Re-entering the Stratosphere

 

Stratosphere

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere

With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey, hey

She acts like summer and walks like rain

Reminds me that there’s a time to change, hey, hey, hey

Today marks the one week anniversary of our re-entry to the stratosphere, waking up not to the sounds of Africa but to the Colorado morning birds and sunshine.  My favorite mountain and lake view is seen in this town.

And though we cannot live in our house, we are ‘home.’  Guled was born here in this town. My mom lives in this town and our closest friends are within easy access of this town, if not within walking distance.

This town is truly inspirational to me. Lake Loveland balloon

In the hills behind this balloon you will find a little-known bedroom community named Masonville.  It has a little mountain store, the Masonville Mercantile, known to biker’s, couples soon-to-be-married, and sports an old jail cell for tourist pictures.  So as you ascend or descend the northern tier of the majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains, you enjoy a quick stop in the mercantile.

I never learned why the town carried that name. Note to self to do so one day. This was “home” for some time until two floods and a mountain fire caused three intense evacuations for which my psyche was ill prepared, alone with a new baby up in the mountains.  I loved the peace and alone-ness, but not in that kind of crisis.

House exterior steps

So we found a house some distance east of the mountains, past Loveland but on the plains, and called that home for twelve years before moving to Kenya.

But we are now ‘home.’  This summer will be filled with farmer’s markets, summer activities in Loveland’s small town center, visits to friends and family, and hikes in the craggy mountain side to see the hidden water gems amongst the always-green evergreen trees and the summer’s deciduous offerings.

Grand Lake RMRT

We will watch a Les Miserables production in the deep mountains at Grand Lake starring our favorite young child actress Camille Nugent…

Yellowstone

and there is even talk with my high school friend that we might just take that long ago-pondered visit to Yellowstone…..

Glacier Natl Park

and the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem”, the famous Glacier National Park, sitting on the US/Canadian border where Montana, Alberta and British Columbia meet - the planning of which began some years prior to our move to Kenya.

However, make no mistake that while we enjoy a lovely reintegration and regeneration process, issues in political and developmental Kenya are not far from my mind.  The proper education of children and their protection remain squarely in my essence.  I have a wider perspective of things after living in a developing country and returning home.  Perhaps there will be some lessons to share….

Mom cartoon…. like spending time with your very cool 75 year-old mom (sorry mom – public record)…. ok that isn’t my mom. My mom said no photos on the internet. Privacy of age I may not respect, by revocation of consent I respect.

… like hugging your friends who kept you sane while you were exploring….

…. like being freely able to walk the neighborhood and the forest at any time with no fear….

…. like feeling a sense of trust with your government… surprising to you?

…. like smooth roads and bridges everywhere…..

…. like having access to 911 if you need it without having to pay a bribe….

… like finding hair dye appropriate for a white chick to stave off a few more years the vestiges of an aging body, though not a soul…

…..like remembering a specific niece who taught you the value of a song….

…. like seeing the growth in people more clearly because you were away.

Travel is imperative for the soul of some people.  I am a case in point.  It balances perceptions and trains us to bring value to our every day lives.  The humdrum of everyday must give way to the beauty and magic in every moment.  Our minds open to many more possibilities that way.  I do not apologize for wanting to see and feel magic in my everyday life, but perhaps I apologize for not dragging enough people with me.  And for scaring my mom, an unintended consequence. Indeed I have returned from my stay on the moon….

Drops Clair Sail across Sun

Now that she’s back from that soul vacation

 

Tracing her way through the constellation, hey

Drops Claire MozartShe checks out Mozart
while she does Tae-Bo
Reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere

Drops Clair Drops in hairI’m afraid that she might think of me as
Plain ol’ Jane told a story about a man
Who was too afraid to fly so he never did land

Drops Milkyway NASABut tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance
To dance along the light of day
And head back to the Milky Way?

And tell me, did Venus blow your mind?

Was it everything you wanted to find?

And did you miss me While you were looking for yourself out there?

~Train, Drops of Jupiter, with illustrations by Claire Adele

All well and good on this end.  I did indeed miss you, Colorado.

We are home.

Thanks to Claire Adele for permission to showcase her pieces from her DeviantArt page.  She really has color and energy happening!  Check it out.

How the Media Melds My Mind – an Airplane Lesson

Mind Meld

My mind meld this morning begins with a morning review of global media over my Ethiopian coffee, enjoyed in my flat on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.  I’m ecclectic like that.

ecclectic

Al Jazeera reports on the G7 threatening Putin and Russia, and then the missing Malaysian flight now three weeks into its disappearance.

The “they” of the aircraft search world have announced somewhat formally throught the Malaysian PM that the aircraft expired somewhere out in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean and all aboard are dead.  No one knows this definitively, however, an exclusive high-tech system, Inmarsat, had tracked pings and directions to lead all involved to believe “beyond any reasonable doubt” that the plane went down in remote waters off western Australia.  Quite harsh and sad.  Grief blue eye tear goodbyeFamilies, friends, colleagues… all in a state of great grief and I think even we strangers feel it in the pits of our stomachs, no matter how far removed we are from the actual tragedy.

So, after perusing the BBC, Nation Media and various other global outlets (read “the Onion” and Huffington here) I move on to my dose of the CNN effect.  Indeed in a moment worthy of a bipolar episode, I read a story about a Southwest Airlines jet in the U.S. landing at the wrong airport.  Click those orange words back there and you will be transported to the article if it is still published.  The story is brief and truly quite light.  The pilots are speaking to air traffic control at the Branson airport, the correct airport, but apparently have just landed on the strip at a different airport some miles away:

“I assume I’m not at your airport,” one of the pilots radioed to controllers at Branson Airport, the Boeing 737′s intended destination.

“4013, um, have you landed?” comes the response, according to the recordings released by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Yea,” says the pilot, after a brief pause.

Then the controller calls to another air traffic facility for the area to inquire about the plane, and there is this exchange:

“Did you watch Southwest land?”

“Yea, why?”

“Did you see it come here? They’re saying it landed at the wrong airport.”

“Are you kidding?”

“Yea, no, I’m not.”

And that is apparently not all. The airstrip upon which the pilots set down was half the distance of the Branson strip.  Those pilots had to step on the brakes with renewed purpose…but alas, all lived to tell the tale and snicker a bit.

And this is where my brain goes:  “Huh?  With all the high-tech gadgets in the world, with all the pinging and tracking and satellites and US spying toys…. wow, with ALL that, you can actually LAND at the wrong airport and no one notices?  The Branson air control didn’t notice that the plane wasn’t even in sight on their runway?”

Mind melt thought secondary to that:  “And come to think of it, we can lose an aircraft completely?  There is no satellite auto-tracking on planes these days? Lose a plane and land another plane at the WRONG airport, but put dudes in globe-topped white suits on the moon and bring them home successfully…….  Really?  REALLY?”

So, because I am trained to intake facts and then synthesize those facts into some meaningful construct, I start thinking back to my initial response on the Malaysian flight.  I wrote a piece, only half finished, questioning what technology is embedded in airplanes now in the post-9/11 terror era.  I am certain in my soul that since the 9/11 tragedy in the U.S., there are all kinds of super secret monitoring devices embedded in planes unknown to the general public’s psyche or awareness.

certainty dicecertainty fibonnaci spiralSo sure of it.

I am talking Fibonacci golden spiral sure.

We may find out that the Southwest Airlines pilots were enjoying a good Sambucha perhaps, giving rise to momentary synapse-receptor lapses of judgment… i.e., a bit drunk.  I ask around but get no positive responses from my contacts in the know.  Sometimes silence is the confirmation.  The difficulty is knowing when that is.  Thus, a half-finished suspicion piece sits in my Drafts cue.

But I can’t help but “go there”… the dystopic paranoid place…. where I might find the answer in a beta testing hack job on air traffic controller software.  Probably one of Ponto’s  U.S. based tech friends who signed up for a beta testing spot in a company’s Research & Development call, thinking he or she is beta testing a new digital “game”, a real life Ender’s Game.  Investigations involve connections and motives.

money trail

The connection is the air traffic and guidance element, and the motive… that will take a touch more thought and probably involve a money trail (mom’s lesson long ago during a particularly confusing investigation).

Yep, that’s gotta be it.  Definitely someone out there is hacking air guidance system networks.  Definitely.

 The Thinker, Le Penseur, by Rodin, 1904.The Thinker, Le Penseur, by Rodin, 1904.

I am still pondering my Fascism and media pieces…..

Thoughts on Fascism – Lucky you

fascism funnyIn preparation for my current events piece going out tomorrow, I offer by way of short introduction a prequel.

fas·cism  - noun \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\

: a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government

I would add into this particular definition that the government is a “socially conservative, one-party” government, not so much with regard to money matters, but with how it approaches social needs and issues with its controlled corporate money.  It promotes some element of its morality through religious means to get the people on the bandwagon. This type of government is typically associated with Hitler’s regime during the World War II era, though I recall better Italy’s Mussolini. Fascism Mussolini

And of course there was my mother carrying forth the dictatorial precepts after WWII….. just kidding, mom.  If you are reading, I’m just so impressed you made it here!

Here is what fascism looks like in the modern-day social media mindset:

Fascism 11 steps to

Notice the elements necessary to make “the people” accept the whole idea.  You first invoke a threat.  Pick any you like….communism, terrorism, Somali pirates…anything that perceptibly threatens our modern-day way of life.  The threats are often real and actually have a grain of truth to them.  I dare say back in the 1800′s, the threats involved were along the lines of indigenous people, or the companion fear of the white invaders, crimes involving horse theft and a version of drunk “driving” by horse in the U.S., tribal battles over resources, natural disasters and weather-related fears.

Towards the bottom of the list, you see that the press is restricted and dissent about the evolving process is cast as “treason.”  Here would be the propaganda machine’s active work towards discrediting any voices who call out warnings.

Though in modern-day we now have probably a new #9: our opinions on social media act as ‘fact’.  I see it often. We tend to not take the time to research good information.  How many of us read information from Wikipedia and assume it is correct information?  How many times have we passed a shocking piece of information around Facebook, only to find out from Snopes that it is an urban legend and never happened?  I have actually done the very deed in this post.  Can you find it?

Now, consistent with good investigation, I seek out deflation of a concept. I went looking for an understanding of the term and potential merits of fascism.  In all honesty to myself and to you the reader, families have a tendency to be run in a one-party dictatorial fashion, merging the corporate and government functions into one entity. If children are raised well, they are probably subjected to a large dose of fascist regime in the guise of good parenting.

Let us be honest with ourselves then and honor the yin and yang of the concept.  Check out “What Fascism Is Not: Thoughts on the Deflation of a Concept” by Gilbert Allardyce, published in the American Historical Review, vol. 84, No. 2 (April 1979) pp. 367-388. Now, in this article, Allardyce parses meanings and tells us that we probably associated an evil intent into the very definition of the word by associating it with a bad example of how it is implemented. “As long as the fascism problem is the Nazism problem we cannot separate it from visions of the Final Solution; for this reason discourse on the subject will remain charged, moralistic, and pulpitarian.”  I had to look up that word: noun -preacher; an advocate of preaching as essential to worship.

Hitler’s regime is a strikingly good example of a bad implementation example.  I used to have a law professor who would tell us something like, “hard cases make bad law” because it was the unique and bizarre cases that actually made it to court to set case precedent, rather than the normal everyday cases and situations. Citing Stuart Woolf’s 1968 European Fascism (you can purchase on Amazon), Woolf begins:

Although some scholars attempted from the start to restrict the use of the term fascism to Mussolini’s movement in Italy, most have joined in a process of proliferation that began as early as the 1920s. After Mussolini’s success, observers thought they recognized men and organizations of the same type arising in other nations. From this beginning emerged a popular image of fascism as an international movement, a phenomenon that found purest expression in Italy and Germany, but also appeared in a wide number of other countries. When stripped of national trappings, it is commonly believed, all of these movements had a common characteristic that was the essence of fascism itself.  Although that essence is difficult to define, the prevailing hope is that continuing research will eventually reveal the nature of facism more clearly. Thus, while the thing itself continues to elude us, the name goes on as before….

It appears to me then that there is a fascist under every bush.  My mom was a fascist by that definition.  Probably very many people are “fascist” on some level, and therefore no one is because it loses any meaning if everyone fits the definition. And therein lies the frustration with the academic and intellectual community.  I have just spent 1000+ words trying to define a word so that I have something usable for my upcoming piece, forgetting completely that the term doesn’t matter nearly as much as the process I am describing.  Fair enough.

Nonetheless, I find the process something to consider when we the people find ourselves cast into the cauldron of fear about global issues threatening our personal security and the mysterious shift in authority that results.

Ok, back to my morning coffee…..Fascism coffee

 

 

Perspective – Living on the outside as we live on the inside

Today, Facebook and Katrina have given me a valuable lesson.  The context of the lesson comes from Facebook, but the value comes from Katrina.

Apologies in advance that none of my cool graphics will show here today.  The uploader clearly is taking Sunday as a day of rest for some reason.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary on “Perspective” tells us it is “the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed”, or ” the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.”  There are also definitions relating to how the eye ‘sees’ things in terms of parallel lines.  My architect dad talked about perspective to my genius artist sister all the time back in her early years.  He would describe how to draw railroad tracks as they move away from you towards the distant horizon, or a focal point of an enclosed room.

I prefer a mix of the mental and physical spacial concept – something like “the appearance to the mind of objects and ideas in respect to their relative distance and positions.”

I used to tell my writing students that they had to learn the rules first before they could learn to break them.  I never knew Pablo Picasso was credited with that concept until today.  I just broke a rule, and in doing so made a new rule – Cynthia’s perspective on perspective.

This is why Facebook and Katrina taught me something today.

In the days when I taught teens (Katrina was one for a very short time), I should have gone with my gut rather than the inside of the box.  Sorry Katrina and all you others. There were so many cool things I wanted those chowder-head teenagers to see and experience, but because those things didn’t fit squarely in our contextual box of the day, I kept this whole secret intellectual and spiritual life to my self.

Now I live on the outside as I live on the inside, and it is the responses from others, often spontaneous, that tell me other people are getting the same jazz out of it that I am. Katrina loves this perspective as do I, so “we” share it here:

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”
~The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho.

 

I suppose you all can guess that I am putting my glass down….

…and all of that to say thanks Facebook for putting up an Alchemist story, and Katrina for seeing the jazz in it that makes me realize how much more important the perspective is than the weight of the glass.

in vino veritas

vino veritas corkThe conversation began in the manner most conversations begin in 2013, with a distinct reference to an iphone:

“In the know vitreous.  That was supposed to be Latin for ‘in wine there is truth’ but iPhone does not pick that up well.”   ~LJK

My mentor and I have these Socratic conversations as we navigate life, responding to each others quest for knowledge, and so I responded, and will share with everyone because I have not the energy to do this another time:

I found her and sent a friend request on Facebook.  She looks awesome by the way.   I use Facebook a lot so that people know we are ok even when I get too overwhelmed to respond via email.  I also posted your iphone-created Latin quote about wine on Facebook.  I figure everyone out there should know that one!  ha. That made me laugh out loud in Kenya.  

So, it is Sunday morning and the Pentecostal church in the Lenana is quite loud and invasive, making it a good time to update you.  

 

Guled and school went from potential difficulty to probably great success.  You know, all those issues he kept facing there in Greeley never happened here.  He is just another guy in school.  He has conquered personal demons of his childhood, if one can call them demons, to become a 6 ft tall, very handsome man.   The girls find him particularly attractive because of his coloring. One day he will realize that when they laugh, they are not laughing at the vestige of a once corpulent tummy, but instead are giggling to get him to look at them with those piercing  hazel eyes. The problem comes into play when grown women start following us around the mall! Good grief.  

 

He adjusted to the British curriculum in term III and brought his grades up from 17% and 45% to A’s (Chem, Bio, English, swimming) and B’s (physics, music, ICT, geography) and a couple of C’s (math and something else).  I think he got a D in Art though and we will address that next week.  Who the hell gets a D in art when you do the work?  Nonetheless, we have discussed about life and what we want to do, and he thinks that while he wants very much to visit everyone in the U.S., another year in school here would be a good thing.  For the shorter summer break they have here (British curriculum spaces out time off better than in American systems), Guled has done some work with me, gone to a teens camp for a week, taken some short trips around the area, gone places with some friends from school, enjoyed some quiet time, and worked on a project with one of his friends here to make some money.  They are disgusted at the low wages though.   It’s pretty funny if you ask me. 

We have learned so many valuable lessons, grown to appreciate things in our world over there that had never occurred to us, and come to value living amongst diverse people who have a purity because they haven’t been “westernized” into mediocrity or complacency.  I am not certain which word has the better meaning to fit my idea.   There is something simple and pure about how the villagers live here.   Nairobi is fast becoming western in their thought and view, with new college graduates demanding state-of-the-art technology, the newest automobiles and homes beyond their means.  They are incurring rampant rates of debt just like we do there in the U.S. to support their thirst for “more and better”.  One day the piper will come.  Currently, loan rates here hover in the 23%-25% compounded annually.  Remember in the early 70′s when we had that in the U.S.?  I don’t even think it was that high except on credit cards.  The system will not be able to support that much longer.  They are 2 trillion in debt in Kenya with the recent acquisition of a loan from the Chinese for infrastructure.  So much fraud in the ranks here makes me wonder how the people of Kenya allow this nonsense.  Therein enters one of the cultural elements I do not understand – the attitude, “what can we do about it?  We just have to accept and move on.”   Hum.  

A new “excise tax” has been levied on financial services, insurance services….some other whacky things in my opinion, to help fill the coffers and probably to support the devolution process (from centralized government to 47 devolved counties… like our states). The drafters of the 2010 Constitution, many western educated at the ivy league degrees from the US and UK, expertly sought to spread governmental power into all areas of Kenya so that Nairobi didn’t hold 100% power of the purse strings, but they did not expertly figure out how to pay for the process.  So be it.  On a lighter note, one piece of trivia I recently learned is that a young and brilliant American civil rights attorney helped Kenya draft its first constitution as the British were leaving in 1960. The name,Thurgood Marshall, later was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Way cool.   

I am in a place of having to decide my next step here.  It is not an easy time and I am in a state of exhaustion currently, I cannot lie. But while my body is suffering, seriously, my mind is still alive and not in some black place.  I am thankful that I got this job so swiftly and if the time has come for me to learn a tough lesson about being an expat, then so be it.  I try to keep my life here fairly simple so that I can take the next wave without encumbrance.   Guled and I have discussed our thoughts and feelings about Hakim and where we are at with that.  I think both of us would like an explanation for why he continues to be so conspicuously absent yet pays child support religiously.  No matter.  That money got me through the last 2 surprise months at having no salary.  A girl can’t complain. I am free in this area of my life.  I’ve done all I know to do and because of this choice, this whole “dad” nonsense will not be something Guled has to spend thousands of dollars in therapy on to understand.  Better spent this way than on a couch!  

But I would be lying to say that I am not considering if it is time to go back to the U.S.  There is a New York job that interests me but living in New York city does not.  When I am feeling overwhelmed and disgusted by the fraud and the damage they inflict on each other over tribalism here, I romance the idea big time.  That and the latrine toilets here with mere holes in the ground…. I never get used to that. I have learned amazing things about that which I am capable.  I have gone into a developing nation and undertaken to support the rights of the most vulnerable in a legal system I did not know, a legal system they themselves do not know, an accent on their English I could not understand, cultural norms foreign to me, with the simplest of daily experiences completely new… and I have survived and even thrived at times.  By virtue of the color of my skin, I was granted a presumption of capability & respect.  I have kept that presumption largely because I was capable and respectful.  How do I take that persona back to the U.S., sit behind a support desk owned by someone with the degree I didn’t finish, and who has no knowledge of anything of life outside that protected crystal dome we have built there, and be satisfied?  I can do it and learn for a while if I’m lucky enough to get a quality boss, but at the end of the day, that drawing inside to be more and mean more to the world will begin to rise again.  Getting too comfortable for too long kills me, but I need to learn balance for sure.  I seriously need some green salad and about a week of massages and time on the beach in the sun and surf.

Much to think about, even as I type and clean the kitchen this morning.  I need to talk this out in my head.  You just got lucky enough to draw the short straw today!

 

Red or white, why not have a glass of truth today.  Cheers.

vino veritas still life

Schools and Prisons – The Inextricable Link

I have far too much to do on any given day and my blog suffers continually, but I miss my therapeutic writing.

TwainEinsteinsimilar

I am this very morning struck yet again by the similarity in visage between Mark Twain and Albert Einstein…their golden years anyway.  Take a peek:

One of our young attorneys has a very international base in her thinking and posted one of my favorite Mark Twain comments.  As our country turned from the 1800s to the 1900s, he was very involved in exposing the idiocy of things.  At the time, there was a school board problem in his town reportedly, and so he let them know:

MarkTwain“Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.” ~American author Mark Twain in a speech 23 November 1900.

Fairly poignant words.  It looks something akin to this: dogtail

 

Kenya has some of its own idiocy, preparing this very day to build more jails.  They may not realize they are budgeting for prisons, but they are.  So welcome to the grand illusion; come on in and see what’s happnin’.

Perhaps it is time to write formally on the matter for the scholarly journal here.

And a public service announcement for the public:  I have a number of pending articles in various stages of completion, including our One Year Anniversary piece.

unicorndaydream

I hope to jump out of the spin cycle shortly and have some down time to reflect.  In the mean time, remember your dreams.  They often have a purpose beyond taking up brain cells.

“They aren’t rights if they only apply when we’re safe.”

(written some days ago but simmering for editing purposes)

“They aren’t rights if they only apply when we’re safe.” ~Marissa Reichert

I don’t really know her, but this more-than-articulate friend-of-a-son-of-a-cousin said it as right as a person could articulate …in a conversation related to Miranda rights and the young, alive suspect caught in the boat after the Boston marathon bombings.

It got me seriously thinking about what it means to be free and how we balance that with the duty and responsibility to protect ourselves.   How far do we go in the hunt to identify and catch people who will hurt us in the future if we don’t stop them, and how do we treat them when we think we have found them?

Well, this morning’s news answered that question a bit.   A young suburbian from Chicago, an 18 year old, has apparently been “arraigned on terrorism charges” and I’m wondering what that means….terrorism charges exactly?   Must be federal and patriot-related.  They have their purpose.  Laws, and thus charges, have to be very specific and give us notice as to what we did wrong.

The flavor of news I’m reading and its headline read:  “US teenager snared in FBI ‘terror’ sting.”  That’s probably because I am not getting the CNN effect but the Al Jazeera effect, which I personally find a little more tolerable (only because I need a refreshing viewpoint), but not always fair.

So I move to CNN just for balance…oh wow, look at that….the story is not even evident on the front page.  A search is not revealing any related story anywhere.

I am left to wonder why that is I suppose.  After all, we are the people…..

Perhaps the People have forgotten who runs things...

Constitutional Law back in the late 1980′s was a very different beast.   While there could be unique situations where bypassing Miranda was warranted (the now-famous “public safety exception”), by no means would it qualify in a situation where there is no imminent threat of loss of life, like when an 18 year old is bleeding out in a boat some 24+ hours after the alleged incident causing a search for him and is unable to speak.

See, we want to preserve the admissibility of their statements in a court of law.  We also want our system to preserve its honor and humanity even when our human emotions would lead us to potentially strike out and make a mistake ourselves.  If we strike out and screw up, that suspect person might walk away (recall they are “innocent” at this point regardless of CNN and FBI reports) because that smoking-gun kind of evidence will not be allowed into the trial (fruit of the poisonous tree stuff-left for another day).

While the public’s emotions are inflamed by fear and news reports (possibly designed to inflame further under the guise of asking the public for help), all we’ve done is become that which we claim we hate.   Did you know a news report out of New York ran shortly after the Boston bombs went off, depicting a young man on the front page….. the wrong young man apparently?  Can you even imagine the damage done to that guy because of our attempts at helping the FBI?  This is probably why the police try to limit the public’s help in the first place.

If the ONLY time we get to have rights, like Miranda, is during peaceful situations in books and pieces of paper called court rulings, then me thinks Marissa is right…. they aren’t Rights at all.

We were tested in the crucible of life on our theoretical stance …. and we kind of failed a little bit.  I wonder if it will help us have some tolerance for others around the world enduring that same crucible.

 

SAFARI 101

THE MIRACULOUS MARA

OUR FIRST HAND ENCOUNTER WITH THE WORLD

The Miraculous Mara

The Miraculous Mara

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated,often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world.

“The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. 

‘Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind –

“and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”

– Mark Jenkins (perhaps the American artist born in Alexandria, Virginia 1970, who is most known for his street installation art with box tape)  SAM_2883

I am uncertain which is greater, the travel itself, or perhaps the traveler.   Whenever I go to a new place, I think the greatest change is inside myself.  It is the experience I seek, not the mere accumulation of images.  But the mere 2-D accumulation of images is all I really have in physical form to share… that and a few quotes written by those more artistically verbal than I.

“When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.”     – D. H. Lawrence (English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist 1885-1930)

So goes our trip to the Massai Mara with our friend Monique and her family.  Her husband, Agostino, is a well-seasoned safari guide and now operates his own company, Lokenjen.  Click on that word and check them out, particularly Monique’s photography!  Yannick, her very charming 3 year-old son, is also a seasoned safari expert.

You will get a much more personalized and real experience with Agostino than with the big companies operating out of the Serena hotel with their shiny new Land Rovers and clean, well-appointed people sitting upright, donning tourist safari hats, slathered with imported bug sprays and sun screens, gently cradling their expensive Nikon & Fuji cameras.

“If seeing sights is your kind of travel, then you, my good sir, are no traveler.”

I am a passionate believer that going off-road in life with a knowledgeable person is far superior to traveling the established routes, tourist or otherwise.   Giraffes off-road

     This is the “off-season” in the Mara, and Agostino quips that the animals are never off-season, but only the tourists.  This “off-season” weekend brings us amazing off-road things.  While Agostino tells me, “honestly we were just ‘lucky,’” I am amusingly reminded of Oprah’s version of Seneca’s (ancient Roman philosopher dude) sentiment along the lines:  “Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness.”

Agostino provided the skill & opportunity….and Marco, a Maasai, provided the years of eagle-eye preparation.

Marco is a traditional Maasai and a trained guide, thanks to a visionary who realized a kind of inequity in this land of the Maasai where the people were losing the capacity to sustain a livelihood on their own land.  Marco accompanied us as we took game drives to seek out the things you see below so that Agostino could concentrate on the task of driving rather than capsizing.   Monique’s skill and camera are so much better than mine, and I hope to provide a link to her photos at some point, but these are my humble offerings of our truly breathtaking experience in the wilds of East Africa.  My elephant and ostrich photos apparently did not make it.

We had the pleasure of meeting Lisa and Olly, kind of newly weds (2010) and fellow adventurists on a year-long road trip from Australia to the UK.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber (Austrian-born Jewish philosopher 1878-1965).

I experienced the most inexplicable sense of being safe amongst these raw and uncivilized animals.   The baboons visiting in the early morning hours to steal our stuff didn’t even concern me.  The torrential rains at our Aruba Mara Bush Camp did not disturb me.   It was a peace and calm that I cannot describe, but that every human, especially city dwellers, must experience.

Video sometimes helps understand what words cannot convey.   The King of the Mara and The Cheetah Four

We bid you adieu from the Mara …SAM_2953