Scrap Book: Mexico Weekend Surf Trip 2006

While staying in California three of us took a weekend surf trip down to Mexico. The first night we stayed in the crappiest campsite, a car park basically, just somewhere to sleep before heading further south:

We drove all the next morning in the intrepid VW. The sign says ‘What have you got to risk?’

After a crazy bumpy track we arrived at the crazy bumpy Campo 4 Casas hostel, right on the cliff over the surf spot:

We surfed that afternoon and next morning we headed back north, looking for a sweet spot:

With armed checkpoints:

We piled back over the border late on Sunday all Mexico’d up


Gulf Spill Syndrome

The trouble with the news is that it keeps on coming. What about the old news we’ve forgotten about?


BP’s oil disaster last summer gushed at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, causing the largest accidental marine oil spill in history – and the largest environmental disaster in US history. Compounding the problem, BP has admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons toxic dispersants, including one chemical that has been banned in the UK.

According to chemist Bob Naman, these chemicals create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil. Naman, who works at the Analytical Chemical Testing Lab in Mobile, Alabama, has been carrying out studies to search for the chemical markers of the dispersants BP used to both sink and break up its oil.

Poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from this toxic mix are making people sick, Naman said. PAHs contain compounds that have been identified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic.

“The dispersants are being added to the water and are causing chemical compounds to become water soluble, which is then given off into the air, so it is coming down as rain, in addition to being in the water and beaches of these areas of the Gulf,” Naman told Al Jazeera.

“I’m scared of what I’m finding. These cyclic compounds intermingle with the Corexit [dispersants] and generate other cyclic compounds that aren’t good. Many have double bonds, and many are on the EPA’s danger list. This is an unprecedented environmental catastrophe.”

Click for more coverage of the BP Oil Spill, including the other segments of the 8-part series, Fatal Fallout.

Aguinaga’s health has been in dramatic decline.

“I have terrible chest pain, at times I can’t seem to get enough oxygen, and I’m constantly tired with pains all over my body,” Aguinaga explained, “At times I’m pissing blood, vomiting dark brown stuff, and every pore of my body is dispensing water.”

via Gulf spill sickness wrecking lives – Features – Al Jazeera English.

Scrap Book: Trevor, Arne and I: The Old Men of Coniston

In January 2006, at the summit of the Old Man of Coniston, having hiked up through the ice and snow. I have a yearning to climb more mountains. In the late 90s I lived at the foot of these fells, at the youth hostel in Coniston village. This photo was taken by Virginia, the fourth member of our party, the others that year having opted for a valley walk.

Iyengar Yoga

This evening, for the first time in about 8 years, I was in an Iyengar class. It was at Compton, south of Winchester, with a teacher called Sandy. I really appreciate the attention to detail and the time given to each posture, with relatively minor changes once in the pose making a huge difference. Again I was the lone male, and among 8 middle-aged women. This is not unusual, and after all, I am a middle aged man. I was made very welcome and it was a fun class. We were in a special school, so there were bright butterflies and happy faces painted on the walls. After class, I felt a couple of inches taller, elongated gently through many tight areas of my legs, chest high and open. Staying in the poses a while and working with the same posture in a few variations really helps. I’ll definitely go again.

It’s the Easter holidays at Brockwood, so the remaining staff and mature students have the place to ourselves. Once again, relishing the sun as we ate outdoors, chatting with Friedrich, a long term supporter of Brockwood.

At work I am making sure I take breaks, even wandering down to the bottom of the lane, or among the daffodils of the centre every hour. I’ve said it before, but if smokers get a break, why can’t non-smokers?

Steps: 6515

“Patriotism is a disease” – Einstein, quoted by Peter Joseph of Zeitgeist

Peter Joseph, of the Zeitgeist Movement talks a lot of sense. Here’s a short interview with him in which he outlines the basic principles:

Come back to the basic necessities of life
The current economic system is intrinsically flawed
Almost everyone suffers under this system
Eliminate war, famine, most crime, all monetarily related
Think globally, not nationally
Self interest becomes social interest
Invent not for money but for a better world
Undo psychological distortions

Good stuff and not just wishful idealism, nor communism. I find he comes across better in this interview than in the lengthy movies:

110324 Nature Tour of Brockwood

Ten days ago, Phil, a visiting biologist gave a nature tour of some of Brockwood Park. He was kind enough to let me film it. The video doesn’t contain the whole tour but an edited thirteen minutes. We learnt something about chicken relatives in the forests of India, dog’s mercury, daffodils known as Lent Lilies, the corkscrew hazel, pigeons eating stones, birds of prey regurgitating the indigestible fur, feathers and bones of their kill, the formation of flint, and the nutritious qualities of beech sap and young hawthorn leaves. The spring has advanced considerably in ten days and it’s looking so much greener than in this video:

Steps: 5544

The ocean is not a bin

Hundreds of shards reveal the threat to wildlife from debris floating in our seas

The debris from the stomach of a green sea turtle

This collection of hundreds of coloured, jagged shards could be a work of abstract art. But the objects in the photograph to the right are the contents of the stomach of a sea turtle that lost its battle with plastic pollution.

Environmentalists examined the stomach of the juvenile turtle found off the coast of Argentina. The bellyful of debris that they found is symptomatic of the increasing threat to the sea turtles from a human addiction to plastic.

Sea turtles often mistake plastic items for jellyfish or other food. Ingesting non-biodegradable ocean pollution can cause a digestive blockage and internal lacerations. The result can be debilitation, followed by death.

Humans currently produce 260 million tons of plastic a year. When those products are pulled into the sea’s currents, the plastics do not biodegrade but are broken into smaller pieces which are consumed by marine life at the bottom of the food chain. An examination of gastrointestinal obstruction in a green turtle found off Florida discovered that, over the course of a month, the animal’s faeces had contained 74 foreign objects, including “four types of latex balloons, different types of hard plastic, a piece of carpet-like material and two 2-4mm tar balls.”

The biggest rubbish “swill” is the North Pacific Gyre, known as the “great garbage patch”, which is the size of Texas and contains an estimated 3.5 million items of detritus, ranging from toys to toothbrushes.

“The oceans have become one giant refuse bin for all manner of plastics. All sea turtle species are particularly prone and may be seriously harmed,” according to the biologists Colette Wabnitz, from the University of British Columbia, and Wallace Nichols, of the California Academy of Sciences. In “Plastic Pollution: An Ocean Emergency”, they write: “Continued research on the impacts of plastic on the ocean environment and human health is likely to conclude the problem is worse than currently understood.

“The symptom of this growing crisis can be seen inside and on sea turtles as well as their oceanic and terrestrial habitats. Bold initiatives that directly confront the source of plastic pollution, redesign packaging and rethink the very idea of ‘throwaway culture’ are urgently required.”

Almost all marine species, from plankton to whales, have ingested plastic. But, even in small quantities, plastic can kill sea turtles due to obstruction of the oesophagus or perforation of the bowel, the biologists said.

Fifty out of 92 turtles found dead, stranded on the shorelines of Rio Grande do Sul state in Brazil, had ingested a “considerable amount of man-made debris”.

Because young sea turtles indiscriminately feed on pelagic material, “high occurrences of plastic are common in the digestive tract of these small sea turtles,” the biologists write.

They are asking visitors to help reduce the threat from plastics during visits to coastal areas by bringing their own reusable bags and food containers, and avoiding plastic-bottled drinks.

via The plastic found in a single turtle’s stomach – Nature, Environment – The Independent.

Deaths Of 20,000 Japanese Afford Planet Solid 15 Minutes In Which Everyone Acts Like A Human Being

EARTH—Following the recent earthquake and tsunami that tragically took the lives of an estimated 20,000 Japanese citizens, the planet Earth was afforded a good 15 minutes during which its inhabitants behaved like actual human beings, sources reported.

In the quarter-hour that followed news of the massive natural disaster obliterating entire towns and killing or injuring thousands of innocent men, women, and children, social scientists around the globe reported rare—and in many cases unprecedented—occurrences of individuals feeling genuine empathy for their fellow humans, recognizing the evanescence of life, and experiencing a deep sense of awe and humility toward the overwhelming power of nature.

After the 900 seconds had passed, however, this behavior reportedly ceased.

“Though its duration was incredibly brief, in this span of time the entire human race was able to temporarily forget all its petty political interests, narcissism, greed, and ironic detachment for a few moments and behave like real people with compassion and respect,” social scientist Dr. Robert Westbrook said of the short-lived burst of basic decency. “There is no evidence of any significant bickering, lying, preening, or self-involvement during this period. In fact, it appears that all 6.7 billion human beings simply stopped for one quarter of an hour, became filled with genuine emotion, and said, ‘Oh, no, those poor people,’ while keeping their baser instincts in check.”

“That they instantly went back to being needy, solipsistic whiners does not change the fact that, for a fleeting moment, the world was a wholly humane and gentle place,” Westbrook added.

According to experts, immediately after the 15 minutes were over, the vast majority of the Earth’s people seemed to move on from the harrowing, incomprehensibly tragic event, and have spent the subsequent time attempting to get ahead in their careers, ignoring the plight of those desperately in need, thinking solely of themselves, and acting how they generally act at all times throughout their lives.

A sizable number of human beings around the planet were reportedly able to negate the sympathy and goodwill they had just exhibited toward Japan by moments later getting into an uninformed argument about the efficacy of nuclear power, making a crude Godzilla-related joke on their Twitter or Facebook page, or telling themselves they didn’t even know these people so it wasn’t really worth getting too upset about.

via Deaths Of 20,000 Japanese Afford Planet Solid 15 Minutes In Which Everyone Acts Like A Human Being | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source.

110323 Daffodils

It felt like summer, it really did. Relishing the sun at lunchtime, relaxing on the south lawn, students playing rounders, us talking crap. A beauty of a day. It not really being summer, the daffodils are in full-on flower, so many.

If an extended summer is an Indian Summer, what’s an early one called?

Sunny steps: 3936


Comic relief in reverse. It does show up how patronising comic relief can be; not that the causes aren’t worthwhile. And how ridiculous our behaviour is in affluent countries.

Really like these images of the supermoon. Here’s a few of them:

We all see the same moon. Obvious, yet… makes me smile.

The first day of spring also makes me smile. Roll it on.

Entered into the world of Uncharted, which so far is much more fun for me than Little Big Planet. Snooping around ancient sites, climbing up stuff, discovering shit. Like a movie you take part in (albeit a B-movie, or LOST)

Steps: 4977

Lyric of the day: Beastie Boys – Right Right Now Now

Especially for those in the UK filling out your Census, check out MCA’s race. I filled mine today. When it asked what I consider my nationality to be, I put ‘Other – None’. Same for religion. I heard if you put Jedi, they’ll still count you as religious, so None it is.

Once upon a time up on this mic
MC’s be really workin’ on what they write
With the sound delight we rock all night
And yes we’re gonna party for the right to fight
We’re international like Matt Takei
Rock the mic from Munich out to Taipei
Still around the way is where we’ll stay
Say what we mean, mean what we say
Trajectories from the past are taking their toll and
What we do now is future moulding
Columbine bowling, childhood stolen
We need a bit more gun controlling

Right, Right, Now, Now
What is goin’ on?
We gotta get it goin’ on
Before it’s Too Far Gone
We gotta work together, it’s been too long

When I get on you scream “Hoo Tight!”
Rockin’ this flow I could go all night
I’m not here to fight, or incite
I’m like the beach in the Bahamas make you feel alright
I’m getting kind of tired of the situation
The US attacking other nations
And narration, on every station
False election’s got me losing my patience
I’m a funky-ass Jew and I’m on my way
And yes I got to say fuck the KKK
And oh yeah hey, how about today?
If you want to set it off then let me hear you say

Right, Right, Now, Now
What is goin’ on?
We gotta get it goin’ on
Before it’s Too Far Gone
We gotta work together, it’s been too long

I went to get a loan and they asked my race
I wrote down human inside the space
It’s a disgrace how they try to debase
It ain’t the bank’s damn business how my lineage trace
Now let me drop a verse that’s terse and concise
I’m an iron chef when I slice and dice
With the rhyme precise, the word is nice
So please pass me the Reunite on ice
Well let’s go to work and not beserk
‘Cause when the time comes the body goes to dirt
Try to smooth it out like Levert
Keep the mind alert and not revert

Right, Right, Now, Now
What is goin’ on?
We gotta get it goin’ on
Before it’s Too Far Gone
We gotta work together, it’s been too long

110320 Drugs

Watched High on Crack Street: The Lost Lives of Lowell. This is an HBO documentary from the 90s about a few crack users in Massachusetts. One of them is Dicky Eklund, the brother from the film The Fighter. It’s such a grim, compelling tale of hell on earth as the drug eats their lives, lives which were pretty chewed up anyway.

The nineties now seems to be the dullest, uncool decade. Not just in the documentary, but generally. The 80s have become cool again, but the 90s seem crap. But at least back then drug use, as I knew it, was almost quaint: heroin, coke, dope, speed, acid, etc. (Not that I took all these things) At least these were kind of known. Now people are taking all kinds of untested nonsense: meth, bath salts, plant food, the strongest bred dope strains, mad mixes of prescription drugs. There’s no telling what the effects of this kind blend are. What a mess.

Stepses: 4966

Lyric of the Day: What A Waste – Ian Dury & The Blockheads

I could be the driver an articulated lorry
I could be a poet, I wouldn’t need to worry
I could be the teacher in a classroom full of scholars
I could be the sergeant in a squadron full of wallahs

What a waste
What a waste
What a waste
What a waste

Because I chose to play the fool in a six-piece band
First night nerves every one night stand
I should be glad to be so inclined
What a waste! What a waste!
Rock and roll don’t mind


I could be a lawyer with stratagems and ruses
I could be a doctor with poultices and bruises
I could be a writer with a growing reputation
I could be the ticket man at Fulham Broadway station

What a waste
What a waste
What a waste
What a waste

Because I chose to play the fool in a six-piece band
First night nerves every one night stand
I should be glad to be so inclined
What a waste! What a waste!
Rock and roll don’t mind

I could be the catalyst that sparks the revolution
I could be an inmate in a long-term institution
I could lead to wide extremes, I could do or die
I could yawn and be withdrawn and watch them gallop by

What a waste
What a waste
What a waste
What a waste

Because I chose to play the fool in a six-piece band
First night nerves every one night stand
I should be glad to be so inclined
What a waste! What a waste!
Rock and roll don’t mind

Chose to play the fool in a six-piece band
First night nerves every one night stand
I should be glad to be so inclined

What a waste! What a waste!
Rock and roll don’t mind
What a waste! What a waste!
Rock and roll don’t mind

Chose to play the fool in a six-piece band
First night nerves every one night stand
I should be glad to be so inclined
What a waste! What a waste!
Rock and roll don’t mind


110319 New Pond Walk

After yesterday’s rain, a bright, sunny day. We took a walk in the local area, out towards Hinton Ampner, turning back at New Pond Cottages. The daffodils were bowing to the frost as we left.

Gloves in a pot:

Brockwood Park School in the March sun:

Some of the Rhododendron in the Grove are in flower:

Through the woods on the ridge above Bramdean:

Red and black pollen pods:

The sap is rising, spring is almost here:

Going outside now to see if the Supermoon is up. The largest full moon in 18 years, I’m told.

Steps: 12,120