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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Summing up 2009 -observations

We end 2009 on a quite dismal note. If u ignore the nonstop happy talk of the MSM and seive/sift beneath the layers of BS you will find a prostate country with record high UE, out of control public debt, record # of bankruptcies, record foreclosures, ect.
It has been questioned whether we are as bad off as the first great depression 80 years ago. Hard to judge as society has altered greatly and the US gov has become much more interwined in the economy with more active assistance to those who have fallen through the gaps.
10-15% of the population is now on food stamps, and the gov keeps extending UE benefits. Also the Fed is printing money non-stop and is throwing bailout money
at everything. At least the banking system appears to be more or less stabilized, with a chosen few mega-banks controlling the credit system, with the active(maybe sinister)assistance of the FED.

In CA( my home state), at least 50% of the population is receiving direct assistance(handouts) from the state and feds, whether in food stamps, section 8, healthcare subsidies(medicare/medical/healthy families),UE bennies, diability pmts,supplemental SS,amd probably a 100 other forms of direct aid.
A significant portion of this aid has to be supplemented by Obama stimulus funds as CA is plain broke and prostate. I will say more about CA being in dire straits in another post.
In sum, 2009 goes down as a bad year for Joe Public, especially with the dismal UE rate being at 17% U-6. Worse, credit has tightened severely and credit lines are severely constricted for both consumers and small businesses. 2009 was above all a deflationary year, a year of contraction. Everything contracted except maybe movie house receipts. In bad times folks flock to cheap entertainment such as movies in order to escape their bad economic predicament.

What makes Avatar click

I have to admit i am a big Avatar fan. I've seen the movie 3 times on 3D format, the only way to see it. It is an astonishing cinematic achievement from James Cameron. I have seen all his movies and it ranks right up there with T2 and Aliens, his prior masterpieces. It may not quite have the pulse pounding adrenaline action of T2 and Aliens but it is more like Titanic in it's script flow. The special effects are, pardon the pun, out of this world.

To bring balance to my discussion, there has been quite a bit of negatives put out in the Web from readers discussions, and even mainline media pundits. It think it is because of the hugh amt of publicity and advertsing put out in the marketing of this film. Avatar has become the 1600ib gorilla in the minds of the naysayers, given it's $240-300 million production cost. It is seen as this gigantic special effects mega-movie, without content and meaningful dialog. It is a special effects movie and yes, the plot and acting is average, on par with such other entertaining content-empty megahits as Transformers, Star Wars, and Spiderman. Also the 3D ticket prices are a bit high($11.00 average in LA/SCal), but so is everything else. It might be a good strategy to lower prices for Avatar3D to $9.50/9.99 across the board, adult price. In a bad economy when folks are on tight budgets this would bbe a good strategy to make Avatar more accessible to a wider audience.

There has also been some negatives regarding its anti-corporate, anti-military, and pro green message(rape of the earth). My advise: leave the politics at the door and just watch the movie and enjoy its astonishing CGI/3D generated special effects.

I will add that being an avid camper and hiker i can relate to the scenes of the Pandora floating mountains,big trees,jungles and waterfalls. They are all CGI generated but the 3D really makes the cliff drop offs, jungle plants,trees and water scenes so lifelike you actually seem at times to be participating in the action. There will come a time when you can walk into a 3D/CGI animation screening room and do simulated rock climbs, parachute drops, or plunges over a high cliff into a water pool.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

comentary on PBS national parks series

I have watched portions of Ken Burns PBS television series on the 'National Parks, America's best idea'. I watched the Yosemite part entire featuring the Sierra Nevada Mountain bard John Muir. His name live on in sierra lore and in the 200 mile long John Muir trail, which i have done about a third of. It is indeed quite spectacular in parts and slices thru the heart of the sierra high country but the lateral trails are also quite nice as well.
I have or did have at one time the same spirit which imbued John Muir, in looking at the sierra as kind of mystical, a feeling hard to describe. You see the waterfalls, pines,granite rock, meadows, creeping shadows, domes,outcroppings, gnarled pines clinging to life at timberline, the lonely tiny flower clinging to life in an alpine meadow, and take it all in. Everything else falls away to insignificance and the worlds problems and hassles as well. The deeper you get into wilderness and especially being alone in it you feel as one with it, being interconnected to it and also sometimes vulnerable and small.
The wilderness has dangers and can envelope you with sudden storms, a trip over a rock causing a ankle sprain or cracked head, a bear attack, a slip over a waterfall or down a raging river in spring flood,or u may get disoriented and lost and get exposed to a bitter cold wet night and end up with hypothermia. I have practiced and studied wilderness survival techiques and have backpacked deep in sierra wilderness solo for up to 8 days.
The dangers and eree silence of a truly wild place may be part of the mystic experience which awed John Muir, the feeling of being so small,insignificant and vulnerable deep in the wilderness. U are truly on your own and must depend on your own survival skills to travel safely thru the wilderness.
BTW the PBS series is indeed a marvelous piece of work, though 95 % of park visitors never get more than a few miles away from the trailhead(civilization) and really commune with remote nature as John Muir and i have.

Monday, September 07, 2009

short essay on backpacking - is it for anyone?

I started backpacking the local SCal mountains back in the 1970's. I hiked all over the San Gabriels and San Bernardino Mts. I was an early convert and really got deep into hiking and backpacking. Not only backpacks but hundreds of long day hikes all over the local SCal mt ranges. Then i ran a business from 1980 to 1986. After that venture went under i started getting back into serious hiking and backpacking again but now i was strictly into the high sierra nevadas, the only place to do serious backpacking and see the best mountain scenery in America, maybe the world. For once you do a sierra trip all other mountains pale in comparison. The Sierras are pure magic and mystique, a truly magnificent range with towering Sequoias,luch fragrant pines trees,deep gorges,jagged towers, gushing rivers and creeks,lush lower elevation meadows and high fragile montaine meadows, monumental granite domes and cliffs( think Yosemite), and 10,000 high country sparkling lakes. The visible wildlife is mostly Deer and bears, but if u look and listen carefully u will notice woodpeckers, bluejays,thrushes, and other birds whirling thru the tall pines. If you love blooming flowers the sierra meadows abound with them. If you love tall stately pines the Sierras has 10 varieties from the lordly sugar pine to the ever present lodgepoles with the cornflake bark.

I leave this short essay which is very brief, and will now answer the question-is backpacking for anyone? Answer is, no! It takes a special mindset-an urge to get into the mountains,a special liking for maps and topograghy,maybe high geological interest, a rugged self-reliant personality. And most of all a mystic connect with earth,rock, pines,jagged cliffs,roaring pristine streams,something like when the earth was pristine and primeval before man came and destroyed a good part of it.

Another sierra interlude atop bighorn plateau

The pics above are of tyndal creek campsite and upper kern basin day trip shot

This account followed my Hi Sierra backpack journey from high atop 13,200 ft forester pass down to the Bighorn Plateau and just short of Mt Whitney ascent. It is mostly following the JMT (John Muir Trail) as it traverses this high 11,000 ft plateau. I have already covered the descent from forester pass and the astounding view of the U-shaped, natural 2000 ft high black-colored amphitheater-bowl, which is the kern/kings divide. This was the most difficult section of the JMT to complete and the last gap in the JMT. Anyway, i am now down at the bottom of the bowl and passing thru some lakes as i head to Tyndal creek campgrpund. It is a rocky treeless moonscape i pass thru, eerily beautiful and haunting, though stark and bleak. I did a one mile slant off the main JMT trail to an overlook and saw a 360 % panorama of the entire south section of the sierra range. Very awe-inspiring and in mid-July there was still lots of snow-capped peaks.
I reached tyndal hi-country campsite which is marked as a main backcountry backpackers site. It is quite a beautiful site with plenty of boulders interspersed with small pines, and with the nearby creek. There was a good number of backpackers camping there but it was uncrowded and with plenty of privacy.
I made tyndal my basecamp for 2 days as i did a long adventurous day hike next day, following an unmarked trail westward to the upper headwaters of kern river. Very isolated inaccessible region, and very few ever venture there. Trails are mostly erased & unmarked and much of this jaunt was crosscountry. My goal was lake South America, which upon reaching it was indeed splendid ,and at 12,000 ft the highest large lake in Sierras. There is more to this account but i will post it separately.

Musings on grand canyon hiking, sightseeing, part 1

I want to provide a short insightful acct on my one grand Canyon experience. I spend two days there in late march 1995 on last leg of an eventful 30 day hiking/camping/sightseeing tour of US desert southwest, most of it spent in Utah Redrock Country. I arrived at CG and like everyone else I went to the CG village there which is quite built up with shops,lodges,eateries,almost like the mall at Yosemite.
I left there soon and got a good campsite at Mather Campgound, which is a pleasant, shaded large site. I spend a night there sleeping inside my camper shell as temps dropped to 15% overnight. I was shivering all night in that cold camper shell but survived. Next day i went on a long long all day hike down to canyon bottom. I was in tip-top shape to do the 5000 ft elevation drop and return and 20+ mile hike. At the beginning the Bright Angel Trail was crowded but as i got farther in the crowds dropped off. There was at least one pleasant shaded rest stop halfway to bottom : i rested and continued. At the lower part the trail was more open with desert-like cactus scrubland. I reached the muddy Colorado and walked the suspension bridge to other side. It was around 200 yards wide( my estimation) and the water was rushing and chocolate brown. I spent an hr at bottom before returning. Return trip not too memorial as it was a long grinding slog but i remember that as i got near the top there was a swarm of folks which had attempted the hike but did not get far. It gets really steep as u near the top and that culls out most regular CG tourists. Upcoming Part II will provide more insights on my CG experience.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Posts on safety of nuclear reactors and on current CA economic malaise

Post 1 LA county unemployment rate at 9.9%

LA county was 1-2% ahead of CA UE rate all year. And that 9.9% is way understated. It counts only those who have filed for and are collecting UE benefits. Probably another 5% of the county population have exhausted benefits or have simply dropped out. Another 10% have had their hrs cut back to part-time status. There is also a huge population of UE/underemployed minority teens and young adults including second gen immigrant siblings who are unable to get work or are marginally employed part time in service or in temp make work gov't job corps programs. There are also huge numbers of independent contractors(including illegal alien yard workers driving jalopy pickups) and commissioned agents who are not eligible for UE insurance and/or are not counted in the employed workforce stats, and who have seen their income disappear or reduced to almost zero.
U-6 UE rate here in LA County is at least 20% and more likely 25%. Both the city & county never had much high paying job sectors to begin with, just a few high tech defense jobs in the south bay, union port jobs and the hollywood industry. These sectors are also hurting from the bad economy and are cutting

A quick tour of San Onofre Nuclear reactor(in San Diego county):

I will provide a detailed description of one Nuclear power plant here in Scal. It is the San Onofre Plant in San Clemenete just off freeway 5 at border of Orange County and San Diego county. It is operated by SCal Edison and is situated next to a verdant lush green protected coastal Belt, where SCE has their administrative and warehouse facilites. Immediately south of the nuclear Plant is San Onofre State Park, a favored haunt of surfers and campers.
I have never heard of any complaints about this plant, and the area around it is practically a protected coastal preserve, as is Camp Pendleton immediate to the south.
I hope this dispels any thoughts of nuclear plants being noisy ,dangerous, environmentally polluting, ugly coastal nuisances.back on labor costs. Only the health industry may stay intact.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why i do mountain pic's?

The remote mts and desert places i have been to simply scream to be photographed. Photography is simply a way to capture a time, place and scene which the shooter feels memorial in his /her own way. For me, shots of mts, rivers, desertscapes, rock formations, forest meadows, ect have a peculiar attraction. Too bad i was only using a simple point and shoot camera, as i never took to using fancy over priced photo equipment, preferring to focus on more fundamental aspects of hiking/ climbing such as trip logistics/wilderness expedition planning & execution. The photography is just a sidelight, a sort of diversion. More important is to get to the remote scenic spots in the first place and focus on the climbing route.

The famous climber Mallory was once asked why he climbed mts. His reply was: "because they're there". I choose to hike and explore wild regions, deserts and mts because
of a mystic connection, a way for me to be in touch with the almighty creator, or simply because earth, water, forest bring me to the elemental, the basics of existence.

My take on this Great depression II

Part I
The economy is in complete total meltdown with rapidly escalating EU, jobs cuts. Ca Gov't ready to axe and cut out payrolls and services. I go all over and see that the crowds have disappeared in the local shoreline resort areas, even during this past holiday. The consumers wallet has emptied out and credit has dried up. Fear of job cuts is on everyones mind - are U next? Retail is dead. I call this deflation, the worst since the great depression. Most folks haven't a clue and have their heads buried in the sand or get their info from the MSM and TV cable,. which are a bunch of liars or don't know squat. Better get your info on the real state of the economy from unbiased high-level blogsites such as Mish Global Economics and Bens Bubble Blog.

Part II
Ca gov't is completely BK and might as well shutter down for all i care. They can lay the axe on a good % of their useless state employees. As far as i am concerned The state is a hindrince to me though i hate to see such state treasures as our splendid state parks go to rot due to under maintenance and reduced staffing. Ca has bk'ed itself thru massive socialist spending -half of the state population is on the dole and the state will reach out to grab more taxes and wring more $ from the few productive working citizens. Ditto for county and local municipalities-the ruthless revenue collectors( your local police depts) are aggressively ticketing drivers to keep local city budgets afloat-their survival means your financial ruin.

Why redrock canyons fascinate me?

Most folks see the grand canyon at one time in their lives but never immerse themselves in the total canyon experience. I did hike down the canyon to the bottom and back in one day, a long hard hike. Saw the muddy chocolate colored Colorado river and walked along it banks. And the GC is not even near the best canyon experience on my list as i only did two trails -there are 100's of trails in the large GC expanse, and the best one is on the more remote northern rim, the thunder river/ deer creek trail which i have yet to do.
Back to SW canyon hiking. I liked Zion, bryce and capital reef canyons,. Best thing about canyons is to traverse a narrow twisting slot canyon and even wade thru it. The Virgin river narrows in Zion is a great canyon for doing a wading canyon hike . The san rafaell swell is also great for canyon slot hiking. There are also canyons where U can observe anastazi ruins such as johns canyon and grand gulch
Thing is i sold all my Utah/arizona canyoneering books on e-bay as i have chosen to devote all my remaining hiking/ camping years to the Sierras , the grandest best mts in the world.

kayaking off Long beach & OC coast update jan 10th 09

Kayaking around Newport beach marina has this advantage. Launching is very easy as i can park my truck and off load my yak within 50 ft of the water. Beach is mucky and the PCH bridge underpass blocks out sun which makes for a chilly launch and landing but NB harbor is the biggest & best of the 3 marinas to yak around, and Corona Del Mar has a neat clean tidal beach as a destination stop point. Like i said when coming back from a NB outing i need to have warm clothing to get into quickly as i have gotten very chilled coming out of the water at 4-5 pm on a cool day.
NB launch point takes an hr to get to but it is a good all-round kayak zone. Next destination is to launch, stop at NB fun zone and walk around. Another destination is to go around west jetty thru the wedge and stop at NB pier.

Long beach yakking is easy as the harbor is one big smooth lake. I do worry about speed boat racers and need to keep a watch constantly as the racers really go thru the water rather with reckless abandon. I need to get reflective tape and maybe a strobe light to place on my yak as i realy need to make myself highly visible in the harbor. May encounter drunk racers who may recklessly plow right thru me.

The LB Harbor is good for yaking as there are destinations to go to and the Launch point setup is established. It is 3 nautical miles to get to shoreline village marina, about an hrs paddling.
Next destination is the queen mary and the outer harbor areas and even attempt to yak out to the breakwater and beyond. Also want to go outside the breakwater westward along the curve keeping close to the jetty. It will be out in true open sea conditions with bigger waves and a true test of my sea kayak skills. Longest stint in true open seas is 1-1.5 hrs off the corona del mar shore out of the protected NB marina.

Update: since i posted this account on facebook i have expanded my local yak tours such as going well beyond the protected NB inner harbor Marina and really out to the open sea but that is for another post.

I had promise some pics of my yak as soon as i could find a way to transport it on board and take pics without it becoming wet or submerged. test came mondayJan 19th off LB harbor. Passed test and even flipped my Yak and camera stayed dry-barely.

How bad is this recession/depression going to get?

It appears that things are worse than appearances. Companies are chopping out workers or cutting back hrs. It is all tied to a drastic reduction in consumer spending which accts for 70% of the economy. No Obama will not turn things around. He says he wiil create 4 mil jobs. BS. There will be agencies set up with all that bailout and stimulus spending to train laid off workers but they just get worthless certificates. Then they wil go out in the real world and try to apply for jobs in a down economy while millions are being laid off.
talk about sailing against a 30 kt wind. Going out to obtain work with your worthless training certificates while companies are shafting experienced staff and putting on hiring freezes. Especially as the majority of the umemployed are barely literate lower class proletariat or youth without any skills or experience.
There will be a host of job training agencys set up especially in the big cities with political connections to the obama adminiinstation and fat cat democratic politicians. This will benefit the administrators who are picked to run these programs, which will put millions into job trainng programs who might get make work or gov't infrastructure projects/WPA work . This will not happen right away and 2009 will be see continued rising unemployment.
These make- work gov't created agency jobs will be temporary stop gaps creating temp job corps WPA work.

I will simply stand back and watch the unfolding destruction of credit, jobs, housing asset declines, local Gov' t BK, small business' shuttering, crime run amok, poiticians & TV pundits spewing BS, athe while i will be on my kayak and go all up and down CA coast camping out in our lovely crown jewel state coastal parks .

description of a short kayak day trip

Short synopsis : I launch out of Newport kayak rental center and after an hr of paddling i get to Crystal creek park inside the breakwater. I beach my yak and do some bouldering and simple rock climbing exercises on the short low cliff overhangs. Maybe swim out in to the calm beach. Back on my yak and paddle another hr out into the open sea away from the protection of the NB jetty. Then i can land at Crystal Cove State Park(CC) and practice some hairy beach landings and launches on an open sea exposed beach.
I can also continue paddling another mile and get to the rocky cliff headlands of CC and do some yak paddling into the kelp and seaweed beds, and maneuver as close to the wave dashed rocky bluffs as i dare. Can also peer into the clear waters and see the actual sea floor and see the underwater kelp forest and fishes swimming around. No, I do not get into the water to snorkle but will attempt to do so later if can set up my narrow easy- to- tip- over yak as a launch platform for undersea diving.

This is the real scenic part of tour , paddling along the CC rocky coastline . There are rocks and rocky headlands to manouver around, thick kelp, and broad ocean swells to watch for ,and U must be constantly alert and instinctively maintain a tenuous balance with your paddle .

I found an open sandy beach to beach my Yak , a secluded isolated beach . A good rest stop and picnic place and a clean quiet beach to lay back. Did get dunked and flipped the yak attempting the beach landing - always an adventure . Had to dry out all my gear as it was soaked.

A nice secluded beach and away from civilization , and a perfect spot to do beach calesthenics, practice more beach launches and landings, take a swim , and even do hikes along the beach trails.

Updated on Tuesday - Comment