money photo: Money images241lllisalllindsay.jpgPhotobucket upload by lllisalllindsay

It has often been said that there are two factors that influence investment of capital: fear and greed.  I believe there is a third door available to those who don’t like to identify with either.   Significantly less emotional than the first two is wise stewardship.  Yes, we all want a safe place to shelter our resources and earnings.  But if it is too safe it risks becoming moldy, like a bumper crop of grain stored in a damp basement.  When earnings are parked in such spots they are removed from circulation, and idled, are rendered almost useless.  O, that there were parking fees routinely charged for such fearful handling of value, as an incentive to keep the energy flowing!  

Today’s interest rates on savings are certainly in the basement!  But between Friday June 30 and Monday July 6 we will have good opportunity to apply resources to a series of alarming situations.  The first moment arrives tomorrow, as a replay of Y2K:  markets need to add one second to the trading day.  The next will arrive by referendum.  The Greeks have a choice to become a perpetual underclass, or to go bankrupt.  This choice has roiled markets.  The scenario has come about due to investment bankers who, back in 2010, massaged the Greek application for EU membership, at considerable profit to themselves.  Stepping up to buy securities is a way of refuting this fear.  We can suppose that the present fear suggests the possibility of bank failures around the global.  But know this:  commerce will continue.  

A Nobel economist who has been largely correct about minimal likelihood of inflation (while the fearful foolishly bought gold as a hedge against inflation that never came) and the folly of austerity since 2007, is urging Greeks to vote NO on further austerity.  I do think he is right on this also, and hope they heed his call.  The opportunity really is for the Greeks to call the bankers’ bluff.  Bankruptcy is better than knuckling under to raw power.  Perhaps the Germans and financiers might remember a bailout known as the Marshall Plan which mercifully rescued them from economic disaster after WW2?  And maybe we each should unpark some funds to buy up a flood of fear.

¡¡ We ALL own the air and water !!

Gathering clouds of economic turmoil.

Gathering clouds of economic turmoil?

Too big to fail?  Nah!  But when filthy rich bullies foreclose on working folks, and then rent repo’d housing back to newly minted peons who now have greatly reduced wages, facing a future of wage slavery, it’s time to re-think.  

We need to re-invent capitalism.  I love it when new ideas pop to the surface on a sea of injustice.  An article and a book might be lifesavers for the peril ahead.  All of us should grab onto these ideas, before the generations (and nature) sink!  A quote from this well-argued article:

A “sky trust” could be created to hold America’s atmospheric pollution rights in trust for future generations and living pollutees equally. Using peer-reviewed science, the trust would decrease its sales of pollution rights over time until a safe level for nature was reached. Meanwhile, revenue from the sales would be distributed equally to every legal US resident with a Social Security number, offsetting—and in many cases, more than offsetting—the impact of higher fuel prices.

The sky trust model was based on the Alaska Permanent Fund, which since 1982 has been sharing oil-based income with every Alaskan equally. In 2009, the sky trust became known as “cap and dividend” and was considered, though not passed, by Congress. It’s still the best climate change solution out there—and one that Congress is starting to re-visit.

We can’t avoid repeating mistakes of the past unless we recognize them.  In this book, INJUSTICES,  a former clerk for a federal judge recounts the long and outrageous afflictions perpetrated by the Supreme Court on the larger population. (We don’t hear stories of such moral idiocy in high school.)  What is impressive is that there has been any justice delivered by the court, at all.  But that window was brief.  And the wealthy owners of influence are ascendant, unless We the people discover our past failures at self-governance, and demand change.

FAMOUS FACES: oil on canvas, by Philip Burke, a retrospective

First Lady. A portrait from a slideshow of, linked below

First Lady. A portrait from a slideshow, linked below

One of my former customers has made it big, and has a retrospective going on at a major gallery in Buffalo NY . He was a starving artist back in the 90’s when we copied his portraits onto 4×5 Ektachrome — but now gets as much as $90,000 for a canvas.  Here’s a slideshow of the work, which has some favorites. (Andy Warhol sat for him, live, for four hours; but most were painted from a collection of reference photos.) I only wish the slideshow linked the names of his subjects, but most will be recognized. (NB: these are copyrighted works which are shared with you under Fair Use doctrine – see my About section.) Please do not distribute the images with any commercial linkage whatsoever!



US Dept of Ag photo, via Wikimedia

US Dept of Ag photo, via Wikimedia

Last week our new deep-well pump quit working. Much to my relief, it did not need replacement. Our electrician put his fancy meter to work and determined that the problem was in a circuit breaker :  yup, ants had crawled in there for some mysterious farming, or partying. I don’t know if the ants were Crazy (doubtful) or just hungry, or maybe having a rave or an orgy in there. But Rolando installed a new breaker, and the pump was back.

Just before he connected it, I put some drops of clove oil on the breaker.  In October I had experimented with oil of clove for protecting our bed, where ants were invading our sheets, and biting me at night! At a loss, and not wanting to fumigate, I knotted a piece of yarn around each leg of the bed, and saturated it with oil of clove which I got at a local alternative pharmacy :  Super Naturalista, c.56 x61y63, in Centro.  This was just a hunch, based on knowing that bees and ants are very sensitive to aromas. It has remained effective for several months now, with nary an ant in the bed.

Our ants may not be crazy, but they’re not welcome in the house. When they invade the kitchen we feed them boric acid which we bought at a regular pharmacy, (Comercio San Cristobal, c.69 #441 x48, Centro) mixing the powder into a paste with simple syrup, about 1:1 until well blended. We put it in a bottle cap. They take it back to the nest, and then vanish. Boric acid is very safe to handle. Sorry, but we’re not running a food pantry for insects, although I do appreciate the way they clean most things in the backyard. . . .

. . . . Except for the leaf cutter ants which like to chew our Bougainvillea. There is an excellent remedy called Trompa which we get at Home Depot. It’s a biological agent which is apparently designed expressly for leaf cutter ants. It incorporates the fungus the ants routinely make for food stores from the leaves of your landscape plants. The manufacturer adds a bacillus thuringensis bacterium to their food which sickens the entire colony. Leaf cutters do their work after dark. Simply spot them with a flashlight, and put a small pile of the pellets on one of their pathways. Be sure it remains dry. If your plants are showing serious depletion of leaves, with big bites out of some remaining leaves, they are likely  the culprit. This stuff really works, and it’s safe.

Carnaval: kids on parade

Popeye knows it's hard to resist a sailor in uniform.

Popeye knows it’s hard to resist a sailor in uniform.

You've got mail?

You’ve got mail?

Front row seating, thanks to Billy.

Front row seating, thanks to Billy.

Praying for world peace.

Praying for world peace.

The toucan and the princess.

The toucan and the princess.

Say "queso"

Say “queso”

Queen for a day

Queen for a day.

After the event a pair of  marchers take a yoga nap.

After the event a pair of marchers take a yoga nap.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom…

Snail Mail arrives, eventually, mostly

Snail Mail arrives, eventually, maybe. (photo by macrophile, flickr, via wikimedia)

Learning to adapt is an important part of entering a new culture.  The pace is different. (Not better; not worse.)  This will require some adjustment. Your mileage may vary. Our absentee ballots were mailed October 3rd from Buffalo. As we had been instructed to contact the Board of Elections if they didn’t arrived by mid October, we did so. They sent another pair. One of the four eventually arrived before Christmas – the other three are still missing in action.  Next time we may choose to vote electronically, which means we won’t get to vote in local elections up north, but at least our ballots for federal elections will be timely.  

Today, February 11, two Christmas cards dropped thru the slot — a few days ahead of Valentines Day, but late for Groundhog Day. Carnival starts tomorrow, with the children’s parade, a favorite event. We’ve been invited to a reserved table at an excellent location for taking pictures. Stay tuned.

There’s much to be grateful for in email, including online billing and speed of communication. 

Mail may diminish in importance for you here.

Mail may diminish in importance for you here.

Je Suis Charlie [We Are All Charlie Hebdo]

Photo by JulianColton, Wikimedia

Photo by JulianColton, Wikimedia

If any idea becomes too sacred for discussion or critique, we are all endangered. It’s a sad day when anyone is murdered for shining the light of reason in dark places. If ideas cannot be discussed critically, truth is imprisoned and decapitated by dogma. I live in a nation where the profession of journalist is one of the most dangerous jobs around. If we cannot protect, globally, those willing to examine ideas, opinions, facts, activities, without reservation, we risk losing more than our heads – we risk losing our minds, and our liberty. Philosopher CS Pierce said those who love truth are destined to agree. 

So, what’s the point – how is this my problem?  This quote from pastor Martin Niemöller (1971 version) helps us grasp our duty:

When the Nazis came for the communists, I did not speak out; As I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I did not speak out;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Editorial cartoonists around the world today, January 8, 2015, are standing up against intolerance, in solidarity with each other. We all need to stand together, regardless of profession. (Type the date into the search field to see some of their efforts.) It should be noted that at least one Muslim recognizes the danger and is calling for solidarity, as well.n-CHARLIE-HEBDO-570



Cleared for takeoff on runway 3-w.

Cleared for takeoff on runway 3-w.

The day after Christmas they arrived. We had driven beneath a cloud of locusts on our return trip from Mayapan, 28 kilometers south of our home in Merida, on December 23. That encounter was brief. This one was a bit more dramatic and lasted longer – four hours for the majority, and more than a full day for stragglers.

Oddly, they didn’t eat much of anything in our yard. They covered our annona tree, but left the leaves untouched. But the neighbor’s banana tree was shredded. Our housekeeper recommends roasting and eating them. Last year we found them available as a topping for pizza!


Hoppers decorate our annona tree.


Bite-sized: about three inches long.

Bite-sized: about three inches long.


Skewered and roasted

They swam and pooped in our pool!

They swam and pooped in our pool!

What's left of the neighbor's banana tree.

What’s left of the neighbor’s banana tree.



Winter solstice afternoon at Mayapan, Yucatan

Winter solstice afternoon at Mayapan, Yucatan

Winter solstice.  The shortest day of the year is over.  We made the brief trip from Merida to the ruins at Mayapan, with friends Pat and Carlos, to pay our respects to the cosmic clock which the ancient Maya spent so much time studying and honoring thru architecture. The ancients carefully planned and built pyramids to serve as giant sundials which would instruct future generations of the cycle of seasons. On the shortest and longest days of each year, the Kulkukan pyramid at Mayapan, 28 kilometers south of Merida, puts on a solar display (December ~21  &  June ~21) which required major calculating, engineering, and sweat. (It’s not an easy matter to relocate a huge stone structure one degree this way, or that way, so it’s best to be exact from the start.) 

Subtly, over a three day period, K’iin, Sol, Sun, casts a shadow along a corner of the pyramid, onto the staircase, which looks to one’s imagination like a serpent very slowly slithering down the great stonework stairs. This pyramid is smaller than the one at Chichen Itza. That one alternately does it’s shadowy slither at the equinoxes twice yearly (March ~21  &  September ~21). The serpent-shadow effect at both is visible a day or so on either side of the precisely demarcated solar event.

Shadowy serpent descends the staircase to announce seasonal change

Shadowy serpent slithers down the staircase to announce seasonal change. (Astro observatory in background.)

For those with good balance and stamina, the pyramid is still climbable – but very steep. Coming down can be more terrifying than going up. Don’t loose your head by trying something beyond your ability safely to complete.

King of the castle surveys the kingdom

King-of-the-castle surveys the kingdom

A bas relief carving displayed on the backside of the mound. "You'd lose your head if it weren't attached!"

A bas relief carving displayed under thatch, on the backside of the mound. “You’d lose your head if it weren’t attached!”

Speaking of heady events of light and shadow, when Moses met God at the burning bushhe asked God his name. The reply is variously translated as I am who I am;  or  I will be who I will be – perhaps implying  don’t be impertinent by asking such a question –  but pay attention, and discover who you are.  In other words, grasp your assignment.

And, of course, Jesus said of himself I am the light of the world (v.12). But he also said you are the light of the world (v.14). So this doesn’t sound like an exclusive club of one member only. Einstein was fixated with understanding the nature of light, and changed the world thru his quest, bringing us into the modern electronic era. If I were to invest more thought and energy into my understanding of who I am, maybe it would change my world, my experience, and my way of seeing you. Perhaps some of the cycles of life would begin to come into focus and reveal their meaning to each of us.  

It’s doubtful that Jesus was born on December 25, in a stable. The date had long been associated with a pagan holiday celebrating the return of the light. And the word stable is a mistranslation of a Greek word which means guest room in a home. But let’s not quibble over mere words when we can enjoy the light.

A 15th century nativity scene by Paolo Schiavo.   Merry Christmas to all; and to all, good light.


¿¿ Where’d ya get that hat ??

A snow-covered car drives on Broadway, a few miles from our house. Foto: Gary Wiepert/AP

A snow-covered car drives on Broadway, a few miles from our house. Foto: Gary Wiepert/AP


 The fotos above and below provide persuasive evidence of why we winter in Merida, Yucatan. Our region up north (Buffalo NY) is known for its lake-effect snows. This blizzard will remain in the record books as being one of the biggies. Many towns got over five feet of early snow in less than three days. And there are a few reports of more than six feet! (Click sound bar for short tune fitting of the scene.)

A neighbor who lives across the road from us has this to say about the depth of snow, which is difficult to measure due to blizzard-force winds: i would have to say 5 feet easy…might even be closer to 6. actually when i think… its gotta be more.we had 5 foot on wednesday into thursday…then got another 1-2 on thursday afternoon. i have to admit…its a bit hard to get my head around it. National Weather Service reports that Cowlesville, a hamlet located about three miles from us, got 88 inches over three days; but again, it’s difficult to measure. We even made news in Sweden, which is rather remarkable. 

Foto: Lindsay DeDario/Reuters

Foto: Lindsay DeDario/Reuters

Foto: Derek Gee/AP, The Buffalo News

Foto: Derek Gee/AP, The Buffalo News

Moisture rises into cold winds, to be dumped as snow on Buffalo

Moisture rises into cold winds, to be dumped as snow on Buffalo. Foto: Lindsay DeDario/ Reuters

Buffalo is well-equipped and expert at snow removal. Foto: Gary Wiepert/AP

Buffalo is well-equipped and expert at snow removal. Foto: Gary Wiepert/AP

Foto by Mark Mulville, Buffalo News

Foto by Mark Mulville, Buffalo News

SNOW MAP     TO LOCATE OUR FARM, FIND THE LARGEST CIRCLE.  FIND THE 11:00 POSITION ON THE EDGE OF THAT CIRCLE.  We’re in Erie County. Cowlesville is just over the border, in Wyoming County.   Get that located in your mind at 11:00, just inside the biggest circle.  (88 inches is 2.24 meters, which is 7 feet 4 inches. That’s snow!)  Now click the pink link.