Saturday, July 28, 2018

A Toast to Well Done and Spectacular

     These recent photos are evidence of what we've been waiting for.
   Frequent readers of this space will recall my devout love for Big Sur. It is the part of California that hooked us and tickled our imagination for years. Eventually time and life conspired and led us to make a retirement move from Indianapolis to a place where we knew no one. We knew we loved the California central coast.
    Until 18 months ago we came and went freely on the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway to the legendary Big Sur.
     Highway 1 is our primary road, but about 25 minutes north the road was closed by the largest landslide in California history.
     The frame below was shot on May 22, 2017 by John Madonna.
Photo by John Madonna for Cal Trans
  That is some 6 million cubic yards of slide material. As you can see it buried Highway 1 under 40 foot of debris and created a new peninsula on the rugged coast line.
   It took heroic effort by Cal Trans engineers and workers and the John Madonna construction company to re open the iconic highway. It was a $54 million project. An average of 20 workers began each morning at 5AM and many of them worked 100 days before taking a day off. It was hard and dangerous work and the land continued to slide.

   In the before and after composite published by the San Luis Obispo Tribune you can see the historic change.

May 2017

July 2018

Photo Credits: Before John Madonna After CalTrans

     While those of us who lived 30 to 40 minutes south were denied access to our beloved Big Sur and were forced to take the 101 to Carmel or Monterey, those who lived there were devastated. 
     Work, school, commerce, and the commutes were shattered. To go anywhere required hours long journeys via arduous and dangerous mountain roads.
    But traffic flows again.

   The two frames immediately above show the Mud Creek area and the new stretch of road just opened.  For a sensational short drone video link here to see Joe Johnson's masterful work.

   I've been fortunate to drive many of the world's spectacular mountain, wilderness and coastal roads. Highway 1 from our Cambria home to Big Sur excites and gives me joy as much as any. As my friend Jim, who introduced Big Sur to us all those years ago says "It never disappoints!"

   Being back in the magic area was a good cause for a lunch and toast to our love of Big Sur and a "well done" to John Madonna Construction and Cal Trans workers.

         See you down the trail. And I hope that means that sometime in your life you'll drive Highway 1 through Big Sur.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018


      A casual safe harbor sits back bay in Los Osos and Baywood.

  A cove on Morro Bay, tucked in by the "spit."

    A peaceful harbor, within a bay on the Pacific on California's central coast.

pacific thoughts
     I heard the phrase "inestimable compassion" in the context of a radical spiritual intellection. 
    Just the day before my heart, head, and spiritual operating system were infused with a dose of love and caring by means of a radical homiletic exercise shown joyfully in the documentary, Wont You Be My Neighbor.
    The two occurrences launched a train of thought. First, a little context.
    You may not have been as aware of the great human progression and kindness displayed by Fred Rogers as were your children. Seeing film of him at the beginning in the 1960's, through his final commencement address is reason alone to upgrade your estimation of the human race and its potential.
    I thank every one of my friends who continued to encourage us to see it. An extended running at the Palm in San Luis Obispo resolved our schedule snafu. Even after playing for several weeks, the mid afternoon crowd was near capacity. This film is doing a lot of love bombing and it talks sense by way of example.
    This is an horrendous time in our national existence. The majority of US voters are someplace between depressed and ballistic in their disapproval of the administration, the atmosphere and the damage that is inflicted daily on the politics, culture and values of the society. The anger is understandable. It may even be worse for those who had been Republicans, traditional Republicans. The majority of those who presently so self identify have simply enabled the toxic leadership and destructive culture. Democrats, liberals and progressives as well as traditional conservatives are not only offended by the freak show, but wonder when and how the disease will end.
     So in the interim, until we get another shot at the ballot box, or until we see how much the Russians rigged the election and who was in bed with them, what is there to do?
    This brings us back to where we started. 
    Compassion, caring, and loving are part of a radical tool kit to use in pressing the idea of resistance. Donald Trump fails the human evolution matrix. Most people have a greater sense of decency, civility, intelligence, caring and the capacity to love than he or his base. Most people are not "me first." Most people achieve a higher sense of reasoning and a desire to help. So it's time to unleash a radical good. In fact we are seeing evidence; acts of kindness, support, volunteering, marching, letter writing, petition signing, calls,  teens registering other teens who will come of voting age in 2020 or in these mid terms. 
     The frustration, anger, worry, and fear can be offered up as our brokenness, in a type of transformative discipline, to be the fodder and source of resurgence. The present discontent drives the coming repudiation of this era and becomes the drive wheel of progress, improvement and a dismantling of this coarse empire of vanity. We will undo the Trump toxin. The pendulum swings. For every action a reaction. The law of Karma.
     For those who believe, the "inestimable compassion" is a radical conversion; a bodhisattva, the great peace, a universal light, Brahman, the faith of Abraham, the Christ. Patterns of justice, mercy and hope pervade all of our foundations of faith, in an unimaginable diversity, as unique as each one of us.
     Defeating the haters, the selfish, the mean, the bullies is the challenge of each of us and it is a simple as being as kind, conscientious, loving and radical as Mr. Rogers. Or as personal as listening to your guru, rabbi, teacher, pastor, priest, ecclesiast, shepherd, conscience, universe or heart.
     Safe harbors, mentors, wise women and men, servants, transformers, compassionate humans, and people of light are all around us. Light wins, always. 

    See you down the trail.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Slovik Path for Trump

      Eddie Slovik, a hard luck kid from Detroit was in trouble with the law from the time he was 12. He died 12 years later.
       In those years he was arrested for car theft, breaking and entering, robbery and other offenses. He was in and out prison a few times.
      Because of his criminal record he was morally unfit for the military. But after he married he was reclassified and drafted into the Army.
      It was WWII and he was sent to fight in France with Company G of  the 109th Infantry Regiment of the US 28th Infantry Division. During an artillery attack Slovik said he determined he "wasn't cut out for combat." He went missing and was found 6 weeks later. He then told his commanding officer  he was "too scared" to be in a rifle unit. He then deserted. He was caught and the Army gave him a couple of chances to change his mind and relent. He said he'd take his court marital.
      Slovik was convicted of desertion. He wrote to Allied Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower pleading for clemency. Desertion was a big problem in France as the Germans were advancing through the Ardennes and casualties were high while morale was low. Ike confirmed the execution order.
     During WWII the US military executed 102 soldiers for rape or unprovoked murder of civilians. Only Slovik was executed for desertion.
     12 Soldiers were chosen and detailed to be the firing squad. They were each given an M1 rifle with one bullet apiece, one of them was a blank. The command of "Fire" was given and Slovik was hit by 11 bullets, four of the shots were fatal.
         Donald Trump never served in the military, but was sent to a military school for disciplinary reasons. He too was a punk, but a rich boy. He's stayed out of jail because he's had lawyers and was able to buy politicians and threatened those who he cheated. 
      On July 16th, 2018 Donald Trump committed treason in front of the world. He deserted America. I'm one of those who believe he had already been a traitor, but his appearance with Putin and what he said gave aid and comfort to an enemy.
      People far above my pay grade, people with expertise, diplomats, intelligence officers, his own Director of National Intelligence, Republicans, even those who had been timid or had been advocates of Trump have said his performance was over the line, wrong, an offense to this nation and our officers, the act of a traitor, treason.
      The US has never seen such behavior from a President. 
Still there are some who defend the traitor and attack all of those who assail him. But anyone who will defend what he said, or his "private" meeting with Putin should simply be laughed at and pitied for the brain, conscience and soul sucking vortex in which they find themselves. There is no defense for what happened in Helsinki. It was anti American, dead wrong, pandering to his Russian overlords and financial backers, and simply being Putin's punk.
      The facts are known. Russia interfered with the 2016 election. Only a fool or a blind zealot will deny that. We don't know how deeply they impacted the results, that investigation continues. 
      Putin's Russia is an adversary and they are still attacking our electoral process. Donald Trump met with Russian spies in the White House, and already his top campaign advisers have been indicted or pled guilty. 
      On July 16 he stood before the world and even offered to allow Putin and his intelligence service to meddle in our investigation. Treason! Anti American behavior, aiding and giving comfort to an enemy. It happened on live television.
      It is the inevitable behavior of someone so unfit, unqualified, unprincipled and who thinks he can bluff and bully his way through life.
      It is clear to this writer that life should come to the same path as Eddie Slovik. 
      Trump is the Commander in Chief-a military court martial is an appropriate venue for the process of justice. If convicted, then 12 Riflemen, 11 bullets, 1 blank, and a command of Fire!
        This may earn me enmity. Though my readership is limited and in no way influential, this could create problems but it has to be said. In 42 years of journalism I learned always is a good time to speak the truth. Donald Trump is a poison. It is time for him to go where traitors go. This nation should purge itself of Trump. For now and for our future.

 See you down the trail.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Santa Lucia Mountains, Cambria Ca.

"Blind faith in your leaders or in anything
will get you killed."
Bruce Springsteen

"You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism
that you can't face reality. What is wrong is wrong
no matter who says it."
Malcom X
textured Cambria sky

"You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.
Mahatma Gandhi

"A lie told once remains a lie-but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth."
Joesph Goebbels-Nazi

"I alone can fix it."
"I am the only one who matters."
Donald Trump

another evening, another palette, Cambria

"The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war.
Sydney J. Harris

"There is a chance that we could end up having a 
major, major conflict with N. Korea."
Donald Trump

"Trump is a traitor."
Jeff Lewis

     Offensive, blundering, uneducated, unfit, serial liar, bully, narcissist, asinine, and quite probably a Russian stooge. Yet there are those who give him allegiance. Stupefying! 

please answer
     Are we to believe this man is an evil genius who, with his cabal and laughable sycophants will make this nation a better place? Who, but Putin, thinks it's a good idea to bash or break NATO? How's Korea working out? What did we get for walking out on the Iran deal? They got the money and now no one is there to stop them from building nukes? How's that wall look? Did you get your heartland jobs back? Are those coal mines open again? Cutting lunch programs your idea of hearing those desperate who voted so they would be heard and get help? That tax break help you as much as it did the 1%? You really want to invade Venezuela? What's the positive of being the only nation in the world to drop out of the Paris Climate accords? Think it's a good idea to kick your allies and make nice with despots? Really, cancel war games because they are too expensive, but spend more than that on security for golf weekends at Mar a Lago? Is that big military parade to compensate for libido? Did Trump care replace Obama Care? Is America Great Again?

      How, why does anyone give him allegiance? 

    See you down the trail.       

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


photos courtesy of Pexels

night skies for future generations

     Astronomer Scott McMillan could have hit me in the head with a 2X4. He said the way we have preserved wilderness in national parks, preserves and marine sanctuaries is necessary for the skies.
     Consider this. It was a mere 140 years ago that electric lighting began to illuminate our lives. From the dawn of human life on this blue planet all or our ancestors had access to stars, constellations, galaxies and the infinity of space. It has been only a bit longer than our lifetime since we could look into the night sky to see what inspired science, religion, philosophy, art and literature. As McMillan said now millions of children will never know the wonder of the Milky Way. Perhaps some of you are unable to see it.
     The first time I saw stars that arched over me like a bowl was standing on a cliff at Big Sur. The stars rose up out of the roaring Pacific and passed over my head until they descended into the towering redwoods behind me.
      It's difficult to explain a moment on the plains of the Serengeti in the Great Rift Valley in Africa as I stood in absolute silence enveloped in a 360 degree dome of millions upon millions of stars, galaxies and visual wonder. That extraordinary sight and sensation caused me to shudder, almost shake. It seemed to have touched a key in my mind that changed my consciousness.
      Until the early twentieth century all of our ancestors had  those night sky experiences. How have we changed as a specie as the stars dim? Has it diminished our capacity? Do we routinely take desecration of nature as something we accept? Do we look down more than we look up and what is the significance of that?
      Thanks to the efforts of Beautify Cambria we have become part of a Dark Skies initiative. I have become a proponent of the International Dark Sky Association.  
I urge you to link here
          Light pollution hurts the planet and life in ways that many are unaware. Human health is affected, it devastates wild life, it wastes energy and money, it can make you less safe and it robs us of our heritage. There are simple, inexpensive things we can do.
      I'm lucky to live at the edge of the continent, between the vastness of the Pacific and unpopulated coastal mountains and forests. But growing up in the mid-west I saw the dimming of the stars as cities grew and lights polluted the sky. We owe it to our self and to next generations to protect night skies and the wonder they hold.

fighting words

      "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Natures's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
     We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
     That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.  That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and Happiness.

      But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government and to provide new Guards for the future security."

     Are you feeling happy?
     Are you feeling safe?
     Do you think the majority of voting Americans have given consent?
      Do you think Government has been destructive to unalienable rights?
      Do you see abuses or usurpations?

      Is North Korea's leader a despot?
      Is Vladimir Putin a despot?
      Should the President of the US legitimize despots?

      What are the opinions of mankind about our present leadership? Are they being given a decent respect?

       "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.--It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."
                           Thomas Jefferson to James Madison,
                            Paris, January 30, 1787

        Wouldn't you count it good fortune if the ghosts of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams haunted us these days?
        Maybe they could whip the dickens out of you know who!

     See you down the trail.