Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sunrise the day before my 72nd birthday - 11/29/41 

I failed to complete my thank you’s to some of the people who helped in the Ukiah presentation last month – my apologises.

To: Jenny, Shelley and Tamara at UPT and to Susan, Chandler, Maureen and Jeanette for helping out front – thank you!

My cousin (Erik) "Erk" Harkna at the helm of his boat.

This is my cousin Erk. He was one of the “boat people” in our escape from the Soviets during WWII. True to Estonian tradition, he too loves the sea. We don’t see each other often but I have had some great times with him over the years – his spirit is pure Viking!

The "boat kids", me at top left, Erk, his sister Ari and my bro Peter

I had my 72nd birthday on the 29th of last month. What can I say but that I feel strong, spiritually in tune with The Great Mystery and am looking forward to another (10th) season with my whale family. January 1st of 2014 I will have completed my 5th year here in El Cardonal as the only full time gringo resident in the pueblo – I am honored to be part of this community. Never have I felt "more at home"!

My daughter Kersti at The Monterey Bay Aquarium (she and husband Bill are also "whale divers").

Kersti sent me this photo and wish on my birthday.

“Happy Birthday Dad. Sending love and light and wishing you another amazing day.”
And this is the spirit I see within her. She has been a treasure in my life.

Ironically I got sick that day and just coming out of it now – thought it was Dengue Fever, no, just “Gripa”.

Speaking of Kersti I would like to take this moment to honor the work she has chosen in her life and how much I respect her devotion to helping those in need. As the world becomes more complicated and many people are left without the support that used to be provided by the extended family there is a great need for all types of social workers – those who have chosen to devote their lives to helping others in need.

She was always like this with people and animals as a child, then helping the elders in our family and now as an Occupational Therapist bringing hope and physical rejuvenation to those whose misfortune (in a number of guises) has weakened their bodies and/or minds.

Basically it is a form of therapy for those recuperating from physical or mental illness that encourages rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life.

Occupational therapy interventions focus on adapting the environment, modifying the task, teaching the skill, and educating the client/family in order to increase participation in and performance of daily activities, particularly those that are meaningful to the client.

The origin of this very important work goes back to the ancient Greeks and most probably before. I honor the work that you do Kersti and I am very, very proud of the powerful woman you have become. You are doing The Good Work and I love you!

The Q's heading out to The WZ

My dear Q’s (Jean-Luc/Brigitte) were here for a week during mid November and will return in mid-Feb. for a month long stay with their sons (and my adopted grandsons – Antoine, Tristan and Quentin). As always it was a treat to have them here. When I picked them up at the airport Jean-Luc mentioned the noise the car was making underneath. I thought it might be a loose muffler but it continued to get worse all the way back to El Cardonal. Next day I took it in to Cesar (our village mechanic) and he said it was a bad wheel bearing. Two weeks later I got the car back, good job and once again I realized the value of a life style built on the philosophy of poco a poco (little by little). I considered it good luck that it held out till we got back from the airport, that Cesar could do it, that my lifestyle was not disturbed by it and that now I am mobile again.

I was invited to give my PP presentation to an audience in La Ventana (a town 2 hrs north of me) a week ago. It was held at “The Palapas Ventana” and about 30 people showed up. Great evening, nice folks, some nice donations, a few books sold. A special thanks to Llyod and Lauri, Tim and Jimena and Lana and Dave who made my stay so pleasant. I was pretty sick by then and it took every ounce of my will to go through with the lecture but as always, being in front of an audience wires me up and I felt empowered right till I got in bed – then I was weak as a lamb.

Here are some suggested readings/viewings:

4 stranded DNA

Whales under water  “Sea of Love”

Check this out! 8 Mars orbitals:

This is way cool! I see Kersti in this for sure. 

Matt Damon serves up some REALITY!

MMI's Scott Baker spoke recently at University College Dublin about new research that could help shape conservation measures for North Pacific humpback whales. Dr. Baker said an astounding amount of information can be gathered by combining traditional photo-ID techniques and DNA profiling. A fuller understanding of population subsets will help tailor continued protective measures where needed.

On the 21st of November I saw my first humpbacks for the season. It was a mother and calf frolicking out about a half mile in front of my place. Too rough to go out in my kayak but sure was nice just to watch them play. My guess it was a yearling that will be weaned this season. They are coming!

11/28 - Starting to feel sick!

Next day - my birthday, cosmic joke, hah!

Alan and Marilyn came down for a week on the 1st of December and there was just one day that offered good kayaking. I wasn’t going to go because I was STILL sick and had just given the lecture in La Ventana so needed some rest. NO WAY. I kept looking out to sea and then said, “f**k it”, I gotta get out there!”

I e-mailed Alan and told him I was on my way to launch and would love to have him join me. I didn’t really expect him to show because the conditions were not all that good but there he was. I can always tell it’s Alan because of the way he paddles and the silhouette of his kayak. His company on my excursions out to The WZ have always been a highlight in my life. We went out about a half mile and then just drifted while having one of our far ranging and delightful conversations. The wind started up so we decided to head on in but just as I was turning towards my pull out I saw a breach. Yep, a humpback doing a full breach not a half mile away. Then we saw it blow and it was heading north so Alan and I chose an intercept and boy did Alan nail it! The whale came up just to Alan’s right side not 30’ from his kayak!! We continued in the direction he seemed to be going but didn’t see him again. We were so lucky – of course I choose to think that the whale wanted to say hello to Alan.

Alan making the intercept.

My son Zack was once again fighting for our rights during the anti-TPP demonstration in LA.

 My boy in the trenches!

This is yet another consequence of the SPLASH study that I was a part of between 2004-2007. The first comprehensive genetic study of humpback whale populations in the North Pacific Ocean has identified five distinct populations – at the same time a proposal to designate North Pacific humpbacks as a single "distinct population segment" is being considered under the Endangered Species Act.

The five populations identified in the study are: Okinawa and the Philippines; a second West Pacific population with unknown breeding grounds; Hawaii, Mexico and Central America.
"Even within these five populations there are nuances," noted Baker, who frequently serves as a member of the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission. "The Mexico population, for example, has 'discrete' sub-populations off the mainland and near the Revillagigedo Islands, but because their genetic differentiation is not that strong, these are not considered 'distinct' populations."
The SPLASH program has used photo identification records to estimate humpback whale populations. The researchers estimate that there are approximately 22,000 humpbacks throughout the North Pacific – about the same as before whaling reduced their numbers. Although recovery strategies have been successful on a broad scale, recovery is variable among different populations.
"Each of the five distinct populations has its own history of exploitation and recovery that would need to be part of an assessment of its status," said Baker, who is a professor of fisheries and wildlife at OSU. "Unlike most terrestrial species, populations of whales within oceans are not isolated by geographic barriers. Instead, migration routes, feeding grounds and breeding areas are thought to be passed down from mother to calf, persisting throughout a lifetime and from one generation to the next.
"We think this fidelity to migratory destinations is cultural, not genetic," he added. "It is this culture that isolates whales, leading to genetic differentiation – and ultimately, the five distinct populations identified in the North Pacific."

I gave a shortened version of my PP presentation to The Rotary Club in Los Barriles the other day (12/11). I focused on the lab project and it was very well received. I thank Steve and Barbara for inviting me to speak. All in all, the lab idea seems to be capturing the interest of a number of people and agencies. CID (Centro Investigacion de Biolojia) for Baja California Sur has shown interest and would be a great agency to work with. At this point I believe that this dream will indeed come true and I am delighted!

Here’s a little something to think about when discussing the issue of cancer and the epidemic that seems to be befalling us.

And here’s something at the extreme opposite end of the scale from the above in terms of human potential.

Two lovely ladies visiting: Nantzy Hensley and Susanna Pepperwood

A couple of reminders:

"A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone"
Stephen King in Duma Key

“Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

Since I do not engage in the Christmas Holiday anymore I wish you all instead:

                             Happy Solstice ! 
                   May your lives be full and rich 
                             beyond measure!