Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fuso Santek 1


Santek Trailers is a relative small company in Riverside, USA. There are only 12 employees but each one is highly skilled. There are master carpenters, welders, mechanics, electricians and all are Mexican. In unison they are building mostly trailers. Often huge ones in which a small Paris studio would fit. Also they make mobile dressing rooms for the Hollywood film production companies. And occasionally they build expedition vehicles.

The FUSO SANTEK is now in an early stage. The skeletal construction of square, hollow steel tubes is on the chassis. Also the pivotal system has been engineered and is in place in the back.





There are also good Americans

The United States is suffering of a very low opinion by most people worldwide a BBC World Service poll revealed recently.
There are reasons for that large majority of the world population not to see the USA as a country contributing to a better, safer and cleaner world.
However, there is a difference between living outside the USA and having a negative opinion and experiencing the American society from within.
What is more and more forgotten elsewhere is that many things in the USA are impressive or wonderful or great and certainly positive and many Americans as well.
That is very special to experience in the current geo-political circumstances.
It is giving hope. With another leadership, which will eventually come, the USA has the potential to regain their worldwide positive reputation.

However, entering the USA at the Tijuana-San Diego border is not a very pleasant experience.
Obviously the border crossing is not well enough organised to handle the many people crossing. This results in chaos. A hectic and nervous turmoil.
Hardest victims of this unfortunate situation are the immigration officers working at this border crossing. Their work conditions are rather appalling. Consequently they are bad mooded, unfriendly, suspicious and very ungallant.

The immigration officer first encountered getting into the process of crossing the Tijuana-San Diego border works in a booth. A run down booth. A small building without any conveniences and demonstrating misery. This man has to work outside where the air is saturated with the fumes of the thousands of cars. No wonder he doesn’t reply when greeted: “Good morning, Sir”. No friendliness but suspicion. Many questions asked in a slightly aggressive way. As if a criminal or potential terrorist is trying to enter his country.

Carrying a European passport an I-94 Visa Waiver is required for which a Secondary Inspection area is available. For this the motor home has to be driven dangerously against the one-way traffic. “They will stop” the immigration officer informs.

In the Secondary Inspection area many Immigration Officers are around. All heavily armed and many suffering of obesity. It seems necessary being a European with a motor home that the Immigration Officers want to come into the Lazy Daze and search for whatever might be illegal. Apples are found, bought in Mexico but coming from Washington State, USA. Immediately confiscated: no apples are allowed into the United States.

To obtain the I-94 Visa Waiver a line of dozens of non-American people must be joined because only two Immigration Officers are made available.
A sign on the window explains that an I-94 Visa Waiver form doesn’t need to be filled out anymore because the Immigration Officer will do this.
Once, after a long wait, a new Immigration Officer is offered a “Good morning, Sir” and this greeting remains also unanswered but the instruction is given: “Step aside and fill out the I-94 Visa Waiver form!”

Eventually the real thing can happen. The interrogation. Where are you from? Who are you going to see in the USA? What is your occupation? Where do you live? A long series of questions and many repeated 4 to 5 times. In a very unfriendly and almost aggressive way. Fingerprints are made and a portrait picture. An innocent visitor or tourist will wonder if one is actually welcome in this country. The Immigration Officer can slide the modern European passport through a slot so that on the screen of his computer all the information of the document automatically appears. This is done not once, but twice, three times, four times, up to 13 times… During the 20 minutes of the interrogation. Obviously the official is suspicious and nervous. Eventually he doesn’t give an I-94 Visa Waiver for the usual 3 months, but for only 2 weeks. Why? Who knows? No explanation given. Next.

It is a miserable experience these days entering the USA. But once in the country, the opportunity is there to meet extraordinary people and situations.

Take Trader Joe’s. An alternative chain of food supermarkets where another approach has been tried which has turned out very successful. The products are mostly organic and of high quality. The interior of the shop is cosy and pleasant. A great atmosphere. Checking out brings the customer to something that doesn’t look at all like the usual cashier centre in ordinary supermarkets. A friendly person stands next to a wooden console and takes the products for the customer from the basket to put them in paper bags. In a shop like Joe Trader’s the more conscious and aware Americans are buying their food.

Those more aware Americans, not matching the cliché many non-Americans have of them, can also be found in shops like Borders and Barnes & Noble.
Those are big bookshops but in a way they are not. There is a huge selection of books in any field but most of all an atmosphere is created in the shop. A person feels good in the environment that is created. It has a warm, welcoming and pleasant atmosphere. All over the shop are very comfortable chairs where someone can get an impression of the book considered to purchase. Often there is a fireplace to sit around as well. And a nice coffee and tea shop with delicious chocolate chip cookies.

To be among the many of the Americans frequenting Trader Joe’s, Borders and Barnes & Noble makes forget the San Diego border crossing quickly.
**************************************************

To learn more about the Trader Joe’s supermarkets, click on:
www.traderjoes.com

To learn more about the bookshop Borders, click on:
www.bordersstores.com

To learn more about the bookshop Barnes & Noble, click on:
www.barnesandnoble.com

Monday, January 29, 2007

Caring lovingly

Many comments and e-mails were the result of the postings about the Princess and her downfall.
Very warm messages of concern and support.
That is beautiful.
Vital and instrumental to get better.
It feels like:

And very thankful.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A strange meeting

A strange night with no sleep but a lot of thinking.
More a circling of thoughts like objects spiralling in a spinner. To stop this useless process the Comedy Channel of XM radio was used as a diversion.

The advantage of a sleepless night is that there is no waking up to do. Making it possible to be driving already on the road north at the break of day.

The endless roads of Baja California through empty landscapes not changed since its creation.
No traffic on this early Sunday morning far away from human population.
Driving on a long stretch of road a woman was standing right in the middle of the road.
Coming closer she spread her arms and nothing else could be done then to stop the Lazy Daze.
The woman was old. Dressed in a long dark-yellow robe.
Impressive. Friendly. Wise.

Getting out of the Lazy Daze and approaching the old woman the following conversation entailed:

“Good morning. I am sorry but you are blocking the traffic”
“You know me”
“Ha, I don’t know you. I never met you. Who are you?”
“I am Mirkash, the concierge of Shangri-la”.
“This here is not exactly Shangri-la, Mrs. Mirkash, let alone any concierging needs to be done at this nowhere place”.
“You know me because I am here to tell you that you are not grounded inside yourself”.
“What do you mean, Mrs. Mirkash? Not grounded inside myself? I know who I am”.
“You are a sad man these days, no?”
“This is true, Mrs. Mirkash”
“You are a sad man because you made yourself sad.”
“No, Mrs. Mirkash, it is what the Princess did what makes me sad.”
“Listen carefully: your Princess is an illusion. There is no Princess. You projected all kinds of fantasies and desires on a beautiful and interesting girl. Obviously she doesn’t conform to your exaggerated imaginations and that makes you feel disappointed and sad.”
“I must admit you hit the hammer on the nail, Mrs. Mirkash.”
“Let go of the illusions and return in your bases. Be who you are. Do what you are good at.”
“I am good in making pictures! Mrs. Mirkash, can I make a picture of you?”
“Of course. Go ahead, make a picture of me here in the middle of the road in Mexico before I return to Shangri-la.”

Serious sadness

Sometimes a day in the life is filled with sadness.
Deep sadness.
Sabotaging sadness.
Overwhelming sadness.
Serious sadness.

In spite of a bright blue sky.
Hummingbirds and butterflies flying in the morning light.
A warm temperature and sunshine.
A long goodbye from Tioga George in Santa Rosalia.
A day of easy travelling.
The Vizcaino desert a carpet of purple flowers due to recent rainfall.
Nice and friendly soldiers at the military checkpoints.
A safe journey on the dangerous road.
An ideal camping spot right on the Pacific Ocean.
Received e-mails and blog-comments encouraging and soothing.
A delicious self-cooked dinner.
Beautiful music on Channel 77 “Audio Visions” of XM Radio.
A good book to read: “Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda”.
The prospect of a peaceful night of sleep.
In spite of all that...

The sadness kills all joy that is there on all other days naturally and in abundance.
Why this devastating sadness on such a wonderful and beautiful day?
Look, feel and understand:


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tioga George

A life travelling offers the wonderful opportunity to meet many people in many places in many countries.
The rule when meeting people while travelling is that when you are friendly, most people are friendly as well.
The conclusion after years of intensive journeying is that 99 % of the people on this planet are nice and warm persons. Who want to communicate, who are hospitable, who want to learn, exchange ideas, share culture and traditions and love to enjoy life with a visitor from far away.

Meeting so many people in many places also results in getting to know persons who stand out. Who are truly remarkable. Exceptional and unique.
Today “Tioga George” is introduced to the loyal and fervent readers of this blog.
One of the remarkable and exceptional friends.

“Tioga George” is a 69-year-old American from Walnut Creek, California. He used to have a restaurant in San Francisco where customers were staying in their car and had their food served by cute girls in short skirts on roller skates.
However, in November 2001 he was diagnosed as having non-Hodgkin’s lymphonia.
An aggressive form of cancer resulting in death after little time.
George got treatment and while his life was in the balance he promised himself that if he would survive he would live life to the fullest.
Miraculously, he did survive.
In 2003 he decided not to be a cancer-patient anymore. Contrary to his doctor’s advices, he stopped taking all medication and check-ups to deliver himself to his destiny.
Through his ex-wife he joined a group of cancer patients from the Wellness Community. They discussed all the aspects of having cancer in life. Influenced by these discussions, George came to the conclusion that he was going to drastically change his life. On February 23, 2003 he sold his house, paid his bills and bought a second-hand motor home. A Fleetwood Tioga and started to call himself “Tioga George”. As from June 7, 2003 he travels permanently in his motor home. Along the West coast and in the Western States of the USA. In wintertime he is on the Mexican peninsula of Baja California.

Two more things are remarkable about George, who has become a close friend.
One is that he never stays at campgrounds. He always looks for places where he can spend the night in his motor home for free. This is called boon docking. In this he has become specialised. Looks for quiet neighbourhoods where he enters after dark and leaves before people wake up. Or he stays in industrial areas or dead end streets.

Second remarkable thing of George is that he started a blog some years ago advised to do so by a woman from his Wellness Community group. He writes in his blog about his travels and advises people about all the different aspects of living permanently in a motor home. By now he has more than 2.000 visitors to his blog per day!
In this blog, while George is single, he makes the readers believe that he lives with several friends. For example, his motor home he calls “Miss Tioga”. His digital camera “Mr. Mavecito”. And he explains how they talk to each other and make decisions. The stories published on George’s blog are about the simple things of life. His audience loves to read them and send him many encouraging e-mails. Obviously he has made fantastic choices in life his readers are hoping to make themselves one day as well. But for the moment they keep themselves satisfied by sharing George’s blog.
George lives alone in a self-created reality populated by imaginary companions and virtual friends in cyberspace. Isolated in a cocoon spinning around his thoughts, ideas and opinions and being very, very happy.


To visit Tioga George's blog click at:
http://vagabonders-supreme.blogspot.com/

Friday, January 26, 2007

A most dramatic event

A most dramatic event has taken place yesterday with serious consequences. The Princess made herself fall from her throne. She crashed down and is now crawling among the ones to be pitied. The planned intention to travel and work together had to be cancelled.
What was causing such a twist of events? A beautiful and interesting road ahead dissolving in polluted air?
It came to be known yesterday, that the Princess, now simply known as Marta S. , has been involved all the time of her reign with what was supposed to be her ex-boyfriend.
She had declared many months ago she was finished with him. Since then she made believe she was by herself. Free. Living on her own.
However, while enjoying the courtship, she continued her relationship.
Yesterday, revealing out of the blue that her relationship had not been finished as she had told before, her proposition was to travel and work together anyway while continuing that relationship.
Not often a proposition of these idiotic dimensions is made.

Marta S. explained many times she was in a dead end street. Not successful in her work. At the end of the relationship with her boyfriend of 5 years. Fed up with the city and the country she was living in. Ready to jump. Liberate herself from suffocating circumstances. Face new challenges. Create new opportunities. Discover ways to successfully express herself. Have opportunities to make money.
But there is a difference by saying those things and actually doing them. She was lucky to get into a situation, becoming the Princess, that her dreams and ambitions became possible. However, that is confrontational. To say that to parachute is fun and actually jump out of a plane are two different things altogether.
Her current situation exists not by accident. Obviously a wrong approach has been applied. Feelings of inferiority and insecurity are responsible for her not being successful in the different aspects of life and work. And now these feelings of inferiority and insecurity block courage and initiative to jump, liberate herself and get out. The feelings keep her in the misery she so much hates.

Her hiding for months the relationship she had claimed was finished and accepting courtship anyway doesn’t have the characteristics of being evil or mean.
Marta S. is a lovely and wonderful woman.
Life is just too big for her right now.

How about the courtshipper? How does he feel? To loose a Princess and witness her to become a Marta S. among the ones to pity must not be an easy experience.
Initially overwhelmed by disappointment and sadness, the long conversations with friends and their assistance in seeing the situation in an objective way, helped tremendously to stop the bleeding. The wounds are closing now and the pains are subsiding.
In spite of what happened though, in the heart a small and special place has been cleared to always memorize the Princess.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Camping in peace

Travelling north heading into strong winds while enjoying the beautiful landscape Baja California is offering.
Ciudad Constitucion and Alma and her daughters have been left behind and next visit will be to Tioga George who is residing in his motor home in the small town of Santa Rosalia.
But at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon it was feeling that enough driving had been done for the day and a place to camp and spend the night was being looked for.

Driving in Baja California is rather exhausting. The road, 1500 kilometres (932 miles) from La Paz to Tijuana, where is the border with the USA, is very narrow and big trucks and buses drive at high speed. Each time a monster approaches the most extreme right hand side of the road must be looked for to avoid a serious crash. Meanwhile, ordinary cars tend to drift to the centre of the road as well. Especially in curves. They drive at high speed and can’t manage the centrifugal forces affecting their vehicle. Many are the car wrecks to be seen along the road. Another morbid sign how dangerous this road is are the many crosses with plastic flowers planted at spots where people have died in traffic accidents. Often rests of the car wreck are placed around the cross to make it even more lugubrious.
High concentration is needed to drive in Baja California in order not to loose a side mirror or worse.
Exhausting is also the condition of the road. Large parts are having deep potholes making it a bumpy trip.

After 5 hours of avoiding becoming a cross along the dangerous and bumpy road as well, it was time to stop and camp.
This is an art: finding a good place to spend the night. There are certain conditions a good spot must have. And to find it intuition is needed and luck. High on the list of conditions are that the spot must be quiet and having a beautiful view.
A tranquil camping spot can only be found a good distance away from the road. Therefore, a side road with an acceptable surface must be found. It is convenient if the sea is nearby because that usually offers camping places with a good view. But usually other campers as well. Often campgrounds with many other campers and a charge. To be squeezed in between other motor homes for which needing to pay 200 to 400 Pesos (14 to 28 Euros-18 to 36 Dollars) is not an attractive proposition although accepted by many people travelling in recreational vehicles.

Today was successful. A track to the beach was found at 2 kilometres (1,24 miles) from the main road south of Mulegé. A place called Punta Arena. Recently this beautiful seaside at the Bahia Concepción, with a view of the Cerro Vinorama, has been bulldozed into a flat area where tourist housing will be build.
But it is still peaceful, beautiful and without noise except for the sound of the gentle waves landing on the beach.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Our lives to love.

In Mexico is a Governmental organisation called DIF. This stands for “Desarrollo Integral de la Familia”.
It offers a wide range of social services to the population and this for free.
One of those services is the opportunity for physically and mentally challenged children to be close to animals.
The “Programmo de Equinoterapia Alternativa de Rehabilitation”.
In Ciudad Constitucion, Mexico, is a stadium formerly used for rodeos and bullfights. Nowadays inhabitants of the town owning horses make them available so that collaborators of the DIF can offer physically and mentally challenged children a ride on a horse.
Yesterday it was Brian’s big day. He is a 7-year-old severely challenged boy weighing only 17 kilos (37 pounds).
He was put in the arms of a caring and sweet DIF-man on a peaceful horse and another DIF-collaborator was walking the horse around and around.
The smile on the face of Brian was telling everything. He deeply enjoyed the experience.
His mother was watching very satisfied seeing her son having such a good time.



There is a beauty in this event.
The good side of people being demonstrated.
Not often do we learn of these pearls of society.
Let us open up for it and share the goodness and the beauty.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"A clockwork orange" part 2

Yuriria is a 22-year-old woman studying ecological tourism at the University of La Paz in Mexico.
She has been twice the regional champion of chess.
This is what she has to tell us about the film “A clockwork orange”.
My brother Ivan has bought the DVD of this film in Mexico City for 10 pesos. (0,70 Euro-0,92 $). I know it is an illegal copy. Ivan bought this DVD because the film is a classic and everybody everywhere talks about it.

I find “A clockwork orange” a fun and interesting movie. It not only shows problems, but feelings as well. The colours and images are really fun and the fantasy words are modern. Oh, I didn’t know that the words and story were by Anthony Burgess from 1962… Also the music and the clothes are fantastic.
There is violence in this film but you don’t feel it so bad because it is funny.
This main character, Alexander, he was lucky when he was bad but unlucky when he was a good man.
It is difficult if you are only bad or only good. In both cases you have problems.
The politicians in the film are interesting because they don’t care about the mental health of the individual. They only think of politics. Of being in power and of the general opinion of the public.

What is the solution for violence?
I think family is very important. The relationships in the family. And education.
Moral values come more from the family than from religion. Religion makes people aggressive in many cases. Look at the fundamental Muslims for example. Look at the man in the film: in prison he was studying religion and only thinking and having fantasies about violence.
The two faces of religion: which side do you choose?

Monday, January 22, 2007

"A clockwork orange" part 1

The evenings and nights are cold now in Ciudad Constitucion, Mexico, with the temperature dropping to 6 degrees centigrade (42,8 degrees Fahrenheit).The two sisters and brother had put themselves under blankets on the floor in front of the TV last evening to watch a film. Ivan, Alma’s youngest, had bought the DVD of the movie “A clockwork orange” made in 1971 by Stanley Kubrick. A film based on the 1962 book of Anthony Burgess who wrote this story as a reaction to the robbing and violating of his pregnant wife by 4 American soldiers in London in 1944. His wife lost the child…
It is the story of Alexander DeLarge, played by Malcolm McDowell, coming from an average working class family, he gets completely out of control. He forms a gang with its own rituals and performs what seems useless and excessive violence, including rape. This results in the killing of a woman, with a huge object representing a phallus. However, his fellow gang members trick him and the police catch him. Gets 40 years in jail where he becomes a model prisoner. After two years he is selected to get a special treatment that makes him unable to perform any violence or sex anymore. Unfortunately for him, by accident they make him also unable to listen to the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven anymore. When the treatment is successfully completed he is released but gets into trouble nevertheless. His parents refuse him back into their home and eventually public opinion is outraged that science has created a human being with no more free will and inability to choose. He gets a new treatment and everybody is happy, especially the police, the prison guards and the politicians, when he is back to be a violent person again.
This film, and the book, are razor-sharp observations of society even as it is today. No wonder that the film was released in the USA heavily censored.
Young people today, like Alma’s children, are interested in this film and it will be important to learn what is their opinion.
For this purpose 22-year-old Yuriria will be interviewed today to understand what “A clockwork orange” is doing in the mind of a young woman in 2007.
The result of the interview will be published in tomorrow’s blog.
Stand by.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Trouble in digital paradise

The ground station in Houston of the satellite internet connection is having trouble making it impossible to publish today´s new blog.
But certainly tomorrow a new exciting entry will be presented.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Nafta and water

The great thing of travelling is that the reality around changes constantly.
Yesterday in La Paz the weather was awful. Dark, clouds, rain, cool.

But today in Ciudad Constitucion it is a gorgeous morning with sunshine and a blue sky.

Last week the reality was the world of friends in San Clemente, California, USA and now the world of friends in Ciudad Constitucion, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Ciudad Constitucion used to be a thriving settlement. Although in the middle of a desert there were many farms around growing citrus fruit, cotton, maize, tomatoes and other agricultural products. But two issues brought it down. One was the NAFTA agreement between Mexico and the USA. Introduced by Ronald Reagan, the North American Free Trade Agreement was designed to make business between the two countries more prosperous. But as many Mexicans will explain, now without jobs and income, the Americans cheated them. Free trade is maybe OK but the American Government were giving subsidy to their own farmers who were able to produce as a result of this generosity for a much lower cost than the Mexicans. Suddenly, after NAFTA came into effect, subsidized products from the USA flooded the Mexican market while the Mexican farmers could bring their products to the local dump.
The subsidy the American farmers were getting was a result of their strong lobbying in Washington and the enormous sums of money the farmers unions were paying to the election campaigns of the politicians who once elected paid them back with those subsidies. This semi-corruption caused wide spread poverty among the Mexicans.
The second issue is the water supply. Farmers in this area have been drilling wells to pump up water to irrigate their fields. For a long time this has been going on in an unlimited way. In fact the farmers were pumping up water that must have been there for thousands of year. Once the level of the underground basins was very low, the water from the ocean, although about 50 kilometres (31 miles) away, started flowing into the void. The water of the wells became salty and of no use anymore for irrigation. Now the Mexican Government has put monitors on each well in the area and farmers are restricted in how much water they can pump up. This means that farmers have land they cannot use because of not enough water to irrigate.
NAFTA and lack of water has brought poverty to Ciudad Constitucion. This can easily be noticed. Streets are unpaved. Much of the public infrastructure unmaintained and broken. People living in poor housing. No new cars. No fancy restaurants. Young people leaving to try their luck somewhere else.
Meanwhile many of the people still living here suffer serious health problems. This is because in the days when agriculture was flourishing the large fields around the town were sprayed by airplanes by chemicals. In fact with poison to kill insects. These chemicals do not break down or dissolve and are now in the dust of the barren fields. Often there are strong winds in this area and the dust blows into town and gets everywhere. This means that the people get the dust with the chemicals into their lungs causing all kinds of fatal diseases. They are aware of this but poverty blocks them from going somewhere else.

Travelling is an interesting experience although the things learned are not always of a happy nature.
But yesterday, at sunset, a wonderful event took place when the friends in Ciudad Constitucion suddenly went out of the house to see the beautiful colours in the sky.

**************************************
To learn more about what of a disaster NAFTA is, click on:
http://www.citizen.org/trade/nafta/

Friday, January 19, 2007

A time of changes


A time of changes. It is always a time of changes in this life but these days it is more intense and complex. Maybe because it is new moon tonight and right now 10 million Hindu’s plunge into the Ganges to wash themselves from sins from this life and the ones before to hopefully reach Nirvana. To be cleansed to have a new start to bath again next year.
Events in life tend to like to happen in clusters. Many at the same time after which a period of stillness can be experienced before a new bomb of events explodes.

One of the elements of the current cluster is the sale of the Ford Summerwind to Don Raphael. Today the keys were handed over and it was a rather emotional ceremony. This Ford Summerwind has been serving loyally and faultlessly. So many days were spent in happiness with it. Don Raphael had understanding for the separation pains. He said: “Anytime you like you can come and I will borrow you the Ford Summerwind”. That is a very sweet thing to say for a buyer.

Another element of the cluster is the trip starting tomorrow with the Lazy Daze back to the United States. The last trip because the FUSO SANTEK will become the new home. Again there are feelings of nostalgia and separation pains, to have to hand over the beautiful motor home to a new owner soon.
Every minute now is enjoyed deeply before the Lazy Daze will retreat from this life.

In the East is an element of the cluster that is also causing quite some excitement. Early February a journey will be made to Japan to document energy saving activities for a corporate magazine in Europe. Having had a Japanese wife, her country has been visited frequently. It is always fascinating to go there and each time it is like landing on another planet. Walking around totally disconnected weaving surprise upon surprise.

But most important element of the cluster is the fact that the Princess is coming. To travel and work together. Her courage and trust is impressing. And it raises many questions and thoughts and feelings of fear and happiness. Separating from motor homes and going to Japan are peanuts compared to the realization that one day soon life will be shared with this remarkable person.

New moon and in the dark and silence of the night gratefulness is.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The PS-series 5


The guide invited the crowd to imagine that they were looking across a desert at a mountain range on a day that was twinkling bright and clear. They could look at a peak or a bird or a cloud, at a stone right in front of them, or even down in a canyon behind them. But among them was this poor Earthling, and his head was encased in a steel sphere which he could never take off. There was only one eyehole through which he could look, and welded to that eyehole were six feet of pipe.
This was only the beginning of Billy’s miseries in the metaphor. He was also strapped to a steel lattice which was bolted to a flatcar on rails, and there was no way he could turn his head or touch the pipe. The far end of the pipe rested on a bi-pod which was also bolted to the flatcar. All Billy could see was the little dot at the end of the pipe. He didn’t know he was on a flatcar, didn’t even know there was anything peculiar about the situation.
The flatcar sometimes crept, sometimes went extremely fast, often stopped- went uphill, downhill, around curves, along straightaways. Whatever poor Billy saw through the pipe, he had no choice but to say to himself, “That’s life”.

This is how Kurt Vonnegut describes in his fantastic book “Slaughterhouse-five” the way we visually perceive things.
He had witnessed the bombing of the German town of Dresden in the Second World War and was therefore not an optimistic man. His interpretation of visual awareness is certainly true for many people, but not for all.
************************************

Kurt Vonnegut - "Slaughterhouse - Five" ISBN 0-440-18029-5

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A day at the races


A day at the races. No, it was not this 1937 Marx Brothers film in the Edwards Movie theatres of Mission Viejo, California, USA, but a day at the movies seeing a film called “Primeval”. After a relaxed sashimi lunch with a bottle of Norwegian water in a Japanese restaurant nearby, “Primeval” became the film to see because it was the first one to start. Therefore it was a film to see by chance. An interesting approach because it offers the opportunity to witness what mainstream USA goes and sees. Not what a person with a particular interest or taste chooses to see.
Outside the movie theatre was a panel with the movie descriptions. The synopsis of “Primeval”:
In one of the most remote places on Earth, a serial killer has claimed over 300 victims, and is still at large. This horror-thriller follows an American news crew determined to capture this terrifying murderer alive. The danger begins as producer Tim Freeman (Dominic Purcell), cameraman Steve Johnson (Orlando Jones) and their rag-tag team set out on a journey up-river in search of their subject. But the deeper they probe into the mystery of this elusive assassin, the deadlier their trip becomes.

To unveil the mysteries of this film: this most remote place on Earth is Burundi. And the terrifying murderer is a crocodile. Besides that, it is also a very bad film. Touching ground with stupidity. What was keeping the accidental viewer in the movie theatre was the performance of Brooke Langton. A 36-year-old actress from Arizona and a marine biologist who is stunning in her presence ignoring the low status of the film.
Of course the film was not made in Burundi at all. That is not exactly a country where a Hollywood film crew could find their ideal circumstances to work. So, the film was made in South Africa and partly financed with money of the South African Government.
Several Hollywood films were made recently in low cost countries like Hungary and now South Africa.
Many Hollywood films are about investing as little as possible and having a return as high as the Himalayas.
The movie was shown to only one person. Like a private viewing. Obviously not a very successful movie.


In Edwards Movie Theatre the restrooms were visited. These are rooms not to rest but to relieve oneself. The innocent European noticed urinals were installed for small boys as well.
How nice they were thinking of kids also, the naive European said to his American friend.
Those low urinals are not for kids at all, replied the American friend.
They are for fellows with extremely long penises.

Pure madness

California has been hit by a cold wave. 70 % of the oranges have been lost. A visit yesterday to the estate of a long time friend revealed how different nature is becoming. On this land in the South of California no rainfall has occurred for over one year. The hillsides are dark brown and looking ugly. The night before on the estate there had been frost and the waterlines had been frozen. The climate is changing: in the more than 80 years of his life the long time friend has never seen this kind of weather.
But in that area of California the booming building of large houses simply continues at high speed. More houses, more cars, more shopping centres conquering and confiscating more and more of nature. Nothing can be seen which is different from 10 or 20 years ago. No houses better in saving energy. No applications of alternative ways of having energy. No cars polluting less. No stopping and wondering what the hell we are doing. Like lemmings the masses run towards the cliff and seem unstoppable.
This concept arises dominantly in the mind when driving the Californian highways around Los Angeles and San Diego. It is never quiet and calm on these roads anymore. Always traffic jams and intense concentration of vehicles. Any time of day and night. This situation exists also in a country like the Netherlands.
It is madness.
Pure madness.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The largest picture in the world

Is it possible to make the best picture in the world?
Certainly not.
But it is definitely possible to make the largest picture in the world.

Yesterday was a visit to the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Irvine, California.
This used to be a large military base founded in 1942. From El Toro marines went off to the battlefields of the Second World War, to Korea and Vietnam. The military base was closed down 8 years ago and since then was left untouched. Only recently they started to demolish all the buildings and runways to build new houses and create a park.

A group of 6 brave Californian photographers got the idea to use one of the large hangars as an enormous pinhole camera to make the largest picture in the world.
This turned out to be a gigantic challenge. To make the hangar lightproof, the floor level, a construction to hang the image of 28 x 108 feet (8,5 x 33 meters), a basin to develop, fix and wash the image.
On July 12, 2006 the picture was taken and ready. A huge image showing the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro control tower, twin runways with a backdrop of the San Joaquin Hills and the Laguna Wilderness.

To learn more about this project, click on www.legacyphotoproject.com

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A day of cultural input Californian way.

In Laguna Beach, South of Los Angeles, is a museum called the Laguna Art Museum. Not a big museum but it is a nice building with large spaces where interesting exhibitions could be presented. This month is a presentation of regional artists and except the work of two artists and a presentation of a photo project, all the rest is less than mediocre. It looks like the results from a competition that can make the worst kitsch.
Decorative art for an icecreamshop. Persons pretending to be artists but lacking basic technical skills, out of tune completely with what is really happening worldwide in the arts.
It is shocking to visit a museum in the most developed country in the world presenting such low level art. How come?
The idea that a museum is a place where sophisticated ways of expression are presented is not applicable to the Laguna Art Museum. Forms of art which are too experimental, provocative, shocking, disrupting, political or unsettling are not finding a place within the walls of this museum. Maybe the director and the curator of the museum would like to present experimental and inspiring shows of high quality but they cannot decide autonomously about the exhibition program. There is a board of directors who have to sanction any exhibition planned by the director and the curator. And who are the members of the board? Those are people who are prepared to pay to be on the board. In the case of the Laguna Art Museum $ 4.000 (3.094 Euros) annually. Whether a person has a cultural background or an expertise in the field of the arts seems not to matter too much. Result of this organisational structure is that the so-called art is only there to please the general public. To be entertaining in a not disturbing way.
This fits in the lives of these well to do people who live in an area where people go shopping driving Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s. Where a half filled glass of wine in a bar costs about $ 10 (7,73 Euros). This dream of living in material paradise is not allowed to be disturbed and the Laguna Art Museum, sponsored by companies and wealthy private people, censored by grocers on the board, can therefore not be controversial.
This is high treason. Not only of the museum but also of the artists who accept the context in which they live and limit their expression to what is accepted by the society, producing pleasing decorative art, with only as a purpose to achieve a comfortable life for themselves.
Materialism above anything else.

A Museum like the Laguna Art Museum is a non-museum. It has no importance whatsoever. In a country of the unlimited possibilities, of the greatest wealth, art has become disposable. Easy entertainment. Art forgotten the moment one walks out of the museum door.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Indian curry and French fries

One of the most enjoyable things is to have dinner with good friends and talk and laugh together.
We went in California, USA to an Irish Pub where also food was served. Recommended by the beautiful and super attractive Sacha in our party an Indian vegetarian curry with French fries was ordered.
Yes, this is the USA: in an Irish pub Indian curry with French fries.
The food was served on an oval plate and it looked like the chef had thrown up covering the French fries with Calcutta slime.
Consuming was only possible with eyes closed but at one point fork brought napkin to mouth.
Lots of trouble therefore in this Irish Pub in California where a band had started playing which gave the advantage to have to move close to the more and more beautiful and attractive Sacha for conversation and get overwhelmed by her hypnotic perfume to begin with.
A couple, about 80 years old, was dancing to the music of the band and their arthritis made them out of sync with the rhythm like they were in a slowmo going to end their dancing when the band was already back home.
Before a possible dessert could be contemplated the bill for the dinner was put on the table and a confusion of dramatic proportions arose.
In front of all the many customers present in the Irish Pub the coat of Sacha was gentlemanlike presented to her so she only had to put her arms into the sleeves to have the coat put around her perfect body.
European elegance probably impressing not only Sacha but the pub crowd as well.
But this tradition of helping a lady into her coat has either died out in the USA or was never imported and it is easy to imagine that if one of the two is not familiar with the protocol and the synchronization necessary for a successful coat-service, a hilarious struggle occurs.
This was one of those painful occasions.
Arms went into the wrong sleeves and a body entangled in the inner lining while the gentleman did of course everything possible to end the embarrassing situation. But it is like the tango: an exciting and lustful way to get international body parts touch as by accident.
So no wonder Sacha invited to have dinner again: “When my husband is out of town and then we put on the fog machine”.

Meanwhile an important issue has come up with the FUSO SANTEK expedition vehicle.
To have no propane in the vehicle at all.
Usually a recreational vehicle has a propane tank to supply the heater, the hot water boiler, the cooking range and oven and the refrigerator with the gas.
Some people, for several reasons, prefer not to have propane on board.
A propane tank is like a bomb. When in a collision the propane tank might explode.
Propane is also a killer gas. It can leak into the RV where it is deadly. All RV’s therefore are by law equipped with a propane gas detector. Cooking on propane requires to always having a window open because of the exhaustion gases.
There is also the hassle to have to find a place where the propane tank can be filled.
Because the FUSO engine runs on diesel there is a 130 litre (34 gallon) tank of the fuel already there.
On the market are furnaces, hot water boilers and cooking ranges using diesel. They are mostly applied in boats.
But the refrigerator is always either on propane or electricity.
Fortunately, Dometic makes a fridge using 12 volt. This fridge could be installed in an RV.
If so, no propane at all will be necessary.
However, the question now is whether the 4.5 amperes the fridge uses is not too high of consumption for the 4 solar panels producing max 300 watt in combination with the 4 batteries of 6 volt.

We are lucky we do not also have to run a fog machine on the system.
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For more information on the Dometic 12 volt refrigerator, click on:
http://dometicenviro.com/marinerefrigerator/frige.html

Friday, January 12, 2007

Green Fuso 1

Driving on the Californian highways is a stressful affaire. Traffic is heavy, intense, aggressive, and anonymous. Nobody drives on the roads anymore for pleasure. Everybody detests it but there is no other way. Say Highway 91 and people’s face change into a grapefruit.
But to reach SANTEK, the builder of the new FUSO expedition vehicle, highways must be cruised and traffic jams suffered.
But eventually a quiet area is reached in between two dead end streets in an industrial area of Riverside immediately to a desert landscape. A large hall houses the birthplace of trailers and expedition vehicles.
There are 12 men working, most of them from Mexico. Highly skilled, efficient and disciplined.
Owner of Santek and general manager is Paul Westphal. He bought the company a year and a half ago after a career in the now by him detested corporate world.
Paul is a remarkable man. He is very relaxed, happy, open and most friendly. No stress and cramps because he knows in this life it is not all about money and career. Paul has come to see the Lord, as he explained, not long ago. He radiates now a fantastic energy and that makes designing, planning and building a new expedition vehicle a great pleasure.

Discussing all the details of the new FUSO SANTEK took 4 hours. Paul being an expert as well was a good wrestling partner to come up with the best solutions for the different issues. Because many aspects of an expedition vehicle have no standard, ready and immediate available solution.
Most issues found a perfect solution and the ones hanging do not need imminent answers yet.
Doing a project like this is allowing something to grow. On the way issues are found and solutions discovered. This makes it all so interesting.
As a consequence, the coming months there will be permanent supervision to share and participate in the building process.

The truck was there.
A green monster shining and being pretty. Waiting for her load to carry.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

LA confidential

We may wonder why. But it used to be when arriving at an American airport, coming from an international destination, that at a strategic location a large portrait picture of the President of the USA, smiling and looking amiable, would welcome the visitors. Last September, arriving in Los Angeles, there was not one picture, but two. The second one was of Dick Cheney. How did he manage that? But now the pictures have been taken away. There is just a cheap banner saying: “Welcome to the United States: have your travel documents ready”. What is going on in this beautiful country?

The flying time from La Paz to Los Angeles was 1 hour and 50 minutes and the waiting time to get through Immigration and customs 1 hour and 10 minutes.
What is going on in this wonderful country?

There is a terrific website, called www.kayak.com, to find the best deals on flights, hotels and car rentals.
At Los Angeles Airport a company called “Deluxe rent a car” has the best deal: a weekly rate for a PT Cruiser of $ 89,95!
Once in the office, about to receive the keys of the fancy car, the invoice is presented with a total of $ 251.26!!!
Taxes this, insurance that, wakes up roughly the customer. After signing the contract it is said the car needs to be washed and will be ready in 5 minutes. Twenty minutes later Enrique brings the dripping wet car and inspection learns there is quite some damage to the vehicle. With more than 22.000 miles on the clock, lacking cruise control, failing dashboard lights the rental company “Deluxe rent a car” may consider to change their name.

There are some things going on in this country!
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For current location, click on:
http://map.datastormusers.com/user1.cfm?user=3297
At number 3297 is temporary Blog headquarters.

For an excellent travel-search site, click on:
http://www.kayak.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Some fine flying

A man at a window-seat started screaming. The alerted passengers on that side of the plane could see why. There was oil coming out of the Boeing 737 jet engine.
One of the stewardesses came immediately to the centre of the panic and ordered everybody to move away from the windows. Another airhostess ran to the cockpit and returned with the pilot. He looked through the window for a while and then said quietly: “Nothing is the matter”.

Some years ago an Alaskan Airline DC 9, the airline doing the flying tomorrow as well, on its way from Cabo San Lucas in Mexico to Los Angeles, had its tail aileron jammed and went into a dive. The pilots were helpless to control the plane and it crashed into the Pacific.

Flying Pilgrim Airlines from Boston to New York City, in a twin propelled small plane, above the Long Island Sound, the aircraft suddenly went into a dive. Like a Stuka it went down. The passengers screamed. Panicked. Sitting next to an unknown lady, we fell into each other arms to give each other a sense of comfort or safety. It is better to die together. What seemed an eternity, the pilot regained control of the plane eventually and levelled it to continue without any explanation to New York. Slightly embarrassed we untangled and pretended nothing happened.


After doing a photo series on HIV in Mwanza at the Victoria Lake in Tanzania, we took a plane from there to the town of Arusha from where were flights back to Europe. The Boeing 737 was loaded to the maximum and the cargo holds filled to the rim with Victoria Lake fish. The plane made a run on the broken tarmac and it seemed to go on forever. Like it was not going to make it. Once off the ground there was a huge explosion. An enormous bang. The plane got out of horizontal balance and continued flying but hanging over to one side. One engine had blown up. Now, in normal circumstances a plane with a blown-up engine returns immediately. But not in Africa! The pilot realized that if he would return to Mwanza he would have to wait for parts and mechanics which had to come from Dar-es–Salaam: a two weeks travel by car. He took the chance to fly on one engine and not to Arusha but to Dar-es-Salaam for repairments. There was a strange energy in that plane during that flight. People were very, very quiet. Many praying. Writing words on pieces of paper.
We landed in Dar-es-Salaam and were asked to go and wait in the airport building. We could see a mechanic on a ladder using a hammer inside the broken engine banging away at something. A European lady had organised a car to drive from Dar-es-Salaam to Arusha as she was not willing to get back into that plane. Although she offered a ride, suddenly she had disappeared and no other option was available than to take the now repaired plane again.

The big British Airways Boeing 747 Jumbo was approaching the runway of Kennedy Airport in New York. But we could see its speed was too high. The Earth approached us too fast. When the nose of the plane should have gone upwards, it remained in a downward position. We didn’t land. We crashed on the runway. An enormous bang and the plane seemed to fall apart. But somehow we and the plane survived. The pilot came on the PA-system and, as a real British person, deeply apologised. He said: “This was the worst landing of my career”.

We had been doing a story on Indians in the Amazon rainforest and as promised the small Cessna plane came to pick us up again.
The local guy responsible for the airstrip, manning the radio and keeping the grass on the runway low, wanted some money from us.
Everybody wanted money from us. And the Government paid him. We refused. No money for him. He retaliated by not informing our pilot about another plane coming in.
We got in the Cessna piloted by a debuting American aviator who was not licensed yet to fly through clouds and swinged around them.
Taxiing on the field we got into a starting position and off we went.
Halfway we suddenly saw a Twinotter coming in to land. Because its nose was up, that pilot couldn’t see us and he went straight at us.
A crash seemed unavoidable.
Our inexperienced pilot banged the controls to the extreme left and we went straight into the jungle crashing between the trees and lianas.

Another Boeing 747 of British Airways landing at Kennedy. It touched down safely.
Rolled out for a while but suddenly the pilot gave the engines the full throttle. Immediately the plane gained speed and actually took off again…
Back into the air. Sitting next to the emergency exit, the stewardess sitting opposite turned pale and white. She took the phone to inquire. She said that another plane had suddenly appeared on the runway.

Recently, in a KLM 747 from Amsterdam to Los Angeles. We were all inside and it seemed ready to go. What were we waiting for ? The friendly pilot came on saying there were still some delayed passengers from other flights to board. Eventually we saw a couple of persons heavily breathing enter and the door was closed. But the plane didn’t leave. After a while the door went open again and some bullies came in wearing jackets with written on the back: “SECURITY”. They went straight to two men, seemingly from Pakistan, and instructed them to be escorted out of the plane.
The men willingly did so after which other “SECURITY”-personnel searched the whole environment around where the Pakistani had been sitting and the bathrooms as well. No bombs were found. Passengers were looking at the scenes in amazement and with fright. After a while the bullies came back and took another two Pakistani out. And again. In total 9 Pakistani men were taken off the plane which landed safely in Los Angeles.

It is a treat to remember experiences of flying the evening before to take a plane again.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Don Rafael

Today in La Paz at 10.30 h. in the morning is an appointment with Don Rafael.
It is about this car.


Because the FUSO SANTEK 4x4 expedition vehicle is going to be build to become the new home, not only the Lazy Daze will find a new owner but also the Ford F250 Summerwind.
This Ford is quite a beast and has served for 5 years to be able to work at the remote location of Punta Marquez.
It has an 8-cylinder 5.4 litre gasoline engine with manual transmission. Great feature is the four-wheel drive that has been very effective on many occasions. It is loaded with all kinds of options, like air conditioning and comfortable seats, and has less than 10.000 miles (16.000 kilometres) on the clock.

Don Rafael lives in La Paz, although he is a ranchero. He has some cattle farms around town where his employees take care of the cows and horses. He is a good friend of Gumaro Gonzales and has heard from him the Ford F-250 is for sale. He considers buying it for his son.
This morning he will come to the large storage place where the Ford Summerwind is kept. He might even want to test-drive the beauty. And he even might buy it then and there. In the Mexican way: after some negotiating the price, a handshake and paying in 4 or more installments over a certain period of time. A deal based on trust and honour.

Some hours later…..

At exactly 10.30 h. this morning Don Rafael arrived at the place where the Ford Summerwind camper is in storage. But he didn’t come alone. He had his son with him and a cousin.
First there was a long chat about Gumaro and how long we know him and what a good person he is. The first stage of getting to know each other and develop a relationship based upon which a business deal à la Mexicaine can be made.
We went to see the vehicle and it was the son, who will receive it from his Dad as a present, who was very delighted.
Good salesmanship is to give the keys to the son right away who opened the hood, connected the battery and drove off like it was the Rally of Monte Carlo.
The father seeing how pleased the son was with the beautiful car decided then and there to buy it.
But things are not always easy and simple.
Don Rafael has just sold a piece of beachfront property near Todos Santos to an American for 1 million Dollars. That Gringo is going to pay in instalments and the first one is up this week. That money will serve as the first instalment on the Ford Summerwind of which the asking price, not mentioned yet, has been rising considerably after hearing Don Rafael hit the one million lottery.
But the next hurdle is that the Ford was bought in May 2002 but is a 2003 model. In Mexico the law says that a car can only be imported when 5 years old minimum. But Don Rafael wants the car now and the wonderful thing in Mexico is that there are laws but for one who has good connections and knows to play the game, there are ways around it.
It is claimed that for a mere 1.000 (70 Euros/92 USD) to 2.000 (140 Euros/184 USD) Mexican Pesos bribe money a temporary import permit can be required from the officials.
This is what Don Rafael is going to attempt and next week the result will be known.
If he is successful, we will have dinner, visit his rancho, he pays the first instalment, he gets the title and the keys. The son will drive away with it like a summer wind.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Eskimos in Mexicos

Human beings come equipped with a set of emotions. Like the Eskimos have about 23 names for snow and sleep naked together, we have many names for our emotions as well, while some of us sleep naked together also.
Today, because of the departure from the Gonzales family after 45 days, we put in the limelight two of the 23 emotions, namely melancholy and nostalgia.
Melancholic emotions are purple and multisided of shape while nostalgic emotions are greyish black and round of shape.
They both are manifest with insisting Northwestern winds and when leaving to the North from somewhere.
But this only when the time passed has been of an extraordinary quality.
Some examples responsible for causing melancholy and nostalgia in this particular case.
  • The early morning rising, before the sun has appeared on the horizon, to go to the beach with a fishing pole to give the creatures in the sea the impression of being there fishing.
  • The first daily connection to the Internet and the observation of the e-mails streaming in while drinking a cup of strong Twining’s Irish Breakfast Tea.
  • The Pookey’s coming to make trouble around the Lazy Daze motor home indicating they are ready to drink their daily bowl of fresh milk they want to be served pronto.
  • The simple lunch with toasted bread and cheese and lots of fruit followed by a siesta laying in the warm sun improving the tan.
  • The hour-long walk along the sea in the company of the Pookey’s who recently had their first swimming lesson.
  • The meditation in the warm Mexican sun hearing the Tibetan Bowls of German Klaus Wiese.
  • The friends coming by for a chat and sharing the experiences in life and therefore a laugh or two.
  • The challenge to keep up the gruelling discipline of running every day, recently topping 1 hour, 12 minutes and 17 seconds.
  • Eating with the Gonzales family and Ketcha asking: “Poco mas de frijoles, Miguel?”.
  • Walking back to the motor home under billions of stars and having no clue what the next day’s blog will be about.
  • Going to sleep after a day full of wonderful activities hearing the sound of the waves softly landing on the nearby beach while sweetly thinking of the Princess.

All this creates melancholia and nostalgia when it is time to go. It is concluded it will all be left behind. It will be there no more.
Next, one may drown in the own tears, which is a silly way of dying, while in fact we must realize that melancholia and nostalgia are very wonderful snowflakes.
Imagine we are somewhere for a while and we can’t wait to leave because it is all so horrible? Resulting in being very happy to depart? What has been going on, eh? Not very nice things, Eskimos will conclude.
But if departure moves out enwrapped in snowstorms of nostalgia and melancholia, it only tells us the time passed has been wonderful, excellent and fabulous.
That is a compliment to life.
And the really great thing is that nostalgia and melancholy makes us ready to long and love to go back. To return to the good times. “Snowflakes fields forever”, as those Eskimos called the Beatles were singing.
After the departure the nostalgia and the melancholy make us reminiscence and inspire us to plan a return.
How happy we will be to come back because how wonderful those 45 days have been.
Muchas gracias, familia Gonzales.Muchas gracias, la vida y los Esquimales.

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For more information about Twinings Tea, click on
www.teacouncil.co.uk
For more information about Eskimos, click on
http://www.haagen-dazs.com/

Sunday, January 7, 2007

SKYPE

VOIP stands for “Voice Over Internet Protocol” and makes it possible to make phone calls through the Internet. One of the major companies offering this option is SKYPE. When registered with SKYPE phone calls can be made for free to other persons also registered with SKYPE. When the computer is equipped with a web cam, which is a video camera, you can actually see the other person speaking. This in case the person has directed the lens of the camera towards the face. Some people point the camera for example to the view from the window. There is also the possibility to have a credit with SKYPE and use their system to make phone calls at low cost to ordinary telephones, to have an on-line answering machine and a telephone number in any country a customer wishes.
SKYPE is really fabulous and has by now more than 7 million people subscribed.
The Lazy Daze motor home is equipped with a Datastorm Internet System. On the roof is a satellite disk that can find by itself the Satmex 5, which is the assigned satellite. Through a router and other electronic equipment, inside and outside the motor home is access to the Internet, thanks to WIFI.
Sitting outside with the MacBook Pro laptop computer from Apple one can talk to anybody in the world in all comfort.
However, the transmission speed of the data upwards is lower than coming down. This often results in hearing the person talk while that person cannot hear anything from this end.
But today was magical. The Princess, who has SKYPE as well, was on line and because probably the Gods are favourable to us, we could speak and see with no transmission problems at all.
We talked for over an hour and what an experience that was. There is a very specific energy between us. It is like lifting each other up to heaven. Feeling better and better by the minute.
This incredible excitement arising is also caused because we are thinking now about the Princess coming to the USA next month to travel together for a while.
That would be the most wonderful thing to happen.
It appears that this is how the flow of the river wants to go in our lives and only too much thinking, which will always present reasons why not to have us travel together, can sabotage this.

Even more excitement is caused because tomorrow is the day of departure. After 44 days with the Gonzales family at Punta Boca del Salado the caravanserai will travel to La Paz. This nice and friendly town is at a 5 hours drive north from Punta Boca del Salado. From La Paz an Alaska Airlines Boeing 727 will fly to Los Angeles on Wednesday.
On Thursday will be the meeting with Mr. Paul Westphal from SANTEK, the company who is going to build the camper on the Mitsubishi Fuso FG truck. To discuss all the many details involved when having a camper custom build. Every detail will be scrutinized before to decide on it. This Mitsubishi Fuso FG truck, reported Mr. Ron McRoberts, the most friendly and efficient salesperson from Kearny Mesa Truck Centre in San Diego, has been delivered to SANTEK already and is waiting for its new owner. In Jupiter Green, just as the Princess wanted.
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For more information on SKYPE, click on:
www.skype.com

For more information on Lazy Daze motorhomes, click on:
http://www.lazydaze.com/

For more information on mobile satellite internet connection from Datastorm, click on:
http://motosat.com/

For more information on the Apple MacBook Pro, click on:
http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/

For more information on Alaska Airlines, click on:
http://www.alaskaair.com/Default.aspx?ASDBD=J1

For more information on SANTEK, building trailers and campers, click on:
http://santektrailers.com/

For more information on truck dealer Kearny Mesa Truck Centre from San Diego, click on:
http://www.kmtc1.com/KMTC_WEBSITE_0/,_Mitsubishi_x.html

Saturday, January 6, 2007

A poem


A man walks.
Stumbles over the shadows.
Fallen on the sand he looks up.
It is better blue.
Forever and ever.

Heart is in his head.
Which way.
What way.
Pain and joy.
Forever and ever.

The shadows of the branches.
Flat outside.
Deep inside.
Tentacles gripping.
Forever and ever.

The sun going down.
Nights the shadows.
The lonely tree.
The man is free.
Never and ever.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Well well.

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) was a very vain man. A cheater. A hypocrite. Pretentious and dominant. Morally disputable. Intolerant. With a huge ego.
As a young boy in India, from a very poor family, he was discovered and launched as the new Messiah by a notorious paedophile called Charles Webster Leadbeater. Pampered suddenly with best education available Krishnamurti was catapulted into a world of extremes. No wonder he became unbalanced and distorted. He created a huge following worldwide and even today many people are inspired by his lectures. However, those people are usually not aware of who Krishnamurti really was. If a self proclaimed enlightened person teaches high morals to his many disciples while at the same time sanctioning the abortion of his mistress who is the wife of his best friend because a child with her would damage his reputation with his followers, we may wonder how white the sugar is.
Wonder about the sincerity of the lectures he gave insisting on love and compassion while himself dumping opportunistically his best friends for material reasons.
But then at the same time we wonder if the importance and the value of his lectures have anything to do with the fact that he secretly loved to live in extreme luxury.
Does a guru or a prophet need to live up to his own preaching?
Maybe after time has passed, the human sides of a prophet or a guru will be forgotten and only what is essential remains and is remembered.
What do we know of the private life of Buddha? It is forgotten.
What do we know about the private life of Jesus? Not much and what we know is romanticised many years after his death. In the case of Jesus, even today, many people get upset and in denial when they learn an unsettling aspect of Jesus’’ private life: his involvement with Maria Magdalena.
This is why people like Buddha and Jesus have been growing into holy icons. Their human side has been eliminated.
Krishnamurti passed away only 20 years ago and too much is still known about his awful private life for him to become a holy person yet.
Nevertheless, he has been presenting many fabulous perspectives on life and it is worthwhile to read his lectures.
One of the concepts he has introduced is the “choiceless awareness”.
When living a spiritual life, practising meditation, living consciously, as pure as possible, the level of awareness goes up.
Much more of the reality around the person appears in the consciousness and is being realized. This is confusing because we have the tendency to always have an opinion about what we have become aware of. Even often a judgement or a condemnation. Now when the consciousness has much more to digest because the level of awareness has been going up, it will become rather busy in the mind. Aware of so many things and all needing an opinion and a standpoint. If we nevertheless manage to do this, we become like the judge of reality. Much will be condemned and eliminated or abandoned and a little will get a favourable judgement and can stay.
This will make the person sit on a high pillar above human reality and up there it is cold and lonely.
Krishnamurti advocates to become more conscious through meditation and a pure way of living but to be choiceless. With this he means not to have a specific opinion on what one has become aware of.
Other wise men, like Swami Chinmayananda, call this “unattached awareness”. One becomes aware of something and limits it simply to only this awareness. The awareness is not followed by developing an opinion.
This sounds simple but it is very difficult to do.
Take for instance Alfredo Gonzales, the brother of our friend Gumaro Gonzales. Alfredo lives in the second part of the rancho at Punta Boca del Salado but his heart is not really into it. His heart is with Catarina who lives in town and with her he spends much of his time. He has more or less abandoned his rancho and the animals notice this. Like the two dogs: often they are without food and even water for days. There is a water well near Alfredo’s house with plenty of potable water but he has lacked to protect this well against flooding during rains and it is not covered to avoid dirt and objects to fall into it. When there was this horrendous hurricane last September, his well got filled with water and mud of the riverbed in which the rancho is located. The well became a sandpit. Now the tremendous job has to be executed to dig out the sand from the well. This is being done by hand. Alfredo puts on some old clothes and a sombrero, climbs down into the well with a shovel while his brother in law Leonardo, assisted by his sons and friends, lowers a bucket. Alfredo fills the bucket with sand and Leonardo hauls the bucket up to empty it in a wheelbarrow. This goes on for maybe an hour when other things need their attention. The project to empty the well of the sand and make it a nice and clean source of good water again is going on for weeks now because it is only once in a while they get to it.


So, what do we think of Alfredo and his flooded well?
Nothing. We just see and that is all.

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To learn more about Jiddu Krishnamurti, click on:
http://www.kfa.org/
http://www.kinfonet.org/
To read more about the private life of Krishnamurti, these two books are recommended:
"Star in the East: Krishnamurti, the invention of a Messiah" by Roland Vernon.
ISBN 0971078688
"Lives in the shadow with J. Krishnamurti" by Radha Rajagopal Sloss. ISBN 0201627019

To learn more about Charles Webster Leadbeater, click on:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Webster_Leadbeater

To learn more about Swami Chinmayananda, click on:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinmayananda

Thursday, January 4, 2007

The PS-series 4


An interview with Michel Szulc Krzyzanowski by Lise Koch.
Excerpt 1.

When did you start to make pictures?

My father is from Lvov, Poland and like his own father, he had as a hobby photography. He had a camera and made pictures of his children and had an improvised darkroom in our house. He knew how to print pictures. My father was a very interesting man who had a remarkable life. He was educated as an engineer and was working up to 1939 as a designer of agriculture equipment in Lvow participating in the rich social and cultural life there. At the time, Lvov was a cosmopolitan town with not only Polish inhabitants, but also a large Jewish community, Russians, French and German. There was an opera, theatres and museums. Being in the centre of Europe it was also at the crossroads of political shifts taking place at the time. My grandfather lived in Chorodow, a small town near Lvov, and was the administrator of the local sugar factory. It was a big family: my grandparents had 7 children. My grandmother was an artistic person. As a wedding present she received from her new husband a German piano. This piano is still in the family, currently with my cousin in Jaworzno. One Aunt was a very good painter. Another Aunt a very good piano player. It was a family with a rich cultural life. Besides his job, my grandfather was an amateur photographer. He had a large camera with glass plates as negatives and a darkroom in the house. Coincidentally, my grandfather of my mother’s side was also an amateur-photographer with his own darkroom. My Polish grandfather died rather young of a wrongly treated kidney problem. Fortunately, he had arranged a good life insurance and the family never suffered financially. In 1939 the family was chased away from Lvov by the Soviets and settled partly in Warsaw, the capital of Poland and partly in the South of Poland. My father, who was a reserve-officer in the Polish army was mobilised in 1939 because Poland was attacked in the West by the Nazis and in the East by the Soviets. He was captured by the Soviets and put in the freight train with many other Polish officers to be transported to the forest of Katyn, near the village of Gnezdovo. In that forest 8.000 Polish officers were massacred by the Soviets. During the train ride to Katin my father got suspicious and managed to open the wooden floor. When the train slowed down he dropped himself from the wagon and escaped. Only 3 Polish officers were able to avoid the massacre. After the Polish army had been overrun by the Nazi and Soviet hordes they were ordered to make their escape individually to Biarritz, in the South of France, to regroup. He fond his way through Rumania and Greece where he got on a boat to end up eventually in Biarritz. Now being a full time soldier he had to fight the Nazis when they attacked France in 1940 and managed later to escape to England from Dunkerque. In 1944 he landed in Normandy as a tank commander and liberated many towns. He fought basically from the beaches from France to the north of Germany where in 1945 the war came to an end. The Polish soldiers had been promised they would fight all the way to Poland and return home in that peculiar way, but they were fooled by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin who already on February 4, 1945 in Yalta had decided that the Soviet Union was going to have Poland as a vassal state.
My father was forced to remain in the West of Europe.
When he noticed I was very curious about his activities of printing pictures in the darkroom he let me witness the magic of a piece of paper in a basin with liquid in strange yellow light having an image appear out of nowhere. Being 6 years old that was an amazing experience. Around that time he also gave me my first camera. I was his favourite child. It was a Kodak Brownie. He also supplied me with enough films. I made pictures in the big garden surrounding our house. And of my beautiful sisters. Of family festivities. If I ran out of film, I would snatch someone else’s camera and make pictures with that. Eventually they had to hide their cameras for me because they knew I would use them. As of the age of 6 I make pictures. Thanks to my father. That is how I started.

How is it to still make pictures?

This is one of the things that amazes me and at the same time makes me feel jubilant and privileged. Each time I make pictures it is like the first time. I am totally excited. Enthusiastic. Crazy and wild to do it. Happy and exuberant. I still love to make pictures. Do it almost every day. Still completely fascinated by that medium. In the last 51 years I must have made hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pictures but I still run like a chased rabbit to make the next one.
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For more information on the city of Lvov, click on:
http://www.lvov.us/

For more information on the Kodak Brownie camera, click on:
http://www.brownie-camera.com/

For more information on the Soviet war crime of Katyn, click on:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_Massacre

For more information on the Yalta conference, click on:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yalta_Conference