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Pura Vida

Posted February 15th, 2011 at 01:00 PM by chas

“We humans are part of nature, not alien beings from some other planet.”
--Forward, Costa Rica: Wildlife of the National Parks and Reserves

Two colorful stuffed toy birds hang from their perches in my bedroom; Tico the Parrot and Max the Toucan. They hail from Costa Rica, a small Central American Republic which abolished its army in 1948, after its general caused a Civil War during a unique coup attempt in the peaceful nation. Since then, the country put its money instead into health care and education instead. Sound good? In February of 2001 we flew south for another winter vacation to this center of ecotourism, one of the physically and politically most “Green” of the world’s nations. South of Nicaragua and north of Panama, it is nestled between the Pacific and the Atlantic/Caribbean Oceans. Central America joined the continents of North and South America a mere 3-5 million years ago, and the plant, animal, and human life of both began...
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Little Brother

Posted February 12th, 2011 at 08:45 AM by chas

“The Monroe Doctrine basically said that European countries should stay out of the Western Hemisphere.”
“All right.”
“And it also promised that he United States itself would stay out of South and Central American, and the Caribbean.”
(Both men laugh maniacally, as if to say ‘Yeah, right!’)
--The Virgin President, satirical film of the Seventies

“Puerto Rico, my heart’s devotion,
Let it sink back in the ocean!”
--Anita, West Side Story

In the early Nineteenth Century, the main enforcer of our Monroe Doctrine was in fact the powerful British Navy, whose policy was to keep the other European powers from invading the southern part of the Western Hemisphere, so that they could benefit from their own free trade policies. In this they were successful, although the French occupied Mexico for a short time in the 1860’s. In August of 1898, C Troop of the Brooklyn Volunteer Cavalry was sweating up a jungle...
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Midway Meditation

Posted February 11th, 2011 at 09:37 AM by chas

“Right Dying is Initiation, conferring…the power to control consciously the process of death and regeneration…The dying should face death … calmly and clear-mindedly and heroically. “
--Preface to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, translated by W. Y. Evans-Wietz

”The world and its experiences are in the nature of a symbol, and…really reflects something that lies hidden in the subject himself.”
--C.G. Jung, Psychological Commentary (same volume)

If one lives a contemplative life, than as you grow older, former desires and ambitions flee, memories return, and the past becomes more real than the future. The emotions replay, and bitter or sweet, taste like the finest wine. I saw this happen with my grandparents when they were over eighty years old. Now that I am almost sixty, it is starting to happen to me. I cannot know if my writings can help you, the reader. But it gives me great satisfaction to review parts of my past,...
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Golden Gate

Posted February 10th, 2011 at 09:17 AM by chas

Ah, zee beaver, ‘e is dead. All zee family, zey could not survive zee ‘arsh wintair! C’est dommage—what a pity!
--Jacques Cousteau, TV Nature Series

San Francisco is just about the most perfect place on earth, in many respects. Of course, it might fall into the sea at any moment, but except for that… In September of 1979, I went there to stay with a couple who had been college pals. He was a sophisticated and caustic fellow, but at Beloit College in Wisconsin, I’d seen him dance around like a child at his first experience of snow. In SF, the temperature stays in the seventies all year long, so he’d never seen any before.

From the tower of a revolving restaurant above the harbor, you can see Alcatraz, the Old Clock Tower, and of course the Golden Gate Bridge—a famous bridge is how any respectable coastal city can be known; here in NYC we have many of them; the closest to GG being the long span of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge....
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Let's Talk A Little Treason

Posted February 9th, 2011 at 09:54 AM by chas
Updated February 9th, 2011 at 11:15 AM by chas

“Then if you’re all set for the night, I’ll be off with my friends to talk a little treason.”
--Small Michael Flynn, IRA member before the Irish Republic was established, in The Quiet Man

The largest historical recreation site in the world is Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, which is frozen in a moment in time just before the American Revolution. The re-enactor guide at the tavern where George Washington and other locals used to gather, will cut off or evade questions which would be considered treasonous by the British King George’s officials, if it were heard. But indirect references are made to certain meetings where one can learn more. When the red uniformed Governor’s Guard turned out to drill on the common in their tricorn hats on my second trip, I asked one costumed resident onlooker what the difference was between the guard and the militia. I knew the answer, but wanted to see how he would handle it. “There’s really no...
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