Sunday, January 30, 2022


         Our village was shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Ruth Armstrong, unforgettable Ruth. 

        A hike a few years ago, found Ruth, in the pink sweater up front, where she usually always was, in the midst of friends. 
        She introduced people. She was a wonder at matching folk with new friends. It was her mission to make sure everyone knew each other.
        You could set your clock by Ruth; mornings at her favorite coffee shop with a group, mid day doing her daily stroll through the village, afternoon stop at the ice cream and coffee spot, regularly at the Lodge on music evenings, at almost all live music venues and each evening watching the sun set at her favorite spot.
        That's where we gathered.

       It's on Moonstone Beach, where the creek flows into the Pacific.

        I used to kid with Ruth that she knew more about the village than anyone else, because she knew more people than anyone else. I told her she should write a newspaper column.

         She had grown up at the family home in rural southern California, not far from the Roy Rogers ranch, and spent summers in Europe.             
        She'd lived in the Bay Area and fancied herself  knowledgable about all things Berkeley, including the early days of Cafe Chez Panisse. Others will agree, she made the absolute best hazelnut cookies in the world. They were a work of the baker's art. 
        Ruth was an artist and part of the of Cambria art culture. She lived in an historic early Cambria log house that her renown mother had shared with an early Disney film director. She remembered Disney people. A unique life, shared with friends. 
         We almost lost her a few years in a freak accident when a truck rammed through the wall where she was sitting in the village. She said she was saved by the large old pew in which she sat. She was broken, but not daunted and eventually got back to her daily village strolls, though with a limp. 
        Thanks to friends for the "Ruth appropriate" memorial gathering as the sun set at her favorite vantage point.
        Johnny, Christy, and Joan called us together. 

        Ruth, like most of this part of California, was a fan of troubadour Jill Knight who helped us remember our friend. 

    In a sweet, sad and cosmic irony, the gathering brought people together who had not seen each other or spent much time together during  the last two years, because of Covid.                               
    Because of Ruth we were together again.

        Someone remarked they'd never heard her say an ill word of anyone. 
        Her passing leaves a vacancy in many lives and certainly for Cambria.

        In a village known for free spirits and individual thinkers, artists, and intellectual vagabonds, Ruth cut a unique persona.
        She was and remains a true Cambria character.

        In the last duty for her friends, she got a perfect sunset that we could share. 

        Stay safe.  See you down the trail. 

Saturday, January 22, 2022


 "We all live under the same sky, 
but we don't all have the same horizon"

Konrad Adenauer  

        Coming across that quote this week, I thought we don't all have the same reality either, or language skills. 

       My reality was tweaked when I was in on a brief by Dr. Catherine Marsh former chief scientist for CIA's directorate of Science and Technology and now Director of  IARPA-Intelligence Advance Research Projects Activity. IARPA is the Intelligence Community version of DARPA. They are about finding and funding future technologies, systems and frontier new realities. 

       How about filing data using DNA? Maybe advanced polymorphous sequencing to increase security and save space. Server farms are energy hogs, take enormous physical space and have awful carbon footprints. DNA is tiny and tidy.
       Tech companies evangelize the Metaverse, maybe just a  buzzword. Still, we've entered a dimension where media called social is a battle ground and war zone that has polarized and  destroyed truth and fact.
        We live with it. Some can't live without it. Some kill themselves because of it. Privacy has vanished because of it.
        Who is doing something about it? 
        Meta data volume builds, and builds, and builds and flows to manipulators.

        IARPA is looking to protect algorithms, defend artificial intelligence, counter "deep fakes" and more they can't talk about.
        Imagine walking through any city or village in the world, seeing and hearing all that is going on, but doing it remotely. Our tax dollars are looking for a way.

        Mixed reality.
        Some recognize global challenges. 
        Some believe lies while others see the challenge to the American way and they respond.

        Words matter more than we may realize.

     A study published by the National Academy of Sciences finds the societal balance between emotion and reason has shifted back to what it was 150 years ago.
    Scholars from Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands and Indiana University studied word and language use since 1850. They discovered the shift from reason to emotion began in the 1980's and has accelerated since. 
    Truth, facts, and science have a hard time being heard in a climate where emotion trumps reason. The voices of our better angels have competition.

    Words have power and evoke a vision. 

        Journalist Ari Berman, a voting rights specialist, reported the 48 Senators who voted to reform the filibuster represent 182 million Americans, that is 55% of the population. The 52 Senators who upheld the filibuster represent 148 million Americans, only 45% of the US population.


        After that vote Republicans shook Senator Sinema's hand, glad to have a nominal Democrat join the new Jim Crow movement. Any doubt about that?  Here's a quote from Republican leader Mitch McConnell "African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."  
        Mitch, you said that out loud.

          Sinema is a play for pay grifter/grafter girl.  She took big money from big pharma and voted against legislation to control medicine costs. She took hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporations and voted against increasing their taxes. You have to wonder who got to her on voting rights. 

        Reality: By their actions the Republican party is anti-majoritarian and anti-democratic.  

    As David Remnick wrote, "it has become a party less focused on traditional policy values and more on tribal affiliation and resentment."

     They may have short term gains, but a truth spoken by the greatest Republican consigns them to the ignominy of history, in a pile of those without value, the dishonored. Sinema and Manchin have their own asterisk on that list. 

"We cannot escape history. We of this congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves...the fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation."

Abraham Lincoln

       My bet is Americans will be pushed back, watch rights be stripped away, and oppressed only so long before the great majority rises up against the tyranny of a minority and hand out prostitutes like Sinema and Manchin. 

            There's a lot of dread, justifiable too. Climate, nature and resources are in trouble. It maybe unrecognizable to this generation, but human civilization will find ways to live, adapt, innovate and find destiny.

        As IARPA, DARPA, Bio tech labs, medical discoveries, exploration, discovery and all kindred renaissance thinking invent the future, the human will and spirit will protect itself. 

        It's safe to conclude there will be awful tolls, and maybe so, but I think it would be great to live 50 to 100 years from now, just to see the reality, the fixes, adjustments, innovations and all the new realities we humans create. And, to meet the people as exotically different as we are from those who survived earlier plagues and wars and human catastasis.

        I'm also curious about where artificial reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, genetic design, cyborging, algorithmic cascade, DNA data files, and more take us. 

        But before we go too deeply into the future, I wonder what becomes of the house cleaning mother of five who is exhausting herself with work and worry, trying to keep her family fed and housed. Or the emigres stuck between working to make their dreams reality in the US and an inconsistent and ill defined policy and attitude about immigrants. Or the millions of other working poor facing inflation, already out of control housing costs, and lack of insurance and health security. Or those around the world, victims of war, starvation, authoritarian  regimes. Or those growing numbers of humans displaced by lack of water, resources and a changing climate.

        Wonderous things are indeed coming. I wonder if they will help us with compassion, caring, equity and fairness. It is hard to hear our better angels in the din of word wars and social media combat. Will we listen to each other? To wisdom?

        Do you think we'll learn to take care of the garden?  

        Do you think we'll be closer to having the same horizon?

        Stay safe.
        See you down the trail. 


Monday, January 10, 2022

Loving Your Neighbor? Really!


        Shiny 2022 is putting a headlock on a lot of folks and forcing some tough questions about deep matters. 

    There's already enough "put up or shut up" vibe in the air.  All the  talk about a civil war makes these days even more twisted. 

    Let's put that all that on hold while we offer a dose of California winter from the central coast. New vistas are helpful when winter sinks deep into your heart.


Old growth, awaiting new life...

...the linearity of wine country is always appealing...

...the vastness of the Pacific blue puts things in perspective

...snow is rare on the central coast...but we celebrate rain, when it puddles in our forests....

...and when the earth celebrates and activates a life web....

    We are pretty much like mycelium, connected, though presently our relationship troubles puts America in a dark passage.
    The daughter of a life long friend, a precious young woman we have watched grow under the tutelage of her loving and pacifist parents has enrolled in a concealed weapons program.
     A friend, an Army vet is adding a second 9 mm pistol to his car.
    Liberals talk about building a network of "defender" cells, militia like, to counter the well armed and belligerent right wing militias who have made plenty of news and trouble. 
    And on and on and on...

    People steeped in the values of the Abrahamic faiths have committed murder in their hearts. How many of you have been with friends, or in communication where someone talks about wishing Donald Trump and his ilk would be assassinated? Maybe you have.

    Historians say the last time we were like this was before the civil war. 

    We should all cry. We should cry not only for the divide, the differing views of truth, the seemingly irreconcilable differences between us and because of the dangerous stooges who bask in media's reckless light. We should cry for what we are destroying, for the democratic republic that was the world's best hope, before it was broken and now dissed by some of its own, including power players who know better. 

    We need not simlply cry, we should fear the evil we are raising. We should fear the rise of a chimera of hate, violence and destruction we breed in our hearts. 

    We're under a low ceiling. We have forgotten what our better aspirations are. We've lost sight of the wisdom spoken by men and women through all cultures and ages, the wisdom that, like light in a dark time, pushes us to be enlightened, and  leads us to evolve.
    One may sneer at the ancient axiom to love your neighbor as yourself, but look at the results of not doing so.

    Stay safe. Be well.
    See you down the trail.