Friday, August 31, 2012


     It's a long weekend.  Barbecues, picnics, parties, parades, summer's climax.  Enjoy.

Time passes.  We all change.  Even royalty.
A tribute here to a beautiful woman.
Enjoy your weekend.
See you down the trail.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


    The "hot line" direct communication link between Moscow and Washington went into service on this day in 1963.  It took 12 hours to decode, translate and respond to Nikita Kruschev's message months earlier during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    By the time the hot line was on Jimmy Carter's desk, the technology had evolved. The dinosaur phone in the picture, once was the picture of modernity.
     49 years after the groundbreaking channel of instant communication we have come to this:

YouTube's Election hub, a child of the internet, which has revolutionized communication. Social media fueled the "Arab-Spring" and now Phillip DeFranco, the lad on the left who began his program in his basement, has more viewers than Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow and even Jon Stewart's daily show.
     DeFranco is one of the multiple offerings on YouTube's election site which puts the director's call of what to air into your hands, truly at your finger tips and on the screen of your choice.

     The story of shrinking arctic sea ice, the largest melt since tracking data began, was reported two days ago and barely drew a notice. Arctic sea ice is disappearing more quickly than any time we know of and more rapidly than predicted.
Graph courtesy of Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and THE WASHINGTON POST

     The increasingly warm summer trends indicate earth's warming and the probability the sea ice will disappear in a future summer.  Warmer Arctic waters can cause Greenland's ice sheet to melt and that can lead to many problems. The shrinking of the Arctic Sea Ice and the diminishing of Greenland's Ice sheet will likely lead to more extreme summers and winters everywhere.
    Man made?  Nature's cycle?  A combination?  Don't you think it's worth exploring?  Still you had to search to see or hear anything.
    About the time the hotline was established a network of radio and television stations, produced a docudrama. Set in the future it was the story of how a news organization covered an environmental and ecological disaster that threatened all human life.  In one chilling passage the anchor does a voice-over of historic clips, listing a litany of warning signs of impending doom, sighting years, and failed international conferences.  Warning after warning went ignored while the people occupied themselves with buying and wanting more.  Until it was too late to hide from the impending end.
     How are we using or listening to our great communication tools? Is mother earth calling our hotline?
   I was looking around Lana's studio when I became intrigued by the corner near the window.  It's got "personality."

   I'm fascinated by the, texture, lines, divisions and proportionality of the frame below.
See you down the trail.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


     I add to the chorus who say a decision by an Israeli judge is outrageous.  
     Judge Oded Gershon cleared the Israeli Military in an incident where an IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) bulldozer  drove over an unarmed 23 year old American woman.  
     The family of Rachel Corrie filed civil action in Haifa to overturn an IDF investigation that found the bulldozer operator, an army member, did nothing wrong when he crushed the American non-violent activist who was a pro Palesntian demonstrator in 2003.  The IDF said the driver didn't see the woman.  She was wearing an orange vest and speaking into a bullhorn.
     Corrie's parents, from Olympia Washington, say they are 
"deeply saddened" by the decision and will appeal.
For Cat Lovers
Just Add Joy
      This goofy little gal, Joy, is a new arrival here on the ridge.
      She is adopted from HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team) in Cambria and comes with a great verbosity and

      Joy also seems tireless.
    There are some "howevers."  As she begins to integrate with Luke and Hemingway, we see the emergence of social and/or personality issues in the pack.
     Hemingway, lovable goofball that he is, was the first to adapt. He is such an affectionate cat that we expected a good bonding.
    But whether it is fatigue from playing, or something else, he has become a little more inclined to withdraw, something he rarely did.  He was always underfoot, trying for a lap or asking for attention.  Now, and I am projecting here, clearly, he seems to have a bit of a "aren't I good enough?" attitude.
   Our ocelot/cheetah/leopard-like Luke has been very cool.
When in the garage at night, he retreats to a cave like spot in a corner, under a table.
     He does not seem pleased by a little sister at all.  She has some "tiger" in her as well and that could be part of it.  Luke is a runner, climber, solitary hunter cat anyway, but never so stand offish.
    He is still affectionate and loves his back rubbed, but less so when Joy is around.  He also has taken to "resting" away from our decks.  Usually he is ready for dinner and entry into the garage cat condo at early evening.  The second night Joy was here, he stayed away, running thru fields and didn't come in until after 11PM-dangerous here with so many coyotes, bob cats and cougars.  

   If any of you feel inclined to practice Cat Psychology, please do so.  Our assumption is that with a little time Luke will realize he is the Alpha and has nothing to fear from little sis and will get used to sharing the facilities with one more.  
   Hemingway seems to be adapting to having a new playmate.  We adopted Joy, in large part because he seemed so lonely.  Luke is off hunting and stalking most of the day and our dear old Nesta is gone. Like us, Hemingway really seems to miss Nesta.  They were napping companions and slept near each other.
   Nesta was failing for the last several months.  At almost 18, we knew it was only a matter of time.  One morning she left the garage when they were let out.  She never returned.  We assume she simply went off to die.
    Nesta was a unique old gal-a Pantera as a Uzbekistan friend called her.  She and her sister, who was killed by a raccoon in Indiana, were beautiful cats from the Russian blue grey line.  She made the continent crossing with us and adapted well to retired life in California.  When her daughter Ziggy died, Nesta went into a real funk.  We adopted Luke and then Hemingway and their companionship brought life and zest back to her.  For a year they were mates.

See you down the trail.

Monday, August 27, 2012


       With apologies if I start sounding like an old goat, but the political conventions today are nothing like they used to be.
        Coming of age as a journalist when I did gave me a chance to cover conventions with things like floor fights, battles over credentials, platform debates and open challenges.  A generation before me there was actual suspense about who'd get the nomination and on what ballot. I saw that at the state level, but the drama at the national conventions was about issues. At least when I started.  
       The last national convention I covered was the start of what they have now become, staged, public relations spectacles.  I remember grousing about it with Larry King and Peter Jennings as we took hallway breaks outside the "Skyboxes".   Our body clocks must have been on the same time zone because we headed to the men's room about the same time. "Here we go again," King would intone.
         At my first convention I had pretty much free access to the convention floor and all of the delegations for the whole week.  By the time of the last "coronation" as they were called, the media was kept in a building a block away, allowed only timed and limited access to the floor, and moved in sequestered zones. 
        In the early days we could see and hear protest demonstrators.  By the last convention they had been moved so far out of sight none of the candidates or delegates might even know they were around.  These events have become managed to the point it is a sham to call them a convention.
        At one of the mid 70 conventions, it might have been the issues convention in 75 or the New York gathering that nominated Jimmy Carter in 76, there was a lot of speculation about the intentions of the Black Caucus headed by Ron Dellums and a feminist contingent headed by Bella Abzug.  The question was about what they would vote on a particular plank.  Delegates and the media were speculating about what Dellums and Abzug would do.  I was walking through the lobby of the hotel where a meeting was scheduled. I spotted a delegate credential, on a chain,  laying on the floor.  I picked up the credential and started toward the desk where I intended to turn it in.  However on the way through the lobby I spotted Dellums, Abzug and others marching into a salon meeting room.  I squeezed into the pack, holding the delegate credential in the air, while trying to cover my own media credential. The caucus was "closed" to delegates only.  
      I stood there listening, and was obvious about making notes on my reporters notebook.  No one seemed to take offense. They decided they would be united on the issue and that both would have a chance to speak.  The caucus adjourned.
      I almost sprinted back to the working news center-in those days almost all of the media was housed in the same large working space, with little warrens of feed centers and edit spaces off to the side in cubicles. I was reporting for a group of radio stations and I filed my report into a special phone line.  I remember Jack Nelson, who went on to win a Pulitzer, asking me  "Where'd you get that?"
       I told him the circumstances.  By this time Walter Mears, also now a Pulitzer winner, seemed interested. In those days, for many of us, the story didn't really register with our headquarters until it appeared on the AP wire with a Walter Mears by-line. His putting it on the wire gave an event a kind of sanction with editors and producers miles away and out of touch.  Nelson asked me to repeat how I got it.  I did.  He and Mears smiled.  They were the big boys, I was just a kid, but I beat 'em that day.
       Chance of that sort of thing occurring again?  Nada.  The Republicans wont even let one of their own, Ron Paul, address the convention.  Despite winning about 8-10% of the Republican Primary votes, he's being shut out.  That wouldn't have happened, back in the good old days, when conventions were really conventions!
     A few of you have asked about the bees.  They appear to be prospering with their new young queen.  When Michael did his last check of the frames he spotted the queen's chamber.  It looks a bit like a thrown earthen ware vase or jug.

    Now that our bee keepers have found the queen and are pleased with the latest inspection, your reporter is waiting for the honey to appear!
      See you down the trail.

Friday, August 24, 2012


     We began the evening with a terrific Caprese salad
and bottle of Aron Hill Primitivo.
    Diane and Lana were there to help observe my first
annual "Medicare eligibility" celebration.  
      Aron Hill provides a great hill top view of the setting sun while offering a menu which has never failed to please.
It has been an easy spot to mellow on summer Thursdays and the acoustic artists find appreciative ears.
       We rounded out the annual holiday with the Friday Lunch Flash mob festivities followed by a lecture on Adam
Smith's "Invisible Hand."

Thanks to Ann for finding this great "performance."

Mike and Beverly are to thank for this
link from Mars. Activate a camera from Curiosity by linking here.
        See you down the trail.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


     This extraordinary photo by Bill Bouton, a retired biology professor from Grand Rapids, made it around the world on several sites. He captured this image in Port San Luis, about 45 minutes south of here.  The whale and pelicans were feeding on a "bait ball," a large school of fish. Just a day before people here in Cambria noted unusual numbers of Pelicans in a feeding frenzy, probably hitting on the same migration of fish.  I am in awe of the spectacular moment captured by Bouton.

     Big Sur is one of the most precious places on the planet
and in our hearts. Our daughters have grown up making
periodic trips to Big Sur.  Now that we live with in an hour of this stretch of the coast and its Redwood forest canyons, we are there often and its appeal and magic grab us even more deeply.
     Big Sur is also home to the legendary Esalen Institute, where my late brother John, a psychologist, conducted a seminar, one of the sessions of which took place in a hot tub.  Yep, that is Esalen, with its history of bringing "an edge" to society.  
     As Esalen prepares for its 50th birthday there is turmoil in paradise and you can read it about it here in a great piece by Norimitsu Onishi from the New York Times.  There is also a great multi media display of Esalen.
     This is the 100th birthday of the great Gene Kelly.  What
better way to remember him than with one of the all time
great movie scenes?!
See you down the trail.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012



     Early evening and the sun is cutting slanted shadows on 
the east side of the ridge while the valley basks in full light.
      This is the arena. Male turkey's proving who is the baddest in what is a late summer or autumn show. 
      The battle has Hemingway and Luke riveted in their front row seats.
   Hemingway continued to "stalk" the moving rumble.
      No Marquis of Queensbury rules for these brutes.  They brawl up and down an open space and even fight into the heavy growth in the back of the frame below-a thicket of echium.  A video captures "the fight in the bush."
   As I watched they paired, though occasionally the third hand, one is seen above, also gets drawn into the fray.
   The video of such a fracas is available below.  I don't understand the protocol. There were two packs-3 turkeys in each, rumbling an hour or so before sunset.  Two would duel in an attempt to lock the other's head in its mouth. They would twirl, trot and stagger as they fought.  The third hand would appear as a referee, tagging in and out until he  joined into the fight too.

These guys are a bit different that what 
lands on Thanksgiving tables huh?
See you down the trail.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


     Republican Kevin Yoder, congressman from Kansas, apologized for taking a quick skinny dip into the Sea of Galilee while on a congressional trip last year.  That he apologized is an honorable gesture, but unnecessary. 
      A quick and spontaneous jump into the sea, especially in a hot climate is perfectly fine.  And if you are with friends or family and you dip naturale d'Au, why should anyone care?  
      A few moralistic bloggers have snorted as to how disgusting that is for an American congressman.  Really?  Why would that be?  We came into this world naked.  I understand why some of us may be embarrassed about how our bodies have turned out, but this was not naked beach volleyball.  It was a dip into the ocean and the nudity was brief, long enough to immerse.  I'd worry more about those who entered the sea, in clothing.  And for those snooty and condescending bloggers, one of whom I heard interviewed on NPR, I suggest you read of some of Benjamin Franklin's behavior, when serving as a US Representative in France. I don't think his "cavorting" affected his impact on human history.  
      A dip into the sea with friends is no problem, no big deal, and none of your business.  Leave the guy alone on this.  Attack his politics and beliefs if you like, but not a skinny dip.
    Todd Akin of Missouri should be an embarrassment to 
to all Republicans, in fact to all males anywhere on the 
political spectrum.  There is no defense for his comments on rape.  His party should run him out of sight. If he's not an idiot, he's just plain stupid.

                           DAY FILE


See you down the trail.

Monday, August 20, 2012


     You may have noted the questions raised in The Weekender :) by a friend who was fascinated with the succession issues involved with a queen bee.
      He is an exceedingly bright guy with a philosophical depth and curiosity. A life of government, politics and power gives him a particular skew and I was as intrigued by his questions and observations as I was by the incredibly fascinating and complex nature of the bee hive.
      It was fun when he moved to summary pondering with implications for the human animal.

Doesn't it make you consider nature's apparent ambivalence to violence?  There is no negative stigma attached to the murder of the queen.  We see drama there and have feelings about it, but these "feelings" have no place in nature, at least not in a bee hive. 
When was it that human consciousness crossed this line  -- before which "we" had no emotional or psychological reaction to violence and the death or ostracization of a "fellow" man.   And how long after that did we rationalize these "feelings" with a philosophy or code that held that each life was valuable for its own sake -- and is this good?  Or was it just a rationalization of emotions?  (Surely the intellectual philosophy did not precede the emotional.)
The God of the old testament certainly wasn't big on the value of each individual life.  He wipes people off the planet regardless of individual culpability in the flood.  Or perhaps everyone WAS culpable -- as in Sodom and Gomorrah.  But the Israelites go around surprise attacking every other people of the Levant until they control the ground.  And in these battles, (not to mention the ones between Israel and Judea later, the men of whole towns were killed willy nilly just because they were there -- the only practical thing to do.
The development of conscience in this matter is just fascinating.     
    This sort of gets the brain in gear doesn't it?  I wrote back to him that we obviously part ways with the instinctive order of succession, probably by virtue of something in our DNA.
     Do you think we are born with an aversion to killing or with some "code" wired into us that values life or navigates us to considering life sacred? Or is it all learned?  Or both?
     Next time you see a bee hive, consider the rather matter of fact, by the book, order of power underway inside. Bet they don't debate philosophy.
     And another thought on this matter.  This blue planet is dependent on bees being true to their nature.  You can't say that for humans.  In fact the planet would do just fine without us. We need the bees.  They don't need us.


   Our friend Paulo, impresario of the Wise Owl, turned his wine bar patio over to local artists this weekend.  Champagne, Proseco, sparkling wine flowed as tourists and Cambrians enjoyed blue skies, sunshine and a wide array of California art.  In the frame below a group of friends and artists "hold forth."

Another adventure in the eclectic village.
See you down the trail.