Sunday, September 30, 2012

Constipated Zen

It is true that it is has been a longer gap than usual for posting.  I  have been waiting for some profound thought to give me stimulus for a wise, intelligent or even humorous exception to the rule.  I have been waiting for something to write that elaborates, enumerates, or illuminates.  I noticed the other day that this blog has shrunk in followers which is a nice bit of evidence on how boring I have become.  Of course, I would continue to write even if no one read this, because I do still write for my own creative outlet.  It is like eating and pooping...I just have to do it.

Alas, my dear brain has entered a far dimension these days...maybe I left it in Aruba with that curious blue lizard?

Maybe  I gave it too long a rest after finding my future daughter-in-law and I are in such a magical and wonderful space together and I do not want to tamper with that by thinking too much.

Maybe I have absolutely emptied it - my mind?  That is a scary thought.

Wait!  I am trying to find a focus here!  It is like knocking on the door of an empty room for conversation.  No one answers because no one is in there.  I open the door and there are just dust bunnies and faint shadows and the hollow sounds of my footsteps.

Death and politics.  This is all that seems to sneak into my thoughts when I let it..  And certainly both of those subjects are not small enough to write about nor safe enough to even consider these days.   Beauty and peace find their way to my other blog, so that outlet is well satisfied, and not surprisingly, that blog has grown in number of readers. 

You know that I am going to die, if not imminently, and I know the same about you.  I cannot change that by writing about it.  ("if you mean 'famous' or 'superior' you want eminent; if you mean 'impending, about to happen' that is imminent; and if you mean 'present, inherent,' your word is immanent.")  That was tricky.

You know who I am going to vote for and I might know the same about you, but since we are adults it is unlikely we will change each others minds if we are not in agreement.  The world, especially Europe and the Middle East, seems to be collapsing.  The poor are getting very poor which means dark days ahead globally.  So, should I write about that?

That leaves puppies and babies and what I ate for breakfast..since I am on my own this weekend it was a biscotti with coffee..  Maybe I should post a photo?  Nope, this is not Facebook...........Guess I will go see what is happening there.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

The island of Aruba is hot, hot, hot.  And I do not say that because of the effect of the voluptuous body below in the string bikini.  (I thought I had excluded her from the serenity of this lovely pocket beach.)  Throughout the afternoon, as we walked back from swims in the water, every single person was talking about how cheeky she was...and much to my reader's disappointment I did not get a photo of her facing sea!

Okay, enough!  With the magic of photo-shopping, lets remove her from the picture, shall we.?

Does it still look hot?  No?  Well it was!  It was so hot, that while we could walk on the sand barefoot, we went directly from the water to lie in the shade of the Palapas, palm frond covered tables, each and every time.  Only mad dogs, Englishmen and ladies in string bikinis would lay out in the noon day sun.  Below are my fair haired son and future daughter-in-law shade bathing, both with enough Irish fair skin to practice safe sunning.

The difficulty for photographers, such as myself, is the hot flat sun.  Everything is over-lighted within an hour of sunrise, and each photo tends to lose any depth and colors are washed out unless the lighting levels are changed later by software.  Thus my eye was drawn to shadows in taking photos.

This is an early morning photo from our east facing balcony.  I never saw anyone on any of the other balconies the whole time we were there.  Of course our free condo balcony did face the parking lot!

We spent a good deal of our time seeking the shade of trees and buildings and yet I still came back with a really good tan.  Go figure.  The other thing that would draw my eye was the shadows beneath large cactus on hikes.  Sort of a tempting/not-so-tempting approach to sitting in the shade.

The other respite that was welcome was spelunking.  Aruba has a number of caves.

It is interesting to see how many people while afraid of the cave residents (rattlesnakes and bats) did not mind "hanging out" in the cool shade for a while.  On the other hand, I tend to neither fear nor want to cuddle with either.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


What a busy vacation!  One whole week of beaching, snorkeling, eating at fancy and not-so-fancy restaurants, hiking, touring, going to festivals, swimming in the pool, shopping, and of course, photographing.  But in the very center of all the activity and in the physical center of the island itself I found my center and some restorative peace.  We visited the oldest church (rebuilt of course) and while I have mixed feelings about visiting churches on remote islands from outside religions by non-natives, the simplicity and honesty of this one calmed my spirit.  There were no bells, whistles, gold leaf or tragic icons to call to the attention of a distant god who might have forgotten them.

Inside was one lone soul praying quietly in the cool shade and whom I did not frame in the photograph.

Behind the church was something even more refreshing and inspiring.

I do not believe in traditional religions but I do believe in the power of prayer.  I slowly walked this maze and said to my self with each careful step "Peace on Earth. Goodwill Toward Men."  I held in my mind the embassies across the globe with their hardworking diplomatic corps wondering if they will be called home without warning on this day or if they might face a greater challenge through no fault of their own.

And then we took a tourist photo for remembrance.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Am the 1 Per Cent!

We have certainly had the luxury of travel often in our retirement, and my son, on this recent trip with him and his future wife, pointed out that, if my retirement income was rated globally,  I am among the 1%.  I am retired but get to travel when I want and pretty much where I want.  You may very well be among that group also.  All you need to be a part of the global 1% is an income of $34,000!  No, you cannot travel when or wherever on that income, but the perspective of this figure pretty much makes you sit up and realize how lucky you are to be in this strata.  It also makes you wonder how much of your life is producing waste and could be better budgeted and more generous.

I only have one home, do not keep money offshore to avoid paying my fair share of taxes, nor send my business manager to a Caribbean island for 6 months so that the IRS cannot reach her, as an acquaintance of my son's did!  I have this status, not because I am brilliant or sneaky, but because I lived and worked overseas for the first 7 years of my married life and did not have to pay for my housing or the cost of an automobile during that time.  Since both my husband and I had a combined income during this time we invested every dime that we could and that gave us the head-start that we needed to have the retirement we are now enjoying.  It was luck and the willingness to live outside my country in a country that had water and electricity just often enough to keep me comfortable.

I will not have this luxurious life-style I now enjoy if the stock market crashes once again.  I have no respect for Wall Street folks as the money they make has nothing to do with improving the United States or the lives of its citizens or creating jobs.  How much money does a billionaire have to have before he invests in a small business or two?  Their supercilious lobbying forces will destroy this country again thanks to the "non-activist" Supreme Court Judges that were appointed under conservative Presidents and passed the Citizen United ruling.  This country has been bought and if you want a voice you had better demand the repeal of Citizens United from your representatives.  I mean this in all seriousness.  Both parties are beholden and only if we take back our country (perhaps with a third party), will we return to a true democracy.

I say this because I have done my research carefully and read the data.  You can scream the dangers of class warfare all you want, but the rich are not suffering in anyway in this.  WalMart family has more wealth than the combined 40% of the lowest income of our society.  It is no where near a class war until they have reached the wealth of the combined lowest 4%!!  It is up to you.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Tabor is back but not quite ready for prime time blogging.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Did You Know...any of these Thursday 13? #37 in a Boring Series

When the hurricane crossed all those Haitians who are still living in tents 2.5 years later after donations of over a billion dollars from around the globe, you may be wondering where all the money went.  You can go here and check on the charity of your choice and see what it (claims) did.  The explanations are pretty generic and there is some controversy over this.  I donated to Shelterbox which is not on this list, but also is not a charity that works for long term support but rather immediate disaster assistance.  Here is another take on this.

The recent LIBOR scandal where Barclays manipulated the rates to borrow unsecured loans actually is now coming back to this country to bite institutional investors such as pension funds that may have used LIBOR based derivatives and lost money.  Yes, this sounds complicated, but simply it means we still need greater regulation of banks.  (And there should not be anything that is too big to fail in my opinion.)

Parents are now getting renters insurance for their college bound kids because they have so much expensive stuff that they bring to college.  When I went to college we were not even allowed to bring a portable radio.  Times have changed.

A Sirs Barbet Capito fitzpatricki  is a new species that was found in Costa Rica this year, actually just this summer!  It is a beautiful bird and amazes me that we can still find lovely new animals this high on the biology tree in my life time as we continue to remove rain forests and mountains to mine diminishing resources.

All grant and loan programs from State and Federal governments are socialistic in nature and the job of government (I feel in a democracy) is to provide a minimal social support floor for businesses and individuals.  But it might surprise you to learn that the Energy Loan Program (designed to help businesses fund high risk research efforts for energy resources) was started in 2005 under a Republican Congress and the Solyndra business was number three on the list for funding (high priority) under the prior administration 5 days before Obama took office.  High risk means high chance of failure and even some drug companies get this socialist help.  Of course we heavily subsidize the oil and gas industry and have for decades.  I hope they can soon turn a profit without our help.

No matter which president gets elected and which health plan is instituted your health costs will go up.  We are the huge demographic bubble of aging boomers and everyone is going to be stuck with paying for all us old folks going through the health care system before we die, unless they kick us to the curb and the rich are the only ones to get comprehensive health care.  Medicare will have to change.

Speaking of being old and penniless, Casanova at age 60 was forced to take a position as a librarian to Count Joseph Waldstein who lived in Bohemia in Castle Dux 60 miles north of Prague.  This castle is now open for selected touring.  Casanova's life, by the way, seems to have been much more complex than just adding up amorous conquests.  And, irrationally,  I have always thought there was something dark and sexy about librarians.

Remember those strawberry pots with hanging plants on patios and decks?  Did you know that Singapore is starting a project which will construct 18 supertrees as high as 160 feet with trunks covered with vertical planters that will hold more than 162,000 plants of up to 200 species in a city park?  Above these trunks will be enormous metal rod branches forming canopies to provide shade.  Some rods will be fixed with solar panels to light them up at night.  The highest tree will have a bistro offering a panoramic view of the gardens.  I hope I can go see this someday.

I rented The Hunger Games the other day.  I have read the trilogy and liked it well enough in spite of the tremendous violence.   I couldn't help but wonder if conservatives and liberals would see this movie in very different lights, one seeing Sutherland as a Tea Party dude and the other seeing him as a socialist dictator in control of all the money.

I am Reading Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre which is the true story of a very complicated British deception plan to fool the Germans during WWII and which worked.  Movies and books have been produced on this true story but I am loving the "cast of characters" some of whom we all know that come to light in this version...such as Ian Fleming and that British guy, Leyland, of the cypress tree fame. 

I am also Reading A Hope in the Unseen by Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Suskind which is the story of inner city students and their families in Washington, DC struggling to find their place in society.  It sounds depressing, but it is very well written with realistic characters.  I have met some of these characters in my life and their version of pulling up by their bootstraps is a little different that we know..

On a related note, Princeton sociologist Sara S. McLanahan has shown, poverty is what hurts children, not the number or gender or age of parents.

And FINALLY, number 13,  (drum roll please if you have gotten this far) back in 1988 it was called the greenhouse effect but the scientist who reported on it over 20 years ago says he would have changed his predictions with what he knows today.  He says he would have made these predictions much more dire with the speed of global warming going much faster than he thought and with much more violent weather and extremes ahead.  (Yeah one of those nerdy scientists that good-ole-boys love to make fun of.)  I am terrified at how expensive insurance on everything from houses to crops is going to become as companies try to pay for these huge weather disasters.  I am terrified about lots of other things about this as well, of course.

(I am on travel with my son and future DIL, so no future posting for a while.)