Happy 4th of July. I’m back from a great relaxing camping vacation, looking forward to more blogging.
Here’s a photo I took on my trip in the Avenue of the Giants. See the Bigfoot?
Posted by Xeno on July 4, 2013
Happy 4th of July. I’m back from a great relaxing camping vacation, looking forward to more blogging.
Here’s a photo I took on my trip in the Avenue of the Giants. See the Bigfoot?
Posted by Xeno on April 24, 2013
As a journalist, Anna Politkovskaya’s fearless coverage of the conflict and human rights situation in Chechnya earned her international recognition. It also brought harassment and intimidation from authorities. She was detained, threatened and poisoned because of her work. In October 2006, she was shot dead at her home in Moscow.
“The people on trial are connected to the murder, but it’s not clear how connected they are, or what their role is,” one source said. “It’s a very difficult, complicated case.” Staff at the paper were “pessimistic” that the mastermind would be caught, he said, adding that the defendants could be acquitted on appeal.
“The idea is to show that the guilty have been punished. In reality those behind the murder haven’t been apprehended,” says Natalia Estemirova, from the human rights organisation Memorial in Grozny, Chechnya’s capital. “The trial has been a farce. There has been no serious attempt to properly investigate.” …
“It is generally accepted that we Russians do not like ourselves much.” So wrote the late Politkovskaya (1958–2006) (Putin’s Russia, 2006, etc.), who paid with her life for her daring critiques of post-Soviet society.
This spirited collection, originally published by the journal Novaya Gazeta in 2007, opens with a self-interview taken from the journalist’s laptop after her death. In it, she accuses most of her journalistic colleagues in Russia with being koverny, or clowns, “whose job it is to keep the public entertained and, if they do have to write about anything serious, then merely to tell everyone how wonderful the Pyramid of Power is in all its manifestations.” The big-shoe phenomenon spreads far beyond Russia, of course, and Politkovskaya is not alone when she asks what the fate of those who refuse to play in the Big Top is—“They become pariahs,” she answers, though in her case it was worse still. Much of the collection concerns Russia’s war in Chechnya, which has quieted down since, but, only a few years ago, was raging—no thanks to orchestrated atrocities on the part of the Russian Army that Politkovskaya covered and uncovered. One was the so-called Shatoy Tragedy, in which Russian soldiers under the command of the Central Intelligence Directorate killed six Chechen civilians and burned their bodies.
It is the time for journalists to seriously consider if fighting for human rights is worth one’s life. Included in this are bloggers like myself who range from amateur to professional journalists. Based on my belief that I have the right and duty as an American citizen to monitor and complain about my government, I have not been shy about speaking my mind. My posts over the years have been skeptical and critical of my government, and at times paranoid. I have done, I estimate, more than my fair share of my civic duty for my couch surfing now Facebooking American country-folk.
Do I now retire from defending human rights? Would I really die to save others, people I don’t know, from abuses such as torture and false imprisonment if it put people I do know and love in danger? If it was just myself, my own life on the line, that’s a different question, but there are no guarantees. The world is changing. It is a time for soul-searching.
And you, readers of this blog, I don’t know the vast majority of you. Perhaps the weird crime news, funny animals and biology/technology stories are enough to keep this site interesting without using the soapbox to defend democracy and the US Constitution. When I hear a lie, why not, like everyone else, just complain to a few close friends and let it go at that? What drives me to publish and help the more easily fooled see possible deceptions? A sense of duty, compassion and fear of rising tyranny, I suppose. I could blame my 7th grade Civics teacher who said the country will fail if we don’t each do our part. If not me, who? Thus I have researched and written.
But how far will I take it?
I’m not saying this influences my decision, but I do have a question for you:
If this blog had no political/conspiracy information, would you be more or less likely to read it?
Posted by Xeno on April 14, 2013
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Posted by Xeno on March 8, 2013
Hey, I’m curious what you think about this potential new web site design:
Does it work for you? What’s missing that you would miss compared to this current blog?
Posted by Xeno on March 3, 2013
I’ve been checking out Google Webmaster Tools this evening and I found that there are over 3 million links to my blog. I’ve been enjoying taking a look around the sites that link to this one. Here are the top 25 linkers to this site at this time according to Google. Thanks for the linka, add me to your blog roll if you are a blogger and you visit regularly.
Also interesting were to top Google Searches that landed on my blog. Of 1,400 + key word searches that resulted in visits, these are the current top 25 searches. What searches would I actually want google to send my way? Useful software tools, home remedy reviews, tooth health, government accountability?
|limewire pirate edition|
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Posted by Xeno on December 31, 2012
Happy New Year. Have you made your resolutions? What will you do or do differently in 2013?
My short list of goals:
Posted by Xeno on December 20, 2012
Okay, I’m off to my undisclosed prepper location. It’s been fun! See you on the other side.
Have a great holiday or apocalypse, whichever comes first.
Posted by Xeno on September 17, 2012
I took a break from posting for a week or so while backpack camping in Yosemite.
We went on an REI sponsored backpack adventure which began with one night at Tuolomne Meadows Backpackers camp to acclimatize to the altitude. We carried roughly 40 lb packs for several days at nearly 10,000 ft above sea level. We left from Cathedral Lakes Trailhead (around 8,560 ft) and hiked 3.5 miles on the John Muir Trail to Cathedral Lake at about 9,500 ft where we camped the second night. The next morning, six miles up and over the Cathedral Pass (9,800 ft) to camp at Upper Sunrise Lake. Then the hike down to Tenaya Lake (about 4 miles) to catch the shuttle back to Lambert Dome picnic area.
Great trip! We went off the trail on purpose a few times to get the feel of navigating in pure wilderness. We practiced essential backpacking survival skills, tested our gear, learned how to filter water from a lake, how to use a map and compass, and learned what we really need and what to leave behind. Training for a few months paid off since we didn’t suffer any serious injuries. It wasn’t an easy trip. If we had not trained, I doubt I would have made it, considering my lingering injuries from being rear-ended in a car accident in January. We still had plenty of aches and pains, some brief stomach problems and some knarly muscle cramps, but nothing that kept us from continuing on.
There were, in 2011, over 4,098,000 visitors to the 747,956 acre national park. Of those 4+ million, over 53,000 were hikers. There were also at least 18 people who died in the park in 2011 according to the New York Times.
As far as the six cases of Hantavirus, five were staying in the new Signature Tent Cabins in Curry Village. The new tents have a double wall and we heard that this allowed the deer mice to accumulate droppings there. With the cause of the problem identified, I expect they will make it safe again quickly.
After our trip, we healed most of our aches at the Yosemite Lodge. Due to a problem with our room, however, we were given a free upgrade to a cabin at the Ahwahnee on the second night. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth II stayed at the Ahwahnee in 1983. Our room wasn’t the Queen’s room, but it had some nice touches like an extra large bath tub for soaking sore muscles and some live deer to greet us on the path.
The blogging of strange news from around the world will continue in a day or two after I catch up with my urban responsibilities.
Posted by Xeno on January 2, 2012
The first day of 2012 was beautiful. We sat on the beach watching the birds and a fantastic sunset and meditated on old things to let go of and new things we hope will manifest in 2012. Here are a few pics I took in case you missed the sunset today.
As far as letting things go, Rev. James Martin has a nice article up on HuffPost:
Last year I listed 12 things I knew at age 50 that I wish I had known at 25. Now I’m a year older. And if I’m not wiser, at least I’m a bit more experienced. So here are 12 really stupid things I’ve done that I never want to do again. Maybe you’ve done some of them, too. But I’ll bet we’d both be happier if we didn’t…
1. Compare. Ever heard the saying “Compare and despair”? Comparing yourself to someone else usually means that you imagine the other person is better off, more satisfied — in a word, happier. But here’s the problem: We end up comparing what we know about our life, which is a mixed bag of good and bad, with a fantasy of someone else’s supposedly “perfect” life. … That leads to despair. …
2. “Should” on Yourself. It’s devilishly easy to imagine yourself making a choice that would have taken you to a different place in your life. I should have married this person; I should have taken that job; I should have moved; ,… This is called “shoulding all over yourself.”… Reflecting on our choices is an important way to grow, but you can’t live your real life if you’re busy living in your “should have” life. …
3. Get People to Like You. I spent all of my teens, most of my 20s, a great deal of my 30s and too much of my 40s trying to get people to like me. But forcing people’s affection rarely works. … St. Francis de Sales, a lighthearted 17th-century saint, once said: “Be who you are and be that perfectly well.”
4. Interrupt. We all think we’re good listeners. We’re not. Many of us are absolutely terrible listeners, impatiently waiting for our turn to speak, confident that our next utterance is the solution to everyone’s problems or the most interesting of all the commentary yet offered. But you can’t contribute intelligently to any conversation if you’re not listening what the other person is saying. Interrupting someone says, “I have no interest in even letting you finish your thought.” As my sister tells her children, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
5. Worry About How You Look. I cut myself shaving: Is the blood still showing? I have a zit: Is it getting bigger or going away? … Sure, you need to look presentable for your job and a decent appearance is a sign of respect to those around you. But … spend less time thinking about your outside and more about your inside.
6. Work Constantly. … Look, everyone’s got to work. But if value is gauged by wealth, then when we make less, we feel less valuable as human beings, which is tragic. … Stop driving yourself nuts with the trap of constant work.
7. Fail to Give People a Break. Hey, surly person behind the drugstore counter: Why didn’t you say thanks when you handed me my change? … Give them their dignity by giving them a break.
8. Complain About Minor Illnesses. If you’ve got a serious or chronic illness, you need to share your struggles and frustrations with your physician, with friends and family, or even a therapist. You need support. But do you have a cold that has hung on for days and makes you phlegmy? When you bend over like this does your back ache because you pulled a muscle in the gym? No one really wants to hear about minor illnesses. Everyone gets sick, for Pete’s sake. In the words of the great prophets, suck it up.
9. Be a Jerk. You’re tired. You’re rushed. You’ve got a cold. You’re late. You’re angry about something your boss said. Yes, you’re miserable. That doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk to everyone else. …
10. Avoid Doing the Right Thing. It’s no fun to call a friend who is in a bad mood because she’s lost her job. It’s no fun to take responsibility for making a mistake. It’s no fun to speak out against racism, sexism or homophobia and stand up for those being mocked. It’s not fun, it takes effort; but you know it’s the right thing to do. Do it anyway. …
11. Make Fun of People. … If you feel like you’re powerless against badmouthing someone, ask yourself three questions when it comes to commenting on another: Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true?
12. Be Hard on Yourself. … If you ever get discouraged about your rate of change, just think about trees — yes, trees. In the summer they’re green. In the fall they’re red. And no one sees them change.
James Martin, SJ is a Jesuit priest, culture editor of America and author of “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life.”
Posted by Xeno on August 25, 2011
I thought donating my vacation time to helping feed people and helping friends instead of squandering my money on an island paradise might improve my Karma, but after returning to work from my vacation, I’ve experienced, instead, an obvious run of bad luck. Some people count their blessings, but I’ve started counting my curses:
Based on the worsening trend, I’m dreading tomorrow, which starts with my third visit to the orthodontist in as many days. FML.
I know, I know, many people have it MUCH worse. I am damn lucky to have a car to damage, and a blog to get suspended, and teeth to cause me pain, and eyes to put glasses in front of, and so on.
Broken braces mouth disaster. Photo Credit: Xeno, Aug 23, 2011