Posts Tagged With: Olive oil

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. (January 30 2012) 13 Mopey 0001


I left the Little Masseuse standing in the lobby of Savrunbhumi Airport in Bangkok and passed through customs and security. My flight to Taipei was delayed due to a maintenance problem and then, after we boarded, delayed some more until finally we were asked to return to the terminal for dinner. I had pizza and a coke.

We were then herded back onto the plane for our flight to Taiwan and my transfer to the flight to LA that had been held at the airport. The flight itself was no more uncomfortable than usual. I occupied myself by intermitting episodes of napping and viewing movies on the personal screen provided each seat on EVA. I saw a movie about a man, his son and robot boxing starring Hugh Jackman; a film, with De Niro about governmental assassins killing each other and, a story about Mossad agents in post-war East German kidnapping an ex-Nazi doctor wanted for war crimes, that goes horribly wrong. The last film starred Helen Mirren who for some reason always turns me on, a fact I am sure she will be pleased to know.

Arrival at LAX was a nightmare. Of all the international arrivals I have been through all over the world, this had to be perhaps the worst. At one point, having taken over an hour to work my way through passport control, I had gotten to the baggage carousel that, of course, was not the same one at which I was repeatedly advised my baggage would be deposited and retrieved my suitcase. I proceeded to where the signs informed me that the line for customs began. The line itself snaked about 3/4 of the way around the terminal. As I approached the end of the line, a woman, clearly an airport employee, dramatically and firmly attempted to wave me off from joining the end of the line located about two feet behind her. She insisted that I turn around and go back through the entire terminal, circle around the baggage carousels and approach the same spot from another angle, saying that this way was blocked. I ignored her and pushed my way onto the line while she scurried ahead to shoo away other travelers seeking to join the same line.

After almost another hour, I emerged, met Monty and proceeded to the currency exchange desk to exchange baht for dollars. They charged me a fee that amounted to almost one-third of the value of the money exchanged.

I slept the night at Monty’s house. The next morning, after breakfast, he and I went to the local High School to exercise. Torrence High School’s athletic fields have recently been redone in the modern style that passionately obliterates any form of natural life. The track was an attractive rust colored rubberized material, the field in shiny green Astroturf and the stand’s silver aluminum bleachers had replaced wooden ones.

Following our walks around the track eight or ten times, stretching and pushups on the Astroturf and a few very slow wind sprints, we took off to visit with Ben at his new apartment where I talked extensively and excessively on the subject I like most, me.

After leaving Ben in peace, Monty and I eventually ended up in a high end clothing store in Redondo Beach owned by Jimmy and imaginatively named “Jimmy’s.” Jimmy, who is originally from Pakistan, served us wine and mixed nuts and stories about growing up Muslim in Pakistan as a virtual orphan, gaining a scholarship to study in America, becoming wealthy, raising a family, and in the end, like Ben, Monty and I ending up as members of the M3WBNB Club. At least he still has a bankrupt clothing store where he serves good wine and mixed nuts.

The next day, it was off to meeting other members of M3WBNB regarding a South East Asia distributorship for a product called “Blue Cow,” a specialty drink that’s supposed to calm the drinker down as opposed to something like “Red Bull” which makes them crazy.

This was followed by a brief get together with Pete another member of the club, who in his previous life raced at Indianapolis and in the Baja 500. Pete was at the garage he leased in order to refurbish auxiliary vehicles that move containers around the nearby Port. He, Monty and I swapped stories about when we were somebody.

Then off to Union Station for the train to Sacramento that is scheduled to arrive in Sacto at midnight only to discover I had nowhere to stay for the night.


On the Edge: Stories about the Creation and Early Years of California’s Monumental Coastal Protection Program.

In the Beginning: an oft told story (continued).

Back at the cabin we ate a lunch of elaborate home made trail mix and some locally grown fruit while John explained how to, “use the techniques of the private real the estate market to protect resources.” It seems, he had managed to cajole many of his neighbors into selling him relatively low cost options to purchase their land. He raised the money for the purchase of the options from various endeavors including peddling “Jughandle Creek” Christmas cards. His goal was eventually to sell the options to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Unfortunately the Department did not see Jughandle Creek with the same urgency and significance as John.

Nevertheless, John’s approach of using the private market to preserve nature impressed me a lot since, among other things, it indicated some creative thought regarding getting something done beyond simply pressuring government to figure it out and do it. This approach affected some of the implementation policies that several years later I wrote into California’s Coastal Plan.

Since I had already been hooked, the remainder of the afternoon was spent discussing, planning and plotting our strategy for preserving and protecting John’s beloved Staircase.

It was clear to me that John was a lover and while he, like any lover, believed he would fight to preserve from harm every strand of his beloved’s hair, he was not, a defender. The difference to me was that the defender operates more or less by the following rules:

1. If the conflict is severe, damage is inevitable. (The lover often cannot neither conceive nor tolerate of the slightest harm to his beloved.)
2. You cannot protect anything if you are dead. (The lover, on the other hand, swears he would give his life for his beloved, but in fact rarely does, and because of that is prone to rash and foolish decisions.)
3. The opponent has to know right down to his shorts that he is in the battle of his life.
4. The defender will be disposed of the moment those defended believe the threat is past. Any songs that will be sung will be sung only about the lovers or those who merely survived the enemy’s rout.

(If this all sounds a little Seven Samurai and the Magnificent Seven, it is.)

Anyway, eventually we began the defense using all the traditional methods; protests, demonstrations and the like (John had may allies and supporters he could call on) and I joined in. Then came the litigation.
(to be continued)




1. Chronicles:

I am sorry, I have run into a form of writers block over tales for Old George to tell about the “Dark Times,” in the NMR colony. If anyone has some simple plot suggestions of tales that fit NMR society I would appreciate it.

2. H. Glaber fellow travelers.

To, Paul W. Sherman, Stanton Braude and Jennifer U.M. Jarvis, who in the August 1999 Journal of Mammalology reported that there are no food fights among baby mole rats. Although unlike any other mammal, the Mole rat Queen births as many as twice the infants as she has mammaries, there is no problem because the normal greedy behavior of other mammal infants is absent and they willingly take turns sucking on a tit.


RED STAR: Chapter, Rachel.

Rachel was a very attractive woman. Perhaps one would not consider her drop dead gorgeous, her nose was a bit too pointed, her hair an undistinguished shade of brown, her shoulders a bit too angular. Nevertheless these minor imperfections aside, from anyone’s perspective she was a very pretty woman. She was smart too. Having gotten her advanced degree in finance from Wharton, she spent a few years on Wall Street as an up and coming financier. But she was not especially happy doing what she was doing and when her mother got sick, she returned to San Francisco to take over the family’s flower shop on California Street near posh Pacific Heights and in the past three years opened a second outlet in downtown and transformed the small business into one of the cities leading event planning operations.

But still she was not completely satisfied. Her personal life, as it had been since high school, was pretty barren. She worked long hours and on her few dates she found that her brusk no nonsense manner and intellectual attainments put off most of her suitors. At 34 she had begun to accept the fact that in the long run she was destined to be alone. This in itself did not bother her too much. But there was a gnawing sense that she was somehow at fault in the paucity of significant relationships. No matter how much she told herself that she was an independent modern women making her own life, she retained a deep seated feeling that she was, in some way, failing.

This evening she had just finished dinner with her friend Janice who had left soon after dinner to hook up with a guy she had met a few days ago at Cafe Americano located a few blocks away. Perhaps, she thought that’s whats bothering her, she needed to get laid but instead she was going home like most nights to watch a little television, catch up on some work, review her investments, read a book and then go to bed.

It was a beautiful San Francisco night. She stood for a moment on the sidewalk in front of the McWerter building in which the restaurant was located and took a deep breath then began walking down Steuart Street away from busy Mission Street toward the little cul-de-sac into which Steuart Street ended where she had parked her car. As she walked along she could hear sirens wailing from somewhere toward Market Street. She thought that there must be a fire in one of the stores or office buildings on Market since so many sirens appeared to be howling all at once.

As she crossed Howard Street she fished out her keys from her pocked and jingled them absent-mindedly as she walk along toward the end of the Cul-de-sac. Her car was parked in the last space before the road ended. To her left toward the Embarcadero and the bay was a small plaza, a remnant undevelopable piece of land turned into a forlorn paper strewn park. To her right across Steuart, rose the 8 or so level parking garage that serviced the area, while in front of her the plaza narrowed as the Embarcadero slashed across in until it ended at the entrance to the new main offices of the Gap, a well known clothing manufacturer. She smiled slightly when she thought about one of the sayings she remembered from her classes at Wharton that went something like, “you could always tell when a company is about to fail; it is almost always soon after the leave the place that served them so well during their growth for their signature headquarters building that inevitably was built to feed the CEO’s ego.” She mused that that appeared to be happening to the GAP which had experienced dramatically declining profits almost ever since moving in.

She arrived at the car, pressed the unlock button on the key and opened the diver’s side door. Suddenly a large dark shape rose from in front of the car where it had apparently been crouched and hiding. Before she could react, she was grabbed flung against the side of her automobile and her keys snatched from her hand. The suddenness of the attack and the pain as her body struck the metal stunned her and she found herself dragged toward the door. She regained some control over herself and began to resist. Her attacker pushed and pulled her even harder, he was quite strong and he shouted “get in the car before we both get killed.” Just then she heard a loud sound like something exploding and the rear window of her car shattered.


During the days when I had somewhat of significant impact on the planning and implementation of California’s coastal program, I often found myself on one side an ideological divide among environmentalists; between those that focused on the protection and rehabilitation of coastal resources (my leanings) and those that believed that no development is good development. The no development side had a valid point, they argued that, if all development were eliminated along the coast (or at least all new development) the natural environment would return to the state nature intended.

As with most absolutist ideologies, it overlooked several inconvenient facts among which was that no part of California’s shoreline no matter how remote was free of impacts caused by the vast migration of population to California over the last hundred years or so. Unless all or most of those people were driven off, the resources would continue to degrade simply from their continued presence no matter how much future development was restricted.

My position was prompted by concerns about the continuing impact of economic conflict on coastal resources as well as questions of simple equity.

A little story may help explain the evolution of my views. Early in the program, we received a proposal for development of a small resort hotel on the shores of one of the myriad of inlets along the coast. There was no other development along this section of the coast and the resources that could be impacted were especially sensitive. The developer was someone largely self-financed and could not by any means be described as a “large developer.” In fact, I believed that essentially his entire financial resources were tied up in this property. During a meeting with him, as I discussed the various concerns we had with the proposed project, he became visibly agitated. Finally unable to contain himself, he jumped out of his seat, rolled up the sleeve of his shirt to reveal the telltale tattoo of identification numbers that indicated a survivor of the Nazi death camps. He shouted that he was being treated almost as badly as in the concentration camps.

Now without getting into the appropriateness of his analogy or whether or not it was simply a cynical ploy to play upon my emotions for his benefit, it did place in hard contrast the nature of my actions.

Ultimately we denied this project, as we were required to so that the Coastal Plan could be completed without compromising its effectiveness, by actions that could be inconsistent with that plan. Although the denial was ostensibly temporary, I am sure the impact on the developer was devastating since he probably was not financially strong enough to maintain his position and may have been forced into bankruptcy or worse. I also knew that any plan that we came up with would have as one of its goals the maintenance of this short stretch of the coast free from development.

I realized then that our decisions, did not simply preserve resources, albeit temporarily, but also often penalized the economically weak, while favoring of the financially strong. Our actions actually gave an advantage to the large landowner or the well funded development corporation, who could lie in wait for political fortunes to change or could spend whatever it took on political and economic consultants to obtain the economic reward from the exploding value of an entitlement for development along the coast that we had created.

Because a permit to develop along the coast became immensely more valuable as a result of our regulation, those with the wherewithal to wait for a politically propitious time or to purchase the political and technical consultants (of which I was a reasonably successful one following my departure from governmental service) to acquire the prized permit, were often successful. Those without the wherewithal lost, sometimes everything.

As a result, it became my approach to instruct the Commission staff to inform the prospective developers early in the project approval process as precisely as we could what we wanted the development to do, what resources to be protected and equally important what resources needed to be restored or expanded. The latter because I believed that absent such action, environmental resource degradation and loss from the ongoing effects of already existing development would continue. If you are not increasing the extent and health of the resource base you inevitably are losing them. This the “No Development” ideologues simply failed to understand or appreciate.

If the Permit to develop was as valuable as we apparently had made it, then not only were we using that increment in value to improve the resources but, I believed, we also reduced the inequities between the economically powerful landowners and developers and the much more common small entrepreneur. Now the burden was no longer on the agency to maintain an often untenable position but upon the applicant who must decide if the value in hand was worth more that the uncertain future value that may be obtained by fighting on.

The question can be raised whether or not we are merely forcing current development to bear the costs of past errors by government. The answer is, yes and no. Land use regulation does not simply shift property values it, in fact, increases the value of the entitlement itself. In other words the land values have been shifted to some extent from the lands potential development value to its value entitled. On the other hand costs to develop are increased and therefore may represent an increased societal cost, but perhaps not to the extent of the costs of environmental degradation flowing from a failure to regulate. These costs (in either case) often fall heaviest on those least able to bear them. To deal with this several commentators on the process urged and a number of us on the staff agreed that included among the so-called coastal resources were those things that can be considered replacements in whole or in part for some of the societal impacts. These included increased access to coastal recreation by the general public, preservation and expansion of lower cost facilities and the like.

The plan and the legislation that ultimately emerged attempted to address most of the issues mentioned above without surrendering its strong focus on coastal resources as follows:

a. The creation of a regulatory agency with specific, not general, policies to focus the regulation on the particular unique resources of the coast and to encourage their expansion.

b. Funding for acquisition of those areas of great value for recreational, environmental and even equitable goals (such as the resort developer referred to above) and,

c. An environmental redevelopment and public access agency to begin the process of undoing the damage already done.

Following in the passage of the massive California Coastal program, alas, those ideologically committed to the belief that no development is good development gradually prevailed in the regulatory program resulting in the favoring the large and powerful developer over the small and financially weak producing a hodgepodge of poorly designed projects, both large and small, a spate of inequitable decisions falling primarily on the economically defenseless, and a slowing down of resource preservation and restoration even to the point of interfering with the ability of other agencies to carry out the policies they were charged with in the coastal legislation.

So does this make me a “liberal” on environmental matters. Not to that certain segment of the environmental community that opposes all or most development. I consider myself, if tags are necessary, more an environmental populist who believes that, even in environmental matters, the statement I have made several times before, should qualify every social, political, environmental and collective action we make and perhaps individual actions as well:

“Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom to those without wealth, income or power?”

Anything less in my opinion is neither patriotic, good public policy nor moral.


2010: Prescription drug dangers.

In a report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, study authors said that in looking over records that spanned from 1976 to 2006 (the most recent year available) they found that, of 62 million death certificates, almost a quarter-million deaths were coded as having occurred in a hospital setting due to medication errors.

An estimated 450,000 preventable medication-related adverse events occur in the US every year.

The costs of adverse drug reactions to society are more than $136 billion annually — greater than the total cost of cardiovascular or diabetic care.

Adverse drug reactions cause injuries or death in 1 of 5 hospital patients.

The reason there are so many adverse drug events in the US is because so many drugs are used and prescribed — and many patients receive multiple prescriptions at varying strengths, some of which may counteract each other or cause more severe reactions when combined.

2012: Headphone danger.

According to Chris Woodyard at USA Today, serious injuries have increased 300% in the last six years for pedestrians wearing headphones. Even more worrying, 70% of the people in these instances were killed.
Nearly 70% of those that died in the accidents were under the age of 30.

Surprisingly, almost half of the vehicles involved in the accidents were trains and not cars. The rapid increase in these accidents directly correlates to the rapid growth of the MP3 player market.The loud volume of the headphones blocking engine and horn noise coupled with the distraction of the music seems to be a fatal recipe. It just might be time to turn down the volume when on the move.

Read more:

2012: Olive oil.

Italy sells three times as much olive oil as it produces.

Read more:


A. : You might be conservative if (by Bruce Lindner):

1: You’re irate over the president taking so many vacation days on the taxpayer’s dime (61 thus far), but you thought George W. Bush earned every minute of his leisure time (196 days at the same point in his presidency).

2: You’re happy with your 40 hour work week, paid vacations and company-provided healthcare, but you’re strongly anti-union, because those commies haven’t done anything for you lately.

3: You strongly support the First Amendment and its guarantee of religious freedom to all, but you don’t think Muslims have a right to build an Islamic Community Center in Manhattan.

4: You believe Ronald Reagan was a devout Christian, even though he hated going to church, but any president who spends twenty years going to the same Trinity United Church in Chicago must be a Muslim.

5: You believe when a Republican governor creates a healthcare package with an individual mandate for everyone in his state, that’s a good idea. But when a Democratic president does it, suddenly it’s unconstitutional.

6: You’re so enthused about demonstrating your Second Amendment rights, you can think of no finer place to brandish your pistol in public than at a presidential rally.

7: You believe Bill Clinton was responsible for Osama bin Laden’s escape ten years ago, but thankfully George W. Bush caught up with him and killed him in Pakistan.

B. : What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:


Please see the blog:


“When a man tells you he got rich through hard work, ask him: Whose?”
– Rousseau




Categories: January 2012 through March 2012, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. ( 6 Mopey 0001) January 22 2012


A. Pookie’s Adventures in Thailand:

Last night unable to fall asleep, I looked around for things that would help me do so. I decided to calculate, with the help of the word counter program on one of my applications, the number of words I had written over the past two years. It turned out I had written about one million words.

Now what’s that all about? One Million words. That seems like a lot of words.

Why would anyone in their right mind write so much and not get paid for it? It’s like standing in a closed room and talking to yourself; that’s the definition of nuts.

One million words. That would be like writing 10 slim books or 5 longer boring ones.

And why was I awake at night adding up all this stuff about words I have written? Who cares?

That’s like figuring out how much I shit over the past two years. Since I shit about a little over pound a day, after two years I would have shit about 800 pounds. That is four times my weight.

So after two years, what I have to show for it all is one million words and 800 pounds of shit.

At least you can do something positive with the shit, spread in on some farm land and grow things. But, what does one do with used words.

What happens to all these words anyway? When you press the send button on your computer or whatever it is that you do, where do they go or where are they before or after someone reads them? Somebody once told me they are in a server someplace. Does that mean somewhere there is a server with a little electronic compartment called “Joey’s words?” Someone else said they just float around in the ether. Wouldn’t these trillions and trillions of words floating around overhead eventually become too heavy and come crashing down burying us all under tons of broken letters?

Frightening, no?

If I wrote all one million words on pieces of paper instead of into a computer, besides a bad case of writers cramp, I would have about 5000 pieces of note paper covered in scribbled words lying around my room.

That doesn’t seem so bad.

My little bookcase with my thirty or so books have more than that. My personal libraries over the years probably consisted of about 15,000 books containing over a billion words.

Why do we need so many words? Why would anyone read a billion words?

Think about it, every day probably 100 billion words are written and that’s just those written down. There must be a million times more words than that spoken. Why?

Maybe we are all made up of just words.

You know, if you ask a physicist what the universe is made of he will tell you “energy.” What the hell is that, “energy?” Well, the physicist probably will explain, it is like sunlight or electricity all waves or pulses. What the hell does that mean? Nothing.

Why not words? After all the Bible says in the beginning there was the Word. Maybe way back in the beginning all was silent. Maybe there was a prior universe and in that universe they said everything that could be said and so there was nothing more to talk or write about and everything became very quiet . The universe was sort of like a big deathly silent library.

Then, all of a sudden, someone said something like, “Oh shit, I dropped my fucking pencil,” and then everyone started talking a once.

“Boom” the “Big Bang,” words spreading out at the speed of light creating word galaxies, stars and solar systems.

And what about the “dark energy” the physicists tell us makes up most of our universe? Could it actually be “Dark Words?” Could they be those words floating around in people’s minds that no-one ever hears or sees?

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

So what about my 1 million words? Don’t I have something better to do with my time?

The Little Masseuse spends much of her time knitting wool scarves. She does it while watching television, riding on a bus or at work. After all, there is not that much to do at a health club but hand out towels and give a massage now and then.

But wool scarves? This is Thailand for God’s sake. What would a Thai know about wool scarves? It never gets cold here. If they actually wore them, they would probably die of heat prostration. They probably saw them in some old western movie about rich people at some expensive resort in the Alps and thought they were fashion accessories beloved by westerners. It had to be old movies. Nowadays, when one goes skiing, one wears a sleek brightly colored outfit made of plastic that makes one look like an idiot robot or a cartoon character.

Anyway, sometimes she sells them to westerners at the health club.

What’s that all about?

Why would someone come all the way to Thailand and buy a woolen scarf instead of one of those fake traditional Thai handicrafts sold on the sidewalks along most of the streets in Bangkok? Or, one of those carved wooden penises that the Thai’s seem to like so much and carry around in their pockets or attached to a key chain or dangling from a string tied around their necks?

And, what is all that about penises being good luck? Come on guys when has your penis actually brought good luck; a little fun perhaps, but good luck, probably not. More than likely, the damn thing brings you a lot of bad luck if you ask me,

Anyway, there are wool scarves stuffed everywhere throughout my apartment. I bought a bunch of them from her just to bring them to the US to get rid of them.

No, I am not going to take up knitting instead of senselessly spewing out words to pass my time.

Perhaps I can go and play checkers in a bar somewhere every day.

Does anyone play checkers anymore? Probably not, they now most likely play video games on their iPhones complete with sound effects.

I could grow tomatoes. That’s what old Italian men do. My father did it and his father before him. They were not farmers, they grew the tomatoes in their back yards or along the side of the driveway.

My father loved his tomatoes, obsessed over them. At times I thought he loved his tomatoes more than his family. Between my father and my grandfather they must have grown a million tomatoes. That’s a lot of tomatoes.

It’s frightening really what people chose to do with their lives.

B. News, Straight or Slightly Bent:

Today I had my first piece published in anything other that my own blog or some other blog that accepts everything submitted. True, it was only in the letters to the editor section of one of the two national english language newspapers in Thailand, The Nation. Nevertheless, my letter completely filled all the space allocated for the section (in other words it was long, very long). I will send a copy in my next post along with what I am sure will be outrage at my comments since I claimed, in that pseudo intellectual language that I affect and like so much, that the Thai national flood control plan is crap and doomed to fail.


On the Edge: Stories about the Creation and Early Years of California’s Monumental Coastal Protection Program.

A. Chapter 1. In the Beginning: an oft told story (continued).

The next morning John took us on a tour of the “Ecological Staircase.” In some ways that hike changed my life as much as anything has. Never before had I experienced anyone that seemed to have such a passionate love of nature, or of anything really; musicians or those sexually bewitched maybe. Perhaps those who met John Muir or explored the marshes with Mrs. Terwilliger (“Spend the day at home and you’ll never remember it. Spend the day outdoors with me, and you’ll never forget it.”) may have been equally affected as I was during this walk. For me it seemed both revealing and somewhat disquieting.

I grew up on the East Coast in and around New York City. I could be included among those who that passionate cynic Don Neuwirth said get nose bleeds when the soles of their feet are not in contact with cement. To us the “Woods,” as we called it, was somewhat forbidding and dangerous, a place approached with care and where possible avoided.

As we walked along, John pointed things out like a tour guide in the Sistine Chapel. He would stop, dip his hands into the mulch of the forest floor breathing in its earthy smell then urging us to do so also. At times he tenderly touched this or that shy plant explaining its particular remarkable attributes. I soon realized I was experiencing someone who appeared to be speaking about his beloved.

To John nature was nothing less that a symphony of renewal. I on the other hand could not go quite that far, the smell of the earth although pleasant still possessed the faint odor of decay. Where he saw in a green shoot pushing up through the browned fallen leaves as the miracle of regeneration, I saw only the catabolism of the dead.

And yet, and yet, I could not resist his infective enthusiasm and hoped, no wanted it all to be true.

Or, I suddenly thought, was this in fact just another example of something I once read, of, “…our peculiar American phenomenon of seeking guidance or redemption within nature.” From what could John be seeking redemption? Not being “The Olmsted?” Something that happened during recess in grammar school? A secret life perhaps?

Among the stunted trees John explained how the nitrogen depleted soil encouraged the plants in the area to evolve to trap insects from which to obtain that chemical so necessary for life.

As we trudged along we passed through the towering redwood forests that grew where the hard-pan had been broken at what could be called the staircase’s risers, crushed by the incessant geological forces as they thrust one step above the other.

As we walked in the silent spaces between the giant trees, John referred to it, as many do, as a cathedral. Like a cathedral’s columns, the massive trunks climbed up to where far above sunlight filtered through the branches as it does through a cathedral’s stained glass clerestory windows. Far below, in shadow the ground revels in silence.

But, in reality, even I knew the trees grew that high in order to expropriate the sun’s energy at the expense of everything below, just like, I assume, the builders of the great cathedrals sought to expropriate the grace of God, leaving the few worshippers scurrying about in the gloom and quiet below. Whenever I visited one of those churches, enjoying the brief respite from the vicissitudes of existence offered by the silence, I, nevertheless, soon found myself longing for the excitement and distraction of life’s bazaar outside.

As we turned to go back to the cabin for lunch, I was a bit relieved; fatigued from scrambling across the wild terrain and somewhat overwhelmed by my sudden imersion into the intricate mysteries of nature. Mostly, I guess, because although we usually simply absorb our momentary experiences with Mother Nature in unthinking contemplation, wandering about with John, however, was more like a post-graduate course in ecological transcendentalism. It was made even more exhausting by exposure to a lovers passion that you, the observer, could not really share.

Still, unless one is simply hateful or irredeemably cynical one usually hopes the lover succeeds and perhaps thereby you gain some vicarious empathic connection to what you could never experience directly.

Watching them plod on ahead of me, Jeanne determined to wring all that could be wrung from her experience and John, in the lead, shinning like Gandalf the White, I felt a chill and I thought again about redemption.

We all seek redemption for something. For me, perhaps it was absolution for that morning long ago, hearing my wife screaming over and over again, “My baby, my baby is dead” while I tried to breathe life back into that tiny purple and red splotched body and failed, or later, feeling nothing but anger at the stares of the mourners and the somber burial on some forgotten hilltop?

Could an innocent excitement about the future and a lovers enchantment redeem anything?

I followed them back to the cabin.

B. Postscript: Monty.

Undaunted by this tragedy and the collapse of his hopes and dreams at that time Monty applied the personal skills that made him successful as a prize-fighter to go on to other careers including a stint as a radio sportscaster. Eventually like so many during that time, he found himself in California and like many of those who eschewed the burgeoning and disruptive hippy sub-culture went into Real Estate and development, primarily shopping centers. He became quite successful, married had two children and a large estate in Rancho Palos Verde overlooking the ocean. Then things began going bad.

Someone, suggested Monty consider buying some property in San Luis Obispo County; eighteen hundred acres right by the water. Monty went to see the property. It was an old cattle ranch astride Pacific Coast Highway. It had been heavily overgrazed and denuded of most flora and fauna except for the stunted grass. Yet, the gently rolling golden landscape was attractive in a desolate sort of way as it rose up into some low hills that on one side flowed seamlessly back toward the grazing lands and on the other fell precipitously onto the rocks and breakers of the Pacific Ocean. Standing there on the top of one of the hills, Monty fell in love in a way he had not experienced for many years. To some, falling in love means redemption or peace, to others it is the gateway to destruction. Alas, for Monty although he had hoped it was the former, it unfortunately turned out to be the latter.




1. Chronicles: Unfortunately, I believe we have had enough dark tales for one post, so I guess we will have to wait a few more days to hear Old George’s Tales of the Dark Times.

2. H. Glaber fellow travelers:

The “Urban Dictionary” which defined the phrase Naked Mole Rat as someone looking particularly unattractive, usually early in the morning or late at night. Characteristics include squinty eyes, hair pressed flat against head, puffy features. Usually the result of poor or no sleep and/or way too late/early to be up and moving around.

“She washed her face and brushed her hair, but a naked mole rat still stared back at her in the mirror.”

“After playing video games all night he was more naked mole rat than human.”

“That’s not a baby! That’s a naked mole rat!”


RED STAR: Chapter, Don’t Piss Off Meg (continued):

Meg climbed the cliff face toward the road above while the wreck below still blazed. For a moment she wondered if killing a potential witness would make finding Stephanie’s killer more difficult. She dismissed that figuring he would have been dead anyway before he could be questioned and the automobile probably was a rental so it most likely had nothing helpful in it. Whatever there is to be gotten, she was confident the technical people will be able to extract it even from the burned scraps. Besides she thought, whoever killed Steph and tried to kill her made a big mistake, they got her pissed her off.

As she passed the emergency rescue team on the way down, she told them she was unable to get the driver out of the vehicle before it exploded and thought he was probably dead. She said she would send a technical investigation team down to sift through the wreckage.

Arriving at the top, she saw that no one from the Sheriff’s office had arrived yet. She recognized, Mike Williams of the Pacifica PD who seemed to be in charge. She told him the same story she told the emergency rescue team and added that she believed that the automobile and driver may have been connected to a previous incident being investigated by the sheriff’s office that would send a technical investigation team to assist the Pacifica group. She promised to call Mike tomorrow and coordinate the investigation. As they walked back to her cruiser, Mike joked about the crushed bumper when he saw it.

“Yeah,” she said laconically, “got to get that fixed.” She then got into the car radioed her office to bring them up to date and get things rolling. Picking up her cell phone she called Ray.

She told him everything that happened including with the lighter. He remained silent.

She then said, “Ray, I want to talk to everyone on your list starting with that fucking minister in Blackhawk. About 10 AM OK with you? Can you get it started?”

Ray agreed but insisted he come along on the interviews. She assented. Then following some discussion about coordination she put down the phone, started the car and drove to her home in Half Moon Bay.

She did not go directly into her house but walked the block or so to the beach, sat on a driftwood log watching the foam of waves shimmer in the moonlight and allowing the roar of the breakers drown out all thought. After a while she got up, took a deep breath, returned to her home, went in and slept deeply and unperturbed.


What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:


1. 2012: Giant Rats Trained to Unearth Dangerous Landmines.

Buddhist monk and Ashoka Fellow Bart Weetjens has trained sub-Saharan African giant pouched rats to detect land mines. Last year alone, in Gaza Mozambique 36 HeroRATs and 14 locally trained handlers cleared nearly 800,000 square meters of land, safely destroying 861 land-mines, 373 items of unexploded ordnance (UXO), 6,216 small arms and ammunitions (SAA), and one cluster bomb RBK-250-275. By the end of this year, APOPO hopes to clear an additional two million square meters of land.

In 2010, the Thailand Mine Action Centre (TMAC) asked APOPO to conduct land release surveys along its Cambodian border, in partnership with the Thai NGO Peace Road Organization (PRO). Ten weeks of sweeps uncovered 165 anti-personnel mines and 17 anti-tank mines. APOPO will maintain a presence in Thailand to assist the country’s compliance with the 2018 AP Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) deadline.

2. The good old days:

Does anyone long for the “good old days” when Lysol was marketed as a feminine hygiene product with ads like these:

3. Olive oil:

70% of “extra virgin olive oil” is probably a fraud.

Read more:


Please see the blog:

What passes for political discourse in today’s United States of America:

In a letter to his colleagues, Kansas Speaker of the House Mike O’Neal ® regarding President Barak Obama called for his death writing:

“At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!

Let his days be few; and let another take his office

May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.

May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.

May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.”

As far as I know, not a single Republican or conservative political leader or commentator objected to this. Had a politician of this rank called for the death of a Republican president, Faux news and the entire right-wing amen choir would have accused him of treason and screamed for his removal from office.


“There are two sustainable ways to make money in finance: find people with risks that need to be carried and match them with people with unused risk-bearing capacity, or find people with such risks and match them with people who are clueless but who have money. Are we sure that most of the growth in finance stems from a rising share of financial professionals who undertake the former rather than the latter?”
Brad De Long




The mouse-sized naked mole rat is the longest-lived rodent known, surviving up to 31 years in captivity. Scientists are studying its longevity, including its ability to maintain good health and reproductive potential well into its third decade. (Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies/The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio)

Categories: January 2012 through March 2012, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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