Poem : ONE FAMILY. (A Parenthesis for Now)

Una abuelita y su familia, Andalucia, España, ~1969.   Foto by MeridaGOround


ONE FAMILY.  (A Parenthesis for Now.)
The Lord loves conservatives and liberals alike. 

(We have a Patient Teacher.)

The Lord loves school children and gun owners equally.
(We have a Compassionate Parent.)

The Lord loves citizens and politicians as one.
(We have a Just Governor.)


The Lord, Father-Mother, loves Her entire family.
(All the children, black and white, red and yellow ;  even green.)


The Lord loves us, believes in us, has faith in us, cares deeply.
 We live there, and are home, safe, right now.

(Do you feel it?  Will you?)

¿ Are we ok for the next five minutes ?
(And the next ?)


Breathe it in . . .

(. . . and give it back, in the Spirit with which it is shared.)


~ MeridaGOround.com


from Wikimedia Commons, photo © Tomascastelazo.com

Many Americans apparently have an unbalanced zeal for guns — loving them more than our own children.  While there is great passion asserted by some against “murder of unborn children” via abortion, there is little regard for reasonable constraint of gun ownership by many of these same folks.  This is a minority position, but many elected leaders are cowards before them, when it comes to defending the right to life of students — instead, favoring the “liberty” of gun owners — to the point of not even requiring safe storage, in some states. 

This begs the question “What is liberty?”  Should a 15-year old be given a handgun?  Should they be allowed to have a gun or drive the family car, without insurance, licensing and testing? 

Ask your elected leaders why they are defending their own jobs, but not defending America!  These politicians are afraid to attempt the slightest regulation of guns because the NRA worries that any sort of additional gun control is a slippery slope — even tho’ the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution calls for a “well regulated militia” of gun ownership.  FREEDOM ENTAILS OBEDIENCE TO MORAL LAW.  STOP THESE ELECTED COWARDS!  Here are their names, bleeding red.

And what can be said about the moral idiocy and poor taste of this elected official, who posed his family with his armory, four days after a school was shot up, killing four students?   Obviously his view is “not my family; not my district.”  Shameless!  (Have you let his type push your “freedom buttons” at the poles?)


Hacienda Hotel Santo Domingo, @ cruz de  c.18  y  c.33,  Izamal, Yucatan

We wanted to travel a bit, safely, so we headed to what I think of as the Indigenous capital of Yucatan, Izamal – (we live in the Hispanic and political capital, Mérida).  Izamal is about 72 kilometers (45 miles) to the east of Mérida, and north of the Cancún highway on Route 11.  It took us about 100 minutes from centro to centro to get there, driving leisurely.  The express bus is probably faster (scroll to From Mérida to Izamal).

We had a delightful stay at Hacienda Hotel Santo Domingo, which is run by Harald, an affable man from Austria, and his lovely Mexican wife, Sonia. Harald studied tourism as a lad, and his design-sense is excellent. They have twelve rooms in an elegant facility, depicted at their website.

Dining room where we enjoyed a fine candle-lit dinner.

Poolside breakfast

The hotel is nestled quietly on the outskirts of the city, a short ten-minute walk to centro, straight down c.33.

Handsome cabs (calesas) are lined up, while a tour group listens to a guide.

After a relaxing visit in a gentle setting, it’s back to the city of the conquistadores.

Mérida :   the remate, Paseo Montejo @ c.47



Photo by Trougnouf, via Wikimedia Commons: Doel, Belgium

Carbon pollution is so much riskier than radioactive pollution.  The Three Mile Island nuclear accident (1979) rocked me, but on further reflection (and documented carbon pollution trends) I’ve come around to recognizing that the world needs nuclear energy if we are not to smother ourselves in carbon toxins, which are much more deadly than risks of nuclear accidents.  

I’ve recently finished reading a book about carbon titled Symphony in C, (where c=carbon) by Professor Robert Hazen, of the Deep Carbon Observatory.  And today I’ve pondered an interview with nuclear advocate Michael Shellenberger, about our need for nuclear generation.  (Note:  Schellenberger is dismissive of much environmental activism, so I suggest skipping forward to his central thesis in the linked interview, beginning with the subhead Nuclear Existential Anxiety where he effectively deconstructs our nuclear dread.

On a positive note is this very upbeat essay by Rebecca Solnit  on ten ways to confront the environmental crisis without losing hope. (It’s a bit long, but very worthwhile.)

Wolfsburg, Germany. Photo by Felipe Tureba/EPA.

> > > UPDATE :  Friend Jim Conrad at BackyardNature.net shared an important counter argument, from a retired nuclear engineer, on the many problems of fusion energy, detailed at the BULLETIN OF ATOMIC SCIENTISTS


¿¿ Spooky holiday, or Precious Observance ??

Photo by Toby Ord, Wikimedai Commons


My photo, 2012, Santiago Plaza, Merida


History, especially religious history, morphs over time.  The results can be dark, confusing.  I recently wrote to our Mayan gardener, Victor, who has a college degree and a teaching certificate, asking about his understanding of the local holiday, Hanal Pixan:

YUCATECO MAYA :  HANAL PIXAN  (meal of souls)

SPANISH :  DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS  (day of the dead)


My query to Don Victor :

I’m wondering about the name of this holiday, as I have doubts (or discomfort) about the English rendering: “day of the dead”.  I would prefer to call it day of the ancestors, or day of remembrance (memorial day is too vague, [and /or already dedicated to fallen warriors].  Any thoughts?

He wrote back in Spanish, so I will summarize his points:

En la cultura maya se celebra el “Hanal Pixan”, que literalmente significa comida de las almas. Tiene un sentido estrictamente espiritual, recordando a los fallecidos, de quienes se cree que aún están presentes entre nosotros de manera espiritual, y por eso se hace un altar para compartir con ellos: flores, alimentos y bebidas que fueron sus favoritos, para que tomen el espíritu o esencia de lo ofrecido.

“El Día de Muertos” es de la cultura celta, y se sincronizó con otras culturas que poco a poco perdieron su originalidad, también influenciadas por la Iglesia Católica. El del camino de las almas y la pintura del rostro como se hace ahora en Mérida es un teatro sencillo para atraer más turismo, está lejos de la tradición maya de los antepasados.

In their culture, it is a spiritual holiday celebrating and sharing a meal of remembrance with departed souls, mainly family ancestors.  (It seems to me, from my reading of his words, to be less about the saints of the church, which may have been more prominent in earlier Euro versions.) Surviving family members today believe the offerings and the altar invite the essential visitation of the departed, and the meal of souls is thus shared solemnly, and apparently with gratitude.

He continues, that it seems the original sense of the holiday has been largely lost in the Euro (Celtic/Catholic) version, with the current influence becoming largely to invite tourism. [I’ve heard that Mexico City didn’t even celebrate this holiday until recent times, when the attraction of tourists was noticed, as a potential.]

My sense is that it originally was never about goblins, monsters, death, or the occult.  I see it rather as about thanksgiving, and appreciation of those who have enabled our survival.  So, if you want to scare yourself, just say



or better yet, say






Miami International Airport terminal, looking out upon world flags.

It’s been well-over two years since we’ve flown anywhere.  I had personal business in US so we booked a two-hour flight on AA to Miami, which makes direct transits in both directions each afternoon, arriving in Miami at 6:30pm and in Merida about 3:30pm.  International travel is still taxing, but at least we didn’t have to arise at 4am!

MetroMover cars service the downtown, free. (No mask. No ride.)

Miami’s rail system is impressive.  Their transit system, MetroRail, got us from the airport to within a short walk of our hotel.  Very affordable!  Monday thru Friday for $22.50 per person for the work-week, using prepaid cards bought all at once from a vending machine —  a significant savings over buying one ride at a time.  (There are plenty of transit workers ready to explain how to transact.)  The MetroMover, seen in the photo above, shuttled us around downtown for free, no cards needed.  MetroRail requires prepaid cards at the gate. Masks are required of all passengers on all transit systems in Miami.

We stayed at a dignified older hotel which has been smartly restored: the EuroStar Langford Miami.  Well located, on SE 1st Street. Well managed.  Comfortable.  Dining nearby ranges from Whole Foods salad bar, to Boulud Sur.  We enjoyed our first poke bowl (think Asian-version of Chipotle Mexican Grill, at OG Poke, on SE 1st.)  We also enjoyed a tiny Cuban breakfast spot, with sidewalk tables but no name, two blocks east of the hotel (next to Kone Sushi).  But note: wherever we went in Miami we froze.  Yeah, it’s “north” of Yucatán, but the air conditioning on trains, in eateries, and in malls was excessive.  Take a sweater!  I saw office workers wearing quilted vests and robes! We’re cooling ourselves into oblivion.

My other complaint was signage. Their street signs are not at human scale, and they display only one half of each intersection, high above pedestrians, assuming that everyone knows what street their walking on.  Clearly the signage is for drivers not walkers.  This was troubling, as we got lost walking to our hotel, upon first arriving downtown. 

This city is on the go.  Construction is everywhere.  The mayor knows the city is at risk of sea-level inundation.  But BigMoney seems to expect taxpayers to come to the rescue. Venice FL !

A fancy high-rise near our hotel.

SPINOZA’s RADICAL THEOLOGY  : :   A mini book review

Spinoza’s Radical Theology : the Metaphysics of the Infinite

FIVE STARS.  I’ve long been asking fellow students of philosophy who their favorite philosopher might be.  Well, Professor Charlie Huenemann’s book has me convinced:  next to Socrates/Plato, in the modern era, mine is Bennie Spinoza.  This excerpt is from the first page of his concluding chapter, titled Spinoza vs Nietzsche:

Spinoza may have been the first philosopher to propose a metaphysical vision that so thoroughly integrates the deep reverence in ancient religion with the remorseless necessity of modern physics.  He saw that nature is closed — no loopholes, no exceptions, and no magic — and indifferent to our plight.  But he also experienced something divine in nature that had been discerned as well in revealed religion, although not in full clarity.  He proposed not a compromise, but an integration: yes, nature is as cold and indifferent as a mechanistic physics implies, and, yes, the light of scripture is an expression of the reverence due to nature.  He asked that metaphysics and religion take a step forwards and together into a synthesis that preserved the essence of each.  (p.131, paperback edition, Acumen Publishing.)

CLICK the red title above to browse inside.


¿ REDUCTIONISM or HOLISM ?  : :  mini-review of a SPINOZA Book

As a reader, I’m a corner-folder, placing tiny checkmarks √ and marginalia in my books, on pages with folded corners.  Judging by this evidence, this volume is one of the better reads I’ve enjoyed over the past decade — and I’m only half finished reading it!  But my sharing of my awareness of this book should wait no longer, so that you may be stimulated by it, dear Reader. I suggest we let Baruch (“Benedict”/“Blessed”) Spinoza be an inspiration; and Professor Grossman our instructor.  Here’s my take on their collaboration:

We arrive on this planet as tiny philosophers or scientists, attempting to assess the nature of reality. We conduct experiments from an early age, seated in our highchairs, pushing our spoons off the table, onto the floor.  Spoon always goes down.  Mom gets weary. We know the floor quite well, from crawling on it.  But we’re unable to detect much “stickiness” regarding floors (expect perhaps near our highchairs).  What draws the spoon down? 

So we propose a hypothesis to ourselves:  there’s a force which pulls all things down, like us, when we lose our balance, kerplop.  As we grow, we gain strength and balance, thus surmounting said force, somewhat. But on our second birthday somebody hands us a helium-filled balloon.  We grin.  But then we let go of the string (readying ourselves to put our noses into the cake) and the balloon goes up!  We’re shocked.  Our hypothesis has been falsified.  Not everything always goes down!  So we must reassess our exploration of reality.

This book invites much reassessment of stuff we think we know which just ain’t so (~TWAIN).  And it does so in clear writing, from clear thinking.  Here’s an example from Professor Grossman:

   Let us use the term holism to refer to any metaphysical framework that holds that the world is a single, indivisible whole, not reducible to the sum of its “parts”; and let us use the term atomism to refer to any metaphysical framework that holds that the world is not an indivisible whole, but rather, is made up of and reducible to its parts.  Each framework is made up of and reducible to its parts — that the world is an aggregate of parts.  Each framework carries with it an associated methodology, that is to say, a way of approaching any given problem.  For Example, if, as atomism asserts, the world really is made up of parts, then the right method of understanding any phenomenon is to break it up into its constituent parts.  These “parts“ will in turn also have parts, and this process of reduction continues until one has reached the ultimate parts.  On the other hand, if the whole is more than the sum of its parts, as Holism asserts, then the correct method of understanding any particular thing involves finding a larger whole in which the particular thing is embedded.  This larger whole will itself be embedded in a still larger whole, and this process of “embedding” continues until one has reached the “Ultimate Whole” — All-There-Is, or God. [p.33, paperback edition].

     At this point I will invite you to click on the red link above, to browse inside the book, connecting to Amazon’s Look Inside feature.  I hope you are stimulated, as I have been!

NOTE.  If you decide to read this book, be aware that there is a glossary in the back.  It would have been a great help if the publisher had placed this up front!

I should mention that Neal Grossman went to MIT to study physics many decades ago, but became smitten with philosophy, and is now an emeritus professor of philosophy, elsewhere.









+ + + + + PSALM READING + + + + +

I’d like to share a new practice with you which I’ve been enjoying for some months, regarding the psalms.  
   There are 150 of them, as you may already know; and there are roughly 30 days in a month.  150 divided by 30 is 5, so today I’m reading five psalms, sequentially incrementing each of them by adding 30, thusly:  today is the 21st, so I’m reading psalms 21, 51, 81, 111, and 141.  It makes for a lovely meditation — especially if you read between the lines!  (I use the BlueLetterBible, online, which features various translations, for comparison purposes, and minimal advertising. (Good research tools, too.)
   We are told:  Pray the Lord of the harvest that S/He send forth laborers into the harvest.  (see Matt 9:38 and Luk 10:2)
   I used to wonder why the Lord needed our prayers, but then came to see that we were invited to the harvest party.  We can RSVP simply by showing up, by reading and meditating.  And listening, which may be the highest form of prayer.

Photo: youtube (fair use)

NOTE: As Psalm 119 is so long (175 verses!), and divided into subheads alphabetically, it could be apportioned daily, as an extension of our fifth item.  Below is a column enumerating the 22 letters of biblical Hebrew to help you read the one for the “extra” portion, making six items (for 22 days).  You could print this out and keep it handy. (I’ve taped mine near my keyboard for easy reference.)  The day of the month is on the left, and the name/pronunciation of the Hebrew letter on the right. (You will see these inserted into the text of  Psalm 119, untranslated, which appears on the 29th day. But by day 22, we will have read the entire Psalm, so we can skip ahead by 30 to Psalm 149.)

1.    ALEPH
2.    BETH
3.    GIMEL
4     DALET
5.    HEY
6.    VAU
7.    ZAIN
8.    CHET
9     TETH
10.  YOD
11.  CAPH
12.  LAMED
13.  MEM
14.  NUN
15.  SAMEK
16   AIN
17.   PEH
18.  TZADI
19.  KOPH
20   RESH
21.  SHIN
22.  TAU


Hurricane Grace is comin’! 
Stuff we’ve done to prepare:  (applies to Buffalo blizzards, too) —

Charged all devices:  computers, phones, Kindles, portable drill, mosquito racquets (matar mosquitos).

Topped up the rooftop water tank, tinaco, to the brim. (Just lift the cord inside the tank which tethers the float valve, lowering it when full.)  Also, wise to tie the lid of the tank with strong cord or woven cable, tethering it so it doesn’t sail off like a Frisbee.
Fueled car, adding some fuel treatment (ethanol, not methanol) to mitigate moisture.

Shut off propane tank.
Shut off outdoor circuit breakers to well pump and pool pump.

Cleared yard of chairs, and any possessions that might become airborne trash.

Put some sheltered louvered-windows open at 45º to allow for pressure differential, in the event of tornadoes.

Turned off solar panel system, covering some panels with precut plywood to shield them from flying trash, clamping edges tightly.

Added algicide and chloro tabs to swimming pool, drawing pool level down a bit (six inches) to prevent excessive dilution.  (Hey, it’s smart to put your raincoat on before getting drenched!) 

Removed art work and soft goods from our patio room, which has only screens and bars, protectores, as a fourth wall.

Added a few clamps to downspouts, cleaning out scuppers, and replacing rusted wire mesh to prevent clogging of drains.

Park your car in a parking ramp at a hotel, shopping center, or hospital — but not below ground!  (Thanks, Hammockman Paul!)
If leaving car on street, fold back car mirrors on both sides, to reduce their risk to flying trash.

Put heavy barrier against upstairs backdoor to prevent it blowing open, as it faces direction of oncoming storm.

Shopped mostly for canned and dry goods — stuff that doesn’t require chilling. Grains, such as rolled oats, rice, beans keep well, but need to be stored well to prevent ants and rats from dining.  (Shout-out to Jim at BackyardNature.net)
Store some firewood or charcoal in a dry space. If in the tropics, be sure it is wood which termites won’t eat, such as zapote, or other hardwood. (Jim)
Buy fresh batteries of various sizes.
Lay in extra bottled water — six 20-liter garrafones (five-gallon jugs).

Eat your ice cream after the power goes out.  We waited for four hours; it was still hard, but just starting to soften.  (Don’t open the fridge unless absolutely necessary!) But we were ready for bed, so we had a double portion of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, and retired for the evening.  Hurricane Grace took down some trees around town, and knocked our power out for 13 hours, here. (Friend Jeff lost power for 20 minutes.)
If power goes out for long, call around to friends (assuming there is a cell signal) to learn who has electricity.  Then invite yourself over, bringing pot luck, and any melting fridge-stuff.  Maybe empty the fridge before departing, leaving fridge door open.  Bring a hammock, a change-of-clothes, sleeping bag, go-bag, book, deck-of-cards, umbrella, raincoat, money, passport, hand-crank radio, solar lantern, back-up disk, etc.   (Thanks again, Hammockman.)