Thursday, October 26, 2017


High Sierra range fence on California 245
Delta, framed by nature
So where are the yellow bellied sap suckers?
Remember that line from old cowboy movies and shows?
 Out of business and left in a hurry

      Great memories from kid hood are the summers we spent in the Rockies. Now that I'm in a second edition of kid hood, I can't get enough of the Sierra.
       The timeless architecture and vast expanse of the mountains tend to open my mind similarly. 
        In earlier life I was on the board of the President Benjamin Harrison Home in Indianapolis. I took pride that Harrison was the President who signed Yosemite National Park into existence. I always reflect on that when wandering the through the Sierras. 

        Cultural norms were vastly different from 1889 to 1893 when Harrison was President, which only underscores the historic and contemporary importance of what he said. 
         This point alone demonstrates how far Republican Presidential values have plummeted under the current occupant.
         Millions of US citizens await the fall of this president who seems to become more atrocious by the hour. The majority of voters did not want him, but there is still the almost unbelievable support of those who voted for him. It is as if there is nothing that will dissuade them.
        I share here a letter I penned to the editor of the local paper. As noted, it seems to encapsulate this matter of trumpistas.
       The Letter to the Editor section on Thursday, October 26 (Opera SLO-an accusation and a response) is a perfect capture, in microcosm, of the "roots" of the divide and rancor threatening America today.
       Elise Cassel and Juan Hovey of Santa Maria talked about being "...stunned-appalled" to see a character in Madame Butterfly drag an American flag across the stage floor. 
       The writers then castigated Opera San Luis for a willingness to "exploit" and "make gratuitous and contemporary political statement." That's venomous enough but they said they would end financial support.
         What followed was an eloquent response from Brian Asher Alhadeff of Opera San Luis explaining the scene was part of the story and script dating to 1898 and was how Giacomo Puccini staged it beginning in 1904. 
         It is American to express points of view, but it is intelligent to speak with a sense of knowledge, history, context and understanding. Sadly this is an age when people are full of self righteous indignation and opinions which are not grounded in fact or truth. Still they spew. They even vote motivated by anger and ignorance.
         I hope Mr. Alhadeff's detailed analysis and kind and sympathetic response to those who feel aggrieved may assuage their bitterness and hair trigger response. His letter is an example of how to respond to those who are  judgmental, without knowing of what they speak. 
         Taken in a larger context, that is to include the White House and those who support the present occupant, it is a lesson of how to relate to the self righteous, narrow minded and bigoted who are bereft of intelligence, reasoning, knowledge of history or logic. 
         While the accusations of the writers are symbolic of what is epidemic in the US, being as intolerant in response will not dissuade "true believers." The way out of the deadlock just might be a demonstration of kindness laced with genuine knowledge. 
          I hope the writers will reconsider their support for Opera SLO.

       Well, we can hope, right?

      See you down the trail.

Monday, October 23, 2017


under autumn skies

   A first trip to a pumpkin patch many choices...
    ...and look where it ends up

the trump dump stumps even chumps
   The most important thing about the president's conversation with a widow is that she felt "hurt" and worse after the call.
    That is no surprise given the man's lack of couth and compassion, but it is not acceptable in a chief executive and commander in chief.
    All US citizens, especially those who voted for the jerk owe 
the family an apology.
   The inept senate and congressional republicans got a kick in the teeth from their president. His tax plan shuts down their  silly and likely to fail plan. Another case of the dumber leading the dumb.
   The junk yard rat man, formerly the reich minister, aka steve bannon certainly knows how to wins friends eh? Did you see where he wants to purge the republican party and has targeted most members of his nominal party in the senate? Sorry folks, this kind of arrogance and venom looks and smells like reconstituted nazi politics from the early 30's in Germany. Bannon is a dangerous kook. 

    It has been an amazing and cathartic process to watch the bodies continue to fall. More sexual predators are being brought low by the current wave of revelation and justice.
      We should remember donald trump has also been accused of sexual assault. What are the odds of seeing the work of justice in this case?

all treat, no tricks
time flies so an annual splurge is a joy
harvest season is a time of gratitude 

    Cheers!  See you down the trail.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


   The Sierras are their domain and they roam as they wish.
    This is a young bear and not fully grown. He or she was rooting for a mid morning snack about 10 foot off the trail.

   We encroach into their wilderness with our cleverness.
   Still nature is the dominant component of the equation.

    Normally good spirited and cheerful, Californians have been understandably heavy hearted the last two weeks.
     The horror and fiery devastation has been cut into our psyche. We all have friends in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and points north or south. We've read the heartbreaking accounts of loss of life and destruction of homes, businesses and life dreams. The loss seems incalculable and personal.
     I was particularly taken by what Thomas Fuller, the San Francisco Bureau chief of the New York Times wrote. 
Thomas Fuller, the San Francisco bureau chief for The New York Times, describes his experience covering the fires in Northern California.
I keep a satellite phone in the trunk of my car, the same one I used to cover disasters and insurgencies in places like Myanmar and Nepal. But I never thought I would need it in Napa Valley, not for a wildfire anyway. 
During a week spent covering the fires in Northern California, I fell back on my training as a foreign correspondent: finding the satellite on the smoky horizon, locking in the phone’s antenna and dictating paragraphs to patient editors. 
But this was not a foreign land. It was my own country, and the conveniences that we take for granted had collapsed. Traffic lights went black and commerce shut down. 
Streets that were normally filled with tourists in the charming towns of wine country were deserted except for crews of exhausted firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and a few reporters. In the evacuation zones, rows of destroyed houses made it feel like a country at war, emptied of its civilian population. 
Small fires seemed to pop up everywhere. As I raced down narrow country roads to meet deadlines, I caught glimpses of smoldering embers on tree stumps a few feet away. I felt vulnerable while driving through tunnels of vegetation — it would be easy to be surrounded by fire and trapped. 
Everything smelled of smoke: my clothes, my car, my bag, my fingers. 
I feel enormously grateful to the dozens of people who took the time to articulate their grieving, some while standing in the rubble of their homes. The fires stripped away their privacy. Their kitchens, their exercise equipment, their hobbies — their lives — were in cinders at our feet. 
I think back to meeting Lisa Layman, her azure eyes staring at the ashes of her home at Coffey Park in Santa Rosa. She was recovering from cancer and recently had a kidney removed. The night before, she had escaped with her Bible and a scrapbook of her son’s early years. That is all she had
It is a reporter’s job to bring empathy to disasters like this. But I wondered how I could ever comprehend the magnitude of her loss.
  There were all too many times when my assignments 
put me at locations of devastation-tornados, floods, fires, explosions, hazardous waste derailing or leaks when I asked myself the same question. This week millions of Californians are mulling such.

   I'm not a fan of "piling on" when someone is down, but the #metoo response in the wake of Harvey Weinstein being taken down is healthy. 
    Though sadly delayed, by years, the news finally exposed Weinstein's loutish behavior. His fall from power and influence is stunning and appropriate. We are still waiting for justice for those women who donald trump sexually assaulted. We can hope another fall is in order.

    See you down the trail

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


twilight for the elders?
    They are the largest and among the oldest living things on  planet earth and after thousands of years they are in peril.
     A recent retreat to Sequoia National Park and the Sequoia National Forest produced a shocking bit of information.
     The keepers of these ancients say that because of global climate change they can no longer guarantee the health and well being of the giants.

    I am among those who are awed, inspired and spiritually moved by the magnificence of these ancients. They have stood silent witness to the history of this globe for millennia. 
     Now we are told that, for whatever reason(s) you may chose to ascribe as the cause(s), the climate change is doing what nothing else has, threatening these giant elders of life  on this blue marble.

     It seems we are of an age where we must endure and brave incalculable loss and violence to our own species and to our elders.

straight news
    All news organizations have spent more time dealing with Donald Trump's character than with his policies according to new data from the Pew Research organization.
     This is true for news operations with right or left leaning audiences and for those with a mixed audience.
      However the research on over 3000 stories found a wide variance in the "sources" used by the 24 news platforms that were studied. The important take away is that right leaning news organizations used fewer sources, fewer types of sources and less comparison in their reporting.
      Right leaning news organizations offered more positive and fewer negative evaluations of trump and the reporters "were less likely to challenge something the president said than those with audiences that were more balanced or were left leaning."

     It is telling that the lowest use of Trump or his administration as a source for reporting came from the right leaning administration. That combined with the fact right leaning news groups used fewer sources in reporting a story should be a warning to those who rely on them.

    Californians are shell shocked and deeply saddened by the fires in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino. The devastation and loss of life is horrendous. To our friends in that part of the state, the best we can do for you now is send prayers and thoughts. Rebuilding efforts will prompt more response later.

      See you down the trail.

Monday, October 2, 2017


    A horrified and heart broken nation must endure more needless pain as the NRA whores for more of their gun industry pimps.

    The NRA, more than anything else, has twisted and distorted the constitution. They've done it for money.
     Legislation is now pending that would make suppressors more readily available in the US.
Photo by Niki Chan Wylie for NPR
      They are also called "silencers." What you need to know about silencers is what you've seen in film, television or have read about in fiction.
      The gun industry is now trying to say silencers will protect the hearing of hunters. That is Wayne LaPierre style bull shit at it's million dollar best. There are other ways hunters can protect their ears.
     Suppressors also suppress flash, meaning in a situation like Las Vegas a silencer would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to sight where the shooter was. 
     The only people who "need" silencers are assassins or criminals, or the agents of government trying to combat them.
      The NRA may once have provided an important role in American culture. That ended when they became shills for the gun industry. They lie and they distort and they help kill.
      I hold Wayne LaPierre partially responsible for the Las Vegas slaughter. I add to that those members of the US Congress who defeated gun tightening legislation that followed the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre in Newtown. The majority of Americans wanted the legislation and it looked as though lawmakers got the message. That is until LaPierre and the NRA began spreading their favors. They enable terror. Their fingerprints are all over Las Vegas.

      See you down the trail.