening just now with the recent American elections and the now-very visible triumph of The Oligarchy of the Billionaires couldn’t make this fixation clearer.

Even More Peter.

Consider: Rather than face the prospect of continued human existence within a limited, enclosed artificial environment where you never feel the fresh sea breeze blow in (assuming, of course, that you had a ticket to ride), people could stop burning fossil fuels, causing droughts and mass migrations, and other suicidal nest-fouling activities. But, seems there are too many who say “apres moi le deluge” and carry on. Survey question: How many of them think that (a) they will go to heaven, or (b) come back as a boddhisatva, or (c) simply don’t give a shit?

Peter Once Again.

It’s Oy Vay. [Technical Note: I had to type this twice because the code-writers, who want to be So Helpful, made the unilateral decision to make this machine show Oy Way (and right here just now, it tried Oy Bay!). This helpful intention results in inefficiency and irritation. Of course, the code-writers are all goyem. (Get this: it just typed “gooey” instead of goyem.) Start a movement: More Yiddish-fluent code writers needed. Fill the Washington DC Mall with hundreds of thousands chanting and waving banners emblazoned with “Oy Vay! All The Way!” (it just tried Oy Bay again).




“Marx famously called religion the opium of the people, and when Lenin founded the Soviet Union, he agreed, saying it was ‘used for the…stupefaction of the working class.’ But neither man had ever been to the United States, to see that for Americans it was as much or more a stimulant and hallucinogen than a stupefying opiate.”

Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 292). Random House Publishing Group.












Categories: January through March 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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