Yes We Can Live Without Capitalism

Capitalism is the great satan. The enviroment is being destroyed so a few already obscenely rich can get richer. There are many who understand the planet's plight, some who speak out against it and a few who take direct action against our common enemy.

One of the few is Ecic Duran who for several years took out loans that he never intended to pay back and donated all of the money to social movements constructing alternatives to capitalism. Here's a great interview with Duran about his Robin Hood scheme: Counterhegemonic Economy: An Interview with Eric Duran by Scott Pierpont

Sub-commandante Marcos and the Zapatistas of Chiapas offer us another example of how direct action is a wellspring of hope in a desert of dispair. While myopic Norte Americanos drive gas guzzling SUV’s to the concrete entombed mall parking lots to consume plastic crap made by slave labour and shipped to them in planet destroying supertankers, the gentle Mayan descendents of Mexico’s southern region build real communities based on co-operation, organic food production, a grass roots political revolution.

This ‘other’ way is the true way, the ancient way of our ancestors, and the way of the future, if there is to be one for our grandchildren.

We milk the cow of the world, and as we do, we whisper in her ear, "You are not true"
-Richard Wilbur Epistemology

"The Other" Way  - The success of the Zapatistas will play as a political movement outside their Chiapenco strongholds. But it is the schools, clinics, co-operatives, workshops, "high quality public services" and community organizing that rebut the rhetoric of "a revolution that couldn’t deliver"-and prove another world really may be possible in the Zapatistas’ Chiapas.


BC's Education Cuts

BC's 'Liberal' government continues to cut education funding for our public schools. They had plenty of money to build and upgrade roads for the Olympics, plenty for a new roof on BC Place Stadium, plenty for tax cuts when their wealthy supporters want them but now that they're in the red we're seeing who is going to pay the bills.

Cuts to school funding and cuts to medical services don't effect the 'Liberals' core group of backers the rich. The rich send their children to private schools if they choose to. The rich fly off to expensive/exclusive private US clinics when they choose to. We're told daily we live in the greatest place on earth by the mainstream media but a closer look reveals that they too are owned and operated by the rich for the rich.

In 1977 BC's Social Credit Party began subsidizing families who thought the public schools weren't good enough (or religious enough) to suit their kids. It bought a lot of votes, and it still does. All told, B.C. taxpayers spent just over $200 million in 2008-2009 to support 319 private schools, plus another $41 million to private "distributed learning" schools and $25.4 million in special education grants to qualifying students in Group 1 and Group 2 schools. The BCTF says funding to private schools has risen by 34 per cent while public-school funding has risen by just 13 per cent.

Certainly this funding subsidy for private schools must be eliminated. Certainly the rich must be made to pay their fair share of taxes. Certainly the wasteful spending on mega-projects must be suspended until BC's schools and medical programs are fully funded. Certainly BC's 'Liberals' aren't liberal, they are just the old Social Credit Party wearing a thin coat of paint.

School cuts continue as deadline looms - The cuts to school programs in B.C. continue as districts vote on measures to balance their books in time to meet the April 30 deadline.

BC's Education Brownout - The province refuses to meet the true cost of sustaining our public schools, as a close analysis shows. We all will pay a price.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Plant your Potatoes

The full moon happens at around noon today here on the west coast of N. America and with it begins the two week period when the moon is said to be waning. The waning moon is the time to plant root crops [those plants that produce their edible parts below the ground.

i grow Ecudorian Finger Potatoes and have for many years. This will be my first time planting them up here at the new place i now rent. i'm really lucky that during the years before selling our little farm i passed out seed potatoes from my crops widely. A good friend, and sometime contributor to The Mud Report, Bill and his wife Shawn, grew them in their garden and saved some each year to replant. They returned the favor a month or two ago and now i'm ready to start my new bed. Ecudorian Finger Potatoes are an original-ancient variety of open pollinated potatoes which means they breed truely. All the commercial varities are hybreds which means their offspring are not replantable due to their unpredictable varibility. Seed companies make their money by being able to sell new seed each year, open pollinated heritage types of potatoes and other seed bypass the agri-business model and allow us to protect our food sources from the profit motive of corporations and the inevitable collapse of the corporate food model sooner or later.

i know planting by the moon sounds like a conspiracy between hippies and little green men, and maybe it is, but it works. When i started my first large garden on Park Ave. in Roberts Creek about 35 years ago i divided a large square area into 4 equal sections. Two sections had rows of early corn, pole beans and squash, one of the two areas was planted in accordance with the moon planting calander the other kitty-corner section was planted opposite to the moon planting dictates. The two remaing sections were planted in late crop corn, more pole beans and squash again with one section planted with the moon cycle the other in opposition to it. i setup a rotating sprinkler in the center of the four sections so everybody got watered on the same day. The results were astounding for all to see. In all cases, early and late corn-beans-squash, from sprouting to growth of all three types of plants to harvest and even to taste the results were undebateable. Throughout the 25 years we owned our little organic farm i tried on all occasaions to plant my crops in coordination with the moon planting calander. Today i'll plant out my potatoes, radishes and carrots. i'll cover the bed with some pea netting for a while to keep the deer and the family cat out. After the work is done i'll do a little dance and celebrate with a six pack the turning of the wheel.


Fundamentalists are Morons

Fundamentalists are dangerous regardless of which relegion they believe in. The world teeters on the brink of disaster based on the conflicting ‘end-time’ scenerios decreed by the bishops of varing branches in Abrahamic tradition. One group believes that heaven and 17 virigins await the suicide bomber. One believes god gave them title to the land because they are ‘the chosen people’. The third, and perhaps most deluded of the triad believe they will be swept up into heavn directly [without having to suffer the indignaties of death] by god in ‘The Rapture’ any minute now. All Christians, believe in some kind of extraterrestial saviour sweeping in and saving them [the true believers] and only them from the hell/fire/brimstone that awaits the rest of us. The sects, and their danger level, get divided on the question of when all this is gonna happen.

The butterfly of history was flapping its wings when in 1830, Margaret McDonald, a cultish Scottish visionary who belonged to a sect known as the Irvingites, claimed while in a trance that the rapture would occur before the period of persecution. This position, now known as the "pre-tribulational" view, also was embraced by John Nelson Darby, an early leader of a Fundamentalist movement that became known as Dispensationalism. Darby’s pre-tribulational view of the rapture was then picked up by a man named C.I. Scofield, who taught the view in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible, which was widely distributed in England and America. Many Protestants who read the Scofield Reference Bible uncritically accepted what its footnotes said and adopted the pre-tribulational view, even though no Christian had heard of it in the previous 1800 years of Church history.

How can this arcane bit of the self delusion matter to us heathens? In his confirmation hearing before Congress, then-Secretary of the Interior James Watt was asked to discuss his plans for the use and maintenance of America’s national parks, public lands and natural resources. His reply: "Hey, why bother?" In Watt’s funhouse mirror opinion, there wasn’t much point in trying to save and preserve the nation’s wildlife and wilderness, since the Rapture was sure to happen at any moment and very shortly thereafter, there wouldn’t be any wildlife or wilderness to preserve.

Fundamentalists are morons. Our future, our children's futures depend on the exposing of these morons and their dangerous ideologies to the light of reason.

“Religion is not merely the opium of the masses, it's the cyanide.”- Tom Robbins


Legalize It

"The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law, for nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced."-Albert Einstein 1921-

People have been using drugs recreationally and to alter their consciousness for at least 10,000 years. With booze everywhere and a pill for every ill, it's not all drugs that the government deems dangerous. Drugs like booze and tobacco, whose industries use huge profits to buy the politicians' support, are everywhere. Meanwhile if you're a pot head, look out. Guess the moral here is that the pot heads should get out there and buy some votes, its the 'democratic way'.

It's hard for me to understand why the police aren't leading the charge towards the legalization of marijuana. Every day the respect for law and order diminishes, large portions of the population no longer trust or cooperate with the police. Every day our lives are made more dangerous by the diverting of meager police resources away from real crime, the kind with a victim. Instead the police waste much of their time chasing around basically honest citizens who are growing and smoking the same herbs their ancestors did thousands of years ago.

The church is confused about what's a sin and what's a crime. When church leaders lecture believers from their bully pulpit about the sin of mind-altering that's fine, but when they foist their version of ethics on the rest of us it goes against the seperation of church and state. Look into the subject yourself, educate yourself, pass on what you learn to your children. As a father, one of my fears is that my children will end up brainwashed by the 'just say no' message.

Drugs are like guns or cars, they are dangerous, but they're not of themselves evil. How could they be, they're just a thing, it's us who imbue them with qualities like good and evil. Like cars or guns, our children need honest education on everything surrounding the drug issue. Will they learn the difference between a six-pack of beer with friends up the back road and chugging a bottle of whiskey from the church-state propaganda? Don't think so. 'Just Say No' means a joint is the same as shooting heroin.

We need honest information not propaganda designed to coddle the status quo. Pot legalization is a great place to start the evolution of our culture from one based on greed and fear to one based on compassion for all. From one based on materialism to one based on equality for all and the ethic of 'do unto others as you'd have them do unto you'.


Pancho and i love Cliff Gilker Park

Almost everyday my best friend Pancho and i go for a hike at Cliff Gilker Park in Roberts Creek. We love the miles of interconnected trails through the forest and beside the two cascading creeks. Everyday things change, plants and mushrooms, trees and ferns, birds and bees greet us anew each day. Yesterday we stopped to watch a frog leaping accross our path. Later we stood and watched a squirrel dismanteling a fir cone and eating its seeds while watching us with equal intensity.

Along the paths we often meet friends both canine and human. Everyone loves their dog or dogs, everyone beams as they walk through the oxygen rich, seeing the flora, hearing the birds sing and the water's fall.

There's many different types of people and dogs walking each day through the trails of Clif Gilker. Young and old, male and female, canine and primate all greet each other with empathy and compassion. Most often each family stops to greet and chat with the other, sometimes just a few words often longer. The dogs know each other as well, all of us have deleloped relationships during our special time in the park. We are a community, the dog walkers of Cliff Gilker Park, our connection to the park we love and the dogs who share our lives are a cherished bond.

Often when out in the broader community i'll meet a fellow forest friend and we'll stop to talk of anything and everything. Beyong our common joy of thre park our lives are often very different on the outside but what we share brightens our days and the lessons that our best friends teach us of unconditional love, of boundless joy and of the commonality of all existance carry over into the mundane world of buying groceries, doing laundry, or hitting the gas station.

We're heading off next to visit our friends, to breath, to listen and to dance through the real miracle.


Degrowth From Bolivia to France, Spain and Italy

This past week in Cochabamba, Bolivia Evo Morales has tried to sow the seeds of a different enviromental and political ethos for the world. Those at the conference and millions of others like me who were there emotionally understand that capitialism is at the heart of our consumptive disease. The illusion that endless growth is possible within a closed system is obviously impossible.

The same idea is at core of the degrowth movement gaining momentum in Europe. Degrowth is a political, economic, and social movement based on environmentalist, anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist ideas. Degrowth thinkers and activists advocate for the downscaling of production and consumption—the contraction of economies—as overconsumption lies at the root of long term environmental issues and social inequalities.

The Mud Report has often ranted on about the 'want less meme' in an attempt to crudely say the same things. There's two possible outcomes if we don't cure our consumptive disease. One is slow decline into collapse. The other is rapid decline into collapse. As a parent and grandparent i'm hoping for trojan horse like tactic that can slip behind the walls our 'more is better' worldview and insert the 'want less meme' into our cultural me-onome.

"There cannot be much doubt, sustainable development is one of the most toxic recipes."
~ Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (1906 - 1994)

Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen's thesis: The Romanian economist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen is considered the creator of degrowth, and its main theoretician. In 1971, he published a book called The Entropy Law and the Economic Process, in which he noted that the neoclassical economic model did not take into account the second law of thermodynamics, by not accounting for the degradation of energy and matter (i.e. increase in entropy). He associated every economic activity with an increase in entropy, whose increased implied the loss of useful resources. When his work was translated into French in 1979 under the title Demain la décroissance ("tomorrow, degrowth"), it spurred the creation of the movement in France.
A New Climate Movement in Bolivia - by Naomi Klein


The long term costs of forclosures

Every day 10,000 US homes enter into foreclosure. Millions of Americans now live in tent cities accross the southern states. Millions more couch surf through the homes of family and friends. Fear of forclosure grips the hearts of millions more. Canadians now fly to the sunshine states, where historically speculation drove prices the highest, to scoop up super-low priced properties with their high flying loonie and become speculators themselves.

The real estate bubble burst in the US a couple years back. Instead of learning from this experience Canada is now riding the curve powered by the same mentality. Low interest rates, predatory bankers-real estate sellers, corrupt assessors and the delusion of endless growth have driven Canadians into another culture of bubble riders. How sad.

Homes aren't poker chips they're the place we keep our families warm and safe. Homes aren't flipped, chips are. The true value of anything is the cost of the materials and lobour used to build them. Instead of the true value we now accept that the price of a home is its true value plus as much as the market will bare. The difference between these two numbers is what has created the millions of desperate tent city residents in the US.

The true cost of anything and everything is a total of ALL the inputs involved. Hidden costs, like fear and dispair, don't disappear they just get passed on to be paid for by others sometime down the line. These costs never reach the balance sheet now but will in the future in the form of an undereducated population who's fears lead to desperate times and social chaos.


Everyday is Earth Day

The fact there is an Earth Day shows how divided we are from it. Every day, every hour, every breath is a celebration of our connectedness with all things including the earth. Our delusion of seperation plants the seed from which grows division upon division. The Apollo Astronauts took the image above many years ago. When they experienced the earth as one it was a life changing experience for them.

Few will ever have the chance to be awakened to our unity by escaping it and looking back as they did. Instead we can find the same wonder everywhere and anywhere we are. Water can appear independent as a drop yet merge instantly into lake-river-ocean. Air is the same, fire, wind, gravity, etc. We have no problem understanding their underlying unity. Today, on our walk through Cliff Gilker Park, we'll spend a moment touching the falling water, breathing the communal air, feeling the forces of wind-gravity-sunlight and giving thanks for the fleeting moments when the delusion of individuality evaporates and allows us a moment of peace.

Mother Earth will survive our short destructive era, our fear driven grasping for more, our assignment of arbitrary values like us/them or yum/yuck. One life, one love, one heart, one breath, one mud unites us all. Everyday is Earth Day.

Awaken, Eaarthlings! (An Earth Day Missive)


Jack Herer, The Hemporer

Jack Herer, aged 70, passed away last Thursday, April 15th, at his home in Eugene Oregon with his wife Jeannie at his side. Jack hadn't been doing well since a heart attack last fall. He will be remembered as the father of the modern pot legalization movement. His untimely death comes only about 6 months before California's referendum on legalization.

Jack's 1985 book The Emperor Wears No Clothes has sold nearly three quarters of a million copies in eleven releases, and has been translated into twelve different languages. It was and still is the best marijuana/hemp history ever written. The Emperor has given hope to millions of people including me. Its given us talking points and facts to back up our arguements about marijuana usage and legalization. It's also an in depth look at how politics are controlled by special interest and big money. In that way Jack's seminal book stands as a classic in political history/philosophy. To read excerpts from The Emperor Wears No Clothes for free online, visit http://www.jackherer.com/.

Jack Herer didn't just talk or write, he walked the walk, he spent his entire adult life fighting for the normalization of marijuana laws worldwide. Jack is a hero to the cause and to me. Jack and Jeannie carried the torch for 5 decades. What more fitting tribute could there be than a victory in the upcoming California referendum and the dozen others this fall.


The Damn Site C Dam

Yesterday BC's fascists announced plans for another massive ripoff of the enviromental legacy our species inherited. Gordon Campbell backed by a phalanx of bankers, corporate tycoons and union bosses and spewed his distorted short term view on why we need this damn dam. Here's a quick rebuttal to each of his major points.

1. Demand for electricity will skyrocket in the coming decades. Conservation is the answer, it requires no enviromental degradation and could easily create as many new jobs through the manufacture and distribution of new clean technologies. Instead of flooding farmlands, forests, native burial and hunting grounds BC Hydra could distribute low consumption appliacnces and light fixtures then pay for them through taking back a percentage of the dough users would be saving. New York City did this years ago and they saved so much power that Quebec had to stop their plans to construct their version of Site C. They could finance the installation of solar equipment on every roof top and recoup the dough overtime by the same plan, many areas do it already when the local power authorities are forced to [the existing power producers hate conservation as it always means less profits for them]. Hydra could promote off peak consumption, when existing turbines are spinning under no load anyway. Conservation works wonders and it challenges the culture of 'more is better'.

2. Site C will create 35,000 jobs. Even if it's true it means 35k man-year-jobs, more short term thinking. The building, distribution and maintainence of conservation oriented jobs would greatly exceed 35k and would be sustained into the future.

3. BC will be able to export 'green' power to California. Total bullshit, the power generated by an enviromentally destructive dam isn't 'green', if BC needs income to balance their deficits they should reapeal their tax cuts for the rich, they should tax the polluting corporations who now use our common enviroment as a dumping grounds and call the externalized costs they call 'profits'

4. Site C would flood precious farm and ranch land who's long term productive capacity far out weighs its unnecessary destruction. Native groups have rights and once again white greed will be trampling them. The birds, bees and trees have a right to exist and the service they provide as a carbon sink alone exceeds the value of electricity we don't really need.

5. Who really benfits from such a scheme. As always, the rich. The banks will get a huge bite in the form of interest on the $6.6 billion they lend to build this monstrosity. The huge contractors will get their bite, the steel corporations, the cement giants, the heavy equipment manufacturers, road contractors...the list goes on, all get their bite. As with every mega-project, every capitialist scheme, the rich, who own the government, rule. The vast majority of the stakeholders drool.

The millions of tons of embedded greehouse gases, the loss of habitat, the list could go on and on but my one finger is getting tired and it's time for my best friend Pancho and i to go for our in the park while there still is one. The damn Site C dam, if it is allowed to be built, will be another black eye for BC like the tarsands is for Alberta.
First Nations 'outraged' at Site C decision - The provincial government's announcement to proceed with the Site C dam has sparked an outcry from the First Nations whose territories would be affected by the massive hydroelectric project.


In Search of the Miraculous

My daughter and i were on one of our yearly winter road trips south with our best friend Happy in search of sunshine. We drove into Rachel Nevada not knowing what to expect. i'd been doing some imaging work for a now defunct website located there. The site was devoted to Area 51 and the alien myths about it. Our plan was to visit the people involved with the website. We found the trailer easy enough, it had a 6ft sign saying 'Area 51 Research', hard to miss.

It wasn't what i expected, the guy i'd corresponded with was there at the front desk, but 90% of the place was devoted to bumper stickers and tee shirts etc. There were a few people combing the shelves for memoribilia. We learned that a little way further into town was the real heart of this mecca, The Little Aleinn, our next stop.

Outside the inn was a fake flying saucer appearing to crash into the desert, 6-8 rental type cars lounged in the parking lot beside a few local dirt covered pickups. We sat down and ordered lunch then cruised their shelves full of little green men and hundreds of other Area 51 trinkets. The walls were covered with pictures of UFO's from everywhere. We sat eating and sipping our cokes while watching the cars come and go from the parking lot. Through the door came a virtual UN of wide eyed people speaking different languages who'd all flown in Las Vegas 100 miles south, rented a car and driven to this tiny town in the middle of the desert in search of the miraculous. We stayed for a couple hours, the flow never stopped. We scooped a little plastic green alien as a momento and while paying for lunch and our little buddy i asked about the place. The lady said the flow was non-stop, the whole town existed to as a destination for the pligrims.

As we slowly drove away into the crystal clear air, while dodging the long horned cattle casually crossing and standing by and in the road, Rachel served as another talking point for my daughter and i. Every other town on the map in this part of Nevada was a ghost town yet Rachel was thriving, new money rolled in every hour, hundreds of people made a living serving the seekers. What they sought was something bigger than themselves, something that defied the laws of nature, a secular miracle. We talked about human nature and how religion, especially in the past, served as a useful tool to comfort the almost universal human fear of the unknown. We talked about how now-a-days lottsa folks everywhere had given up on their culture's religious security blanket but how they still had their fears. We concluded that any unexplainable answer worked and that aliens would do just fine because if you could convince yourself to 'believe' in something, anything, greater than yourself, even little green men, then the miraculous would still exist.


Greenwashing, the only solution is wanting less

It's all about money honey. The fact is there's no solution other than wanting less. We can't consume our way out of over consumption. Schemes like carbon offsets are just another self-serving flim flam. People will believe any story, no matter how ridiculous, if it ends with them getting to have the stuff they want without paying the real price, something for nothing, a free lunch. It's the oldest con going.

Greenwashing is simply an evasive arguement designed to allow people to deny the fact that all consumption, all our stuff, has endless levels of energy consumption embedded in it. Carbon credits, for instance, are purchased by well intentioned folks to offset their guilt when they fly away on holiday. These credits might be in the form of planting trees or some other good sounding project. But when examined closely it becomes obvious that the land being planted was once in a natural state, forest-grassland-etc. This original ecology did sequester carbon by the work of the living soil's mircoorganisms. Then human's 'harvested' it. This activity and the energy to build the machines used and the energy to build the industrial infrastructure to build those machines and the energy to build that level of stuff and to build the next level of stuff etc. is one part. Then comes the GMO trees and the petrochemical fertilizers and the machines-infrastructure-energy embedded in that part of the flim flam. On and on it goes, what built the jet plane itself? Roads-mines-industry-oil-etc. What built them?

Carbon credits, like re-cycling, bio-degradable plastics and millons of other schemes are false hope. False hope is devastating. It keeps us engaged in activities and beliefs that make us feel as if we are getting somewhere, when really, we're not. On every level it's all about money. With every economic interaction someone makes a 'profit'. Profit is the illusion that all the embedded energy doesn't count.

We can't consume our way out of over consumption, there's no solution other than wanting less.


Willie Nelson on Larry King

Last night i watched the Willie Nelson interview on Larry King. Willie, as uplifting as always, is seldom seen or heard in the mainstream media because he says what he thinks. Last night was no different. Willie turned 77 this month and still tours constantly. He plays to wildly cheering crowds of all ages and political stripes around the globe. His first professional music gig was at age 12. He is, and will always be, a genius and an inspiration to me and millions of others.

Larry's interview style and personal love for Willie created a perfect venue for him. Willie talked about his old friend Trigger, the Martin guitar he's played onstage and off for half a century, about some of the great musicians he's shared the stage with through his long career. He talked about Farm Aid, the damage caused by corporate agriculture, the plight of family farmers and some of his efforts to help them and us fight for safe/healthy foods. He talked about bio-deisel and how his tour's buses run on it.

Willie wasn't afraid to talk about subjects usually considered taboo on mainstream media. He questioned the facts about 9-11, the propaganda surrounding it and the media's complicity. But most heartening to this old pothead Willie continues to unabashedly support the cause.

Willie was wearing a hemp linen suit that's a part of a non-profit hemp clothing line that he, Woody Harleson and Ziggy Marley have started. He talked about his longterm and and present day recreational use of pot explaining to Larry that he'd smoked up just before doing the interview, that he smoked the herb with pleasure and without remorse. Willie talked about legalization and the upcoming referendum in California this fall and his hopes for its passage saying that he hoped the tax revenue derived from it would be used to increase badly needed education funding there. He said "as California goes, so goes the nation" and that one day marijuana would be legal again everywhere. i sure hope he's right and that i live long enough to smoke pot grown legally in my garden.


Colton Harris-Moore, Criminal or Outlaw?

If you haven't yet heard Colton Harris-Moore, the barefoot bandit, has achieved cult hero status. His Facebook site has thousands of followers, a book will be out soon and a big budget film will follow. His exploits are the subject of news reports worldwide. 18 year old Colton has been on the run for months, police in both the US and Canada plus the US National Guard seem always a step or two behind our boy bandit. All of which is wonderful, the kinda of stuff the media loves. Often, however, the media refers to him as an outlaw instead of a troubled youth or a criminal, a definate insult to outlaws everywhere.

A criminal ignores whatever is inconvenient at the moment while an outlaw often chooses a personally inconvenient and sometimes dangerous course in the name of principle and honor. One difference between a criminal and an outlaw is that while criminals frequently are victims, outlaws never are. Outlaws don't merely live beyond the letter of the law - many businessmen, most politicians and police do that - they live beyond the spirit of the law.

Jesse James was an outlaw, he fought back against the railroad and government that stole his family's farm. Robin Hood, the legend says, stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Pancho Villa shot the landlord who raped his sister. These guys were famous, many others never were and never will be. What ties all of them together is resistance to injustice. An outlaw lives by a moral code, but ignores absurd laws designed to suppress dissent and/or support the rich at the expense of the poor.

Colton may be a victim, may be a criminal, but isn't an outlaw unless he... known or unknown to us, distributes the money and food to the homeless or sends cash home to support his mom and other poor folks in his hometown. Colton Harris-Moore has captured the attention of many, if he succeeds in showing that his actions are more than self serving he could raise the exhilaration content of the culture. i hope he does, we need it.

"Resist much, obey little." -Walt Whitman


Canada's Economy Thriving on Dirty Money

Everything's economically rosy up here in Canuckistan we're being told day after day by the media and the government spin mongers. The loonie is flying high, the real estate bubble is fuller of hot air every month and the world's greediest invertors are rushing into our 'equity markets' like a herd of herefords. All seems to be YUM if you're a 'believer', YUCK if you're not.

Canada's economy is thriving on dirty money. Canada exports its resources as fast as possible with not thought of tomorrow or of conservation over consumption, it's short term profits uber-alles. Out here on the southwest coast of BC the lumber industry stays in business by exporting raw logs to whoever will buy them. Gone are the sawmill and other value added jobs that once allowed folks to raise their families with dignity and pride. Actual unemployment is rampant, the only jobs are at Tim Horton's. Sure the government can spin the media into reporting job growth because a bread winner who loses a decent fulltime job ends getting 2 or 3 part time jobs at Tim's, Mickey D's or sweeping up around the mall. Instant job growth neo-con style.

But the real big dirty is the oil and gas export charade. Canada's governments will do anything to keep the oil billionaires rolling in dirty dough. The tarsands in Alberta are the worst polluters on the planet. Enviromentists around the world kick Canada's can daily for its shortsighted, blighted policies designed to keep the Amerikan machine gobbling up the world's collective future.

The three articles below do a much better job than i can of describing the problem and outlining possible solutions to Canada's addiction to short term greed and its bewildering blindness to the long term needs of its citizens, its economy and its enviroment. Wealth isn't money, health isn't either, just ask the ducks or the folks living downstream from the tarsands tailing ponds.

Money spent on tar sands projects could decarbonise western economies. - The £250bn cost of developing Canada's controversial tar sands between now and 2025 could be used to decarbonise the western economy by funding ambitious solar power schemes in the Sahara or a European wide shift to electric vehicles, according to a new report.

Greens Launch NAFTA Action on Canada Oil Sands - Environmental groups launched a complaint against Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement on Wednesday, saying the country has failed to enforce anti-pollution rules governing its vast oil sands.
Alberta's Tar Sands Make Canada a Climate Criminal - Canada's image lies in tatters. It is now to climate what Japan is to whaling.


The Ostrich Approach to Torture

History has judged those who collaborated with the Nazis’ mass murders of Jews and others as war criminals themselves. One day soon it’ll be our to rationalize why we stood by blindly, silently while our governments cooperated with the torturers. What’ll we say to our grandchildren? That we valued our precious budget surpluses more than our dignity? That we feared the repercussions from our powerful mis-guided neighbour? Or maybe, like the German’s themselves, we’ll claim that we were ignorant of these atrocities done in our name.

The problem is we aren’t ignorant of what’s going on, the facts are everywhere. The Canadian government, and by extension, everyone of us is complicit in this torture in the name of ‘freedom’. When our Canadian troops hand captives over to another country that doesn’t comply with the Geneva Conventions they are committing a war crime. When the government allows the CIA, or any ‘intelligence’ service, to use our territory as a refueling platform in the worldwide torture scheme we are guilty of collaboration with the torturers.

Hopefully the recent testimonies in Ottawa by a few brave civil servants and military personel will give the Canadian press the guts to start asking tough questions. But one thing it won’t do is convince the politicos, Liberals or Conservatives, to pull their collective heads outta the sand and admit that they’ve secretly signed security agreements with the Amerikans, agreements that override all national or international laws, that allow our government to talk tough on torture, but compel it to do nothing.

One problem that arises from a worldview that we are all in this together, that we are the wind, the trees and the bees is that we are the tortures too. If there is no them, no outthere, then it has to be us right here and now. YUCK!


Fear and Religion

What power can so delude people that they can torture others and feel no empathy, no guilt? The only delusion strong enough is religion, secure in the knowledge that he is doing his god’s bidding, people are capable of unthinkable atrocity.

The Inquisitors vanquished heretics, real or imagined, to burn at the stake in the name of god. Inca’s offered human sacrifices to their gods without a qualm, Roman’s fed those they conquered at first and then Christians to the lions, The Nazi’s gassed the Jews. The list we know of goes back to the beginnings of history but the trick of using a god to bless the slaughter of one group [the non-believers] by another probably goes back to when we climbed outta the trees.

All of the tyrants have common characteristics, each have their ‘God Bless America’. Here’s the trick: Almost everybody fears the unknown and there's no bigger unknown than life after death. Once a person convinces themself of a paradigm that sashays it’s way around death, he’s hooked. Unlike science, where the point is to continually challenge a hypothesis by looking for new-contradictory information to disprove it, religions require unquestioning faith and absolute belief. Once a person ‘believes’ no information contradicting the pronouncements of the authorities of that belief system can be entertained.

So when the pope sent out his inquisitors or anointed kings they carried the infallibility derived from the pope’s direct mainline communication with the one, the only, the big kahuna. Using the same mystical mainline the Inca priests claimed they heard their god telling them to cut out the hearts of a few more virgins. In Amerika it’s the born again types who have assumed the mantel of direct spokesmen for and interpreters of divine will.

Round and round she goes, where she stops nobody knows, cause the Muslim fundamentalists hear the voice of god echoing around in their empty skulls too, so do the Jewish Zionists, so do the Hindus. i think they’re all full of shit, but if it turns out there is a heaven i'm hoping for a ticket to the doggy version.


The Guardian of Cliff Gilker Park

Meet the guardian. It inhabits what some see as an old stump beside one of the beautiful trails in Cliff Gilker Park. Everyday my best friend Pancho and i pass by the guardian and stop for a moment to give our thanks for the park, for the flora, fauna, microbes, minerals, fairies, forces and Gaia herself. We try to stop often to give thanks to Beauty for the sparkle leaping about in the flowing water. We give thanks to the songs of the birds, the drumming of the woodpeckers, and the laughter of the kids swinging in the playground.

There's always so much to give thanks for, the squirrels who chirp at us as we pass who in storing their seeds are also planting the trees through which the wind whispers it secrets. The creeks meander slowly carving the landscape endlessly transporting the nutrients and sediments from the snowy mountains above while babbling their story, our story, our shared history future and past.

There's the ball fields where my daughters and their friends played softball and soccer on warm spring evenings and cold wet winter afternoons. The cheers of the parents and friends still echo in my memory. There's the fraternity of dog walkers whose friendship i cherish.

There's so many things it's impossible to name them all individually. So many intertwined and interdependent, so many who each without the other ceases to be. So Pancho and i give thanks everyday for the moments we spend in Clif Gilker, for the moments we see, hear and feel the one life that we all share. We give thanks to the guardian for blessing the park and all who pass through her with the one love, the one heart, the one breath we all share.


Cliff Gilker's big loss

A huge wind storm ripped through the Sunshine Coast on April 2nd, for many trees in the area it's wasn't a very good friday. Roads were closed temporarily, many folks went without power for awhile and many others had a big cleanup job ahead of them. No place suffered as huge a loss as Cliff Gilker Park. One of the last of the classic bridges was taken out by a huge fir tree that came down arrcoss one end of it.

This bridge, along with many others, was built decades ago as part of a province wide work project created by the then NDP government to both employ folks in every region during tough times and use that energy to create recreational facilities for us all to enjoy for many years to come. It was a great idea, i knew many of the people who worked on the building and upgrading of trails and the construction of many unique and beautiful bridges throughout the park.

Times were tough here then, the logging and fishing industries who had employed many people and kept many famlies alive were shedding workers every month. The banks and corporations had recently figured out that machines didn't take lunch breaks, didn't form unions and never complained. Inappropriate technology replaced human hands, capital replaced people and the souls of our rural communities were gutted. As usual the rich ruled and the working class drooled. But again, as usual, i digress.

The trails and bridges at Cliff Gilker Park were built by the hands of hardworking local people. They were built as much as possible from the materials close at hand. The effect of using materials in the immediate vacinity was that the bridges fit into their surrounding perfectly, they fit into the culture of the community and each structure was unique.

Now another of these legacy bridges has met its match. The Regional District is now in charge of the area. They've got consultants, lawyers and all kinds of experts so they'll probably come up with a totally different solution than the x-loggers and craftsmen who built the original out of the materials that surrounded them. My suggestion would be to use local hands and energy to replace our fallen friend with a new structure that also reflects the forest and community around it. My idea would be to use the giant fir tree that the big wind provided to rebuild the spam. After all there it is, move it a few yards, strip off the bark, rip it in two, reuse the lumber that has served as a walkway, maybe find a few more curved cedars to mold into railings, rebuild the stairs and celebrate a new-old bridge rebuilt by local hands for all to use and enjoy.


Cliff Gilker Park

We live on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, one of the world's most perfect spots. We are blessed with clean air, good land, a moderate climate, the world's best water, good people, and ferry access to Vancouver [just close enough to use its facilities, just enough of a pain in the ass to keep the hordes on the other side].

One of the best things about living here is Cliff Gilker Park situated next to the golf course in rural Roberts Creek. The park is maintained by the Regional District offically but it's the Parks Dept. and in reality the employees who do the work that deserve the credit.

The place is gorgeous, through its forest run two large creeks and a system of intertwined trails. A person and their dog can walk for miles everyday through a different combination of the intersecting trail system. And we do. I used to think Disneyland was the happiest place on earth, now i know it's Cliff Gilker Park.

There's fairies and ferns, birds and bees, bridges and bears, mud and trees plus a wonderful subculture of dog and human walkers who's friendship and positive spirit give me hope for our future.

In the next few days i'll be posting different stories and pictures about Cliff Gilker and the adventures of my best friend Pancho and i. But right now the sun is getting higher, the air warmer and we're off too breathe the air and walk the trails of 'the happiest place on earth'.


Bees-Colony Collapse Disorder

Last weekend The Nature of Things on CBC ran another moving and informative documentary titled To Bee or Not to Bee. In it David Suzuki narrates the story of Colony Collapse Disorder as is best understood by entomolgists today. In it they say, "Bees are all around us. And while some might consider them no more than a nuisance, the role that bees play in nature simply cannot be overstated - they pollinate many of the food crops that we depend on. A world without bees would be unrecognizable since they also pollinate many of the plants and trees in our gardens, forests and meadows."

From it, and my own research these last few days, i've learned that the causes of this disaster are many-the possible solutions within our greedocracy few. Monoculture is one culprit. Monoculture starves bees by forcing them to live on one type of pollen whereas their natural diets are as varied as the flora in the area they evolved in. Like a human who eats only one thing-be it apples or twinkies-a bee needs variety to have access to the wide range of nutrients that make up a balanced diet.

Bees are under stress and weakened by both diet and constant movement from monoculture to monoculture. All bees evolve in co-ordination with the flora around them. Our native North American bees were found long ago to be[e] to uncooperative and unruly for the greedocracy so our ancestors started importing Eurpean [honey] bees whose genetic makeup evovled over time in consort with the diseases and flora in that area. Now we rely on their descendants who have a very limited geonomic variability and little resistance to the evolving diseases of the new world.

So we have huge colonies of nearly identical genetic background who are not evolved to compete in our bio-sphere and who, like all bees, have very limited gene sequences devoted to resistance. We ship them from monoculture to monoculture, often thousands of miles apart, we spray them and the blossoms they pollenate with pestacides and insectacides. We now treat even the seeds of the plants the blossoms grow on with insectacides like neonicatinoid so that the poisons are no longer just on the plants they are in them.

Them along comes global warming in response to which all organisms respond by moving their habitat to more suitable conditions. Like the pine beetle, and billions of other organisms big and small, this means away from the equator. For our bee buddies the notherly movement of both the Varroa Mite and the viruses it carries are deadly. In 85% of all colony collapses the Varro Mites are some part of the cause. So the starved, stressed, imported, genetically similiar, widely poisoned bees that our monocultured food system and all of us rely on are now under attack by micro-organisms and parasites for which they have little to no resistance. Ain't capitialism wonderful.

The beekeepers are trying their damndest to breed resistant queens and new colonies in isolation so as to slowly increase the areas where the bees can survive. Good luck to them, they'll need it. But as i argued the other day causes have causes and like most problems the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder go many levels of reasoning beyond the list above. 'Ask every question, question every answer'. When i do it i end up back at human greed and its cause, our worldview as seperate from the enviroment we live in. We are the bees, we are the disease, we are the flowers, we are the trees.


BC School Boards facing huge cuts in funding

School Boards all across BC are seeing huge cuts in funding from the Provincial Government. Oh sure there's plenty of dough for the Olympics, plenty of dough for a new roof on BC Place, plenty for roads to Whistler, plenty for everything that has to do with their rich benefactors.

A balance sheet is simple stuff. There's incoming dough and outgoing dough. To be balanced they gotta match. Like all rightwing neoconservative nitwits the Liberals here in BC have cut taxes for their rich friends and the Corporations that support them so there's less dough coming in. They've spent billions on the shiny trinkets for the billioniares binge called the Olympics so there's way more going out. Somethings gotta happen and it's easy to see what.

Services are being cut everywhere. Not just our kids and schools are paying for the corrupt Liberals gluttony but medical services especially for extended care facilities are on the block in every region. It's class warfare 101. Cut taxes for the rich, cut services for the poor. Why do people keep voting for these villians? First because more people feel they are invested in this nonsense than ever before. Second because the media and spin mongers keep mezmerizing the population with Horacio Alger bullshit so they believe they too will be rich if they just click their ruby red heels together 3 times and wish hard enough. And third because the dumbing of the elctorate over the last decades has created a citizenry willing to swallow this bullshit.

The rich don't care about public school quality, their kids go to well funded private schools. They don't care about health care, they fly off to Amerika's private clinics when they get sick. It' simple, it's class warfare and guess which side you're on.

Vancouver School Board proposes cutting 190 jobs


Ask every question-question every answer

From this ol'timer's point of view all of these issues, peak oil-climate change-left/right politics-species extinction-deforestation-bee hive collapse [tomorrow's blog]-pollution of all sorts-racism-even war, are symptoms not the disease. Like a fever or cold sores treating the symptoms may or may not make the patient feel more comfortable in the short term but they do nothing to touch the underlying disease pathology and often do damage in that once the symptoms decline or disappear the patient moves on though the disease isn't cured or even changed.

Further symptoms are often the outward sign of a bio-unit's inner defenses at work fighting the disease and a successful campaign to defeat the symptoms can thwart the body's defenses from doing their job. Fever is a body's attempt to kill off viruses and bacteria who most often only thrive in a limited temprature range. Global warming feedbacks are simply Gaia's method of doing the same.

Continueing with the health metaphor, a virus may cause a cold sore but what causes the virus to multiply and become a danger? Maybe a depressed immune system, but what causes that? Maybe stress, maybe some other systemic malfunction, or maybe? The same is true for peak oil, what causes it? Overconsumption-overpopulation-greed-shortsightedness-all of them, but what causes them?

'Ask every question-question every answer' is my thesis. We have mydrid individual and planetary problems that can only be addressed by questioning their causes and their causes... until we reach a meta level of primary causation. Of course you'll already know from my articles and blog posts that my analysis so far has led me to the conclusion that a worldview of ourselves as seperate from our environment, as seperate individuals not part of a indivisable whole is the disease.

That first division, from one into two, begins the cascade of causes and effects that ends with us seeing a cold as seperate from the sneezer, left seperate from right, and the environment seperate from us. We are the world, as the song said, and the world is us.


The dumbing of the electorate

Where do movements like the Tea Party or The Wildrose Party find so many people who buy into such simplistic solutions? Why is it so easy for the hate mongers to blame scapegoats and get away with it? How does the greedocracy convince so many folks to continue supporting a system that grossly enriches the few while at the same time impoverishing everyone and everything else?

The list of questions could go on and on but the answers would all be the same. The elites learned decades ago that the only way to keep control was to not allow the rabble to see that the emporer wore no clothes. In the US Barry Goldwater tried in '64 to run on a neo-conservative platform but was beaten handily by Lyndon Johnson. After his defeat the Goldwater Republicans regrouped and began their campaigns to gut school spending by cutting off the funding of education by whatever means available. The most successful means was cutting taxes for the rich in the US and Canada.

The far right reasoned correctly that an informed and well educated electorate would be far harder to control. The results are obvious. Education today barely touches on the great thinkers and ideas of history instead it focuses on training cogs for the corporate wheel.

Chris Hedges' The Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle is an excellant resource for looking into where we've come to in the non-education of our children. Today's story from Boston below is another. We stand on the edge of darkness, ignorance of history's lessons through poor education closes the curtain, severs our future from our past and creates the conditions where fear fosters folly.

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression.
In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains
seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we
must be aware of change in the air, however slight,
lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."
- Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

The Death of Public Education You cannot take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all the others.' Today millions of American children once again need our help to get to the starting line.


Measuring Denial

550 ppm and going up - don't worry? A precautionary ceiling of 450 ppm preventing dangerous climate change? Or back under 350 quickly before the Arctic melts irreversibly?

What is the Right Number to combat climate change?

Some time this summer a special National Academy of Sciences expert panel will deliver a report on Stabilization Targets for Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas Concentrations:

"The stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and the avoidance of serious or irreversible impacts on the earth’s climate system are a matter of critical concern in both scientific and policy arenas. Using the most current science available, this study will evaluate the implications of different atmospheric concentration target levels and explain the uncertainties inherent in the analyses to assist policy makers as they make decisions about stabilization target levels for atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations."

What Right Number do you expect from the NAS expert panel? Then what?

Forget about the stupid deniers - yes, they are wasting precious time but they're just taking themselves out of the game. The real problem is deep and widespread denial of what scale of mitigation is necessary; denial especially by those who do know the science and do recognize that this is our responsibility.
The serious problem is leaders, scientists, policy makers, activists in insidious denial blocking needed change because the only mitigation strategies allowed are restricted to what is presently possible: attainable by incremental action within continuing business as usual: electric cars, green consumerism, green power, green jobs in a new green economy, etc.,

This is criminal denial because we are carbon addicts imperiling all future generations. No Draconian restriction on fossil fuel production or use allowed, just volunteer green shopping.

Scientists working on global carbon budget accounting conclude that in order to have a 60-70% chance of staying below 450 ppm / 2C - the presently agreed upon precautionary ceiling to protect against dangerous, uncontrollable, runaway warming - countries like Canada and the US with high, 20 tonne per capita annual GHG emissions must reduce emissions by 100% by 2020. (See Globe 2010: Climate Change Denial for detail and links.)

100% by 2020. Sure, you know that: this is common knowledge for all informed reading the business pages about the latest green products and technologies. This is the message from Al Gore and John Kerry in the e-mails from Repower America about action on the latest energy or climate bill. 100% by 2020 - no prob.

When we were out getting our pictures taken on 350 day back in October in the run-up to that needed deal in Copenhagen all of us knew that even staying under 450 by 2050 was already impossible within BAU:

"Staying below 450 ppm is technologically doable, but would be the greatest achievement in the history of the human race, by far. It would require a global effort sustained for decades comparable to what the U.S. did for just the few years of World War II (the biggest obstacle is not technological, but political ­ conservatives currently would never let progressives and moderates pursue such a strategy).

If 350 ppm is needed (and I’m not at all sure it is) then the deniers and delayers have won, since such a target is hopeless." (Joe Romm )

What if the NAS panel concludes that getting back under 350 fast before the Arctic melts irreversibly is humanity's only chance?

Maybe we should start measuring how deep we are in carbon addict denial.

There are ways of getting back under 350 fast. Once, in neocon days, I postulated depopulating Asia. MIT's Stephen Pacala has calculated that the wealthiest 7% of the global population produce more than half of all emissions while the remaining six billion individual carbon footprints are negligible. ( Barry Saxifrage on Pacala's insight: brilliant read.) So, maybe us 7% should ingest Jonestown Kool-aid.

Seriously, there are paths to emission reduction of a scale needed that we must be preparing to undertake. Fast. Or would you rather stay in denial?

by Bill Henderson
bill (at) pacificfringe.net


North to Nogales

We stopped in San Blas a sleepy little place those jungle like environment was a contrast to the general desert character found on Mexico's west coast. We setup in a little municipal campground, we were the only ones there. We toured the mangrove swamps outside of town and had happy hour in a palapa on the beach. Just before sunset the heheynays descended on us. These tiny flying devils bite like horseflys, millions of them everywhere, we raced for the truck and then for the campsite. There was no escape. We went back to town and found a restaurant where we had dinner and drinks 'til they threw us out. By then it was raining, the bugs were still biting, what a night, we stayed in the van for protection, packed up a frst light and split. On the way out of town i noticed that every building, funky or fancy, had heavy duty screens in perfect condition, a lesson i've remembered to this day. Everytime i go somewhere now i check out their windows. If they all have excellant screens you can count on big time bugs too.

Our last beach stop was just south of Topolabampo. We'd heard about the dunes and hard packed beach that was drivable for many miles. We found it easily after getting directions from the locals. It was incredible except for the garbage. Everywhere you looked was covered with garbge, barely a square foot untouhed. After driving a ways down the beach thinking it had to get better we stopped and set to clearing an area for Barry's tent and a fire pit. We had dinner and watched the sun set over the baja to our west. The next morning over breakfast we decieded to stay one full day and see how big of an area we could clean up during the day. We worked like crazy all day. We dug holes in the sand with our campers shovel and buried everything in a circle around it, then covered it up and moved on. We stated just after sunrise and quit just before dark. Exhausted we sat by the fire cooking dinner and watching one more exquisite sunset over the baja's mountains. We'd managed to clean up a wedge shaped area just big enough so that if you looked in exactly the right direction it looked pristine.

The next morning we headed north for Nogales. On the way we laughed and remember some of the highlights of our almost 3 months in 'ol Mexico. We'd crossed the border at Tijauna and spent that first night just outside of Ensanada after the traditional stop at Hussongs for beer, tequila and blaring mariachi bands. Hussongs is historic, and though it's become more like Ft. Lauderdale every passing year as Southern California's college kids use it to overconsme booze and puke in the street, it was still very neat when we passed through all those years ago. We'd camped briefly along the road south until we got to Guerrero Negro where we sat transfixed for a few days out at the end of the old salt loading wharf watching the grey whales and their newborn calves bobbing just a few yards away in the shallow salty bay. If you ever get a chance to drive down the baja this is the one miracle not to miss. We stopped at oasis of San Ignacio for a day and toured the tiny church and zocolo, ate dates and met many wonderful locals. From there we were on our way to Mulege where this story began on Cocos Beach.

After crossing the border in Nogales we were again culture shocked. The signs, the lights, Mcdonald's-Denny's-Motel 6 greeted us, it was overpowering. We checked into the Motel 6 and showered about 6 times each. We tried eating at Denny's but the smell alone made me ill. So we went back to the motel and ate the last of our tortillas and frjoles. we turned on the tube for a few minutes but couldn't pay attention to it and turned it off quickly. i went for a walk in the neon lights and street lamps sill in shock at what i remembered and what i'd forgotten.

'Ol Mexico, at least in most parts, is just a memory now. What once was spiritual bounty has mostly devolved into choas and violence drive by desire for the money they'd long watch their gingo visitors lord over them. What a shame that so much of real value-real wealth has been lost. We left Nogales quiet and sad early the next morning. That was Easter Sunday 1980, 30years ago today.

Via con dios, 'ol Mexico


Guadalajara - Melaque - Vallarta

We left Lake Chapala early next morning for Guadalajara. On the way in, while crossing the broad desert plain, we ran into a roadblock. The federales were stopping everyone searching for guns. We learned after a harrowing few minutes that there was an uprising going on the surrounding hills and that our British Columbia lisence plates had been mistaken for those of the country Columbia and that we were assumed to be potential troublemakers instead of tourists. Fortunately, while we sat at gunpoint, an officer came along who spoke english and knew where BC was. After a quick search we were on our way but it took hours to come down off the adrenaline.

Guadalajara is a beautiful city, colonial buildings and huge Diego Rivera murals caught our attention first but the best part by far was the huge central mercado. It is the best in all of Mexico. Anyone wanting to see-feel-learn about the artisans, foods, crafts or magic potions from any of Mexico's regions or cultures has only to visit Guadalajara's mercado to sample them all.

Late in afternoon we headed back to the lake via the same route we'd taken in that morning. As we topped the hill and looked out over the desert there were the same gaggle of army buses setting up to search the afternoon traffic leaving the city. Within seconds Barry and i got another lesson in Mexican culture. As the federales began stopping traffic everyone, cars, trucks, farmers, everyone, just drove off the highway and headed out into the desert. Of course we went with the flow, 6-8-10 vechiles wide, the dust flew, tourists in Winnebagos were in the melee. about a quarter mile past the roadblock the stampede turned back onto the highway and drove on. The federales just stood there alone on the highway while afternoon's commute home bypassed them. We laughed and tried to imagine such a scene up north but couldn't. More than all the trees a BC driver would have to avoid there'd be the years of conditionng to accept authority that'd have to be jettisoned all in an instant. Mexicans have far fewer trees and way less conditioning. Viva 'ol Mexico.

We left Lake Chapala early again the next day and headed south through the mountains for the west coast and ended up in the Barra-Melaque-San Patrico area. We camped in the clearing at the near end of the beach in the picure above. It turned out the next day was St. Patrick's day and like every town in Mexico on the day of their patron saint there was a huge holiday festival. Of course everyday is a Saints day somewhere so...We had a great time at the festivities and ended up staying there for a week. During the days we hiked the beach, bodysurfed and toured the local loncherias. Of course Barry was our ticket to meeting everyone tourist and local alike. As the sun started to set each day would turn into a happy hour and song fest. The guitars would be passed around with everyone singing their songs. Language mattered far less than feelings, songs sung with mucho gusto in any language feel the same.

We'd probably still be there except that our pesos were running low with barely enough for the essentials: gasolina-frijoles-heuvos-tortillas-cervesa-boleos [the finest hard crusted soft centered rolls on earth made fresh every morning in every panaderia in 'ol Mexico]. We made a beeline north, long days on the road through polluted tourist traps like Puerto Vallarta where the untreated sewage from the highrise hotels floats in the once pacific little bay immortalized by Burton and Taylor in 'The Sandpipers'.

Their were little villages too and more surprises ahead, but they'll have to wait 'til manana.


Mazatlan and the road to Guadalajara

Mazatlan is my favorite tourist type destination in Mexico because it's an actual city that happens to have great beaches stretching north for many miles. It was established as a city hundreds of years ago by the Spanish to take avantage of its superb natural deep sea port. The Spanish used it to ship the gold they were pillaging back to Spain.

My daughter Michelle and i spent our days walking the beaches of course but we also toured the cathedral, shopped and grazed through the mercado every day and met lots of interesting people. In addition to the normal tourist haunts we also took the bus a few times into the deeper barrio parts of the city as a venue for opening up discussions of poverty and inequality, we both learned lots. That was another benfit to being there years ago as by today the violence engendered by poverty and inequality makes such walking tours very dangerous and i certainly wouldn't be casually trying that now.

We stayed at an old style hotel along the beach. It's probably long since been replaced by another huge ugly skyscraper but we loved it as was then. One day my daughter left her camera down at the beach in front of the hotel, we went back to look for it but had no luck. She was very sad as she had taken many shots and now they were lost. As we walked through the little lobby on the way back to our room the fellow at the desk called us over and asked if we'd lost a camera. We were astonished. He told us that an indian lady, one of the ones selling chicklets along the beach, had brought it in. These dimutive native women have nothing, they are the poorest of the poor in Mexico. The chicklets they sell along the beach for a few centavos are a substitute for begging. The camera was worth a fortune in relation to her poverty yet she returned it immediately. We tried to find her but it was impossible as there were many impoverished native chicklet ladies along the beaches back then so instead we bought package after package and always paid at least 100 times what they were asking in the hopes of doing some small good. I've never been into chewng gum so the little packages rolled around in the panel truck for years. Such were the lessons of old Mexico.

Barry chose to camp in a little campground a little ways up the beach. We saw him most every day and did a few dinners together. He of course was the center of attention at the campground and adjoining beach, everybody knew him and listened to him play. The day we pulled out and headed south towards Guadalajara the whole place turned out to say goodbye to him.

We spent a few days getting to Guadalajara first staying at a tiny fihing village just south of the wildlife refuge along the coast then in a field up in the mountains. The field stop wasn't exactly planned or camping. Unknown to us the hwy. to Guadalajara passes through Mexico's lagest tequila producing area. There were little stores selling it amoungst row after row of agaves. Of course we stopped, our spanish was getting marginally better but really the only Mexicans we could talk with were ones who were willing to put out the effort to try. Barry and i tried to negotiate a better deal with the guy at the tequilera. He barely understood. But what he thought we were after was pulpe. This was a byproduct of the refining process that only the locals knew about. It cost a fraction of the final product and kicked like mule. We each started sipping from our gallon jug as soon as we got back to the truck, a first it tasted terrible, but it grew on you. Soon we were singing our way along the highway de la mucha curvas peligrosas. We stopped for a pee at the first flat stretch, took another couple of swigs, and the next hing i remember it was morning, we had both passed out in the truck in the field and even the cows knew we were in bad shape. It was the worst hangover i ever had. Good thing there was still some left in the jug for breakfast.

We stayed that night beside Lake Chapala a few miles west of Guadalajara. Today the lake is surrounded by 'upscale' gated homes and populated by richos. Back then it was a little town by a beautiful lake. We swam and bathed in the lake, had our little campfire for cooking and ambiance and swore we'd never touch pulpe again. Next day we rolled east to Guadalajara, more adventures awaited...


Pelican Bay to Mazatlan

We knew we had a few outs as we sat on the beach in Pelican Bay. The highway wasn't that far away and 3 or 4 times every day The Green Angels would be passing by. If you've never heard about Los Angelos de Verde they are a very cool service provided by the Mexican Government that cruises the highways and byways of Mexico rescueing stranded touristas in car trouble. They drive green trucks loaded with parts and tools, they speak great english and have saved many a stranded gringo on Mexico's deserted desert roads.

We had enough supplies to last 4-5 days at least so we figured we'd put some energy into trying to get 'er running first then see. Next morning after out traditional beans-eggs-coffee-sprinkled wood ash breakfast we got to putting the jidsaw puzzle distributor cap back together. A few large chunks still were attached to their spark plug wires so we marked them before we moved them to our tarp-workbench. Sure enough we had all the pieces and fitting them together wasn't that difficult but we had no glue. What we did have was a roll of elastoplast bandage in our funky first-aid kit. We bandaged our bits together and snapped the mass into place. Next we re-connected the wires we had marked and set about figuring out where the others should connect. We tried a few different combinations with no luck but it did fire once so we knew there was hope. Sure enough before lunch we had 'er running again.

Next step was to go back to the arroyo seco and build a much better bridge. This time we used our little fold up shovel to dig down the edges and hauled way more rocks and branches including lots of palm fronds from along paradise beach. After a couple hours during morning and evening of the next 2 days it looked fairly good. We spent our final evening there finishing off our beer supplies just to lighten our load.

Early the next morning we packed up said our prayers to the road gods and turned back toward our bridge. We knew there'd be only one shot at it and that the 'fast as hell' method had sorta worked the first time so off we flew in a cloud of sand. This time we hit the bridge straight on and though it crumbled behind us we made it. Things went flying around in the truck as i kept the pedal to the metal and we raced back uphill toward the highway. As we hit the highway and took a hard left Barry started re-stowing the gear. "Holy shit, look at this" he yelled. i looked back and saw he was holding a fairly full bottle of tequila that we'd stashed under the seat way back in Ensenada. Needless to say we took this as a sign and drank it while singing Barry's songs as we rolled south.

We stopped a couple times for gas at the Pemex stations along the way but nobody had any idea where we'd find a new distribuor cap before La Paz so we just kept going. We pulled into the Chevy dealership on the outskirts of La Paz 2 days later amazed at our luck. Our spanish was very rudimentary so was their english but soon between hand signals and good intentions we had the manager looking under the hood at our bandaged up cap. After looking he just closed the hood and said "no problemo" we followed him back inside expecting him to get us a new cap. But he just started dealing with the next customer. Thankfully this next guy was bi-lingual and after he'd finished we asked him to please translate for us. A culture lesson quickly followed. The manager couldn't understand that we wanted a new cap even though our old one still worked, we all had a good laugh, he'd never seen such a thing. But he knew all gringos were locos so he sold us a new one. We stuck it in the back of the truck and kept going to the little municipal campground beside the terminal for the ferry to Mazatlan.

It took a couple days to get the right 'permits' and pay all the 'fees' but we made it and by late the second afternoon we were chugging our way accross the Gulf of California on the overnight ride to Mazatlan. Whadda ride it was, there were staterooms but we traveled on deck with the Mexicans. The ship bounced like a bronco through the huge swells, the women wailed "dios meo" and crossed themselves constantly, deck rails were shoulder to shoulder with seasick wayfarers, including me and Barry a couple of times. During the night the Dino truck drivers staged cockfights on the upper deck, we got to watch because they all thought i was the biggest guy they'd ever seen and wanted to be me amigo. By the time we got off the next afternoon in Mazatlan we had mucho amigos and were barricho again.

A few days later my daughter was due to fly in to meet us for a week of beach holiday there. More on our excellant adventure tomorrow.