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New River Gorge Bridge

New River Gorge Bridge, 876' above the New River, Fayette County, West Virtginia. Photo © Thomas R Fletcher. Prints for sale at: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/new-river-gorge-bridge-black-and-white-thomas-r-fletcher.html

Re: my posting quoting Maureen Dowd about Obama

I felt that the Iowa mom nailed the issue of Obama standing up to the whacko and reckless Tea Partiers. When Obama was elected, I was moved to the point of tears (during the inauguration, specifically -- see video below) and I'm  disappointed in a lot of what's happened, but think back to the president we had before this one!

I had to turn volume way up on this clip.

It's such a beautiful duet, with Bettye LaVette and Jon Bon Jovi. They way Jon (I never knew he could sing like this!) sings "…but I know-o-ee-o-o, change gonna come…" and Bettye loves it and reaches for his arm.

Godfrey Stephen's Sailboat rounding Clover Point

Godfrey Stephens and his wife Megan on the Mungo II, rounding Clover Point on Vancouver Island, BC, on their way to Lesquiti Island
Photo by Heather Jones, August 14, 2011

Montana hobbit house

"The Hobbit House, in northwest Montana, about a three-hour drive from Spokane, Wash., is a guesthouse. Number of units: one. But it is a large unit. The Web site, which the reporter studies before arriving, shows a 1,000-square-foot structure built into a hill, on a 20-acre site dotted with structures that range from small to perfect for squashing with your foot: a four-foot stump-shaped troll house, a few round-door hobbit houses with chimney pipes and several shoe-box-size fairy houses.…"

Definitely weird setup here (maybe Steve should've kept smoking pot), but I liked the photo (by Janie Osborne for The New York Times.

Article NY Times Aug 10, 2011 by Joyce Wadler: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/11/garden/the-hobbit-house-in-montana.html

Field of Dashed Dreams

From Maureen Dowd's Op Ed column in the Aug. 16 2011 issue of the New York Times:
"…After assuring Obama that she was a supporter, an Iowa mother named Emily asked the president at a town hall at the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah what had gone wrong.
Standing in a setting that was Martha Stewart-perfect - a red barn with an American flag, surrounded by white pines, red cedars and pink zinnias - the president looked breezy in khakis and white shirt. But he seemed to tense up as Emily spoke.
"'So when you ran for office you built a tremendous amount of trust with the American people, that you seemed like someone who wouldn't move the bar on us," she said. "And it seems, especially in the last year, as if your negotiating tactics have sort of cut away at that trust by compromising some key principles that we believed in, like repealing the tax cut, not fighting harder for single-payer. Even Social Security and Medicare seemed on the line when we were dealing with the debt ceiling. So I'm just curious, moving forward, what prevents you from taking a harder negotiating stance, being that it seems that the Republicans are taking a really hard stance?…'"


Progress on Tiny Homes Book

Last week we reached a critical point with this book: all pages done and accounted for. It's the first time in over a year that I haven't had the stress of putting together more pages.

As I've mentioned before, I do layout with a small color copy machine, scissors, and removable scotch tape, I print out color contact sheets (maybe 6 to an 8-1/2 X 11" sheet of cheap Epson paper), lay them out on the layout table, then blow up or reduce on DCP-9040CN Brother copy machine.  I print out text in 2 and 3 columns. then scotch-tape the photos and text to 18" X 12" layout sheets. Some of them that look great as is go directly to MacMeister Rick, others go to nomadic artist David Wills, who adds his painterly touch in tuning up design.

I like doing the first step in a kind of old-fashined way. Maybe a bit like the sound of vinyl records. If I'm not mistaken, there's almost a movement these days to look back at pre-digital art and design and music and see what's missing. It's not that "…the old is new again," it's more that the old is being reexamined for layers of richness that get filtered out in the bits and bytes process. Anyway, I start by hand.

I'm still shuffling pages, like a deck of cards. It's assuming its own form, its own order. Pretty exciting for me, after all this time. In fact all of us are looking at this evolving book. Pretty unique!

Roadside firewood and pool in mountain canyon

Tuesday afternoon I cleared out  the back of my truck and took off with my chainsaw. Earlier that week I'd spotted a bunch of recently-cut eucalyptus by the side of the road in Mill Valley. I enjoyed the change of pace, from the computer and office stuff to a straight-forward physical chore. A relief. It reminded me of when I quit building domes in the '70s, good riddance to all the mathematical precision and caulks and plastics, and I got a used Ford pickup truck and started scrounging for used lumber and other building materials in debris bins on the streets of San Francisco. More like it!
The wood was still there and was straight-grain euc and still wet, so easy to cut. I loaded up the truck to max, then headed home. The sun was out high up on the mountain (months of fog at beach this summer), so I parked and took off down a trail lined with manzanita bushes, the 6PM sun shining through the green leaves and red-bark branches. I got to my favorite watershed, and took off down a steep faint deer trail along the edges of the creek. Lo and behold here was a deep pool I hadn't remembered. Cold yes, but once out, all bodily systems are on GO. A high without a letdown. Made my way downstream, hopping rocks and at one point nervously traversing creek on 30-foot-long redwood log. Got down to road, ran back to truck, then on home at sunset.

Blossom of flannel bush where I dumped firewood. Going to rent my neighbor Mark's homemade splitter and will end up with maybe 2 cords of firewood for coming cold months.

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

New York Times Op Ed By Warren E. Buffet
August 14, 2011
"…Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.…"

Steve Jobs Biography Set for November Release

Excerpted from article in today's NYTimes by Nick Bolton:
"…Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years — as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues — Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
Simon & Schuster also said that Mr. Jobs cooperated with the book, but 'asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published.'”

“'He put nothing off limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly,” Simon & Schuster said in its book synopsis, saying that “his friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view.…'”

Autumn colors on the beach

Skating the mountain at sunrise this morning

There's a 1.3-mile stretch of curvy downhill road on our mountain that's closed to cars from dawn to dusk. There's been a local tradition dating back to the '70s of kids skating it on full-moon nights. Since I can't skate as well as the kids (can't slow down enough on steep parts to avoid getting out of control), I use a Carveboard, a very large skateboard with pneumatic tires and a deck that tilts way over so that you can carve deep corners and slow down. I've done it before, but not for a few years.
Fall seemed to arrive yesterday, after months of fog, and skies were clear all day long. I got up at 4:30 and drove to the bottom of the hill. I tied a rope around the Carveboard and towed it up like a dog on a leash. The moon was one day past full (left of center in pic above), and going down over the ocean, as dawn lit up the hills. There was a cottony blanket of fog over the ocean and San Francisco. At one place the side of the road looked like it was painted a vivid yellow. I took off and immediately wondered why I don't do this more often. It doesn't cost anything. It's just right here and available all the time, like the mountain trails and waterfalls and the beach.  Towards the bottom, a car was coming up and I was, um, on the wrong side of the road, but all was well.
I may get my GoPro camera more securely attached to my helmet and do it again tomorrow. Fun!

Ocean-going canoes from Polynesia in our waters

Several weeks ago I published a photo I shot of a large sailboat anchored here in our bay. I'd heard it was from New Zealand. More recently I found out that this was one of a fleet of 7 vakas moanas, or ocean-going canoes, each boat with a crew of about a dozen sailors from Samoa, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji and other Polynesian islands. They're making a film called "Our Blue Canoe," to alert people to the pollution that is threatening our oceans. No fossil fuels; their only propulsion is the wind and a small amount of power for engines from solar panels. They are using celestial navigation.

"Okeanos – Foundation for the Sea have rebuilt seven ocean-voyaging vaka moanas, together with the help and expertise of the Polynesian people. The design of our vakas use a fusion of both traditional and modern methods and materials. We followed our ancestor’s design, but incorporated more sustainable materials to lessen the impact on our environment. Fibreglass hulls replace timbre to protect our forests and we’ve added eight solar panels on the back of each vaka to power our engines. Natural gas is the only fossil fuel used, which is employed solely for cooking. Like our ancestors before us, we use no running water. Voyaging on our vaka, we are continuing to revive our ancient Polynesian cultural traditions while exercising respectful stewardship of our ocean."

Two days ago the4y left San Francisco, heading south along the coast.
Photo © Rui Camilo