News! · Screenplay

Missing and Unbound by the FODMAP

Morphing into my next best version of myself is underway. How I might ever generate enough escape velocity to be released from the engrained habits of character remains an open unanswerable quest.

You ain’t got nothing to complain about—

Probably the best news is we are heading south from our still soaked abode to spend the night at Mercy Hot Springs. Yesterday trees fell in our neighborhood from powerful winds. Fences were felled too. In our backyard we spend countless moments fretting over a nearby eucalyptus tree that reminds of the dozen or so that have destroyed homes here in the Bay Area this week.

Monday night I spent in Amador City in the Sierra foothills. The bone dry creek of last summer is this winters raging waters feature out the backside of my friends place. This was a three man meetup of food, wine, and conversation. This ongoing conversation is more than 50 years long now.

Silicon Valley Bank’s implosion continues rattling the circulatory system of global finance. We are here visiting this error in banking once again because lobbyists infiltrated Washington day in and day out since Dodd-Frank was passed. In an effort to restore danger to our system all the Republicans and some of the Democrats under Republican control reversed key safety measures from Dodd-Frank in 2018. I am not addicted to lobby shop money but that’s more than I can say for too many weak willed politicians in our nations capital.

What to eat? Vegetarians eat vegetables. Vegans avoid eating or using anything that is from animals. I have a number of friends that have to avoid nightshades— potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant etc— . Others I know can’t eat peanut butter— I’m one of those. I have friends that are sensitive to shellfish. I have lactose intolerant friends that can’t tolerate dairy, while others are tipped over by wheat. Then, recently I have discovered the weird world of the FODMAP diet. The idea here is to avoid excessive exposure to fructose, lactose, mannitol, sorbitol, GOS and fructans. The FODMAP diet is a guide to avoiding gastrointestinal distress. Turns out in particular I am having trouble tolerating onions and garlic in particular and a whole host of other foods as well.

You want to follow a path, here’s one

Until two weeks ago I had never heard of this FODMAP diet. To help sort out the do’s and don’ts I downloaded Monash University’s FODMAP Diet app. I’ve had good luck using the guide and avoiding the tummy upsetting foods described in this app has made all the difference in my life. We have been following a vegan diet for almost a decade now. It has been a source of adventure and opening to unexplored food opportunities. Adding the complexity of a FODMAP guided diet on top of the vegan thing has been a very complicated challenge. I’ll have more to say about this.

Circumspection we come back to the same old road block— ME!

Morphing into the next best version of myself includes not just sleeping right, not just exercising every day, but also being careful about what I eat. This of course requires the much derided quality of character we all need more of— will power. I have plenty but I also have my foibles, my weaknesses, my unrelenting impulses and deeply engrained desires. In a nutshell I am human and there is so much I want and so little strength in my character to fully control these profound things called cravings— You want a real wakeup call in life, it’s called the FODMAP diet— according to science almost 10% of the population of the world can benefit from eating this way. Another way to think about this is there is a one in ten chance you will encounter someone that has been thrust into this completely complicated form of eating. Show them some mercy, be kind, offer patience and understanding. No diet is a cakewalk, this one is as close to hell as you can get while still here on earth— but there’s an answer to that— you think you are going through hell on this diet try ignoring it— as my doctor explains— for those who benefit from this approach to eating it really isn’t optional— you can go to hell now or you can wait until your done needing to eat altogether and go there then. I think my doctor made herself crystal clear. God I tell you I hate this until death do us part business.

News! · Screenplay

Plans for Hope Eternal

Considering the life of an expatriate, wondering where you might go, how you can insulate yourself from the winged blunders of the political right, a sizable number of citizens are weighing the options— do I stay or do I go.

Dawn over Searchlight, Nevada— Harry Reid’s hometown

If you are planning to abandon Utah, the legislative session that ended Friday might provide the motivation. By far the single biggest environmental crisis facing Salt Lake City are the toxins and heavy metals contaminating the shore of the now dying Great Salt Lake. Once airborne the pollution threatens to sicken and shorten the lives of most of the state’s population— you got that right my Mormon faithful Joseph Smith fans. In January the Salt Lake Tribune editorial page urged the politicians to finally find the courage to pass new laws to help stave off disaster and warned that it was now or never— eternity as environmental calamity is one hell of a one-way street to oblivion.

Instead, the legislature focused on stripping away protections for LBGTQ community and ending a woman’s access to abortion. Utah’s lawmakers instead of protecting its population spent its legislative time and energy harassing various constituents they deem as unworthy of protection. If everyone is killed by the impending air quality crisis caused by the Great Salt Lake that’s someone else’s problem— wear a mask, get a better whole house air filter, stop blaming me kid, I got a bloodthirsty mob of lobbyists ready to vaporize my career, compared to your shortened life and premature death I’m facing a form of end-times you can’t even imagine. If you haven’t started packing your bags you might want to at least get to Ross for Less and purchase some discount luggage in preparation.

83 miles to Delta, Utah— Hydrogen Heaven Just Ahead

Salt cavern hydrogen storage in Delta, Utah has taken a turn from the remarkable to outright astounding. The salt caverns will have a storage capacity 150 times greater than all the lithium batteries presently deployed in the United States. You got that right, your smartphone will never run low of battery power ever again. Excess wind and solar capacity will generate energy that will crack water molecules into one part hydrogen and two parts oxygen. The oxygen goes up into the atmosphere the hydrogen goes into the salt cavern. Powerful turbines will burn the hydrogen when the sun no longer is shining, and the wind has ceased to blow. That is power not just where you need it, but power when you need it, it is a kind of stored power, it is a kind of battery. I wouldn’t stop packing my bags just yet, there remain a number of threats in this jungle called life ready to chase your inner Jack rabbit down and toss your sorry soul in a simmering cauldron of despair. 

I saw my first electric BMW i4 in the wild this week. A gentleman arriving for Friday prayers at a nearby mosque pulled up to the curb while I was out and about on a walk. Apprehensive at first, he thought I might be an oddball (how did he know), then my smile and battery electric vehicle banter disarmed him. The driving dynamics, fit and finish that is lacking in a Tesla can be found in this new BMW. Automakers chasing Tesla’s lead remain far behind in charging network deployment, but that is changing fast, and look if you are considering leaving why not drive your electric BMW across the border into your new expatriate life. 

Scientists in California just released a new study that has found for every 10 new battery electric vehicles in each square mile there is a 3-5% decrease in asthma attacks. You must stop for a moment take a deep breath and imagine what your life would be like if you could not take that breath. Did you do that, are you holding your breath, feeling a little uncomfortable, ok now you can breathe, now you can appreciate how profound this new piece of data is, how lives are changed and suffering is decreased. Having seen a child during an asthma attack I find the promise of clean air an act of mercy on the asthma afflicted. Every square mile anywhere across the state that was measured found the same decrease. What we can’t know yet is what if that magic number was 20 battery electric vehicles, what if the number was 100, or 1000? Of all the things in this world worthy of zeroing out ending the suffering of childhood asthma attacks is close to the top of the list. My hypothesis of the case is that putting an end to asthma would supercharge support for fixing the climate emergency.  That is what real winning looks like.

Whiskey, Women and Card Playing— Great Basin Fun

There are several major proposals to do with moving water in and around the American West. The tunnel proposal that will not die continues to be resurrected, the Krugman Zombie-ideas concept is relevant here. Special agricultural interests and not Southern California residential water users are making this mischief. The short but correct answer to this idea is that it is bad for fish, lousy for taxpayers and would only entrench out of control agricultural special interests hellbent on fomenting motivation for your ex-patriotization. Not to be outdone planners on Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell in Arizona are studying the feasibility of drilling water release tunnels below the dam that can both spin hydroelectric turbines and release water further downriver. The hole in the dam piece of this proposal makes sense, the hydroelectric generation piece is a sloppy wet kiss to an entrenched hydroelectric industry. Renewables can do the same job and would be many times less expensive. I say if we are going to dig tunnels first we build one that sneaks us under the wall on our southern border. This is the I hate walls and proper use of tunneling proposal I plan to put before a joint session of dope growers.

California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack is record-breaking. Nervous hydrologists continue to warn that Californians not to set their expectations too high— the water crisis is far from over. The twenty-three-year long drought has drained groundwater aquifers and spring runoff totals remain a concern because of the excessively parched landscape that could soak up runoff before ending up in our reservoirs. Then there is this— meteorologists are anxiously tracking surface water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, there is a very real concern that the forces that created the epic storms of this winter will be met with record breaking heatwaves and ensuing wildfires this summer. This matters to your abandoning America plan, it isn’t just whether you stay or you go, it matters whether you flee to the north or you head to the bikini clad south.

Old Fashioned Charging Station

Lithium mining up on Thacker Pass in Northern Nevada after years of litigation broke ground this last week. There is enough lithium on this one chunk of Nevada desert to produce all the batteries US auto manufacturers will use for most of this century— estimates are there is enough lithium to manufacture batteries for 1 billion vehicles. I know you think I’m overstating the potential find up in Humboldt County, Nevada. Better still follow along here while we delve into footprints and spoilage. The Thacker Pass lithium mine will ultimately impact 5 square miles of terrain. By comparison in the USA as of today the oil and gas industry has a footprint of 11,500 square miles— that’s equal to three Yellowstone National Parks, or an astounding let’s say it all together two-thousand-three-hundred-times more besotted precious earth than is contained in the plans for this one Northern Nevada open pit mine. Thacker Pass is near Fort McDermitt where part of the Shoshone-Paiute people has lived for thousands of years. Failure is not an option. The project is complicated, not without environmental risk and if all goes well could prove beneficial to global fight against climate change and importantly the economic fortunes of the lives of the regions first people. If we might summon the talent and determination as a nation to contain the impacts of mining on Thacker Pass, to mitigate the pollution, dust and contamination from runoff, all of these impacts are achievable then we will have taken a huge positive step in our efforts to turn back the threat we all face from carbon pollution.  

The Palaver-teer—a known blogger

Thacker Pass is a mere four-hour drive from the Great Salt Lake, another two hours to the salt caverns in Delta, Utah. There’s a lot going on out here besides whiskey drinking, pickup driving, and hot spring skinny dipping. Saddle up partners let’s fix the broken bits and enhance what’s right and good, there’s a fuse burning and a whole world to save—

Not buying it, feeling bummed out, got this sinking feeling in the pit of your tummy that it’s time to just get the hell out of here— could be one way to go, or perhaps you rally your inner Ukrainian, you summon the courage to stand up to the bully on the block, you plan to not surrender one inch to the barbarians at the gates, you intend to help fend off disaster and help to heal the self-inflicted environmental wounds that are overheating our one precious world— 

I’m thinking my people, your people, all of us people can do this— fitful and as painful as the one-step forward two-steps back nature of our world is— we can do this—


Tantrums of the Water Czar’s

Yesterday’s front-page headlines reported that six of seven states have agreed to a new framework to cut back on the amount of water they use from the Colorado River. Six is pretty good—

There’s this Kighlinger negotiator, he is a former Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District manager, he knows the score, he sees the writing on the wall, and is trying with all his might to get the Imperial Valley Irrigation District to face reality. That is no small feat when trying to negotiate with the grand pooh-bah of water rights holders. 

Kighlinger is among the many that believe the priority system foisted upon the region more than a century ago can no longer be used as a model for how water is allocated. The heart of the matter— if you use 80% of the water, then you should be contributing close to the same 80% back in economic benefits, not at best a measly 5% return on the people’s water.

Cotton and Irrigation Ditch—Totally Insane

Alex Cardenas, the president of the board of directors of the Imperial Irrigation District, what he wants you to know is that he represents a group of farmers that hold water rights that go back so far in history that they predate the formation of the universe, they existed before the Big Bang, this isn’t just the before times, this is before the before times, this is all eternity— and they are not going to be pushed around by some uppity federal agency. Farmers in the Imperial Valley are hot under the collar, ready to brawl, won’t be surrendering their senior most status to some junior subordinated water rights holders that they believe are out to do the same thing they have been doing for the last 100 plus years. Water grabbers of the world unite!

Here, let’s listen to Mr. Cardenas explain, “We’re not going to wreck our local economy so that they can continue to grow their urban economy.”

This is how senior water rights holders speak, this is our nation’s Water Nobility, another way of saying this is that some farmers have come to believe that the water they use comes with zero strings attached, and not you and not nobody may ever question how they use the nation’s resources.

From my fictional perspective I feel my script towing reality’s line. I have been drawing up a screenplay and Mr. Cardenas not only plays the part I’ve imagined but he makes my work easy, I don’t even have to write the dialogue, his quotes write the script for me.

I’m still predicting the Bureau of Reclamation will keep its head low until after the President gives the State of the Union speech. In the next few weeks, I forecast the conflict to escalate, and by grow more tense I mean the stuff is going to hit the fan.

I’ll leave you with the wit and wisdom of this water professional and come on now let’s hear it for this brave soul who has had the brass to tell the truth and call out the madness about how they want to use all the water and return almost nothing to the economy in return. As this cool cat Kighlinger said— that’s a fucking disaster— that just can’t be our reality—

Water like whiskey even after a century is still worth fighting over—


Beyond Imagination/All Too Real

In 1922 expert hydrologists estimated the Colorado River to produce 16.5 million acre feet of water per year, and it was then that when the Compact of the River was created it assigned half of the water to the upper basin and the other half to the lower basin.

In 2022 hydrologists armed with real world data peg the river’s output to be half that much. The upper and lower basins are now trying to figure out how in the hell they’re going to manage with so little water and so much demand.

To give you some idea of how colossal this task is there are a small number of farms in the very southeastern tip of California. Together these few farms by law have legal access to 4 million of the total 8 million acre acre feet of the Colorado’s water. That legally binding allotment is pretty much a great big fat emergency right there.

The agricultural water grabbing has meant Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson have been left to hold the short end of the water scarcity stick— subordinated water rights is the term of art.

What negotiators have been unable to do is convince any stakeholder with these oldest senior most water rights to voluntarily give their allocations back. The legal framework, the so called Law of the River required decades to sort out and it appears this hot mess is headed back into an legal quagmire that remains anyone’s guess how things might be sorted out.

What makes this such a disaster is that there is not enough time to go to court and then plod clumsily over years to decades of time to come to new potentially irrelevant terms. One tipping point should the water flow continue to decline is a river that never makes it beyond Hoover Dam.

A century ago Hoover Dam engineers never contemplated needing to build tunnels beneath the dam. Water in both Lake Powell and Lake Mead suffer from the same design flaw, without sufficient supply there is no feasible way to move water further down river. Engineers never planned for too little or too much, the dams were scaled to account for what was then estimated as modest variations.

Climate change has all to do with the reduction in the Colorado River’s output, and there is no choice, we have to live with the finite precipitation we get. Experts think the Federal government must declare a state of emergency and mandate steep reductions up and down the river basin. That is a theory of course, stakeholders don’t know if the courts would go along and if they don’t there’s going to be a horrible collision of law, water and special interests. Then there still is the problem that the water could end up stuck behind Hoover Dam where it would be impossible to release regardless of what the court’s decide.

That’s why they always talk about nature having the last word, or that Mother Nature bats last, it simply doesn’t matter what some water rights holder wants or by what authority a court has to enforce their decisions.

If and when the Colorado River does end up stuck behind Lake Mead, if litigation spirals out of control, the whole hot stinking mess turns the Southwest into an environmental crisis of a kind never seen by a modern advanced world’s largest economy.

Some predict engineers should immediately start digging tunnels that send water around Hoover and Glen Canyon to forestall such a disaster. Do that starting now. Emergency pipelines would be constructed at the same time. Water would be sent on an emergency basis to quench the thirst of urban population centers while leaving rural agricultural water users high and dry. The first people to inhabit this region faced a similar fate 1000 years ago. Our first people simply had to pickup and leave, the omnipotent modern capitalists suffer from a misguided hubris, they have suspended disbelief, it simply defies imagination, our titans of commerce believe we cannot and will not run out of water.

The opposite scenario is equally as terrifying, equally as dangerous— the potential irony of the thing would simply go lost in the tragic consequences of such an event. Here we go— Alarmed researchers have found that in 1884 the Colorado River Basin received 2 years of rainfall in just 4 months. Instead of an average of 16.5 million acre feet of water measured on a per year basis, in 1884 it is estimated that a total of 32 million acre feet of water swept down the river in a period of just four months. This is decades before the dams were constructed.

Drenching rainfall totals of this magnitude could bring such monumental amounts of runoff that water could overtop and then completely demolish the dams at Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams.

This kind of epic precipitation is calculated to be a one in every 500 year event, with the last super soaker occurring about 140 years ago.

The potential destruction of the two big dams has spurred scientists to propose removing Glen Canyon Dam now and then enlarging the spillways at Hoover Dam, and many experts believe we must do this now before it is too late.

As of the end of January California has been drying after a month of pummeling by powerful atmospheric river fed storms. If by the once in five-hundred year odds California were hit with four months of atmospheric river fed storms the calamity would clobber the American West— this is the epic atmospheric knock-out blow of all natural disasters.

In the 1800’s a storm fed Los Angeles River swollen by relentless rains jumped its banks and sent its water south on a path 20 miles off its normal course— the devastation was immeasurable. North of LA so much rain and snow fell that the Central Valley from Bakersfield north to Redding inundated the region making this whole region one big temporary lake that was for some months navigated by large paddle boats.

Were the Los Angeles River to jump its banks and once again head 20 miles off course it would wipe out the the most productive economic zone in the United States, instantly zeroing out at least $3 trillion in economic activity. That’s an enormous loss, nearly one fifth of the nations entire economic output. Lives and livelihoods would be lost, homes would be destroyed, commercial enterprise zones would be devastated and Southern California’s ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles would require decades to repair and reopen.

That is what worries California’s Department of Water Resources, not just the drier and then wetter storms that are hitting our state but the all too real risk that we could be pummeled by equally powerful droughts and floods of a magnitude that makes the region unmanageable. A natural disaster of either kind could itself be the natural disaster’s knockout blow to maintaining our grip on being a civilized country.

The Bureau of Reclamation in Washington is about to mandate new cuts in water up and down the entire length of the Colorado River. Legal scholars are unsure if these cuts would hold up if challenged in court. The Bureau’s decision could drop at any moment now.

Either way, engineers are urgently advocating for reinforcing spillways on the dams and that this work needs to get underway immediately. An uncontrolled topping of the dams by flood risks everything.

If the drought persists they are also urging  that new underground tunnels be built. Deep underground tunnels like this have never been attempted.

This is the pickle we find ourselves in. It is a damned if we do, damned if we don’t corner we find ourselves backed into. If you have ever stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon then you have experienced the aching beauty and the unfathomable immensity, you have stood there in awe feeling the sweep of time, you can see a river that has carved a 50 million year deep canyon one mile deep into the rock of a continent.

The Colorado River and her water is as big a problem as problems get. The scale of our troubles dwarfs our imagination, we are not designed to comprehend such stupendous events, the common man is not built to react to catastrophic occurrences of such size, scale that may or by chance may not occur over such a lengthy event horizon. So far we’ve stalled, we’ve waited, we’ve hoped and we’ve delayed. That is a fool’s game, a gamblers losing bet, the smart money urges us to face up to the facts.


We’re All Bakersfield Now

Our return from Palm Springs took us through Bakersfield. This is Kern County’s biggest city. It is Kevin McCarthy’s district; he is the temporary Speaker of the House. How temporary remains up in the air, his tenure is uncertain, the mood of his caucus is rather gladiatorial.

American Ingenuity ala 1950’s

While in Bakersfield I was taken to wonder what to make of the people who voted for the Republican leader. I’m presuming that they liked the insurrection, were cheered on by his backhanded comment that he suspected that Putin was paying Trump to run for President. That was back in the good old days of 2016 when he was discussing the odd affinity then House member Dana Rohrabacher had for Russia’s dictator. This other Dana, not this one, was also being paid by Russia according to McCarthy. 

I continue wondering about how eager Bakersfield voters are to forfeit our nations status as the issuer of the world’s reserve currency. It is our reserve currency status that earns us the so-called exorbitant privilege that goes along with this status. Since we now control how many dollars are in circulation should we default on the holders of our Treasury Bonds we would instantly surrender our exorbitant privilege and instantly enter insolvency. Social security would end, mortgages interest rates would rocket into the stratosphere then beyond the solar system, that is if there were any functional banks left standing after our defaulting on the nation’s debt.

If you like living in Bakersfield that’s maybe fine, but if you wanted to move, if you had to move, the odds of finding a buyer for your home would be virtually zero. Maybe you could find a cash buyer, but then you’d have to figure out which currency you would risk being paid in, as once the peg on the dollar has been vaporized it is going to be all but impossible to know how much anything is worth.

I’m not an economist— you can tell can’t you

I’m not an economist. I’m just an ordinary citizen living in the United States. There is this quirk in our system that is called the debt ceiling, and as our debts rise the government must change the amount of debt we might hold— this is called raising the debt ceiling. If you are a member of the House, you have either voted for or against legislation that directs the agencies of our government to spend money. We spend money on farmers, teachers, secret agents, judges, soldiers, air traffic controllers, livestock brand inspectors, nuclear weapons designers, librarians, prison guards, border guards, crosswalk guards and so on and so forth. One out of five of us works directly for some piece of our government, and another chunk of the four out of the other five makes their living providing services to the people employed by the government. 

Bakersfield’s people like people across the nation do have jobs both in the public and private sector. Figure once we default every teacher would be put out of work instantly, the means of paying teachers would be ended in the default, the government would be broke. Add the local police, sheriff deputies and Highway Patrol. Weather satellites would continue to orbit the earth, but the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration offices would be shuttered. Forget about controlling immigration on our southern border, northern border, or shorelines the Coast Guard would be disbanded.

Like it or not we no longer live as nomads. We no longer emerge from our fortified caves to scurry about to forage for chubby rabbits, tubers, and yummy little acorns. Instead, we go to supermarkets where we exchange dollars for the food we need. That’s definitely going to be a problem once Republicans destroy our reserve currency status.  I think citizens in Bakersfield will have to learn to get by on citrus, almonds, pistachios and milk. Potatoes are fairly decent crop here too. Lots of potatoes will need to be eaten in Bakersfield, this is the town you can’t leave because nobody has any way of selling their house to anyone else because— you know the rest.

I know a lot of you parents out there have been griping about being stuck at home with your kids because of the pandemic. Well, get used to being stuck big time. And you know when that teenager goes off on you, do remember that there will be no juvenile hall, no parole officers, no drug addiction counselors, no nothing to help you with the problemed child living down the hallway in the house you can’t sell.

If you are living in another country, you’ll soon discover all that money you saved up over your lifetime isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. You’ll have to break out your gold coins, that’ll work until someone finds out you have gold and those famous bad guys come to take it from you. You could keep it in a bank, but banks will be out of business, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will be tits up and zeroed out. 

Even on a good day I can barely take being in Bakersfield for more than a few hours. Call me an effete snob, call me geographically small-minded, tell me I’m a civic wimp but for whatever reason Bakersfield reminds me of a Greyhound Bus terminal suffering from the world’s most grievous janitorial strike. Candy wrappers are strewn everywhere. Piles of oil exploration drilling gear is scattered halfway to hell and back across the city limits. Even the trees appear to be stunted, arborists have spited the cities flora and fauna, birds flying over but are seldom tempted to stop. I know friends that worked in Bakersfield at the Kern County Fair. As soon as the fair ends they returned to the place they are from and had to spend whatever they had earned on a psychiatrist to overcome the depression living in Bakersfield for two weeks had brought on.

So, you see there are a good many reasons to suspect that defaulting on our nation’s debt might just turn out to be not such a good idea. In a very real sense, our whole nation could turn out to look like Bakersfield. 

Fishing is a form of food gathering, after collapse you’ll paddle

What I’m describing is but the tip of the iceberg. All those unanticipated knock-on effects would have to be included in anyone’s portfolio of misery that is the result of what would certainly the history of the world’s all-time-titanic-never-ever-seen-before-now-or-ever global financial crisis. 

To be sure we place the blame for all this mayhem on the right persons you will need to look at the elected Republican members of the House of Representatives, all the voters who helped to elect these particular house members, all the variety of constituencies that donated money to their campaigns, such wonderful organizations as private equity scoundrels, fossil fuel lobbyists, Chamber of Commerce operatives, and Wall Street types obsessed with having their taxes (not your taxes) cut. Honorable mention must go to book burning advocates, abortion foes, White Supremacists, evangelicals, breast implant enthusiasts and that select group of men now suffering from or soon to be suffering from E.D.. 

If you read this blog now and then you’ll know I’m more than concerned about the possibility that the regions megadrought could render this region ungovernable, that the water that has held this region together could be the cause of it coming unglued. Collapse of civilization can never be ruled out— as hard as Putin tries even he knows there is a risk to the whole thing coming unraveled— trust me all those rooftop swan diving Russian oligarchs are well aware of how tough things can go when where you are from is in the midst of a self-inflicted collapse.

That’s really what a debt default is in the end. It is a self-inflicted act of destruction. Your homes, bank accounts, 401k’s, pensions, medical services, and the chump change you have folded up in your wallet will be totally worthless. All you people bitching about the cost of a gallon of gasoline will finally have something to really be pissed off about. This will be the Republicans sloppy wet kiss to all those deplorables that voted them into office. 

Won’t be needing these anymore

So, to be clear I have to believe that we will not default on our nation’s debt. Kern County will soon count among its population one ex-speaker of the house, and by 2024 a nation of low-information voters will because of watching Fox News be mesmerized into forgetting about the whole stinking mess. Pond scum it is believed will see a meteoric rise in its popularity. Dollar Stores will sell for discount all those many speeches given by politicians that soon after have left America to seek happiness abroad living in Russia, China, Iran or North Korea. 

A global outbreak of popcorn orgies will race across the world. Bakersfield will become a footnote in history, Kevin McCarthy will take up standup comedy, gallows humor will be his closing joke— Kevin wanted power, and finally when he got it, the first thing he did with it was to try to completely destroy the very government he was elected to preserve and protect. You just can’t make this shit up. Welcome to life’s mad carnival, the United States has gone all in for a bumpy ride. Put on that seatbelt and lookout below.


Atmospheric River Blues

Drought, wildfire, heatwaves and now nine in a row atmospheric rivers represents California’s new normal weather pattern. Five years ago to the day Montecito and Santa Barbara were hit with a deluge of water and then mudslides after weeks and weeks of wildfire ravaging the hills above their communities. Mudslides, chaos and emergency rescue teams soon followed.

Mojave Desert January 10, 2023

Oprah, Ellen and now Harry have been swept up into the climate crisis gripping the globe. Among the nutty delusional qualities of the mind is wealthier citizens hoping the fossil fuel induced climate changes would somehow bypass their swank digs. Sorry money can’t buy you everything.

Last Friday events pulled us from our place in San Francisco Bay Area to visit friends in Los Angeles. We were planning to make it a fun weekend then get back home on Monday. Instead we turned east to Palm Springs seeking sanctuary from the demon we named— Reality.

Sunday was pretty good here in the desert, Monday not bad, yesterday the remnant’s of an atmospheric river brought rain. We hunkered down here at the hot spring. Fortunate our van was pointed nose first into the 55 mph winds that hit last night. Seatbelts— I don’t got to wear no stinking seatbelts— were considered given the unexpected turbulence.

Sky Valley, California blowing like all hell out here

Behind us is a concrete culvert. Bone dry doesn’t describe it, perhaps the last time water ran down this waterway Truman was still President. Because of the nearby mountains I monitored the potential for uncontrollable runoff. Not much happened, less than a trickle, but in climate change times you can not afford to turn your back where water may come to rage. Evacuation routes are now something to know.

I’d mark my coming of age in the era of climate change to be somewhere around the year 2016. California was ablaze with wildfires, our air was unbreathable. Reckoning the wildfire’s were a once in a century event, not the new business as usual turned out to be poor mental jujitsu. Wildfire’s are as predictable now as atmospheric river’s and who ever heard of those atmospheric demons until now—

All of us have been making little accommodations, adjusting in increments to the heatwaves, downpours and sunburn. You say to yourself— hey, kid, stay ahead of things, its going to be alright, look around, you’re the only one that’s worried about anything, it’s all ok, have another martini, wash your car, pull some weeds, call a friend, make some pasta, drink some wine, get down to the dispensary, buy a hat, see your skin doctor, wear your sunscreen, keep your head low, don’t talk too much about how you feel as your world literally is falling apart, people will shun you, nobody likes a Dana-Downer.

To keep us calm they’ve installed devices here and there

Until about 2016 all of us could take some pleasure in our denial, that it really couldn’t be as awful as the climate scientists have warned. By 2019 traveling across British Columbia the sight of millions of beetle ravaged trees took a toll on my denial. Then, sucking in heaps of wildfire smoke gave me my first climate cough. Viewing reservoirs without an antidepressant is ill-advised.

We still have to live and die, raise our kids, get our groceries, keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, and find some semblance of fun and games whether the lights remain on or off.

Here at the Palm Springs Film Festival we got out to see I Like it Here. The documentary chronicles the phenomena surrounding our aging out until we’re gone. Liking it here is about not being ready to go there, not yet, not while the pleasing alternative of being here holds our attention.

Just stop bellyaching

Encoded into our DNA is an ego determined to maintain its grip on staying alive. Ego is a damn efficient quality of mind— it’ll keep you alive when the rest of you can get the rest of you killed. It is the do this not that device on loan from God— we give our ego and the rest of our gifts back at the end. This comes free, there is no extra charge.

Our changing climate adds concern, it only slightly penetrates our ego’s main vigilant keep it real inner monologue and cheery patter. Our inability to grasp the magnitude of what our species has done to our odds of long term survival is to do with the capacity of our mind to stitch together the weather events of the times we live in. Ego sucks figuring the odds— and not to trigger your ego, but folks the odds are not close to even according to what I see out the window dare I have the courage to look.

It isn’t fair, but it is true, that as we’ve evolved the ego proved useful and was improved by evolution and of course glorified by Hollywood. I’d say ego has had a good run— only Frankenstein seems to have had a better box office.

What we don’t have is the capacity to help plan for two centuries from now. You can love your grand children all you want but that’s probably an ego induced sideshow. The reality is the human mind lacks this forward compassion projecting capacity, live now pay later, don’t worry be happy— be happy right now, we’ll try a little harder next week, I promise I won’t fly off so often to Puerto Vallarta to feed my muse and drink tequila.

Today is a walk across historic Palm Springs. We are now lounging about in our mid century modern hotel just off the strip next to the world famous Palm Springs Tennis Club. I married Vince Lombardi’s reincarnated feminine aspect and she’s walked her other half right to the edge.

Wondering about the number of galaxies in our Universe, I’m betting a trillion isn’t close to the total, and boy that has got to be a bitch of a task to be in charge of tallying up the actual number. Like the climate crisis it boggles our comprehension, almost breaks the imagination muscle trying to wrap our heads around the colossal climate crisis of it all. But as the assignment editor cruelly warns— that’s why we pay you the big bucks— I can get you to take a look, it’s your ego that urges you to look away—

The climate crisis is definitely messing with the speech you are planning to give at the lifetime achievement award ceremony, but you look in the mirror while you check the lapels, tug at the cuffs, you keep going over and over how grateful you are, how the world is at an inflection point, that collectively the time has come, that together we must act, and the truth of the matter is our ego’s are bristling at this, try as we might, when the gods unlocked the code to give us the smarts to do certain things like all wishes fulfilled they overlooked mankind’s ability to think long term, over the horizon, to see into our earth’s future and have the capacity to act to avert a crisis, and not just any old ordinary crisis but perhaps the mother of all of them, the biggest crisis we have ever had to face, the crisis where if we don’t act now it will be too late for those who will soon follow us here. Our ability to act or not to act is front and center. So what is it there pilgrim, you want to ride over that mountain pretending like there’s nothing you can do, that there’s nothing all that wrong, or are you ready to lend a hand to a soul yet born who—

Sorry, these atmospheric rivers can really monkey with my inner confidence—

Books · Screenplay

Arizona’s Water Grabbers—

Cochise County is a chunk of Arizona where I have whiled away time. Hot springs, winemakers and bohemian high desert dwellers are all here. Then, there are the predators— every kind in every guise— coyote, puma and red tail hawks are here. Then there are the corporate dairy operators, they arrive with well drillers, these are the money is no object drill deeper well drilling dairy interests that have with heavy hands invaded this delicate region of Southern Arizona. 

Running on out to survey the land

Certain water user types like to pretend that the regions high desert vineyards require the same volume of water a dairy operator needs. Growing grapes in Arizona’s high desert is in fact not water intensive, it is an ideal crop to water by the method of a miserly drip irrigation system.  By contrast dairy operators require boundless amounts of water for their operations.

A region of Cochise County that is known as the Kentucky Settlements has been overrun by an out of state dairy conglomerate that landed here and began punching wells like there is no tomorrow— we’re talking over 600 wells. Nearby county small farmers act as a smokescreen, the idea is to throw the misinformed citizens off the scent, conflate an operator that uses almost no water to an operator that uses almost all the water. 

Big dairy operations will run multiple wells day in and day out at 35 gallons per minute all day long, twenty-four hours a day, all year long. You turn on 600 irrigation well pumps and run them all day every day year in and year out and we are talking about the collapse of the regions underground water resources.

Boastful but close enough for true

Cochise County seat is in Bisbee, Arizona. The town is located furtherest to the south along the Mexican frontier. Nearby Douglas is situated to the east in a valley below right on the border. If you are sick to death of sweltering in Tucson you come up into the mountains and visit Bisbee, some rent a place others buy a second home here.

While Douglas is predominately Mexican American it is Bisbee’s population that attracts misfits. Art and craft types that follow the festival circuit call Bisbee home. Talented baristas, bartenders, waitresses and tourist shop clerks scratch out their livelihoods here. Airbnb helps give folk here an extra way to make a buck. The types that come to Bisbee as a rule can’t cut it in Wilcox, it’s an emotional thing, and social, Wilcox is too straight, Bisbee is still running wild. The two types found most common here are the young and the offbeat older spirits still clinging to their youthful wild spirited ways.

The United States Army’s Intelligence school is west in nearby Sierra Vista and Huachuca City. The wild west’s Tombstone is here. Once you find Sunizona you are getting mighty close to where much of the misguided water grabbing is taking place. Further to the east are the Chiricahua’s, much is wilderness, most of the rest consists of small villages and settlements. Bird hunting in the Dragoons is popular. The region is a magnet for winter visitors coming here to explore during the cooler months of the year.

Water tanks gravity feed nearby ranch house and cowboy bunking quarters

Cochise County’s population sits at about 125,000. That’s not much. Their brand of politics tends to run hot, plenty here fashion themselves independents, tend to be in sympathy with libertarians, and want to be left alone. That doesn’t describe citizens in Bisbee, they’re all those other kinds and flavors of people. It’s down here where citizens gathered signatures and qualified an initiative to regulate groundwater in the county. The active water management area was passed fair and square down along the border and didn’t pass north in nearby Wilcox. 

There are at least two underground aquifers in this region. The aquifer to the south is now a protected active managed water area and is going to be regulate, groundwater and the citizens to the north voted down the initiative and there is every reason to worry about the aquifers complete collapse. Money poured in opposition to the initiative from across the United States and likely foreign interests illegally meddled in the election as well. 

Low tech last century energy saving water pump device— windmill

Cochise County was the sole holdout in Arizona’s November’s gubinatorial election and refused to certify the results until by court order they buckled under. Kari Lake sympathizers are cheek to jowl down here and probably not more than a few thousand tried stirring up trouble. Once threatened with jail election officials sobered up and performed their duties. 

Let’s say you move down to Cochise County and purchase some acreage. You’ll put in a water well, build out a septic system, put up a place to call home and you are set to live a life rife with rattlesnakes, scorpions and disaffected Kari Lake sympathizers. Residential water well users tend to use smaller sized well pipes and less powerful pumps. Commercial operations punch deeper wells, they punch more wells and use most of the water. Citizens on fixed incomes find they have to have their wells punched deeper to keep up with the draw down, where a commercial operator sees a deeper well as a line item on an operating statement, the residential user sees having to spend $10 to $30 thousand dollars as a deal breaker. Once you lose your access to water on your 5 acres of desert paradise your land is now worthless, you’ll have to haul water in while you figure out where in the hell you can go next.

Across the American West all the state water resource agencies are only now beginning to put into law regulations that control the use of groundwater. Five areas in Arizona have any groundwater restrictions at all, most of the rest remains unregulated. Any hope of getting the groundwater protected fall to the county initiative process, chances are zero that the state legislature could pass regulations, special interests whip the vote to see that won’t happen.

California’s solution has a certain political elegance to its method. Pass the legislation necessary to get a grip on the overuse of groundwater but then set a multiple decade’s timetable to the rollout of the new rules. By 2040 every commercial well in California will have a meter, the amount of water that can be pumped will be set based upon how much water there is in the aquifer. If regulators find a given aquifer is being drawn down the regions pumps will be forced to use less or none at all. Best of all the politicians that passed the legislation a decade ago will be out of office and escape the wrath of big agriculture. Word has it if you pump long and hard enough chances are you’ll pump up the remains of one of those no good water regulating politicians that ended your free lunch decades back.

The seven western states that use Colorado River water are trying to voluntarily find four-million-acre feet of water that instead of being used will be voluntarily given back to the river. No state has been able to find more than a few hundred-thousand-acre feet of water that they can afford to give back. Regulators trying to compel a voluntary solution trying to avoid having to issue mandatory cutbacks. 

Your looking at him— he’s in Bisbee where he belongs and fits in

The American West is short of the water needed to maintain business as usual. On one level there is the threat of having your allotment of river water cut. If you are a farm that means the jig is up, fold your tent and hand the keys to your farmhouse back to the bank. That’s what taking acreage out of production looks like, certainly not a happy ending. The more catastrophic scenarios hit home when an entire aquifer collapses and many thousands of farms and rural residential operations simply have no more water left in the ground to bring up and use to support their lives and livelihoods. When the northernmost section of Cochise County’s aquifer is pumped dry, some speculate it could happen anytime between now and 2070 the region will be rendered uninhabitable, and that’s not a problem politics can do anything about. Once we hit that marker, we’ve entered the lifeboat moment in the climate crisis. 

Where I sit in Northern California today there is a major Pacific storm about to clobber us with drenching rain and heavy snow. Water resource managers have already said that while we need this rain, and it will be a lot of rain, it will not in and of itself be enough to end the 23 year long drought this region has suffered. More rain helps but water resources remain tight and that’s now the permanent circumstance we face as our world’s climate shifts.  


Almost There— The After Times

Masking continues to be all the rage in my neighborhood. Head on over to Whole Foods in Lafayette you can see for yourself.  Gray haired Volvo drivers (I confess to nothing) are likeliest to be hand sanitizing maskers. 

Ever the Optimist on the Path

Younger clerks at cash registers prefer to go a la natural. It’s a mixed bag in the grocery game, down at the local health care providers scene you don’t get into a waiting room without a mask. 

Keep it small, go it alone, electing to take some care in these triple respiratory threat times seems prudent even if it is emotionally debilitating. My wife and I generally have found taking some risks to see friends and family are worthy meetups, pub crawling in congregate settings with a sneezy wheezy mob of strangers isn’t worth the trouble.

Testing, testing and more testing continues unabated. Travel plans have us both boarding planes in late January. One of us goes to Key West for holiday with her girls the other to Seattle to pleasure in winter wonderland with the other girl. Guess who travels north. 

March 20, 2023 we will mark the 3rd year of this ongoing worldwide pandemic. Tell me you are the same as I am— my larger circle of friends has been hard to keep in touch with. The inner circle, those closest intimates we’ve stumbled through the last 900 days together, sometimes visiting and at other times isolating.

Positively Scene Stealing

Little concessions litter my social meetup choices. Is it indoors or outdoors, is the weather going to cooperate, do they work in large congregate settings, do they have a lot of exposure to children, have they given up their masks, decided against getting the booster shots, do they still think Elon Musk is a genius— once you have the answer you will know whether you are going to risk being infected.

Arizona and Alberta are overheated frozen opposites. Calls to souls I know in Arizona uncover masking burnout, handwashing boredom, and a general sense of my Arizona people are just completely done with it. Neighbors to the north in Alberta are having a harder time, as much as they may be fed up with the pandemic the pace of transmission disallows they’re moving on. 

Life in Canada is an indoor affair during this time of year. Outside is refreshingly temporary where indoor life harbors stagnant unfiltered overheated air. You want to breathe go to Puerto Vallarta, you want to feel confined try life in a midrise condominium along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton.

The Seeds of Redemption

I can’t help but wonder about the current tensions playing out across the globe. Bolsonaro’s defeat in Brazil, the attempted coup in Peru, the ongoing tragic war of choice by Putin in Ukraine, the heroic women in Iran seeking their human rights, I would have imagined such turmoil could have waited while we stood the world’s economy back up on its feet. 

Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft are all going through a few things. Tesla has blown through the lower bound and is about to plumb the horrific depths of the brokerages up and down the line making margin calls on clients. Elon Musk rather than channel his inner Zelenski has revealed himself to be a Putin sympathizer. Admiration for war criminals by the formerly richest man in the world wasn’t on my list of predictions for 2022. Billionaires with thinning hair anxieties turns out to be predictive. 

Shooting baskets at the gym off hours alone is one place I go to get my heartrate up to some degree of healthful benefit. Walks in the neighborhood another. My wife and I get out together, she’d death march me if allowed, instead I throttle back, something like an hour is about right with a hill or two to climb, that’s proven to be good for my moods. 

There is a lot of texting, fewer voice calls, emailing is over. My sister is a terrific foil for my texts. My kid plays along as she can, when she can, she does have a job, thumbing her keyboard on her iPhone isn’t a priority. 

There is the shortlist of calls made on a routine basis to select friends. There is Waldo over on the Big Island. He’s good for laughs, lava flow updates and the gossip he hears while out at his favorite sunset oceanside overlook.

Sailors friends believe in dog—

Martin reaches out too, both of us are sailors, husbands and always plotting a quick out for the afternoon reach in fair winds off the beam. Dan a show business buddy, has taken up pickle ball coaching, and we meet for short walks and compare our offstage life to the onstage life we both until the pandemic hit had spent decades living in. Dave has decided to take a seat at a Ducati repair shop, speed and G-forces created by carved turns at the apex in a corner seems to be my friend’s current deep dive. We talk a lot about anything that is a machine, just so long as it has some pedigree, some claim to being a legitimate thrill-maker. We’ve both lost more championships than would be imagined based upon our unrivaled skills.

I’ve a brother-in-law in Kona that I talk to as often as he has the patience for. His life requires privacy so he might heal the scar of losing my sister almost two years ago. Mike down in Santa Clara updates but he’s swamped and demands on his time is large, running a full-time magic show enterprise as a solo requires your best effort, sometimes as a duo, and then often  as an ensemble cast for theaters does not leave much time to eat mushrooms and then room to gush metaphysically about the state of show business down here in the small time.

Another of my friend’s is a regular. Finally, his childhood is over, he’s now a full-blown adult and life’s urgency is an emergency, my favorite man-boy has turned 60. A terrific housekeeper, devoted hiker, incurable but too sincere to make even a dent in the high art of womanizing, more of a one man-one woman type, his inner constitution resembles a department store with a very well-staffed complaint department. Monogamy is fine, it isn’t commitment that he finds so uncomfortable as it is that other opposite thing— the bedrock sense of self-possession, his freedom to be safely separate, his mastering living alone is more than a controlling solitude, it has proven to be the most durable alliance, in his experience his solo arrangements have proven to be the key ingredient to the experience of being in a fully awakened soul. Quarreling and enlightenment never do well together. 

I experience this urge to be alone as the problem that comes from living in one place. I’m not suited to living somewhere. That is more the rub against the nervous system I was born with. Fortune has found the woman right for me love. My wife has as much wanderlust as mine, her ability to shape her travels into gainful enterprise differs from her poet laureate in his own imagination husband. I’m chasing sunsets, river valleys and campsite fires for the pure pleasure of being out there away from it all. The wife has made her itinerary a more practical affair, stuffing her purse with gold coins while out making the international rounds is her style, that is until her spirits are aroused, then it is her higher chakras, her soul’s appetite, it is her being asked to witness intangible human spirited wilderness that surpasses all her other many goals and responsibilities. Getting good at being present isn’t part of our current modern life. That’s why I believe dogs are so popular in this era, at least an uncomplicated devoted best friend that can’t talk back does provide some emotional support. An over wordy too chatty friend you can’t trust with your deepest darkest secrets resembles a roadside warning sign you would rather live without. 

This was the year of living with less physical contact, connecting with the few while wondering how to reach out to the many. I’ll surf the infectious wave of winter into a less virulent spring, by then I’m thinking we could be a fair piece further out of the pandemics grip, we can all plant our gardens, walk our dogs, call our friends and catch up with those good next outer circle of fabulous souls that make life all that much richer and more rewarding. 

Another Outbound Destination Unknown

I haven’t got over to the Prizefighter, a favorite Emeryville saloon, to inventory what remains of the staff I counted on to make my Manhattans and small talk. Some I counted as confidants, others to tell a tale and share a laugh. Best friend continuity matters but so do all those incidental unnamed acquaintances that pass through our lives. I’ve a long roster of lost now nameless friends that for the life of me I cannot remember. 

The pandemic I hope will spiral downward into irrelevance this next year. Friendships will regather momentum and the emotional damage of three years of isolation will be healed one week after another as we get on with the extended conversation that is sharing our lives. We are by the code of our genetics social animals and our running with the herd is our nature.

There are the before-times, there is this present-time, and there will come a less infectious after-times. I’ll meet you there, we can enjoy until one or the other of us become dull and rather a burden to be with. All this solitude does no favors to those of us that prefer to be alone. All of this will have to be sorted out and will be, things will turn out just as we’d hoped. 

As centuries go the start of this one has been nothing to sneeze at. With a little luck, vaccinations, treatments, masks and hand hygiene because there’s really no ceiling to how far hope may climb. 

I’ve got a script on my desk, is a comedy, taking on the challenges of the day, in this case an ever-drier American Southwest. 

Betty a water regulator trying to encourage— Papermaster, eating your girlfriend’s fresh baked bread is going to shorten your life—  

I’m on life support— Papermaster explains— my life’s already over. 

If we don’t get this right Papermaster, there won’t be anything out here on the shores of Lake Powell but lounge chairs and tobacco spitting cowboy’s looking for a god damn stray bull named— Titanic

Biography · Books · Screenplay

Timeline of the Bagatelle

I posted my first blog here in 2011. I joined Twitter about the same time. I cross post whenever I put a new piece up, some I’ll put on the Face. The difference is that I view Twitter as a public/political forum whereas I view Facebook as a private/apolitical venue. Friends already know what I think, the public at large may find what I’m writing worth a look, it’s a choice. 

Coffee in Barcelona

Early on I was careful about what content I covered, I was still doing a lot of summer library programs and sexual innuendo and white-hot political spear throwing could blow back on the librarians that supported my act, so I held my fire.

I remember workshopping at a writer’s conference, there was a social media breakout session, the presenter was sure the best path forward was to build your platform. Building a platform had to do with gaining followers, you would find followers on Facebook, Twitter and so on and so forth. 

Lacey retired to Oregon

Nonfiction writers’ currency of value is stored in their subject matter, fiction’s value is stored in the emotional power of the story told. Search Engine Optimization’s (SEO’s) are made for facts, they do much less well conveying emotions.

Back in the early days of social media readers observational skills were in transition, having a cup of coffee while pouring over the pages of the New York Times produced a style of reader that took their time, those old school types would read from start to finish, then choose another item and then another. 

The blizzard of stories a reader encounters online overwhelms; fewer and fewer readers can aim and sustain their attention on this whirligig digital publishing platform.

This has happened over time, not for all of us, but many if not most hardly have the same reading habits. If you were born at the turn of the new millennium, you are a person born into this current mashup of digitized platforms. In some sense you are trained from the beginning in modern day digital literacy, you are fluent in this system, know how to work with it, many times it isn’t the written word you use, instead it is a picture, audio or short video. 

Road and Dog

While I may remember the fads and fashions of the decades of yesteryear, born in the 50’s, coming of age in the 60’s, owned the post adolescent world in the ‘70’s, then dove headlong into the ‘80’s as I misappropriated my adulthood by clinging to the hope of being forever young. 

Our daughter was born in the early ‘90’s, that put an end to my completely dodging my adulthood. I fumbled through the go-go-90’s as the prime street show years in San Francisco closed out and what might come next was still far from visible.

Once I’d moved to Oregon and struggled through the offseason, then figured out how to work festivals with the help of a local event producer— one of my life’s great alliances. In short order I created a circuit that was loosely based on my being in Arizona in winter and the Northwest in summer. I took that plan across half of the 90’s and most of the next two decades until the pandemic hit.

My father was a computer buff, in 1995 he taught me how to use a dial up modem and link to a server at Oregon State University. It was awkward, there was no browser, we figured out how to write down various addresses, one was to a portal supported by NASA. Netscape just weeks later was released and was soon loaded onto my personal computer.

Leaves are not forgotten

I had written a first novel in 1980 on a manual typewriter. By the turn of the new century, I was soon to be afforded the opportunity to revise and finish the book. There would be another three more produced, all told these four novels were completed between the years 2007 and 2020, this timeline tracks the release of the iPhone and then the development of all the myriad social media platforms that soon followed. Mobility was the key. 

Bookstores were closing right and left, Amazon shouldered most of the blame, but in fact it was more than just Amazon, reading habits were changing.

Once upon a time an author, and his publisher would work to get their book onto the shelves at a bookstore. In the before times, you would go into the biggest bookstore in the world and maybe you could choose between a thousand, perhaps as many as five thousand novels. Today you surf over to Amazon where you will find millions of titles to choose from.  

All of this has happened in less than two decades, the previous system has been supplanted by this new one, what is sometimes obliquely referred to as the attention economy. 

I’m making my way through a terrific novel by Susan Gee Rumsey, Why You Must that will eventually be seen by a few hundred, no more than a few thousand I would guess, and that has nothing to do with the novel’s quality. Gorilla marketing will only take a book so far, ultimately this inanimate object loses its momentum lands on a shelf and that is where it will ride out its days, years and decades.

Blogging I use for research, it is my public facing sketchpad, where I’m sharing the underlying facts that I will use to build my fiction. On my desk now is a screenplay, a comedy about climate change set in the American Southwest and loosely to do with the scarcity of water coming out of the Colorado River. 

In the months ahead I’ll complete a full-length screenplay. What I can make happen after I finish with all the probabilities that entails are a very steep climb. 

Hotel Majestic where I was holed up working on a blog

Into this cauldron of change is the bizarre turn that our digital landscape is undergoing. I’m especially grateful that I have maintained my own website, that I can post what I want as I want. If your business model depends on Elon Musk’s mood, Facebook’s tweaking their algorithms, or whether Google will continue supporting Google Plus well you have been taken on a ride you were never going to be in control of.

Keeping a public facing blog alive, pulling some readers along, bouncing about riding from topic to topic, doing work that won’t get you dragged into court, producing material that gives some pleasure to your readers, that’s something like what I’ve been doing over here.

Much of the very best sentences, paragraphs, pages and chapters of my writing have been captured in my long fiction. A short piece here on my blog is cranked out with a sensibility of being breezy, offhanded, of the moment, not too much care, kind of let it go and move on, life is short, and anything can be improved upon, but to what end and to what difference—

The madness of the new Twitter owner, Google’s downturn, Facebook’s fated decline is proving to be game changing, we’re on our way from one place to another and none of us are sure what that next digitized realm will be. What is certain is it won’t be this, the world is moving on, there is a better next set of platforms and formulas to experiment with.

I’ve tried to drive my engagement by earnest qualities, as best I can, as honest as I can, giving some of you a chance to see other more bohemian perspectives, sharing what I find and giving voice to all those likeminded misfits I’ve come to meet along the way over the course of time. You all do know I’m onto you right— and you have found me out too. Thanks for hanging around now and again­— 

Books · Screenplay

Diablo Canyon Shutdown Scuttled for Now

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station has been given a new lease on its half-life. Biden and Newsom likely looked at the 2024 election and said they wanted nothing to do with higher energy prices, keep Diablo Canyon open, kick the can down the road, we’ll shut the hazardous site after the next election, even if each and every electron out of this facility will be the high-cost leader in the diverse energy market.

Water Grabbing is Over

Renewable energy is the low-cost leader, end of story, stop pretending. Decommissioning Diablo Canyon will require decades of time and a tsunami of funding— $10’s of billions. We don’t need to worry about mad Russian’s invading from our southern border, our domestic saboteurs have proven plenty willing to exploit our vulnerabilities, blowing up the filibuster is known as the nuclear option, it gets its name from a facility like Diablo Canyon.

Things I wish we could control are the amount of energy crypto currencies have been using in their coin minting process. I’d have shut them down forced them back to the drawing boards and demanded they come up with a less energy intensive method creating coins. Color me skeptical, but the digitally minted out of thin air coins don’t impress. A properly trained fiduciary would never sign off on such a reckless investment.  

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station

California’s Central Coast is one of our state’s most livable. Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach have no real corollary, not Los Angeles or San Francisco have on offer such ideal weather. Nothing is perfection, but traffic here is tempered by its distance from both the major metropolitan regions. 

What’s on the drawing boards along this stretch of coast is the deployment of offshore wind turbines. Turbines will be over the horizon; the whole idea is that you won’t see anything. Wind turbine service technicians will live here, they will by boat be sent out off the coast to regularly service the turbines. Other workers on shore will provide continual maintenance to the batteries that will store the energy. You want really good news, we don’t have to invent anything to secure this renewable future. 

Morro Bay, California

Controllers will manage power distribution from computers, a lot of time and research has been spent developing the necessary storage capacity so that our energy system will operate across a wide range of circumstances. CalPoly San Luis Obispo’s graduating engineers will find an abundance of work here. 

In Delta, Utah excess renewable energy will be used to produce carbon free hydrogen. Below ground here are some of the world’s largest salt caverns where the hydrogen fuel will be stored. The hydrogen powered electric power station will spool up and send electricity across the west to help the grid meet the demand. Think of the hydrogen in Delta, Utah as the result of the stored energy produced by wind offshore near Morro Bay.

Delta Utah’s Intermountain Power Station

If you are wondering about how reliable offshore wind is here on this section of coast, you can stop wondering, the resource is off the charts. If you took all of the sailors in California, you will find only a small fraction of these sailors willing to risk messing with this section of coast. Why might you wonder? Because the wind blows hard. 

Lawrence Livermore Radiation Laboratories is here in California. Nuclear weapon design happens here. You can go to UC Berkeley and become a nuclear scientist. What I’m saying is there is a powerful constituency still convinced in the efficacy of nuclear power. My argument isn’t technological, their engineering prowess isn’t my objection. The problem I have is with the variability of human beings. Most of the time most people remain dedicated to doing their best, but too frequently a more feral political animal arises and some of humankinds most irresponsible may find a path to seizing political power. Nuclear technology demands a constancy of good conduct, and this behavioral consistency is beyond the reach of our species.

Renewables are the future. Scientists at MIT have developed a drill bit that punches through materials using a technology that harnesses energy from microwaves. Shallow wells into the ground are well suited to be punched using conventional drilling technology. Once down where things start getting hotter and harder, that’s when this new technology does its best work. An experimental well is being punched right now. Steam will be brought to the surface to spin turbines. Geothermal power is common in Nevada where geothermal sources come closer to the earths surface. If we can reliably punch wells anywhere the world we will have found an off ramp to the dependency on fossil and nuclear fuels.  A decentralized energy system will put an end to the economic problems created by spikes in the cost of fossil fuels.

One of the factors that raise the costs of producing laboratory grown meat is electricity. It may seem quixotic, but it is just over the horizon. In 2023 you will be able to go to restaurants in San Francisco Bay Area where chefs will treat you to chicken grown in the lab.  This may not seem central to our survival, but my prediction is that it will be a key technology.

Bridging the Gap

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast for the 2022-2023 rainy season promise much more of the same. In other words, our drought here in the American West continues. Water scarcity is stressing communities that are agriculture dependent. Over the last century California has developed the most expansive water distribution system in the world. There is no other place in the world with as many reservoirs, aqueducts, and irrigation canals. The key to our future is using less water to make more food. Like everything economic these changes will produce a new set of winners and losers. 

I like democracy and I like leadership to face the citizens in free and fair elections. Our transition to a renewable energy economy, to an modernized more water efficient food production system, rolling out these new systems, reinventing how our economy is powered, how we distribute our water, these are fundamental building blocks. We do this right and we’re going to walk back the world from the edge, and if we don’t get this right, we’ll suffer the consequences. Time is of the essence, there is not a second to lose. 

It’s just a guess on my part but keeping Diablo Canyon open a little longer looks like a bet to buy more time, to keep things going in the right direction, to not sending the economy into a self-inflicted energy price spike. All of the technologies I’ve written about will prevail in time, as they are deployed over time, and it is this timeline, this managing the energy transition that is civilizations great challenge.