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The book

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Smoke from Northern California fires

Two minutes out the door on our morning walk Otto and I were confronted by one of the Mission District’s fragrant street drunks. He pointed at Otto with a shaking hand and said “Sir! Do you live with this dog? Do you feed him? Unsanitary! Haven’t you read the book? The book says that he is unsanitary. Unsanitary! You must stop. You must read the book! The book!“ Of course, he was drunk on his ass, stank like a sewer, rotting clothes bundled his frame…

Fires destroying one of the most beautiful places on earth… the smoke burning lungs and turning skies orange… people in Puerto Rico forced to drink toxic water, running out of food… Houston a mud bath and Florida half under water… A deranged government hell bent on abandoning its citizens…

It’s all so disheartening… the world is truly in ruins when even a dog isn’t allowed to bring you joy.

Brexit madness

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Lets do a bit of math, shall we?

  • The UK is host to approximately 64.5 million souls as of 2013.
  • 17.4 million of them voted to leave the EU in a non-binding referendum this past Wednesday.
  • 16.1 million voted to remain.
  • According to the NY Times, the turnout was about 72% of eligible voters,
  • Which means there were approximately 46.5 voters eligible to vote.

In other words, 37.4% of eligible voters, or 26.9% of the total UK population made a decision to abrogate the defining treaty of post World War II Europe.

This is the treaty that brought peace and prosperity to hundreds of millions in dozens of countries for the first time in centuries.

And the UK government is meekly going along with it?

And I thought American politics are fucked.


Fifty at Ten Thousand Feet

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

I wrote this some years ago – I’m well past 50 now, miracle of miracles – but it’s always been well received by others who approach that ominous year. I’ve decided to put it on Medium (link forthcoming) so I’m updating it here first.

The view from Mono Pass exhilarates but I’m on deadline. The map says four more miles to Walker Lake, cobalt blue and three thousand feet below me, but the trail looks longer. Much longer. Nearly two in the afternoon now, at four my friend Jeff and his car will be waiting for me near the locked gate beyond Walker’s eastern end. Jeff being Jeff, he will be worrying by 4:30.

Meeting my ride is not my only deadline on this day in California’s Sierra Nevada. This is the last hike I will take before I turn 50. An odd tension comes with this milestone, one I am having a hard time defining.

Below is Lower Sardine Lake and Mono Lake. Walker Lake is just below Lower Sardine but can't be seen because of the steep wall between the two.

Lower Sardine Lake. Below is Walker Lake and Mono Lake. Behind me is Upper Sardine Lake, a smaller version of Lower Sardine.

The trail to Mono Pass begins at Yosemite’s Tioga Road, a mile inside the park’s east entrance. This is the high country. The trail head is near 9500 feet, circles Mount Gibbs, a shale-heap of a peak at 12,775 feet, then tracks the edge of an enchanted meadow between Gibbs and Mount Lewis, a solid granite summit on the passes’ south side just a few feet lower than Gibbs. A four mile walk brought me to the 10,604 foot pass itself. The trail is an easy one if you discount the altitude.

I’ve been here before.


2015 – So far

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

School shootings

Oregon Charleston Connecticut Boston Isla Vista – in Memory

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

I’m as tired of updating this post as Obama is speaking about the massacres.

If it Were Up To Me

Written and performed by Cheryl Wheeler

 Every time there is a mass shooting in America, someone puts together a video featuring this song and posts it on YouTube. No doubt there’ll be another version out shortly.

It’s Nixon time again

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

OK, fellow boomers,

It is time – unfortunately – to confront yet again that spectre of our youth, Richard Milhous Nixon. It seems that more of his papers and of course those infamous tapes have been released recently and some luckless soul tasked himself with updating our image of the man, documenting his endless tricks and missteps.

And endless they are, from sabotaging a Vietnam peace deal in ’68 – before he was elected! – so he could beat Humphrey, to spending weeks drunk in ’73 during the Yom Kippur war, leaving decisions to Kissinger and Haig and almost triggering a nuclear war.

Terry Gross interviews Tim Weiner, the guy who documents all this, on a recent Fresh Air episode titled “The Tragedy of Richard Nixon”. You can find it here on the web or search for that title on your phone’s podcast app.

Why should you listen? I suppose one reason is for “closure” though I hate that word and the idea behind it. A better reason is to remind yourself that things were every bit as fucked up in our younger years as it seemed at the time. Or, if you don’t want to go home again, listen to better understand why we are in the mess we are today.

But don’t eat right before you click “play”: once again, Richard Nixon will make you wretch.

Daily funny: Dear Zelda; workplace advice for NSA staffers

Monday, October 13th, 2014

This is so far beyond irony that it loops around the other side. 

Seems that the NSA – yes, that NSA, the one reading your eMails (Yo, Spooks!), listening to your phone calls, monitoring your bank accounts – seems the folks there have need of advice on workplace etiquette. So, their internal (non-hackable of course) network hosts a blog called Dear Zelda, in which all manner of such advice is provided.
One of my favorite NPR shows, On the Media, did a story on Dear Zelda recently and you can listen to it here. It’s only six minutes long but worth every second. And if you do tune in, be sure and listen to the end: after the On the Media announcer finishes someone reads a very special question and reply from Zelda.
Can’t make this stuff up.

ObamaCare’s little secret (or: why Republicans hate Pelosi so much)

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Well well. Seems that there’s a surprise in ObamaCare for our wonderful elected representatives, one that explains why Boehner, Cantor and Rubio and McConnell et al are frothing at the bit about it: It applies to them!

Yes! Our Fearless Leaders in D.C. are required by the Affordable Care Act, the one recently upheld against all odds by our non-partisan (sic) Supreme Court, required to get their insurance from the same pool that the rest of us do.

Here’s the relevant section. You’ll find Section 1312, aka "Consumer Choice" on page 81 of the law’s text .(that’s the text’s page number, not the PDF’s.)


(i) REQUIREMENT.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are—

(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or

(II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).

(ii) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:

(I) MEMBER OF CONGRESS.—The term ‘‘Member of Congress’’ means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

(II) CONGRESSIONAL STAFF.—The term ‘‘congressional staff’’ means all full-time and part-time employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.

Alone among life on this earth…

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

…we are aware of the time we have lost and the time we have left. This is the source of our anger and our cruelty.

Repairs underway

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

I finally got back to writing for this blog after a hiatus both mental and physical, only to find the latest WordPress upgrades had tossed  finding and opening posts somewhere to the east of possible. I’m working on repairs now – all the old posts should now be accessible again – and will be adding more forthwith.

Thanks for your patience. More words coming soon.