Thursday, March 26, 2015

ADVENTURING IN SOUTHERN ARIZONA

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.


Where you can camp up close and personal with these wild things.
It took some time for Arizonans to appreciate the wonders of this plant--
But now we do-- and they are loved and respected and legally protected.
Get the story here.
A stone's throw away is this rare one.

Rare and mysterious--and much valued.  Experts cannot yet fully explain this anomaly. 
You would not guess what wild attraction has filled this parking lot.

It is the product of a  wild haired vision--long years ago.
No ordinary thrift store. 

It is a whopper--with a whopper of a reputation--that does a whopping lot of good.

Somehow a thousand people aligned their visions and worked together--without pay--for a half century.  Could you guess the size of last year's financial contributions.
The answer is detailed here: Brace yourself to be astonished: ONE  MILLION, SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS divided among these listed charities.  Hats off to this group from Green Valley, Arizona.

Invited down to a wild little town--myself and a companion--go there.

Settle into our friend's back yard.

walk one of the numerous trails into the massive (110,000 acres) wildlife reserve.
boardwalks across marshy areas.
Local headquarters of a sizable humanitarian group dedicated--

to prevent deaths in the desert of illegals crossing into the US.
Of course I went inside and interviewed the attendant.  He showed me a map pinpointing about 20 spots where bodies were found.  They go out to the danger spots and leave gallons of water. More on this later.
This bar--the La Gitana --oldest bar in the oldest Az town. My companion and I spent an evening there. 

with guys like this--who wheeled in on this lively and ancient vehicle.

A tapestry on the wall captures the mood of the place.  A U shaped bar puts customers eye to eye.
Sure enough drama happened--which I won't detail.

Also on the wall--this classic picture of a nearby commune--no longer extant--but whose influence
is very much felt today--many members stayed and built in the area.  
From almost everywhere you can see this fabled mountain: Baboquivari. (pronounced bob-oh-couve-ray)

 - Photograph © Stewart M. Green
A better picture--from the internet.

I was invited to dinner by three ladies---and served a 12 course meal.  I celebrated the event by writing a poem. (will share it later).

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  My adventures here will require a 2nd post. The enduring impact here was a interview with an informed local on sensible policy for illegals.  Just 2 of his major points: The steel walls--closely monitored--funnel illegals in the dangerous desert areas.  If we had a reasonable, fluid work permit where Mexicans could easily come to work and RETURN-- They would do so. I was not entirely persuaded but appreciated his valid points.

Then I went to an end-of-the-world town--met a pretty lady--who built a pretty bar. (more later)


























Tuesday, March 24, 2015

UPDATE ON TRAFFIC RANT

OH SWEET PEOPLE----YA GOTTA SEE THIS:  JOHN OLIVER HAS SEIZED THIS ISSUE ALSO---SPECTACULARLY.  I promise this clip will amuse and make you furious at the same time.
I only wish he had covered the European solution I mentioned.  Please give it a look and think with me about the quicksand system we have now.  I have relatives in the justice business and I will
forward this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UjpmT5noto to all of them.

And this just in: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/03/finland-home-of-the-103000-speeding-ticket/387484/  (Thanks to Carol Maurer for both these links)

Friday, March 20, 2015

TUCSON BOOK FESTIVAL---A WHIRLWIND OF IDEAS

3rd largest in the nation---110,000 book lovers strolling the avenues of Arizona University---
filling its giant lecture halls---waiting in long lines to hear  mental superstars like Astrophysist Alan Lightman and linguist/liberal Noam Chomsky---best selling mystery author J A Jantz--Americas' funniest man, Dave Barry--world famous historians like Hampton Sides and much much more.

What a thrill to mingle with people who love ideas---the DNA of culture---the seed of progress.

Lecture halls jammed full of interested minds---older ones as you can see. (The college was on spring break) This lecture--by a lawyer, frequently before the supreme court, discussed some major mistakes of that court and asked whether we even needed them.  Lectures are an hour and a half---with questions usually allowed. 
This panel of experts discussed major issues of the Obama years.
A major historian (left) Hampton Sides describes the life of  writing narrative history.


Hundreds of these cute 8x10 tents lined several rows.  If you have a book or a cause you wish to push--you can pay $400 and make your case.  (A great idea having standard identical tents--supplied by the festival and tied together for stability)

I had a great day--quizzing all sorts of causes.  These Muslim guys were very anxious to prove that Islam is a religion of peace.

Not many approached their booth so they were happy to have me ask sincere questions.

The Eckankar people were exuberant to demonstrate how exuberant Eckankar followers are.
This friendly lady wrote a book and wants to sell it and her ideas.
Gurdgjieff followers are sure they've found the path to the awakened life.
Here's people who are strongly against bullying. 
That's a very long line---about a quarter mile--of folks who want to hear the most celebrated speaker of them all.  An 87 year old man.
The venue was a giant theatre/auditorium--seating perhaps 3000.  He is obviously controversial because all bags were searched.  
Just one section of the anxiously waiting crowd  Luckily, my friends and companions got tickets for us. (they were free but demand was such that tickets were used to limit crowd size)
When finally the old man entered the room--a standing ovation resounded for a long time. Do you wonder what he has done or said to gain so adoring an audience?
Read about him here
Image result for noam chomsky
And here he is Noam Chomsky---voted the worlds greatest living intellect.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  OH SWEET PEOPLE---CAN YOU FEEL IT? CAN YOU SEE IT HERE DEMONSTRATED?  A BETTER WORLD IS ON ITS WAY.  Brilliant and generous people created this event to let us experience-- up close-- brilliant and creative minds.  My companion and I attended 6 lectures. I come away feeling hope for humanity.  Reason and creativity are winning---at an ever increasing rate.  Every one of us--at some level of his being wants to CONTRIBUTE.  And greater and greater globs of us are being focused on progress--in organizations--like Google and Microsoft and Apple and Amazon and Wikipedia.   



Monday, March 16, 2015

RANDY RANTS: HOW TO DO JUSTICE WITH TRAFFIC FINES.

OUR SYSTEM OF TRAFFIC FINES, COURT COSTS AND PENALTIES ARE OUTRAGEOUSLY UNJUST AND CONTRIBUTE TO THE GRIEVANCES FELT BY BLACKS, LATINOS AND THE POOR. I HAVE A MODEST SUGGESTION TO MAKE.

The Attorney General's findings are correct in this regard: the cost of traffic fines do not significantly hurt the middle and upper classes but can be devastating to the poor.

Think about it:  The point of assessing penalties is to sting us enough to make us wary of breaking traffic rules.

Imagine a city that imposed lashes across the back as penalties---the number dependent on the offense.  Say running a red light would earn one public lash-- EVERYBODY the same-- rich or poor.  That would approximate justice for all.

But suppose the poor were given 10 lashes and the rich only one? Outrageous?  Of course! But THAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION---dollar wise---and it is part of the reason for rioting in Ferguson, Missouri.

So I have a modest suggestion: LET US ASSESS TRAFFIC FINES BASED ON A PERSON'S WEALTH.  If you think this can't be done---think again.  It is already being done in Europe.  Read about it  here.. Traffic fines in some countries can be in the millions for the super rich.

If you think it's too difficult to determine a persons' wealth---think again:  I received a letter this morning from the government which --almost to the dollar--listed my modest assets.

UPDATE:  JOHN OLIVER has taken up the cause---spectacularly--ya gotta watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UjpmT5noto


Monday, February 23, 2015

DEEP FREEDOM IS POSSIBLE----HERE'S PROOF

I AM ABOUT TO SHOW YOU SOME OF THE FREEST PEOPLE ON EARTH. THEY ARE:

The sprouting seed of a brand-new breed
Living simple and light and lean;
Living happy and free like wild Cherokee
In cozy little living machines.

A life that is bold-- with ourselves in control
and with clusters of friends in affection
reinventing the tribe--helping revive
our long lost natural connection

Choosing sunlight's glow over ice and snow;
acceptance over sorrow;
adventurous games over riches and fame;
and today over iffy tomorrow.


Here they are---scattered across the desert in their "cozy little living machines".
Each year they heed the call to assemble with their kind outside Quartzsite, Arizona.

Some live super simple lives like my friend Dave who comfortably camps  in his car.
My friend Lou lives in splendid comfort in his self built "vardo" (gypsy style caravan)

Camped to my right is a very familiar rig---the super van renovated by Mr simplicity himself Glenn Morrissette.
And all the way from Atlanta, Ga my old friend CB.  The electronics and engineering in the back of his vehicle would amaze you.  He owns a mighty Airstream trailer but can live comfortably and zip about the country in this vehicle.

The highlight of every morning is the seminar---on a different subject each day.  This one is being led by our host Bob Wells.  Bob is the founder of this RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous). It seemingly doubles in size each year.  About a hundred attended this year.

This is yours truly leading a seminar called tin can discussion. Where anonymous questions deposited in a can are read--then responded to by ---whomever wishes to.

Here the audience is responding by show of hands to the question:  How many know who Henry David Thoreau was.  I daresay most of us have been inspired by his book: Walden Pond to win our freedom with simplicity and frugality. 

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I think I will let one of my poems philosophize for me.
A FULL SET OF STUFF

I travel full time with a full set of stuff;
Not less than I need or more than enough;
All safely-stashed within easy reach,
Ready for desert or forest or beach.

I have food, fuel, a good fly swatter,
Stove, fridge and plenty of water,
A potty, skillet, four kinds of soap,
A swiss army knife, a strong tow rope,

A satellite dish, a good TV,
Tools for any contingency,
Cleaning supplies, things for the bed,
Sunglasses, towels, needle and thread,

Flatwear, flashlight, several hats,
Air pump and plugs to fix my flats,
Toiletries, spices, bolts and screws,
One bicycle, five pair of shoes,

Credit cards, books, several bags,
Saws, brushes and cleaning rags,
One inverter, lots of clothes,
A stash of money, a water hose,

A mirror, medicine, compass and maps,
Scissors, twine and two mouse traps,
A shovel, sandpaper, a nice towed car,
A clock, some cards, a VCR,

Stamps and envelopes, parts to spare,
Pans and dishes, an outside chair,
Paper and pens, solar panels,
Summer cottons, winter flannels.

Well, you get my point; this full set of stuff
Is all I need to smooth the rough;
I can cook, eat, wash my hair,
Watch TV or make repair.

I can sleep, bathe, read or dig
With just the stuff in this small rig.
Where tourists gaze and rush away,
This traveler parks and stays the day.

Down back roads by lazy brooks
I take a nap or read my books;
Chase the wind, drift and roam;
Let night overtake me everywhere home;

Live my life in a thousand places;
Share myself with a thousand faces;
Drink-in life till I've had enough;
Thanks to my rig and a full set of stuff. 

Monday, February 09, 2015

ADDRESSING "MY PEOPLE"

THE UNITARIAN CHURCH OF YUMA INVITED ME TO SPEAK LAST SUNDAY ON WHATEVER SUBJECT INTERESTED ME.  I chose as my title: WHAT HEALTHY PERSONALITIES  LOOK LIKE----AND HOW THEY ARE GROWN.
The Unitarians rent a chapel from the Presbyterian church and hold their meetings at 11:30 am on Sundays. Here, I've just begun to speak.

Not a big group--they rarely are---but most sizable towns usually have a Unitarian/Universalist congregation..  At least 5 U.S. presidents were Unitarian: Jefferson, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, William Taft. And Lincoln is said to have Universalist leanings.
If you are curious about them---here are their 7 principles:
  1. 1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. 2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. 3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. 4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. 5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Note that they have no "doctrines".  Over time they have gotten rid of them all: (The trinity, Divinity of Jesus, Virgin Birth, Atonement, Hell etc) and focused on VALUES----like those above.

To save time, I passed out copies of Maslow's 22 characteristics of self actualized people:



1. HAVE MORE EFFICIENT PERCEPTION
Unusual ability to detect the spurious, the fake, dishonesty in personality
In general, to judge people correctly and efficiently.
They can see reality more clearly.
2. ARE NOT FRIGHTENED BY THE UNKNOWN
Tolerate, even enjoy ambiguity

3. ACCEPT THEMSELVES AND OTHERS
Self - A relative lack of overriding guilt, crippling shame and severe anxiety
They accept their own human nature in stoic style, their shortcomings and discrepancies.
Others - They also accept others with their shortcomings and discrepancies.

4. ENJOY THEMSELVES WITHOUT SHAME

5. LACK DEFENSIVENESS AND POSE
Distaste for guile, hypocrisy, front, face

6. EXPRESS SPONTANEITY - SIMPLICITY - NATURALNESS

7. ARE MOTIVATED BY AN URGE TO GROW (Versus deficiency motivation)
Living vs. preparing to live
They don’t strive, they develop
They attempt to grow to perfection - to develop more and more fully their own style.

8. FOCUS ON PROBLEMS OUTSIDE THEMSELVES
They are problem-centered rather than ego-centered.
They usually have some mission in life.

9. HAVE THE QUALITY OF DETACHMENT
They remain unruffled, undisturbed by that which produces turmoil in others.
They find it easy to be aloof, reserved, calm, serene.
They take personal misfortune without reacting violently.
They are more objective and therefore can concentrate better.
They don’t need others in the ordinary sense.
They are self-governing, self-disciplined.
They are the deciding agent rather than a pawn.
They have more free will.

10. HAVE A GREATER NEED FOR PRIVACY

11. ARE MORE INDEPENDENT OF CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT

12. HAVE A CONTINUED FRESHNESS OF APPRECIATION
They count their blessings.

13. HAVE HAD A MYSTIC EXPERIENCE (a peak experience)
These are experiences, usually brief, of limitless horizons opening up to the vision.
The feeling of being simultaneously more powerful and more helpless than ever.
The feeling of great ecstasy, wonder, awe.
The loss of placing in time and space.
The conviction that something extremely important and valuable has happened so that
One is to some extent transformed and strengthened.

14. HAVE DEEPER FEELINGS OF IDENTIFICATION, SYMPATHY AND AFFECTION.
Despite occasional anger, impatience, disgust.

15. DESIRE TO HELP THE HUMAN RACE.

16. HAVE DEEPER, MORE PROFOUND INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS.
Capable of more fusion, greater love, more perfect identification.
Especially deep ties with fewer people
Circle of friends rather small

17. ARE DEMOCRATIC
Are friendly with anyone with suitable character, regardless of class, education, or race

18. CAN DISCRIMINATE BETWEEN MEANS AND ENDS, GOOD AND EVIL
They are clear in themselves though often their notions of right and wrong are not the
conventional ones.

19. ARE PHILOSOPHICAL

20. HAVE A NON-HOSTILE SENSE OF HUMOR

21. ARE CREATIVE

22. ARE RESISTANT TO ENCULTURATION
They transcend any particular culture.

I let them scan these 22 points for a bit---till they got the gist of what I meant by Whole personality.--then speculated that most people in this room would possess most of these characteristics.
Indeed, a roomful of Unitarians usually represents the "cream" of their town:  Better educated, more mature personalities---representing the best humanity has to offer---as voiced by shakespeare:

What a piece of work is man!
How noble in reason;
How infinite in faculty;
In form and moving--how express and admirable.
In action--how like an angel;
In apprehension--how like a God.
The beauty of the world;
The paragon of animal.

I asked:  Who we might know in history that embodied these characteristics? A few came to my mind:
Buddha, Socrates, Voltaire, Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Ben Franklin 

I asked who--in the movies--demonstrated an enlightened personality?  Three came to mind:
Anthony Quinn in Zorba the Greek
Russel Crow in Master and Commander
Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln

Then I asked how these "super" personalities are made?  I speculated:
1. That they are self-made by personal resolve. (Franklin made a list of qualities he aspired to and consciously focused on one of them till he was satisfied he had mastered it)
2. That interacting with their circle of close and worthy friends created a FEEDBACK LOOP wherein enlightened behavior elicited a rewarding response---which stimulated even more enlightened behavior and even more rewarding responses. (A feedback loop is like compounding interest on money---it builds at an ever accelerating rate ) Franklin called his circle of close friends
his Junto.  They met at a tavern on Friday nights--drank beer and had great conversations. (and they did more than talk---this terrific group of men improved their town--creating the first fire department in America--the first street lights--the first lending library and even founded the University of Pennsylvania.
Buddha's circle of friends were his forest buddies that supported his development.

Apparently it is true what Teilard De Chardin says:  "Isolation is a dead end---the self is fulfilled in community."

Precisely how interaction promotes personal growth may not be known, but I speculate that when friendly personalities engage for a period---one will see in the other some quality that they admire---and slowly (or quickly) that quality is appropriated by the other.  That is how personalities are grown.
That is why it serves us well to associate with the best of our friends.

When we engage with our friends--we do so at one of 4 levels: Ritual--(Hello how are you etc) Pastime (sports, gossip, hobbies etc) Work talk or Authenticity (what we really think, want, feel, have done)
It is at the level of Authenticity that personal growth occurs.

I closed my speech with a parable:  Verily I say unto you--your circle of friends is like unto rocks in a tumbler---each makes the others more beautiful as they tumble.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A SAFE AND WELCOMING SPACE FOR MISFITS---GOOD IDEA? BAD IDEA?

WHAT SHOULD WE DO WITH ODD, WITH (SOMETIMES)TROUBLESOME PEOPLE?? I will go wander among a community of mavericks and see what I think---

And I will take 40 of my friends with me.  These are fellow WIN (wandering individuals network)
members----many of whom have never been to the infamous SLABS.

Every day I lead them to one or more of its distinctive areas. The SLABS community is likely the "most free" (least governed) place in the US---which is both good news and bad for its inhabitants.
Good news because misfits such as Leonard Knight can express their creativity publicly.  Where else can you--on public land--build a monument such as this? Salvation Mountain took 25 years to build--and is now on the National Registry of Folk Art. 
The Slabs are perhaps the only permanent, free campground in the world.  You can go there and stake out a homestead and build yourself a home like this?
Or this?
Or this
Or this

Or create your own personal museum and art colony like this?

Turning junk into art.
This very creative (he built that glass wall on the right) and articulate guy is a relative newcomer to a community of artist who live and do their art here in a place they call East Jesus

Sometimes pretty good art. (yes, that's a bus they partially buried just for the effect)

At the Slabs--misfits say whatever they wish-- to the world.

Or build their own religious sanctuary?

You can start your own business--paying no rent?

Or build your own theater.  I am standing where a scene was shot in the movie INTO THE WILD.
You can start your own community.  This is a well established one with about 50 members.
These facilities are owned by the largest community there--the LOWs (Loners On Wheels)-- a chapter of a thriving national organization.
A warm pool---104 or so degrees---free and open to all.
The Lows welcomed us into their space for our visit here---threw a party and a dance for us.

Complete with a professional DJ
As you leave the Slabs--after what will likely be a surrealistic visit--this sign warns you that conventional reality is just ahead.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I APPROVE---I APPROVE---I TOAST---I CELEBRATE--THIS SERENDIPITOUS SQUARE MILE.  Started as a quirky accident on the remains of an abandoned Marine base---it has endured for 40 plus years---evolved---adapted---achieved national fame.
It serves hundreds as a PLACE TO BE.  (the existential minimum)
LET US SET ASIDE A HUNDRED MORE OF THESE SQUARE MILE SANCTUARIES---GIVE THE MAVERICKS AND MISFITS OF OUR NATION A PLACE TO BE---AND BE FREE.

I say we can afford to give everyone a place to BE.  It is SOCIAL SAVAGERY to squeeze blood rent from everyone.  A fair percentage of us cannot and will not live "respectable" lives.
Like Thoreau, we "hear a different drummer" and "march to the music we hear".