Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Another Virtual Toast to the Last...


two years of the New Dark Ages.

On the last day of 2016, post Black Tuesday (AKA Election Day), I penned my most politically charged blog.


In it, I made straightedged predictions about the coming crisis awaiting America and the World. 

Recently I decided to revisit that post to check my Nostradamus score. 



From 12/31/16:

“This will not be the "Compassionate Conservatism" preached by President George W. Bush. Federally funded Social Welfare programs will be discarded like a half empty glass of Bud Lite with a cigarette butt floating inside. Ironically, many of President Game Show Host's supporters will find their economic life raft torpedoed beneath them. America will truly become a sink or swim society. 

More Americans will fall below the poverty line. There were 43.1 million unfortunates in 2015. This figure will go up. If you think there's a lot of homeless folks out there, wait until 2020. There will be heaps more. 

There will be an increase in Hate Crimes. No need to elaborate on this. It'll happen. Candidate Demagogue unleashed the hate mongers. (Hitler never directly murdered anyone, but his rants were responsible for 11 million victims perishing in Germany's concentration camps.) 

America's influence on the International scene will be marginalized. Our"unpredictable" foreign policy will alienate our present-day allies and create new adversaries. The US will be the schoolyard bully whom all the kids fear, but none want to play with. 

The new Administration will ignore the "Climate Change" issue, even though we rank second in the World for carbon footprint impact. 

There will be no new "reasonable" gun control legislation. The few constraints on procuring firearms will be shot down. Purchasing a weapon of mini-mass death and destruction will be as easy as "Coffee, Tea or Glock?" There will be an uptick in the number of mass murder incidents. 


This Administration will be one of the most corrupt and scandal ridden in our Nation's history. It'll be so impressive in this regard, Banana Republic dictators will stand up and take notice. 

There will zero to minimum net gain in acreage of Federal Wilderness Areas, National Parks or Monuments. A few western states will attempt a State Rights Land Grab to gather Federally owned property. Some states will be successful. Roadless area conservation will once again come under fire. The "Varoom! Varoom!" motor driven crowds will win new areas of public lands to trample. All in all, Federally owned land will be managed for the short term. I.E: "Drill, baby drill!" will be the new law of the land. 

The promises of manufacturing jobs materializing out of Mount Everest thin air isn't a reality. Automation and robotics have replaced the need for flesh and blood in many workplaces. Without a revival of "Luddites," those jobs aren't coming back. Big Business doesn't give a poop about creating jobs.It's all about the Bottom Line. 

Economically, look forward to a return of stagflation. 
From Investopedia: "A condition of slow economic growth and relatively high unemployment – economic stagnation – accompanied by rising prices, or inflation, or inflation and a decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). " 
This last prediction came from a "Reliable Source."

For the Commoners, taxes will stay about the same. Health insurance premiums will continue to spiral, with a reduction in benefits. In other words=no change. 

Under President Bravado, the World will be closer to a nuclear holocaust. An impulsive, "my way or the highway" macho man will have his finger on the trigger of the ultimate Pop Gun. 

Lastly, President Scumbag will sashay out of the Oval Office the richest "Bad Hombre" in the World.” 

That’s it! Those were my predictions.

I might not be batting 1000 but I’d say I’m way above .500. 

After I posted this, the incoming rounds from readers was fast and sometimes furious. 

Many wrote, “Come on! It’s not going to be that bad. It’s just a political pendulum swing!” 

To them I replied, “No! No! No! Jeb Bush, Rubio or (spit) Ted Cruz would have been a pendulum swing. You haven’t been paying attention. You haven’t noticed who his Base is. You haven’t heard his obvious message of White Supremacy and Nationalism. This is a Win at All Costs Candidate who is now the leader of our country. He doesn’t give a combover about collateral damage. His low bar is in the Mariana Trench. Human shields are fair game too! This will be Government run by a lowlife who hates Government. I’m warning you, “Something wicked this way comes.”” 

All in all, I’d say these past two years have been worse than I anticipated. My predictions were naively optimistic. Former Polly-Anna’s who said it wouldn’t be bad are now admitting I might have been onto something. 

I wish it weren’t so.

Prior to Black Tuesday, I was bantering back and forth with a former friend. He claimed to be a Libertarian. ( In my opinion, it’s a lyrical way of saying Anarchist. ) During one of our toxic discussions I blurted out, “ Come on! The Man is an Idiot! He’s not only stupid, he’s mean, evil and nasty.” To this he answered. “You are right, Jeff. But right now he’s our best option.”

If the bloated orange turd was their best option, I cringe at the thought of their worst. Possibly bringing Hitler back from the Dead? 




Here’s my predictions for the last two years of the New Dark Ages:

If you think 2017-2018 were depressingly awful, you’ve ain’t seen nothing yet. The Kremlin Con Man hasn’t hit his nadir of incompetency and cluelessness. He can and will go lower.

Now as his Inner Circle goose steps off to Federal Prisons, Putin’s Primary Pal will become the wounded predator. He will begin to feel trapped. His actions will be even more unpredictable and dangerous. Yes, things will get weirder.

All this being said, I believe we are stuck with Moscow’s Man-Child until Inauguration Day 2021. He will continue to sleaze by despite all the incriminating evidence gathering at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He will continue to ignore the Rule of Law and the Constitution. 

Unless! There is Divine Intervention. Here’s my scenario: 

President Putin-Wannabe is spewing the usual hateful spiel and finger pointing at one of his “Loser in 2020!” Rallies. Of course there will be many mentions of “Those People”, the Great Wall of Racism and the media “the Enemies of the People” (A Vladimir Lenin line). A lightning bolt erupts from a DayGlo blue sky and smites the Billionaire BS Artist. From the Heavens, a Godly Voice will be heard. “Basta ya! No puedo aguantar más.” 

(Spanish to English translation. “Enough already. I can’t take it anymore.” ) 

Please send your sincere Thoughts and Prayers for this Divine Intervention.



By 2020, I believe the Tired of the Daily Drama Americans will come out in record numbers and vote against the “Dark Side.” We will take back our country and reestablish a Nation with a more hopeful and less hateful future. Not an America centered around Fox Fear Network. 

Which brings me to my final point. I am still in the running for the 2020 Presidential Gig. My platform is sound, civil and thought provoking. It’s not nasty whatsoever. 


BTW Elect me and Kwanhanumas will become a National holiday. Who would not vote for another three day weekend?

PS. Joseph Kennedy Junior will be the Democratic Candidate in 2020. I’ll step aside for the sake of my Country.




Make America Civil Again,
Jeff





Sunday, December 2, 2018

Gun Shops vs. Yoga Studios


Gadsden Flags (Don’t Thread on Me) vs. Tibetan Prayer Flags

Bud Light Pubs vs Brewpubs

ATV’s vs. Mountain Bikes

Fast Foods vs. Whole Foods

Resource Extraction vs. Preservation 

I’ve been traveling a majority of my life west of Interstate 25. I’ve become a subject matter expert on getting a feel of a town or city on a quick walk or drive through. The above are just a few examples of the quiet battles raging between Old West vs. New West values. 

I’m an aging Hippy. My comfort zone is more aligned with the New West. 




Don’t get me wrong. I admire those Old Westerners who eked out a living space. They had to combat the elements and the Wildness. The pioneers had to fight the Native Americans who held claim to the same chunk of space. There were a lot of atrocities and gun slinging done on both sides of the cultural chasm. White Folks eventually prevailed. 

In 1890, the US Census Bureau declared America’s frontier line was no more. The reason? There were more than two people living per square mile of land. Pioneers had done their job of “taming” the Old West. 




However, it came at a price.

Native Americans were moved off their ancestral territories and confined to reservations.

Lands where once the deer, antelope and buffalo played, are now fenced in with cattle and sheep. 

Rivers no longer flowed free to the seas. They were corralled by dams. 

Short grass prairies were dug up and planted over with wheat, maize, soybeans and cotton. Poor soil conservation practices led to the Dust Bowl years of the 1930’s. 

Wolves, grizzlies, coyotes and other competitors were either made extinct or had their numbers greatly reduced. Ecosystems became discombobulated. 

Ancient old growth forests were whittled down in a geological nano-second. 




Unregulated mining operations led to tainted waterways. The ecological messes that were left behind became EPA Superfund sites. IE: Summitville, Colorado, Uravan, Colorado and the UMTRA project near Moab, Utah. 
 
All in all, Mother Nature was looked upon as something to be exploited or feared and loathed. There’s a reason so many western place names start with Hell, Desolation, Devil’s and Death. Those Old West folks wanted Nature to bend to their will. Many still do.

Which brings me to a point. The Old West ideas of Nature aren’t sustainable. What’s worse is the strange bedfellows Old West is now attracting: the Sagebrush Rebellion folks, the Tea Party, the NRA supporters and anti-Federalists. To me it’s a free-for-all way of thinking with a slice of anarchy. It’s intimidating.

All this being said, the New West ideas aren’t sustainable either. Only for different reasons. New Westerners are loving the Wild West to death. 




I left the Bronx in 1978 for all the possibilities and potential the West had to offer. I came for the BIGLY views. I came for all those mountains, canyons, plateaus and places devoid of people. I came for all those luscious acres of National Parks, Monuments, Forests and Wilderness Areas. 
I came for all that Public Land that belonged to “We the People.” Others followed for the same reasons. A lot of others. (IE: Colorado’s population has more than doubled in 40 years). 

In our New West Lovefest, we are now trampling the very places we came here to ogle. 




It’s all very sad, but I’d  still rather see a gang of nature lovers than an open pit mine, a herd of cattle, a Jeep rally, a gun show, a forest clear cut or a dammed river. 

For living examples of what Old West and New West looks like. I suggest a visit to Pahrump, NV and Ashland, OR. 

Which place would you’d rather live in? 

From Scottsdale, AZ which claims to be “The West’s Most Western Town,”
I don’t think so...




Monday, November 12, 2018

Ch-Ch-Changes...

Pretty soon now you're gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can't trace time”

Lyrics by David Bowie

A month ago I completed a road trip that settled a BIGLY question. 

My route shuffled east, west, north and south. I touched down in Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah.

There was plenty of drive time for a sociable hermit to think. 



It was two distinct journeys in one. There was the pre-Barley the Van breakdown phase. That was the life is good stretch. The weather was warm to hot, the scant clouds shed no moisture. It was a glorious time to camp and hike, but an awful time for the western states. Fires were breaking out, smoke obscured the views and “Thank You! Firefighters” signs became lawn ornaments. 



Then Barley the Van morphed into the infamous turncoat-Benedict Arnold the Van. A botched repair job in Pinedale, Wyoming led to a cascading effect of engine damage. A repair bill of $11,000 plus greeted me in Wenatchee, Washington. Apparently that Evergreen State repair shop noticed my green Colorado license plate and saw the green of money. 

But wait! There was more bad news. 



Two long time buddies called to tell me they were battling cancer. 

I dropped a propane fuel canister onto my defenseless I-Phone. The damage was beyond thoughts and prayers. 

I sliced off a nub of my thumb.

The unoccupied apartment I usually occupy in Fort Collins, Colorado had been flooded. Its use was no longer available to me. I’d have to depend on the kindness and generosity of friends and family for a roof over my head. In other words, I’d be couch surfing at the age of 63. Not an easy thing for an independent sort who hates imposing on others. 



The usually mild autumn weather of the West became nasty, cold and rabid.

Benedict Arnold the Van’s mechanical woes continue. (Transmission fluid leak and a new alternator.) Thank you Lyndel S for your continued mechanical wizardry. 

After these setbacks and hassles I feel weary and worn down from the constant motion.  I miss the idea of home and hearth. I want to cook comfort food other than macs and cheese prepared on a Coleman stove. I want my own space (although there will be ample room for a First Lady). I want cable TV. I want a break from funky RV Park bathrooms and showers. I want a base camp to hunker in when my internal battery is putting out low voltage. (Like now). I want a real address in lieu of a license plate. I want central heating and air conditioning. I want four walls and a roof that doesn’t move. 


For all these reasons and then some, I’ll be settling down within a calendar year. 

But wait! Does this mean an end to the Wandering Wondering Jew? Not at all. On my 64th birthday, I’ll have a temporary bachelor pad in Scottsdale, Arizona. On January 3rd, I’ll fly to Australia for four months. When I return in April, I’ll do a lap in the Southwest. From then on my schedule is dependent on whether or not I score tickets to the Yankees/Red Sox series in London in late June.



All I know is by the Fall of 2019, I’ll be giving up the full time wandering and wondering. I’ve been at it for six years. Some years have been better than others. I learned heaps about places and about myself. I’ve become more introverted. At the age of 64, it’ll be time to transition back to a home and community. Maybe I’ll become sociable again and not just a sociable hermit. 

“Ch-Ch-Changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-Ch-Changes”



All the photos were taken from this past western tour. It’s a great lifestyle when all the cylinders are firing.

Cheers,
Jeff





Tuesday, October 30, 2018

When Strangers Asked my father...

his nationality, he didn’t name a country. He answered, “I’m Jewish!” 

As I grew older, I began to understand my father’s dissociation with his native land of Poland. 

My father immigrated to America due to a human low pressure system of nationalism, hate, bigotry and racism. He had to leave or be murdered. It was as simple as that. 

To read more of my father’s immigration please click on:


When Sid arrived in New York City, he discovered he didn’t leave Anti-Semitism behind. He had to face daily prejudices in the New World too. It made him gravitate toward his own kind. Sid’s friends and acquaintances were mostly Jewish. He trusted them after experiencing first hand how others of different faiths mistreated the “Chosen People.”




All this being said, my father was civil to everyone he met. He was just more wary around non-Jews.

If a Gentile (non-Jew) treated Sid with respect, a smile and good manners, that person was fully accepted into his fold. I noticed the transition when he’d exclaim to my friends, “Please! You don’t have to call me Mr. Sambur. You can call me Sid.” At that moment in time, they too were honorary Members of the Tribe. 

My favorite example was when Sid was visiting me in Colorado while I was working for the US Forest Service. On my day off, I took Sid to the Devil’s Head fire lookout tower. Dave Martinez was on duty that day. Dave was a toothy, funny, easy going and friendly Mexican-American. He gave my father a class on how to be a fire lookout. He wowed my father in minutes. When it was time for us to leave, Sid went over and shook Dave’s hand. He looked Dave in the eye and said, “It was my pleasure to meet you.” I knew he meant it.




When we were driving away, my father said to me, “Jeffy! I’ve never met a Mexican-American before. Are they all as nice as Dave?” 

So here’s my point. We all harbor prejudices. We can overcome these human frailties by following the Golden Rule. A little bit of civility can go a long way. Teach your children well. My father did.

Final point: Recently in Joseph, Oregon a stranger asked me what my nationality was.

My answer? “I’m a Jewish American.”

He came back with, “That’s not a nationality.”

It is for me.

Make America Civil Again.

Jeff 




Monday, October 15, 2018

An Unpaid Political Announcement...

As the time ticks off to America’s next appointment for unbridled angst, (November 6th. Election Day). Please consider this.

If you want our Government to be greater than a covey  of rich, entitled, angry White men creating unpopular policies. Vote. 

If you want to preserve wild areas for future generations. IE: Bear Ears and Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monuments. Vote.

If you believe all lives matter. Vote.

If you are tired of “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts.” Vote.

If you believe politicians shouldn’t be concerned whether Black or White athletes exercise their First Amendment Rights. Vote.




If you DON’T believe that when you smash your I Phone screen, blow up your vehicle’s engine, or cut off a portion of your thumb (I’m guilty of all three), it’s Obama’s fault. Vote.

If you believe all women should have the right to say “NO!” Vote.

If you DON’T believe Alt-Right American Neo Nazis are “Fine People.” Vote.

If you prefer America the Beautiful over America the Badass. Vote.

If you’d like to see “reasonable” Gun Control measures in lieu of post mayhem platitudes of “thoughts and prayers.” Vote.

If you wish to see a foreign policy favoring our traditional Allies and not the World’s despots. Vote.

If you believe Climate Change is NOT a “Chinese Hoax.” Vote

If you DON’T believe legislating tax breaks to the super wealthy will “trickle down” to us lowly commoners. Vote. 

If you’d like to see a quick end to the new Dark Ages. Vote.

If you are interested in my most excellent BIGLY Presidential Platform becoming a reality. Vote.
I’ll need a friendly Congress to give the Environment, Education and Enlightenment a helpful boost. 





For those following my Presidential Run and its pursuit of a First Lady, let it be known, my people have broken off negotiations with Melania’s people. After she wore the infamous jacket, there is no middle ground.

Make America Civil Again,
November 6th, 2018 is not the time to sit on the sidelines. Vote!

I’m Jeff Sambur and I approve this message.









Thursday, October 4, 2018

Lessons from Prometheus...


Long before Great Basin National Park was established (1986), a grove of ancient Bristlecone Pines lived where no other trees wanted to. At a cusp under tree line (approx 10,500’) a few hardy woody souls survived the incessant winds, blizzards, heat waves, droughts, diseases and fires for thousands of years. They were eking out an existence and not bothering anyone.

As we all know, it doesn’t matter if you don’t bother anyone, someone comes along and bothers you! That someone was Donald R. Curry, a graduate student researching the Little Ice Age. In 1964, he was drawn to these remote Bristlecones for their known longevity. The story gets murky here. Donald was taking core samplers when supposedly his tree corer got stuck. The Forest Supervisor granted him permission to cut the specimen in order to extricate the core. When the short work was done, they apparently looked at the cross section. “OH! Poop! We probably cut down the oldest living thing in the World! I hate when that happens!” Those words weren’t exact quotations, although I’m sure it was something along that line.



Knowing all this, I would have gladly bought Donald a new $211 core from Amazon, if he would have just let the tree be! 

That Bristlecone was Prometheus. The gnarly Dude was about 5,000 years young.

Here’s one of the lessons from Prometheus. Young Donald didn’t try to cover up his obvious mistake. His name, the story and the controversy are out there. Later in life Doctor Donald spoke up for establishing a National Park to protect and preserve the grove and surrounding area. That was his Act of Contrition. (Another take on Jewish Guilt). Paying penance is a form of humility, and humbleness. 

So today, I braved black ice, White Death and slush to pay my respects to the Old Timer’s left behind. I walked in silence amongst the Elders. I felt humbled by their ability to bend yet not break. I was awed that even in Death, they make a handsome photo. (A Bristlecone corpse can stand for centuries, unlike the “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” life forms.) 


I returned to my warm van, knowing Humans have a lot to learn about Life and Death. Maybe we all need to remember to look at the Big Picture, Long View on how we impact each other and Mother Earth. 




I suggest going on a Whale Watch, taking a swim with a Green Sea Turtle or hugging a Redwood or an Ancient Bristlecone for a dose of humility and humbleness. It might make the Human Race better Guardians of our Planet.




From Chilly Baker, Nevada (population 68)

Cheers and always respect your Elders,
Jeff

BTW. The two oldest surviving Bristlecone Pine trees now reside in the White Mountains of Inyo National Forest. Forest Service employees won’t rat out their exact locations. One of the trees has been lovingly named Methuselah. It’s worth a look and a hug. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

What would John Muir think?

I’ve been in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California for over a week. I wanted to spend a lot more time there in what Mr. Muir precisely called “The Range of Light.” As usual, his assessment is jaggedly correct. The Sierra Range is different. The area emits it’s own wavelength of light. It’s so unique, it could be the fourth primary color.  Even the cedars, ponderosa, and sugar pines exude a just shtupped glow. At times, the glare is so bright, it almost has me reaching for sunscreen. I love the Sierra Nevada of Eastern California.

I chose a great time to be here. The summer is on the wane. The National Park Service of Yosemite were shuttering the high country campgrounds and visitor centers. The somewhat burnt out employees seemed almost gleeful about the closure. One told me, “If you think it’s still crowded, you should have been here in August. It was nuts!” 
His job was heading west into Yosemite Valley. “There’s no off-season there anymore,” he sadly stated. 

I found the trails to be somewhat empty IF you got an early start. As usual upon my return the parking lots were full. I’d spot many unprepared visitors going in as I was coming out. I suppose it’s their way of seeing what this hiking stuff is all about. Most were carrying I-Phones though. 




In other areas, the roads were chockablock with “leaf peepers” photographing the yellows, oranges and reds of the going dormant aspen trees. The colors added to the  brightness of the scene. Fishermen and women were out in full force dipping their lines to land the last lunker of the season. The sun arrived late and disappeared early amid the canyon walls. The nights were long. I read a lot.



Mr Muir left behind a legacy of famous quotes. They aren’t as entertaining as Yogi Berra’s, but worthy just the same.




Here’s a few: 

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”





“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine into trees.”



People are taking Mr. Muir’s suggestions to task. When Mr Muir passed away in 1914, there were less than 100 million Americans. Now there’s 326 million. Mr. Muir hiked on game trails and old Native American routes. There were probably a few miners trails as well. Now the paths are often two-lane highway widths. There’s evidence of erosion. The campgrounds are devoid of underbrush. It’s all been trampled. The land is not healing from the onslaught of all these Nature Lovers. We are hurting the very place we all love. 



This would bring a tear to John’s eyes. Like me, he was a sensitive guy.

Enjoy the photos. The Sierra is a special place on Earth. My guess is that one day, we will require a permit just to drive into Yosemite National Park.




From Bishop, California 
Jeff