Friday, January 1, 2016

I am now on vol. IX of the ten volume epic “The Story of Civilization” by Will and Ariel Durant. This has been a literal and literary labor of love. Each of the 1000 page volumes has been a veritable treasure of brilliant writing, sharp humor and uncanny insight into this journey our species has/is taking. I am deeply indebted to my dear Brigitte Mercier for introducing me to the first volume, to Roseanna Marchetti for lending me the continuing volumes from her full set (and I have yet the pleasure of meeting Roseanne) and Alan Pomeroy for challenging me to finish them. I have previously encouraged others to begin this journey and I do so again – you will not be disappointed. On the other hand you may find them not at all entertaining or informative and that’s OK too!

 Will Durant

I would like to give one example of why Durant’s writing style has so captivated and entertained me for these thousands of pages that I have now read. I am on the first chapter of vol. IX and reading a section on The IV Earl of Chesterfield, an Englishman born in 1694 to minor aristocracy and who became a respected diplomat and later writer. He is best known for an 800 page manuscript written to his son Phillip titled “Letters to His Son”. Durant begins the section on Chesterfield thus: “Let us spend a half hour with this perceptive Earl……….” As if he were talking directly to you the reader. All IX volumes have the same free and open sharing of his intellect, but listen to what he says about The Earl’s writing: “He himself wrote an English unsurpassed in contemporary prose: simple, vigorous, clear, with just enough lightness to float the burden of his thoughts”. I love that. 

 Lord Chesterfield

It appears that there may have been a semi-aquatic species of hominid during the evolution of humankind. This has been debated for many decades and for the most part relegated to the “fantasy” bin but has recently been revived due to some interesting developments in archeology. It is another one of those theories that I enjoyed so much introducing to my classes just for the stimulation and to get their minds flowing more openly. There are times I miss teaching more than I ever thought possible.

Watching the sun change it’s position (actually due to the earth tilting) as the Solstice passed is always such a treat. I was out in The Medicine Wheel on Solstice morning seeing the sun once again emerge over the top of our Solstice stone. Some of you have joined me for that moment in previous years – you were with me in spirit, I assure you.

Sword and Stone

As of the last few weeks 3 - 6 humpbacks have been sighted in my grid almost every day. Technically my season starts in February when the greatest number of humpbacks are here. Anyone wishing to contribute to my work can make a donation online to my “GoFundMe website: or send a check to MioSah, C/O Susan Janssen, 20 Highland Ct., Ukiah, CA 95482. I saw two whales moving north yesterday while doing my exercises on the beach (sea too rough to swim). They were at the very periphery of even my bionic eyes so my identification is tentative (the blow wasn’t quite right, too diffuse), blue whales I think? Could have been Grays but rare here in The Sea of Cortez. Regardless, first sightings of the new season are always a special treat.

Blue whale from a few years ago - dove with this one
Wind continues to blow hard much to the consternation of our pangeros. Difficult to catch fish in heavy chop and what Gringo wants to go out anyway? Having spent many a day on a rocking, pounding boat, wet to the skin, cold and basically miserable is not my idea of fun…….but what a rush!! One of the three most memorable moments in my life was at the helm of the 84’ sailing schooner “Dariabar” in mid pacific in a Beaufort 8 gale at midnight – HooHah! Of course I was only 58 then.

Me at helm

 I only go out now when the sea is good and flat, clear skies and warm. I’m looking forward to a good season and perhaps with some new adventure – the sea is always unpredictable and it is full of delightful critters, I haven’ ridden a Giant Manta yet.

Here are some science articles you may find interesting:

Time travel is a long way off but it looks like it is more than just theoretically possible. At the quantum level the universe is far, far more “fantastic” than can even be imagined.

It is always rewarding to know that some if not many of the concepts that I elaborated on in class are now being studied with a great deal more zeal than when I was teaching. The extinction of the dinosaurs and the concomitant “explosion” of mammal species is still in my lectures here regarding my whale friends. They too are a result of that cataclysmic comet event 65 million years ago.

Here’s an interesting article on a somewhat mysterious petroglyph covered rock discovered years ago but receiving renewed attention. 

Some of you may have read Fell’s book: America BC. If not you may enjoy it – it certainly puts Columbus in his proper place. This article is along those same lines. NOT to imply that anyone predated the true discovery by the First People to discover the Americas – the Native Americans.

I have often derided the work of Sigmund Freud and questioned his role in laying down the tenants of human psychology – much to human detriment in my perspective. How different a world it would be if the ideas of Carl Jung had been adopted instead of Freuds’ – so very, very sad! He (Jung) made so much sense as the article cited shows.

Just a couple of cool pics: