Joy to the World

We interrupt my regularly scheduled travel stories, international relations commentaries and non-traditional economic theories for a special announcement. Three weeks ago, on July 11, 2015 at 3:23 am, the incredible and amazing Ms. B. gave birth to our beautiful baby daughter. I have no intention of transforming this website into a baby blog and as a matter of privacy there will probably not be frequent mentions of the little one on this site. Nevertheless, I must say, having witnessed the birthing process first hand for the first time I now have infinite and overwhelming respect for all mothers everywhere. Not that I didn’t respect and admire mothers before. And I knew that labor was a difficult thing. But seriously, holy shit, I bow down before the mothers of the world and worship them.

For the foreseeable future, anything that Ms. B. or the little one want that is within my power to give, they shall have.

Happy happy Joy Joy!!!

I shall return to posting travel stories and commentaries in the relatively near future but fatherhood is hard work and it takes time.

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The Austerity Monster

It’s about time someone punched that austerity monster right in the nose. Go Greece Go! If they were smart and brave they’d give the EU bankers the metaphorical finger, renounce their debts, re-issue their own currency and re-organize their economy from the bottom up. Someone’s got to get this whole world-wide revolution underway. Why not Greece? Spain might join the cause and renounce its own debts and issue it’s own currency as well. Then maybe Italy? Why not? Before you know it, the euro would collapse and all the individual countries in Europe would be forced to issue new currencies and re-organize their economies. The pendulum has been swinging in the direction of globalization for a long time now and it’s about time for the pendulum to swing back towards localization. The only way that can realistically happen is through the democratization or localization of the money supply. If Greece, through its intransigence, does manage to bring down the Euro, maybe some smart young whipper-snappers here in these United States will get their heads filled with bright ideas and declare economic independence for their state or region and issue their own alternative currency. Can’t you just imagine the court battles, the long impassioned debates and the irrationally screaming pundits? And once Vermont or Texas or Oregon has it’s own money, another state will do it and then another. Before you know it, the entire structure of the world wide capitalist system will collapse beneath the weight of it’s competing currencies.

That is my optimistic thought for the day even if it is not likely to occur. In the real world, the Euro is backed by NATO and the dollar is backed by the U.S. Military. And those two institutions have all sorts of ways to apply pressure to reluctant governments. Indeed, the tendency now is for smaller national currencies to be subsumed by larger, more powerful currencies. Some would even suggest that US foreign policy is designed ultimately to achieve the goal of establishing the dollar as the single dominant world wide currency. Is that really what the whole game of international relations and perpetual war is all about? An empire of dollar bills? Accordingly, Greece will probably buckle beneath the weight of economic stress and sell out to the EU banker demands. But hey, I can always keep my fingers crossed and hope.

For me, at least, hope usually happens in the form of metaphor. It’s Greece after all, the perfect setting for an epic clash…

Staring at the monster praying for a chance. All you need is one shot. A single hook right across the jaw. Take the bastard out.

It’s teetering on its hind legs as it is. Injured and delirious; the beast stumbles about in a frantic daze swinging madly in all directions. Too much is going on. The monster is juggling too many hot hand grenades. The aggressive flailing claws are burning; the interior supporting infrastructures are collapsing. Things are breaking loose. The center is not holding. The beast is crazed and swirling out of control. It seems ready to go down down down. All it needs is one good shot to take it out completely.

Then, finally, we can begin again. From the rubble of now, an idyllic future is born. The problem is, of course, the transition… The crazed and angry monster is not likely to go down peacefully. It may get ugly. How do we get from here to there?

Live well.

And have a very happy day.

Time and Energy?

In case you are curious as to why I have not posted new travel stories lately, this series of three photos should adequately explain it. As regular readers are aware, in my real life (when not traveling), I earn my survival rations by working as a stone mason. Indeed, many of my travel stories and photos tend to focus on great stone creations around the world. Not that my own creations can compete with the likes of Angkor or Petra or the Pyramids. But stonework is not a competition, it is an inspired occupation. We are all in this together to use the materials around us to make the world more beautiful.

Anyway, I call this little game; patio mathematics. Solve for X.

Photo 1 + photo 2 + X = photo 3

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And don’t forget to read the Petra Pilgrimage stories. You can find them by scrolling down the page. Thanks.

Petra; Sculpture of the Gods…

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I’m really busy with my own stonework this week so once again I don’t have time to write or post a new travel story. The Petra Pilgrimage series is still available for your reading pleasure if you just scroll down this main page. The stories from Petra are independent and inter-related. Mix and match or start from part I and read all the way through. It was truly amazing what I experienced there and I would like to share it with as many people as possible.

In the mean time, I still have many photos to share from Petra. This week I am presenting photos under the topic of ambiguous giant stone sculpture. If you ever find yourself exploring Petra, you will see that in addition to all the marvelous human created cliff carvings, there are also some pretty impressive natural rock formations that kind of look like giant sculptures formed by nature or some sort of pre-historic god. Actually, sometimes it is difficult to tell if some formations are the result of natural processes or from human effort with hammer and chisel. So that is the game we are playing this week. If you, dear reader, are ready for the challenge. I am going to post a series of photos and you have to guess whether they were sculpted by people with active imaginations and hammers and chisels or formed through the mysterious processes of nature.

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Petra; Shadows and Light

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As my regular readers know, my blog entries tend to grow thin to non-existent when stone season begins. Building stonewalls, patios and waterfalls leaves me with little time or energy for long-winded traveling tales. However, since my last four stories about my incredible journey to Petra are rather long and involved, visitors to this site will at least have something to chew on and mull over while I am busy with my rocks. So please, read The Petra Pilgrimage Stories. There are three of them; one for each day I spent at Petra. The third one, however, is so long that I divided it into two parts. If you read all the Petra stories together, you will find that it is really a single rather long but very amazing story. Not quite long enough to be a novela but definitely long enough with photos included to give you an hour or so of intense vicarious travel adventure experience. Hopefuly, you will find the experience both interesting and enjoyable. To find this complete collection of connected Petra stories, all you have to do is scroll down this main page.

In the mean time, I am not going to abandon my blog posts altogether. I still have lots of photos to share, some brief commentaries to make and maybe I will find time for an occasional little story. This week I am posting photos from Petra under the theme of Light and Shadow. Sometimes I like to look at photos and imagine that light and shadow are characters in the story of the picture. Hmm… what is light doing? Hmm… what is shadow doing? Darkness meets light on the dance floor of paradise and a rainbow of color opens before them… Anyway, Petra is a great place to play this game.

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Pat’s Petra Pilgrimage Part III (B)

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This is the final part of my four part series on Petra. Although this story can be read independently, it is a continuation of the previous part and as such it will make a lot more sense if you read part III (A) first. Actually, the whole series works best if read chronologically from beginning to end. To find all three previous parts, scroll down the main page.

The Petra Pilgrimage, Part III (b)

Wadi Musa, Jordan; Februay 2013

I still have about three hours of sunlight left on my last day here at Petra. I’ve seen it all; every building, every museum and maybe even every cave. I’m now drinking another cup of coffee at Ali’s scenic café in the side canyon near the museum. I could call it quits and head back to the hostel or linger here sipping warm beverages until sunset. It’s been a full day already. I don’t need to do more. But sometimes I just can’t help myself. The mountaintop “Monastery” that I saw on my first day at Petra is, perhaps, the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in the whole wide world. Sure, it requires a couple mile hike up a mountain to get there and yes I’m already exhausted from the long hike to the tomb. But I know I could be there for sunset. It’s the perfect finale for my Petra Pilgrimage. So, of course, I have to go.

My legs feel like lead and the trail that seemed easy two days ago now seems a punishing ordeal. I consider turning around several times and going back. Do I really need to see the most incredible thing on the entire planet earth a second time? Well, yes, I do. Once is not enough. I do make it, but barely. And I make it in time for sunset. The vision is spectacular… beyond spectacular. My photo can’t do it justice and I can’t describe it in words. Totally exhausted in a delerial euphoric bliss from too much exercise in the hot sun, I stand before the carved out mountainside that is literally glowing in the sunshine. Did humans make this or the gods? Wow! I feel the tingle deep inside. It’s a stone mason’s version of a mystical experience. My cells are glowing to match the glow from the building. The power of the universe is flowing into me. It feels so good I can’t possibly explain it. And that’s when I hear the voice…

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Pat’s Petra Pilgrimage Part III (A)

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This is the third part of a four part series on Petra. Although this story can be read independently, it might make sense to read the first two parts first. The first two parts can be found by simply scrolling down to the entries of a few weeks ago.

Petra Part III

Wadi Musa, Jordan; February 2013

I meet the “other” on the mountaintop near the sacred building. It’s a friendly meeting and he seems a nice guy. Somewhat surprisingly, he makes an effort to recruit me to his cause. I say no, of course, and continue on my way. Who is the devil in this story?

Another day begins at dawn. After a bright and early breakfast, I take the first shuttle to the Petra entrance. It’s the third and final day of my Petra pilgrimage and once again I am one of the first visitors to reach the Siq. By now, of course, I should be expecting it, but I am still amazed by the transformative powers of that mile long crack in the earth. Perhaps the closeness of the canyon walls distorts the energy field and that somehow warps my brainwaves. I don’t know how it happens. But the passageway does indeed lead me to the other side.

Just like the previous days, I stop at the Bedouin café in front of “The Treasury” and have myself a fine cup of Turkish coffee. I swear… that building… THE TREASURY… really puts people power in perspective. They did it without power tools over 2000 years ago. A hammer, a chisel, and lots of enthusiasm; what fun; it makes me excited for the coming season of stonework. I can hardly wait to get my hands on a big pile of rocks… Not today though. Today I have a different objective. Today I am going on a quest. I’m going to hike to the tomb of the prophet on the mountaintop in the distance.

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