Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane, co-author Rainy Day Thought, where they write about ideas and creativity. Diane posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome as it turns an article into a discussion, but must be in English, have no links that were not pre-approved, not include profanity, or threats. The problem with the links is we can't take the time go there and see if they are legitimate and relate to the topic.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Rethinking acrylic painting after inspirations from snorkeling at Turneffe Flats Atoll

Before my trip to Turneffe Flats my first  plan was to paint a sky with great depth. Then I thought an abstract direction. Taking on a completely new direction because I loved the texture of a hand prepared canvas.the painting would be about paint and fabric. Then I thought this could be an underwater scene with a ray swimming.

After returning and seeing a number of rays swimming gracefully, This jagged swim line for the ray is wrong. I thought of Duchamp's nude descending a stircase. I then rejected the angularity of cubism. In Belize I was more fascinated by bubbles rising from snorkels and how they wiggled and reflected a calidascope of the surrounding colors.

Photographs do not show the movement over time like my perception.





When I painted the bubbles rising to the surface. The surface is darker in this painting. If I am going to be accurate about my memory of the surface plane, it would be lighter and more broken up reflecting colors of the sandy bottom. It occured to me that I could turn the painting upside down. Or I could  put more swaths of sky blue and smaller swaths of the warm tones at the sandy floor.









Saturday, January 27, 2018

What it's about

Sometimes, in life we need breaks. Those can be to reflect, rest, or just sit back and be for awhile. There are times to ask-- Where do we want to go with our lives? If you are young, you might think those questions get answered by the time you get old. They haven't for me. My life has continued to offer new challenges and choices-- many I never dreamed would be part of my old age.

Looking back, something I don't do often, I see that my life has broken down into quiet periods and those with more stress involved. As a writer, we call that a WW. You write high tension, then give breaks for release before it starts again. Of course, a book has an ending. Ours only comes with death-- if then. We write WWWs because it's how life is for most of us. Maybe some are able to protect themselves from the stress times, but for those involved with others, care about their lives, they realistically can't as they will be caught in their WWWs.

What follows is a little blog break for fun and something about the inspiration for my writing and life. For some of you, that break would involve reading a classic novel, cooking a gourmet meal, or listening to classical music. Me, I am a simple farm type gal and my break involves simple, basic thoughts. I will be using a couple of YouTubes to illustrate those themes and feelings.

In my romances, the hero and heroine face challenges. The first YouTube has a hero with a duty and facing a life and death challenge. Duty is an issue for most of us- to lesser degrees, of course.  I like Marty Robbins for his songs of the  West and some mythic themes. This song is brought to life with movie scenes.




The next song is Ian Tyson's-- about an aspect of life we all face-- if we get old enough. Where did it all go? The singer is remembering the past and choices-- wondering if he made the right ones. Old now, he's looking back on years when he had strength and abilities that made him proud-- but did he hold onto something too long or release it too soon? 


One thing about Ian Tyson's songs is they are not country western but are Western. They depict the West as it has been and still is many places. When you have time to explore his music, you'll find it speaks to nature, animals, and yes, ordinary lives.

The key in the best westerns, for those who enjoy them, is finding ground between what we know it was really like, due to research, and the mythology that quickly became an important part of the story of the West. The real West could be brutal and didn't offer happy endings for a lot of folks. We get enough of that in reading our newspapers. What westerns and western romances provide are places where we can find that happy ending. The rug by the way in the video looks more Mexican in color than Navajo-- maybe even Pendleton blanket, which wouldn't be very good in a song probably... :). In addtion, I own three, gorgeous Navajo rugs and can't imagine making love on any of them (scratchy) that's where the mythology comes in.




As an addendum here, when I began publishing my books, I learned books have teaser trailers that use music, images, and words. Who knew! I learned of them when I came across the topic in an Amazon forum for writers. I learned the formats and what it would take-- like buying music where I could get the rights at a reasonable or even free price (You will be kicked off YouTube if you use popular music without permission-- and permission is generally either impossible or too expensive). To create the slideshow, I also needed to find the right images and words. I've done that now for almost all of my books. I don't do it to sell books. I do it for the love of the process and for my characters.


 

You can find more of my trailers on their own site and my YouTube channel.

Rain Trueax YouTube Channel
Rainy Day Trailers

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tropical waters inspired abstracts in process





Coral reef colors first, then water movement followed by pattern and texture are the inspiring memories I brought home and were foremost in my mind.  As I started to paint, I took into account the materials I had to express my delight.  Watercolor was my painting medium of choice to express the beauty of light in the pristine waters of the reef that I saw snorkeling at Turneffe Flats Atoll.

First came the juicy somewhat rectangular colors. Then I added pencil and crayon drawings of repetitive patterns. During this process I marveled at the juxtaposition of randomness and structured organized life in the reef. Painting extended the joys of the vacation.

I saw two compositions  as my painting /collage evolved. So I turned the board and cut it in half.  I wasted only a small piece of board so my pictures would fit in the frame.  The lavender fan being a collage piece could be moved around until I found a sweet spot.


Collage of my handmade papers and purchased paper
 over watercolor
Watercolor, mixed media and collage


I love underwater photographs of the reef but I also like the emotional involvement of abstracting from my memories because these paintings express my internal reality.  These collages remind me of small details I focused on while snorkeling. Also the feeling of water movement gently swaying me this way and that.  Some tall sponges and corals reminded me of  human anatomy like our fingers. In previous landscapes I found the shapes of the hand and fingers like in the basalt columns of Coyote Rock, on the Siletz River in Oregon.


Monday, January 22, 2018

On the road again with cats. No, we didn't ask them.

by Rain Trueax

photo from my 2018 Zen calendar for Oregon

We start a trip like this one without a definite plan for route or where we'll park the RV at night. There has been some researching ahead of time for options. Hey, that is kind of like life, isn't it!

Day 1: We stuffed (and sometimes that is what it takes) all four cats into boxes. To fit them better on the truck backseat, we had bought one large box for Babe and Tigger, the two formerly feral cats. She often curls up with him. How could a box be any different? It was. We heard the most horrible, low growl coming from it-- Babe. So we separated them, put Blackie into a small box on top of the other three... not making me at all comfortable as that didn't seem as secure. 

Farm Boss started the engine, looked at the gauge and said-- we are going nowhere. The system voltage did not respond to RPM change. The cats went back in the house as did my computer and he went off to town to get the truck fixed. It was the alternator (how fortunate that this didn't happen on the road). He bought the parts and had the dealer install it. All set again for the next morning.

Day 2: Regarding the big box, we gave using it a try with Blackie and Raven. There was minor hissing. While cats hate boxes, apparently, they hate sharing one more. We took off anyway to see how if it would improve. Eventually, I took Blackie out and let him ride between us as he is the most docile cat we have- probably because he is alpha—with an alpha’s security in who he is—(this works less well in American politics).

Heading down I-5, we were unsure if we'd go over Willamette Pass or continue south on the freeway. Snow was a consideration but it has been quite light for this time of year-- the traffic was light also. It was only when we got to Medford that we knew we'd go over the Siskiyous and it would be California all the way to Arizona. The Siskiyous didn't have more than a few patches of snow alongside the road. This was amazing but also nice, as it made possible the decision to spend our first night in Yreka.

In traveling, we use Good Sam guides as well as what we can find online, which led to an RV park next to what will eventually be a casino. It made for an easy layover, and with all four cats in the trailer with us, it went surprisingly well at night—no battles. There was also no spraying. They were probably too traumatized by traveling to fight with each other-- they had a common grievance. Cats hate to travel.

Day 3: After breakfast, we made the decision to let Blackie and Raven ride in the trailer rather than the truck. Babe and Tigger were put in boxes and rode in the backseat with yowling about a third of the way. I was uneasy about leaving the other two in back but four cats in boxes wasn't working. I had confidence that Blackie and Raven would not try to get out when we had to stop since they'd been in the trailer multiple times, and all they do when the door opens is hide. In an accident, they would be safer in the trailer. This though is why we are considering getting a fifth-wheel trailer (with a bunkroom), which hooks differently to the truck. Humans can even ride in a fifth-wheel, not that I'd want to.

Always optimistic, we set out with good weather and thinking maybe we could make it to Santa Nella, a great place for split-pea soup. Turns out just north of Stockton, in the river flats, we'd had enough. 

When we got to the trailer, Blackie and Raven had done fine. The two in the truck were relieved to get out. The park for the night was okay. Again, the night was peaceful and the cats napped a lot or looked out the windows.

Day 4: Because the cats had gotten along at night, we tried leaving them all in the trailer *fingers crossed*. Again, we were aiming for short days. We've had our times of driving 14 hours; but the older we have gotten, the harder it has been to get over those kind of days. Now 5 hours is pretty good. One advantage of going with a trailer is cooking our meals, shorter travel days due to cheaper nightly costs. Some save more by staying in Walmart parking lots, rest areas or boon-dock. We also did that when younger. Now we want hook-ups at night and it's worth the $40.


Just outside Bakersfield, we stayed at Orange Grove RV. It lived up to its name. The park was full of orange trees and this was their season. They said pick all you want and we took some with us-- more delicious when fresh.
Day 5: the goal was a KOA outside of Barstow, where we have stayed before. We intended to just spend a night in Daggett, mostly known for being a Marine logistics base. 

With the usual relief, we turned off the freeway to head for our park and got stopped at a railroad crossing with a slow engine and many cars. That would not have been so bad except—wait for it—the crossing light did not turn off. Come on, this is a military base area and the railroad can't keep its crossing working? Finally after at least 20 minutes, we opted to take a frontage road where we finally did get across—after waiting for that same train to finish crossing and another light but this one worked.

As for the four cats traveling together, they did fine. Babe came out from under the sofa, the only cat who could get under there. The rest stretched and came from various hiding places under or near the bed.

Where we set up the trailer, it was fairly protected from the predicted wind. We looked at the forecast, saw how bad it was going to be, and told the office we'd spend two nights. The problem with traveling in the desert in such wet conditions is not just the wind with the trailer, but what it does to the road with water and mud across it. Safer to give crews some time to be sure all is well. 
We felt sad at how hard this storm had hit Southern California with mudslides. It was a bad one. For the 6 of us though, a day without traveling was a nice break. 

The site is particularly nice with oleander between the RV spots, in our case, a view of the mountains in the distance. It's why we enjoy it there and maybe sometime will stay with time and energy to explore Calico, a developed ghost town in the hills beyond. The last thing we wanted on this trip was driving; so we stayed put.

Ranch Boss pulled out my portable desk, split keyboard, and I managed to finish the rough draft for the manuscript I’ve been working on since early September. It’s quite rough but to have the story finally out there was a plus for me. Ranch Boss got started reading it—another plus as he's my editor and publisher :).
Day 7—was the traffic day that I had dreaded the most. Again it was to be a short day with only going from Daggett to Bouse, a little desert wayside for mostly snowbirds or those who choose to live in the desert year round in their trailers. My concern came from one of its stretches that is two lane, with a lot of traffic and many whoopty-dos. The drive didn't end up as bad as I'd expected. 

I like these little desert waysides although this one had heavy truck traffic just beyond it most of the night. Some of the trailers had landscaping around them and might stay year round. 

Desert rats some call them who like to go out on the desert and look for minerals or explore dirt roads. Sometimes they have roadside markets set up to sell wares. The land in such places has little potential for sustaining life other than jackrabbits, coyotes, and a few birds. Again the cats got along well with only one warning hiss in the night.

Day 8: We could have driven to Tucson but I wanted to stay in Gila Bend, so that our last day's drive would be fresh when we hit the freeway, also we knew we'd have floor damage at the Tucson house. We knew the Gila Bend park was quiet and nice-- a bit farther off the road. 

Day 9: It was only a couple of hours and we turned up our road and saw our own driveway. End of one journey and beginning of another.



Sunday, January 21, 2018

What trailering involves

by Rain Trueax

If you've never gone on a road trip with a recreation vehicle, a small introduction is in order. Ours is 26' with one slide-out, small bathroom (sink, toilet, cupboards and shower), queen sized bed, sofa, refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, sink, small counter space, cupboards, table, chairs and even a little TV. It has big windows and has given us some great times, allowing security, warmth or cooling, and a way to be places motels aren't-- when we are too old to want to sleep in a tent, which would not enable taking the cats.

Most of the complications of trailering fall on Ranch Boss. There is connecting and unconnecting it from the truck. There is making sure the lights are working. Once he heads out, his experience over many years of pulling cattle and hay trailers helps a lot with backing and cornering.

Once in the park, he levels it while I put out the slide, which multiplies interior space, making it feel like a cozy cottage. The dining chairs have been hooked to the table for travel and are then set on the floor when we get somewhere. We have four but generally travel with three-- two for us and one for whichever cat gets on it first.

We have a small TV, which works great for DVDs. For internet, some parks have it but we have a hotspot, which if we have cell coverage, we can get online for the basics. We also have a generator if we plan to be off-grid. With minimal service, we keep the hotspot year round although at the farm, we get no cell coverage. It is a nice backup when in Tucson. If we are out a long time without other wireless, we generally add GBs. 

Basically, when he comes in, we check the internet for news, He does the cooking and we keep it simple-- think canned hash :). For entertainment we sometimes pop in a DVD, read or at one stop he hooked us up to the park's cable and we watched a little TV news (never a good idea but sometimes we do it anyway). 

These photos are all from earlier trips with the TT. Tomorrow's post will be how our January trip went:

Saturday, January 20, 2018

from one to another

 by Rain Trueax



If you've been with me on this blog a long time, you know that since 1999, we have owned a second home in Tucson, Arizona. We have used it less or more depending on the year. To help with its expenses and because sometimes we found it hard to get away, for 5 years or so, we offered it on VRBO as a vacation rental for those with pets. It's never been a good fit for those with allergies as when we are there, we have our cats with us. Snowbirds want it most frequently, which meant if we have gone, it was in the fall or early summers.



We decided in 2017 that we weren't renting it in 2018 because we wanted to do repairs and some remodeling, which required our being there. We kept putting off going until finally it was 2018, and we had to get it together. The farm would be okay without us. We have someone who feeds the cattle and sheep. We arranged to have the wild birds and hummingbirds be fed. We had a house-sitter as well as wonderful neighbors who keep an eye on things (meaning cattle or sheep on the road) when we are not there. 


We had to go, wanted to go, but kept putting off leaving for assorted reasons, some personal and some physical problems with the farm-- including water damage from the water heater (it was the original when the home was built in the '50s and needed replacing) and then another leak destroying the utility room floor. Couldn't leave with Thanksgiving or Christmas, could we?

During most of the fall, we had decided firmly we'd not take our vacation trailer or the two formerly feral cats. It being iffy travel in winter, we wanted to take motels and what motel lets you take four cats??? They could be fed at the farm. They'd be fine there as it's been their home.

Looking at their little faces, as they lounged on the sofa, and that idea flew out the window. They were going, which meant the trailer was going. How that would work was uncertain, with one cat hating another and one cat still spraying despite being neutered a year earlier-- and all of us in a small trailer with no real separations other than the bathroom. It didn't matter. The six of us were going.


During December, I kept plugging away at my book as I put off packing for the time I'd be in a different climate-- although with Tucson, you can get a winter-- not a wet and cold one though like our home in Oregon. I have to admit part of me just didn't want to go, even though it was the best choice for us all.

Finally, the year had ended and we were pushed for a firm timetable for leaving. It would involve days on the road, but we had a destination we loved. The cats would like it too since we fenced the yard to keep them safe from the desert predators-- if not from each other.

These photos are all of our home in the desert, the place we call Casa Espiritu, It always feels like home when we get there-- getting there is, however, always the problem. This time, winter was setting in on the mountains, unknown storms lay ahead, and a travel trailer had to be pulled and parked every night. 


How the trip went will be broken up, since this one already went long. Tomorrow gets into what it involves taking a travel trailer on a trip. Monday will be the trip and how that went with us and the cats!






Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Beginning to paint after being away


When ever I am away, it is hard to get back into painting again. Even though I did an accordion book using half pan watercolors at Turneffe Flats, these small 16 pages that I previously posted left me without a flow.  When I got home I declared the book finished.  I didn't get back to painting until about 10 days later.
So to start, I decided to get out my tube watercolor paints and see what my colors would do in reminding me of the colors at Turneffe Flats. The white of the paper make watercolors so sparkling like the colors at Turneffe Atoll.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

There is a cost

by Rain Trueax


For years, I have belonged to Romance Writers of America, which promotes romance novels and helps to bring writers together in local chapters. I am a PAN member there, which requires having sold a certain number of books to indicate the writer is treating it as a profession. Many romance writers earn a living with their books, but most are lucky to make car payments. In 2017, quite a few experienced fewer sales and began to look for why. 

With all the things an indie author must do, learning the ropes of the business end, is maybe the hardest. Most writers, at least of fiction, do not have an MBA. They may take their writing very seriously, as a business, but most are not knowledgeable in sales or marketing-- at least to begin. The author can hire services from those who are professionals like a publicist, review services (these are sometimes a little shady as reviews are supposed to be from real readers not paid apps), editors to determine if their work is marketable, and pay for advertising sites. Each service costs money. Some are better than others for being effective. The author can also elect to go it on their own and start reading and listening to what has worked for others-- or not.

Since in late December of 2011, when I brought my first book out on Amazon, I have done very little advertising. What I have done has taught me a few things. For instance, advertising, on a site that is not filled with readers in your genre, is probably a waste of money. Facebook has ads and I have used those, keeping the listing away from my friend list and trying to target readers of romances. I also have used the free services of Twitter. Personally, I think none have garnered a for-certain sale. Sales come from mysterious forces. While the Internet is very connected, it is also often unknown. What we can control there is debatable. That said, word of mouth is a very good way to see sales-- as is networking. Community once again is needed if one isn't doing a lot of expensive ads.

In those six years, there have been ups and downs in sales. This summer, sales plummeted. I blamed it on not advertising. Experimentally, I moved all of my paranormal romances into the Kindle Unlimited subscription service for borrowing. They are still available for sale, but can only be at Amazon. Books in KU earn a small amount per page read. For some it works out to be a good deal. I am still uncertain whether it will for me, as again-- no advertising but I plan to do some.

The thing is many readers only want free books. You can see where that isn't going to make a car payment, least of all support the writer. Readers though see eBooks in particular as not having substance; so why not free. Some of that is encouraged by writer giveaways. These are done with the hope the reader will get a free sample and then buy books. I guess that works for some. There are also contests or places where readers are rewarded by gifts. These are all at the writers' discretion and always intended to go somewhere. There is another way to get free books.

In January of 2012, I had my first free days for my new book (Amazon let an author do that for a few days back then). I hadn't expected many would want it-- after all, not many had bought it in the week or so it'd been out. It had over a thousand takers. I was in shock. A few months later, I was in an Amazon forum for writers. At the time, I had more of my books out (previously written through many years). One women said she liked my books but would wait until they were free. Think about it for a minute. How would a writer make a living if all thought this way?

In those early years is when I learned of another way readers get books for free-- buy them and return them after reading or transferring them to their computer. This was happening to one book after another in one of my series. If someone hated a book and returned it, why would they buy the next one? One reason-- Amazon’s generous return policy. Now, if a reader does this too many times, Amazon will revoke their right to buy books. In the meantime, the writer is out the money, as these readers go on to another author with a new email.

I have long known that pirate sites are all over the Internet, most from outside the United States. They make themselves look professional and aboveboard to get subscribers. They are professional thieves but not aboveboard. If a reader stopped to think, they'd probably realize their books were not gotten legally (the sites admit (in the small print) they don't check if an offered book was legally acquired). A thinking reader might wonder if they'd get a virus or malware from such a site... a thinking reader.

Taking books (music and DVDs) that were not offered for free by the author is theft but probably not seen that way by the one going to a pirate site. I think the logic there goes to ‘there are free books out there - -why not this one?’ I also suspect they don’t think they are stealing because they don’t know all the cost that went into writing a book that to them doesn't feel real. No paper after all-- as if that's the most costly part of creating a book. Most indie books are fairly inexpensive. Why steal what costs less than a cup of coffee in many places?

Last week, I was following an author thread where someone was talking about their plummeting sales and their discovery that their best selling book was on a pirate site with reader reviews as to how much they loved getting it for free. Someone else wrote-- use Blasty. I had never heard of it and previously thought the only way to get books off such sites was to write the company and demand it-- which since most are in other countries-- can be fruitless.

Blasty finds the books and takes them down for the writer for a monthly fee. We signed up. It took a few days to find out there were over 7000 with more than 2000 reviews (which might've been as fake as the site) on some books that have had few legal sales or giveaways by me. After seeing how many places readers could get my books for free-- one that would only be $3.95 from a legal site-- I had only one consolation. Although my sales are way down, readership apparently is not...

The problem is that as fast as Blasty cn take down a book, it can be put back up-- one main reason for paying them to do it. I see it as something for those writers who must make a living as much as for myself. If all the writers, who could afford the $12.95 would do it, it might destroy those sites-- maybe. It is frustrating that is needs to be done, but so goes life. If you are a writer with books out there, check Blasty to see if yours are on unauthorized sites and get them off.



When someone takes a book for free that was never offered by the author, they might be forcing that writer back to a full-time job and no writing. For more than a few writers that I know, they are able to write full-time-- if their books aren't stolen. In my case, it means money does not go into the college account for my four grandchildren. That is how I use all profits from my books, as I see education as so key to a good life. Education is part of not only getting jobs but maybe learning to see beyond the short term to the long term for what an action costs or benefits.To understand that--


those supposedly free sites are not actually free!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Help, Help!!! Human Debree tossed in by Hurricanes Threatened to Drown Me and Reef Criters at Turneffe Atoll, Belize



The disappearing beach at one of the mangrove islands
 on Turneffe Atoll,
the largest Atoll in the second largest coral reef in the world


Last year's hurricanes dumped plastic trash  on the beaches of Turneffe Atoll. At one of its islands, pictured above, I saw a plastic baby doll and a pair of  goose barnacle covered flip flops amazingly within a foot of each other.

Last year's hurricanes were the strongest recorded sucking away the sand in the atoll's beaches. The roots of palms were exposed. Some trees fell or will fall in the next hurricane. Some red mangrove trees also were lost reducing the distance between the shore and interior brackish water ponds where crocodiles mate and live.  all along the narrow strip of sand new mangrove shoots poked above the sand. They grow remarkably fast to become the lung of the reef and the most protective plant of the fragile reef. But as remarkable as they are, will they stand a chance if these storms and higher tides are more frequent and pull more sand away from the shore?


I am looking with binoculars across the pond at crocodiles. My granddaughter is in foreground.
Behind me are the black mangroves with roots in the brackish water beginning to be stressed.
Also the distance between the pond and the reef shore is half what it was in 2016.
 Without dry roots the black mangrove trees started dieing.  Not only that the sea level has risen in recent years according to Turneffe Flats Lodge. The atoll is 30 miles long and 18 miles wide at the widest point. The whole system is threatened  including Turneffe Flats Fishing Lodge and Ecotourist Resort.  When we were there for one week the place looked in fine shape. They said within a few weeks after the storms the owners built a new dock, fixed the wood buildings, replaced some of the sand and planted red mangrove trees.  The owners were still in the process of building a much stronger two story cement structure partly to increase the number of client rental rooms and partly for their new home.


Me in my 180 degree snorkeling mask.
The mask worked fine when on the surface
but near the end of snorkeling I attempted to dive down.  The  mask started to fill with water.
To make the water flow out I simply looked down and lost track of the group resulting in an interesting  but unpleasant experience.  I became a little separated from the group.



My sympathy for all critters of the reef was made greater after this unpleasant experience.  The currents around the atoll created a trash line about a hundred yards from open ocean with higher waves.  I swam through the trash accidentally when I was left behind and didn't look up enough to see where I was going. I was fascinated by a big jelly fish. I was pulled a little off course by an increasingly stronger current on my way to the boat pulling me closer and closer to the colder ocean. Then I got to experience first hand how fish and critters could be trapped surrounded by plastic bags,  broken floating sea weed and the little box jelly fish I feared.  I told myself not to panic, but just go with the flow gradually shifting directions towards the boat.  When I was parallel to the starboard of the boat, I  made a right turn and started swimming hard towards the boat.  My plan was to  pass the boat and go around the anchor rope and head back for the ladder near the aft on the port side of the boat.  Making headway was difficult.  My daughter saw me and thought I was lost and came around to me and tugged at my hand to get me to turn towards the stern instead.

 I welcomed our role reversal and am so grateful my daughter is so wonderfully caring.


What is being done and can be done?

A big part of being able to experience being on a remote atoll is consumption of energy like petroleum. To reduce the amount needed, some have tried wind and solar power. But unfortunately there isn't a good way to protect  the delicate machinery from high tides and winds of hurricanes. At least a method hasn't been invented yet.

There is a little house on the tip of one of the mangrove islands where adventurous people come to stay without electricity, or a supply of water or any food other than what they can collect, catch or gather - survival tourism anyone?

Turneffe Flats had their own green house where they grew herbs, onions and peppers. Many of their foods were purchased from organic Mennonite farmers from the mainland of Belize.

Our adventure guide, Abel Coe, wants to educate Belize school children to value their natural resources by taking them out in the morning to help pick up the trash and then take them snorkeling in the afternoon. I hope he is supported in his mission.

The owners of Turneffe Flats are trying to make Turneffe Atoll a Belize National Monument and Nature Preserve. A portion of the money we paid for staying at the fishing resort went to ecology efforts. They do not use micro-wave and other high powered appliances. use solar pannels to heat shower water. Limit hours of air conditioning. They also recycle black water, and collect rain water, use salt water in their infinity pool among other eco friendly practices..

Surge, a marine biologist, and the dive guide is promoting ecology world foundations.
Call to scientific inventors: design equipment for atoll dwellers to convert plastic to fuel. Anyone, can you make a small island friendly machine to convert algae to biofuel?

Brainstorming anyone for more ideas!












Saturday, January 06, 2018

questions where I don't have an answer

We've all seen them. They can be on street corners or in doorways. Sometimes they ask for money. Sometimes they just watch as we go by. Some seem unaware of what's around them. In the United States, when we are just leaving two major holidays, and in the cold season for most of the country, there have been multiple articles on our problem of growing homelessness. This is just one such article.


What do we do about this? It's not new, but it's growing more significant for multiple reasons. I've seen many articles in the last months. Most blame us as a people-- suggest it's a problem of corporate or personal greed. Is it?

Is this the fault of our culture and we are heartless? 
Is it a product of many who don't fit into a modern world where jobs, even service jobs, require some strength or skills? 
Have some chosen it as they don't want to follow rules? 
Is it mental illness? 
Is it an influx of those from other cultures where they don't know how to fit in ours-- or don't want to? 
How much is PTSD from wars?
How about believing society owes everyone a living and if they don't get it, it's society's fault--  hence the fault is someone else's? 
Would a reverse income tax, where money is transferred from those who work to those who do not-- would that fix it or make irresponsible living worse?
When is irresponsible living a product of an irresponsible society? 

These are only a few of the questions from both sides of our partisan and cultural divide. I can come up with more possibilities but the idea of someone dying in a dumpster to get food is heartbreaking to me. If the food was left on the streets, which evidently France has been requiring, will that lead to more rats or spoiled food that sickens someone leading to lawsuits? 

My concern on the homeless being allowed to live on the streets, defecate wherever they want is historical memories of cholera and other diseases that come from not having sanitary systems. When cities allow tent camps, who maintains safety and sanitation in those facilities-- or is it maintained? If food is left to rot, rats flourish leading to plague. Does anyone seriously believe people today are immune to plagues, when we return to practices that led to so many of them?

One town has threatened, with a criminal charge, a church for providing free, home-cooked meals for the homeless. The local government charges that it encourages them to be there. If not there, where?

When I am in large cities or even our local towns, I see the homeless, some on bicycles provided to help them get around. They often have packs with them-- or their bike is filled with stuff they have scavenged. Vividly, I remember some of my experiences where the people were clearly mentally ill or high on some drug. That usually is not threatening. I've had a few times where it was. 

What leads someone to end up like the man in the article? What can we do about it in a country that has considerable wealth-- but with a valid question to be asked: what really helps? Currently, many of our cities have decided the answer is to allow homeless camps. Those are not new for those of you too young to remember them. I recall going to my grandmother's home in Portland and seeing the fires from the encampment down along the rails in a nearby valley. Those were the years where the men rode the rails and their encampments were not downtown. Today it's different.

Despite what some might think, this is not a partisan issue. It's a cultural one. What can be done-- dumpsters with lighter tops allowing anyone in them to get out even if sick or weakened? Tiny homes with the hope that whoever lives in them will clean up their act, with a real address, and get work? Many things have been tried-- what works? The blame game does not if it's not accompanied by some real solutions. I don't have them. Do you?