Posted by: nativeiowan | July 20, 2019

2019 v7.saturdaycom’ndown

I met a most extraordinary human this past week. The sorta person that is a living role model to all, and a hero in the making.

But first, I need to decompress a bit. I’m just back from a few hours of driving. Went to watch Mendoza play rugby. It was an interesting trip…

On the road by 10am for a 12noon game. The location is “the-other-side-of-Brisbane”, so we need to either drive through or under the city. Under is my preference.

Brisbane has a very usable system of tunnels. A few weeks back the GPS took us around the tunnels (tolls- switch was on) and it was a major drama. So today I successfully evaded the GPS desires, made the tunnels without drama, then hit a very big delay. A truck had overturned at a major intersection. It cost us an extra half hour to navigate the matter. Lots of impatient drivers.

So we arrive at the venue, almost on Time. There are no less than six playing fields, all busy. Grace runs to the pit-stop and I survey the fields looking for M. It’s hard to determine where he is with teams playing and teams warming up and at rest. As I look he walks up behind me.

His game had started early and he’d been tacked and cracked a rib within the first few minutes. He has ice on his ribs and is moving slow. He was going to catch the next available bus back to school. We had brought a couple bigmacs and fries and drinks for him, he’s always hungry, which indeed makes the trip worthwhile. And such it ends, without seeing him play, we headed back home.

So Saturday’s traffic was OK, for a Saturday. We got home about 2pm. It’s sunny and warm but will chill-off quickly as the sun sets. Within an hour and a half it’ll be winter again.

I decided to get my buggered shoulder repaired. I am told (and shown) that the ball and socket joint of my shoulder is running bone on bone. Of course I know this. I can feel the grinding when I move my shoulder. It has been sore and getting worse for a few years. I’ve decided to get it sorted. I’m tired of being half-disabled. I miss being strong.

Australia has a very usable socialised medical system. Doctors are good, facilities are good, medical support and research is great. Wait times are minimal. Availability of specialty services is extreme. Any new radical process – or old well know process, is readily available.

The system is even easier for me because I pay-to-use. All medical service here falls under some form of a government sponsorship. Not for me. I dont get any benefits. I am not a citizen nor am I a permanent resident. I was allowed to retire here noting well I could expect zero benefits from the CommonWealth.

I have no problems with this. The services are great, and because I pay-to-use, I dont have to hassle with insurance or government entitlements.

It is in this search to have my buggered shoulder repaired that I found Dr. Bernard Tamba-Lebbie.

Amazing tale. A very positive, pleasant person. He’d had Peace Corps Volunteers teachers when he was young. I assumed such and mentioned my PCV past. We are good buddies now.

It all happened so fast…

After deciding to seek treatment, going to a GP for directions, within two weeks I have a specialist I feel good about, and a date to be knocked out and cut open. A complete shoulder replacement.

I’m going to ask for the ball part of the bone they’ll need to cut off. I’ll use it as a shift-nob for the Shelby…


Posted by: nativeiowan | July 17, 2019

2019 v7.machin’zRul’z

I was maybe 10 when I became a mechanic. When I learned about Machin’z…

It was end of the summer and coming onto autumn/ winter, when my father put his single-cylinder, BriggsandStratton, lawn mower in the “back-sheds”. He was done with the mower. The summer months were gone, and the ground was cold, and hard, and no more grass would be mowed for many months.

It was called the “back sheds” because it was a large, old stable. It had a number of rooms, and a large open space suitable for over 4 autos. And an attic. An attic that was scary as hell.

There were old “ice-boxes”. The kind the “ice-man” brought big blocks of ice for. Old garden implements and tools. Cabinets with drawers filled with “stuff”. Things from my Grandfather’s “shed”. Cool stuff.

No body spent much time in the “back sheds”.

I was maybe 10 when I became a mechanic. When I learned about Machin’z…

I took a tin-tool-box, full of imperial wrenches, down from a shelf and started taking my father’s working-well lawn mower a part. Over time I took every possible piece that turned, fitted, or otherwise attached to the mower, off, and threw all in a big cardboard box.

I spent much of the autumn in the “back sheds”. No one commented or worried or fussed. After school, after chores, when I was free I was in the “back sheds” tool’n on Dad’s mower. Until it was dark. On weekends. Until it was too cold. I was very pleased with myself.

When Dad’s mower was completely disassembled, I turned my wrenches to an older, not-running  BriggsandStratton, that had been Grandad’s. It had a gearbox and a drive chain. I found both fascinating – as I completely disassembled every thing that could be disassembled… and threw the pieces in the cardboard box.

The cold of Iowa’s winter eventually dictated I spend no time in the “back sheds”.

Until spring came. The snows had melted and the green had come and the grass was growing and Dad decided it was time to go get his lawn mower and make it work and do the first mowing of the year… Dad all ways enjoyed his yard and enjoyed the  mowing. And after a long hard Iowayan winter, the ol-dawg was looking forward to the FirstMow…

Needless to say he was unimpressed when he opened the “back shed” doors and found his mower: A flat bed with no wheels and no handle. The bed was a metalik-green colour. The handle was “over-there”, and the sum-part of the mower in in the big cardboard box. With the sum-total-parts of Grandad’s mower.

Needless to say the ol-dawg was not impressed…

And Machin’Z still rul’z




Posted by: nativeiowan | July 16, 2019

2019 v7.politicohangovers

A sunny Tuesday afternoon. Been running for a couple days… Yesterday, ran the boys back to school, spent the night and the morn on the farm. Back at the Palmwoods ranch now.

Just got nailed by something itchy. My right wrist is bumpy with hives. A pollen reaction no doubt. Or is it an allergy to the newz I am watching?

I am trying to count how many decades have past since we were fervently in favour of a death to the US two-party-system. Through the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2k, 2.010k… Damn! Makes me feel old.

I’m watching as the Democrats I knew so well decades ago, change. They are eating themselves. They’re allowing petulant children stand up to, and disrespect petulant elders. I have written about the far-left shift and feel that it, like many fads, will fade away… remember platform shoes?

But I am wondering where the “lessons of age” may be? When I was young(er), I was much more liberal minded, but fiscally uneducated. Now I still possess many of my liberal minded beliefs and concepts, but am fiscally wise-er…

I think all countries must offer decent, positive socialised medical. It’s more difficult to deliver than to discuss. But there exist very good models. I have written about the fact that US spends way, way more per capital for health care that say, Australia. For what the US spends, wastes, squanders… they could well offer positive cover. And world wide… the solution could be found if GREED could be overcome. The amount of “aid” purveyed about is not unappreciable.

Education is 1000% necessary, should be FREE and compulsory to a certain level, maybe highschool. Apprenticeships are a thing of the past and should be reintroduced. Positive performance should (and does to a degree) open fiscal doors. A great young mind can easily be educated no matter what the cost. As well: Educators should be held in the highest esteem and monetarily compensated appropriately.

Boarders should be controlled. It means something to be a CITIZEN of a Nation. Citizenship holds rights and privileges (and responsibilities) and should be respected.

A strong Military/ Constabulary is required. They should be well trained, well equipped and well remunerated.

Of course, the GOP has been morphing in a couple directions for about a decade.

The DNC is struggling, at best.

So what comes from this?

I predict the introduction of a couple new parties, strong parties.

Lets see if I am right… time will tell…


Posted by: nativeiowan | July 14, 2019


Or is it “Sunday coming down”?

I am sitting outside the Palmwoods house. The air is cold, the sun is warm. I’m sitting in a folding chair outside my shed, my workshop… the sky is an unbelievable blue.

The air is crisp and the sun is lovely…

Bob Seger’s “against the wind” was just on the local old-fart radio station. Neal Young’s “old man” is playing now.

Old man take a look at my life…

I sang this when I was young.

Now I’m the Old Man… maybe… sorta…

It’s Sunday here in Queensland. Last day of a school-holiday. Boys go back tomorrow. Paul n Betsy have already started studies.

It’s been a very good “HOLIDAY”.

The boys got to go to the Solos… Grace and I chased the Eclipse and visited Rapa Nui.

We’ve been back a week. Been catching up. Sleeping a lot.

It all ends tomorrow.

It’s a big clean up day on the Hemmerville Ranch today. Boys n babes. Moms n dads n grannies… Gotta give the house a “what’s-for”.

Carpets n cushions n dining room table, toys, drum-kit… all in the sun for a good airing.

And the beat goez on… Neighbor, Anne, just stoped by for a drink…

Life is guud… more later…

Posted by: nativeiowan | July 12, 2019

2019 v7.TotalEclipseoftheSun

Editor’s Note: I rushed this to publication and know its flawed so as I clean it all up I apologise to the folks who suffered through 1st draft:


When you are/ become a chaser of eclipse, your life changes. There is a multi-faceted pro/con situation which is as easily justifiable as another double-shot or another snort…  When mentally, physically or spiritually addicted, justification and/ or rationalisation is unnecessary. I do what I do because I am now officially addicted to Totality. I can’t wait for my next “fix”.

My name is Mike and I am an Eclipse Junkie…

And like all junkies of all sorts, my tale is disjointed to the point of being confused, and starts somewhere in a blurred past…

Contemporaneous note: 1211pm. 01072019. I sit in a very remote area of norther Chile. The Elqui Valley is fucking mind blowing. Dry, desolate, beautiful, awe inspiring, and fun.

Fun that is if you are hanging with the Virgin Galactic gang. A gang of intellectuals, reprobates, dreamers, achievers, and me and Grace. We call ourselves “Future Astro-nuts”. What we have in common is we each have bought or are partnered wth someone who has bought into Richard Branson’s Space-Tourism gig.

We are chasing The Eclipse. Been at it a few days, a few miles, a few plane trips, a few bus trips… I’m trying to catch up in my blogging.

Noting that Grace and I visited Easter Island before the Eclipse-gig… I’ll restrict this tale to the VG, the eclipse-chasing activities, and talk about Rapa Nui later…

First morn on the VG bus… breakfast at 6am:2019-06-27 07.07.44We’d been in Chile 5 nights, had now stayed in two different hotels in Santiago, but only for the night each. We’d been traveling a lot and this first morn of the VG-gig was to be our third early morn in five days.

Our first day on the VG-Bus saw us checkout as a group, get transported to the airport, flown to Atacama (2 hours away) then bused to San Pedro… Get used to the frenetic activity…2019-06-27 15.49.21-1

I think I slept through most of this day’s travel. I certainly did not take many pictures.

It was a long, first day. After a fair few long days. With many more long days to come.

But the welcome was fun and we enjoyed our first eve in San Pedro…2019-06-27 19.20.47

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Both Grace and I needed sleep so we did not howl all night.

Early next morn, wooly hats and scarves in place we prepare to explore this amazing land…2019-06-28 05.25.52

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We are visiting hot springs at over 14000ft/ 4000mt. Above you can see distress in Gracie’s face. The altitude is getting to her.2019-06-28 07.49.40

Temps well below freezing…2019-06-28 07.52.56

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We walked around a bit and Gracie got nailed by lack of oxygen… altitude sickness wins…2019-06-28 08.23.46

Gracie went down hard. I was not feeling fantastic either, but Gracie went down hard.

The folks running the show sent us down the mountain. We rolled down the hill with a nice group of folks. They all took their coats n jackets off to pile on Gracie. Staying warm really helped a lot. When we got down around 10,000 feet she could breath again and was much better.

Grace all bundled up…2019-06-28 09.28.10 HDR

Awe inspiring, desolate land…2019-06-28 09.33.59

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Selfie with the comatose lady…2019-06-28 09.34.24

Saw an Andean fox on the road…2019-06-28 10.03.07-1

Stark land scapes…2019-06-28 10.05.36-1

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The main group carried on for the day so we missed the hot springs…

Later that same day, Grace feeling better… but still cold… Here we are stopping for a bite on the main square at San Pedro…2019-06-28 17.48.05

The church of San Pedro de Atacama has been standing in this location for over 400 years…2019-06-29 19.20.17

Misc picts in no real order… Lots of travel leads to a modicum of confusion.

Sun set from the dunes…2019-06-28 19.19.11-1

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Group pict: Sunsett from the Dunes…2019-06-28 19.19.15-1

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Another early morn… It is a blur. Not sure which day/date but they all started clear and crisp, and cold…2019-06-29 07.32.12

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On another bus, again…2019-06-29 10.40.07

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Getting higher… getting colder…2019-06-29 10.59.14

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I can see for miles and miles…2019-06-29 11.05.26

A very good group to tour with… This is a selfie taken by “San Francisco”…2019-06-29 11.57.22

Cold but fun… Tho they look like the same selfie… check out the back ground on each…2019-06-29 12.00.38 HDR

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Took her hands out of her pockets long enough to thumbs-up…2019-06-29 12.01.36-1

So we travel around, see amazing landscapes, eat n drink to much, and laugh a lot…

Lots of selfies…2019-07-03 08.24.16

Somewhere in the travels we end up at our camp… about 4000ft up in a dry, dry landscape…2019-07-03 07.56.30

Beautiful surroundings…2019-07-03 07.56.25

I am very impressed with the cool-ness, the style, panache and even hubris involved with creating from dust, our kick-ass camp-for-three-nights… 2019-06-30 17.47.21

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Contemporaneous note: 01072019. I am sitting in an outdoor dining area erected for 37 Astro-nuts bold and brave enough to join this rare and bitch’n experience. Again…

I did VG’s Camp Eclipse in 2017 in Idaho. It was way cool, but the group numbered over 200 people. It was way cool but this gig, this year, this Eclipse is much different.

The Virgin Galactic “community” (VG) is very cool. They throw the absolutely best and greatest and coolest and bitch’n-est parties. The people who organise these insane experiences are candidates for sainthood.

This trip is several days long. It covers three locations requiring flights and transport and logistics and patience that only those of rare nature possess. I shan’t name names but the stand-by VG saints, Tiff and Gemma, certainly make being an Astro-nut easy. This trip we have Kristen and Mary augmenting the shepherding of this rowdy herd. They are all lovely, tranquil in the eye of the storm, and a whole shit-load of fun.

As I sit here in this remote but well stock location I ponder and marvel…  It all started in Santiago, where Grace and I were met at the airport, whisked efficiently away to a 5star hostel in Santiago. Grace and I arrived a bit late. As mentioned, we’d been to Isle De Pascal (Easter Island) and arrived a day late. The VG mob had all checked into their comfy hotel earlier and had gone out to an observatory to have a look at the Southern Sky.

The VG mob is “star-fixated”. We are Astro-nuts! One common thread I find in the VG mob is that we all read Sci-Fi when we are young. We all looked to the night sky with longing and lust and a sense of loss. We are made up of star-dust. We are all celestial. Why not long for a home coming? Why not desire with absolute intent to be reunited with our womb, our mother, our origins?

In classic VG fashion the first morning started way too fucking early… as did and does every morn with mob…

Breakfast at 6am. On the bus by 730. Group check in for a 930am flight to San Pedro Acalama. 37 VG-nuts plus VG staff and travel coordinators, group leaders, caterers, support teams, drivers, luggage handlers, fixers, etc, etc.

Group check in, mass loading onto the plane, incessant head-counting, chasing the recalcitrant herd-members who stopped too long at the kiosk. The shepherds are amazing. Very amazing. Land, clear, collect and load onto buses. Mass checkin at the hotel. keys, rooms, questions, problems, solutions… in amazing efficiency we all get to our rooms, drop our gear and are herded back onto buses for yet another amazing cultural and social experience.

Three nights in San Pedro. Early morns and bus-boarding each. Trips up to over 12000feet, 4000meters. To hot springs and salt flats. Up-early and home late. Amazing food, exotic grog… Chilean wine and beer, Pisco, Pisco, Pisco…. Chii, Chii, Chii…

Time rushes past. Little sleep, too much food n grog, eclectic and entertaining conversations.

Time rushes past…

Onto La Serena. Who does not like the sound of “La Serena”. We were met by the “Sub-mayor”. Officially welcomed. The local TV station was there. I guess this migration of eclectic reprobates can and does attract attention.

I think this trip, which is going way too fast, can be, maybe should be, a seminal point in my aged and ragged life. I shall be an unapologetic Eclipse-Maniac from now on… And the next one is December 2020…

So we bus and eat and drink and laugh… its pretty damn cool…

When the VG-mob enters a place, a space, the fun starts…

When the VG-mob invades it does a dandy job…

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There will always be loads of grog, good grog. Loads of good food. Loads of laughter and smiles, and yes, noise…

Contemporaneous note: 720am. 02072019. So I am sitting in “Camp Eclipse”.

I didn’t finish this yesterday. I got drunk. With Tiff… very, really, nicely drunk. OK, Tiff didn’t get drunk, or as drunk as I did, but I stayed back at the Camp as others went our exploring, and as I was being a nuisance, Tiff gave me the job of testing the tap-beer. There are two beers on tap; one a nice 5.2% ale, the other a 7.5% rocket-fuel-type IPA. I tested both and blame my day-time drunkenness on the IPA.

Where we been, what we been doing…Allow me to tell the tale visually:

A group meeting where Bad-Ass-Tiff is telling us what, where, n when…2019-07-02 11.52.03

Of course, Gracie thinks its cold out… Craig thinks its summer…2019-07-02 11.51.52

Did I say that the camp was bitch’n…2019-07-02 08.52.52

One of my favourite picts… Johanna not bothering with refill trips to the bar…2019-07-01 22.59.51

But the fire was cozy and the eve was brisk. Perfect for a nice Chilean Red…2019-07-01 22.59.37

Bad-Ass Tiff giving me a sneak-peek at the “too heavy to travel” VG yoga mats…2019-07-01 12.27.22

Supper at Camp Eclipse… hoods n hats n caps n red wine… 2019-06-30 21.56.50

Stir crazy in the bus or just hapi…2019-06-30 18.49.56

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Well worth the price of admission…2019-06-30 18.18.27

Magnificent vistas…2019-06-30 13.37.02

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Gracie with Yayoi…

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Yayoi is an example of a Future Astro-Nut… Very fun, very adventurous, very amazing…

Its hard to single out the individuals that made this so damn much fun. I shan’t try.  But suffice to say that we all ended up in the same remote place for the same reason. Must have something in common.

Contemporaneous note: It’s 929am. Breakfast here is going well. No hot water in this camp (as we kinda had hoped and expected) so the morning started with a very “bracing” shower.

And as the breakfast tent fills up, as the sun radiates the dusty campy ground, I anticipate today. It is Today where we experience Totality.

The perfect location with the perfect company….2019-07-02 17.26.02

We had come for TOTALITY and were not to be disappointed…

And it begins…2019-07-02 15.00.23

Everyone made themselves comfy and prepared to be bedazzled…2019-07-02 15.41.38

The mandatory sun-shades look cool…2019-07-02 15.26.17

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Super Gem…2019-07-02 15.25.45

A pano of the watchers…2019-07-02 15.24.37

Yayoi ever smiling…2019-07-02 15.17.16 HDR

My personal viewing location… with Neely, Gem, Alan… the best seats in the house…2019-07-02 15.13.17

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Gracie is hapi…2019-07-02 16.48.08-1

I like looking at the shadows as the sun light diminishes…2019-07-02 16.48.02

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The magic show ends but the magic remains…

And then the animals all crawled out of their lairs…

For one of the coolest “party-plans” I have ever seen (and I’m known for my cool parties) our Eclipse-Party formal wear could not have been better. All different. From the Lobster to the shark to the octopus… I was a flying squirrel…

Gracie sure liked being a Racoon…2019-07-02 18.46.022019-07-02 18.45.422019-07-02 18.45.312019-07-02 18.45.20

So the Totality experience was way, way guuuud. The VG-companions were way, way cool. The VG-fixers and shepherds and support team were way, way exceptional.

The end of the tale. The end of the CHASE… White Tailed Marsupial Gracie staggers back to her tent at the end of a very, very great experience…2019-07-02 23.53.03

Of course there are more picts than I shan’t comment on. But I think that they are worthy of being part of this tale, even if as an addendum …

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  1. A very fun group to be with… 2019-06-29 12.47.062019-06-29 12.46.442019-06-29 12.46.022019-06-29 12.45.112019-06-29 12.44.392019-06-29 12.44.232019-06-29 12.41.172019-06-29 12.34.01-12019-06-29 12.08.36 HDR2019-06-29 12.02.102019-06-29 18.00.402019-06-29 18.00.192019-06-29 17.58.592019-06-29 17.58.402019-06-29 17.57.552019-06-29 17.57.432019-06-29 17.54.382019-06-29 17.52.062019-06-29 17.51.202019-06-29 17.29.332019-06-29 16.48.592019-06-29 16.40.092019-06-29 16.39.042019-06-29 16.39.002019-06-29 16.23.06 HDR2019-06-29 16.21.212019-06-29 16.21.072019-06-29 16.21.052019-06-29 16.21.032019-06-29 16.21.022019-06-29 16.20.512019-06-29 16.19.552019-06-29 16.17.572019-06-29 16.17.252019-06-29 16.09.332019-06-29 16.09.242019-06-29 15.07.372019-06-29 15.00.052019-06-29 14.57.362019-06-29 14.54.54
Posted by: nativeiowan | June 24, 2019

2019 v6.luv a windy island

Out n about on a fickle Rupa Nuian day. Wind n sunshine and rainbows (yes plural)…

I have said before that this place, the stories here, the history and the myths are all responsible for my Pacific wandering.

It’s great to visit and see first hand and touch and smell and see the “reality” of it all.

Out guide is a Rapa Nuian lady, Mara (I may have her name wrong), who is a strong and proud descendant of the original Polynesians that first peopled this island. It’s a pleasure to hear her historical accounts, and to hear her personal tales…

The mystery of this place isn’t as mysterious as National Geographic would lead us to believe. The age old tale of tribal/ familial cooperation, of resource loss leading to inter-tribal disputes to eventual suffering… a classical riches to rags tale with an island setting.

The isolation of this place is palatable. Coming from the Solomons this is an amazing sea scape for me. I’m used to looking off shore and seeing much, much more…

Gracie though it was kinda chilly…

I thought it was grand…We are sitting front of a huge volcanic crater…

I thought this was cool… have never seen a sign like it…

An amazing but frightening view… nothing beyond these shore for as far as one can perceive. How the originals found this place is pretty amazing…

We never tire of rainbows, do we?

More later

Posted by: nativeiowan | June 24, 2019

2019 v7.Rapa Nui bound

Time travel can be tough. Either not enough sleep, or too much sleep, or sleep at the wrong time.

I did not sleep much on the flight over from the East. When we arrived we had; a few hassles and it took a few dramas and mishaps before we got to the hotel. The car/ transfer we’d booked d’id not show up so we got a taxi. Of course we are working under a language deficit barrier so I showed the driver the hotel’s address. He knew where we were going and I certainly did not so any argument or assistance from me was impotent.

We it delayed and detoured by a protest. Cops and redirections so the ride took quite a while. We got to the hotel and unloaded started to check in only to find we were at the wrong hotel. Same name but different location.

My 80USD fare did. Get us where we needed to be, so another taxi ride was required and another fare paid before we found where our bed for the night was.

We checked in by maybe 330pm. Showers were the first required activity. after a shower I went to the desk n sorted the missed car out. I ensured the car for 630am was organised, and drank 2x nice heavy beers at the bar.

I was very floaty n hapi as I closed all the important business for the day out and headed back to the room.

By the time I got back to the room Grace was asleep. So I plugged in and got up to date, ordered some room service.

By 7pm supper was done and I was in bed watching a Transformer movie dubbed in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. I don’t think I had my eyes open for much of it.

By 5am we were up and moving, by 630am we were ‘on the road to the airport. Grace had slept too much too early and had stayed up watching TV. I probably went to sleep a bit early. By 5am I was very ready to get up and moving. grace wanted to stay ‘in bed.

It’s 8am on a Sunday morn. I’m sitting in the departure lounge of Santiago domestic airport. We are heading to Easter Island for a few days.

The adventure of getting to where we are has indeed been an adventure… The language barrier is part of it, the cultural and national and regional differences adds to it all. The various differences that one normally takes for granted. An example… The Flight to EI is like flying to another country. It has a completely seperate customs and security clearance. It took us ages to find, with several smiling requests for directions… we got 2x on second floor, 1x 3rd floor, one turn right at the elevator (that we could not find) and one turn left. So we wandered around an office area of the airport for quite some time. And no one got frightened or annoyed or scared. In the US or Aus or Europe we’d have caused a security alert.

Our flight was called. It was a mad crush to get onboard. Very little straight line waiting. So I showed my scrum skills and we got on pretty easy. Again, in other lands the ropes are narrow and the lines straight. Not here.

It’s a 6+ hour flight from the mainland to Easter Islands. It was comfortable and uneventful. Once we landed we were shown to the hotel and by 3pm we were having a seafood in coconut milk soup. It was pretty good.

Our after-meal walk was not arduous. Jet lag and a full belly kept us from going to far. Tomorrow we have a nice lady who’ll show us around and tell us some stories.

Struggling to upload Picts so for no only words.

More later

Posted by: nativeiowan | June 22, 2019

2019 v6.ontheroad

It’s starting… that weary, tired, ragged sorta jet-laggy numbness of the head.

We were up and running closer to 3am than 4, then on the road to Brisbane, then a 8am flight, only a short hop across the “pond”, to Auckland.

And here we sit. The lounge is comfortable, the morning has gone with out a hitch, we wait for our flight to Santiago.

Grace staying warm in Auckland…

She looks happy with her seat assignment…

It’s easy to be patient when you know you have hours of waiting ahead …

We sit for three hours, which is easy. Then we hop on an eleven-hour flight, landing in Santiago only four hours after our departure from Brisbane.

I call it all “time-travel”. Travelling west-to-east, running from the day. Honest to goodness time travel.

It was chilly this morn at 4am.

It’s “winter” on this side of the planet. Not the winters all-you Iowans know. More like a northernCali winter. And where we’re heading is going to be even more wintery…

We are heading to Chile. That long, lean mountainous land of ancient lives and modern fun. Our primary aim for the trip is to view the Solar Eclipse on the 2nd of July.

This will be my second “adult” eclipse, Gracie’s first. The path of totality for this eclipse is narrow and touches little land. I think we’ll get well over 2 minutes “in the shadow”.

It does not sound like much, “over 2 minutes”. But when it comes to the most spectacular and rare sky-show known to man… well, hell! Two minutes is as much as is possible this year. And it’ll be very, very cool.

I got to view the 2017 eclipse from a great location in Idaho. The event was put together by an eclectic group of eccentric people. A comfy camp in the middle of the mountains for a couple days with interesting people. Our time in totality was a bit under 3 minutes.

And I got kinda hooked.

While in Idaho in 2017 there was talk of an event in 2019 in Chile. This one was going to be a hard-one, a difficult one to get a decent amount of view time. It was going to be remote. It was going to be costly. It was going to be a pretty special event… So when I received an invite months and months ago, I jumped in with both feet. And Gracie.

So we fly in a bit early and go visit a bucket-list-location… Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui.

We’ll spend a few days visiting that ancient and mysterious island. I’m keen to have a look around. Ever since I was a kid I have been enthralled by the sightless stone guardians raised in a time lost by peoples unknown.

On the 26th we’ll fly back to Santiago and join up with the group of “eclipse-chasers”. 50 total, we’ll spend 3 days being tourists, then head high up in the mountains to “Camp Eclipse” for 3 days of dry-mountain-cold…

And the beat goes on… with that floaty, jet-laggy feeling…

More later

Posted by: nativeiowan | May 18, 2019

2019 v5.election mania

8am on a lunevly, wet, overcast Sunday, Morosa Valley is sublime. Sat up and watched election results last night…

but first: Had a very, very cool experience yesterday… the miracle of life happened right outside the house.2019-05-18 14.22.21

I’d gone off to watch Mendoza play soccer in the morn, then brought him home for good feed. (he ate 2 Tbone steaks last even and 2 more for breakfast)

When we arrived home, Mamma#110 had dropped a pretty lil heifer baby.

The baby had been breathing air for only a short while when we go home. Mamma110 is a very experienced mother. She knows me well enough not be rattled by my watching. I stood and watched the full show… first steps, first suckle, first time getting trod on by Mamma… very cool, the miracle of life.

OH, did I mention that election-day for the land of Aus was yesterday?

The Progressive-Left agenda as led by the Labour party was touted to win by a land slide. They are preaching green everything, throwing all n everything into the renewables basket, planning huge tax-grabbing policies aimed at anyone who has saved a dime in their life, offering a lot of free stuff,  and higher wages.

They lost.

Not by a landslide, but decisively. The conservatives down here, The Liberal Party, appear to have won enough seats to form a government. The Greens and the ultra progressive, One Nation Party, lost seats if not lost the plot.

The Progressive-Left agenda has been rejected. The message is clear… screw this “spend too much on renewables” BS, build coal fired power plants instead of selling Aussie coal off shore, stop attacking workers’ savings and pensions, let folks who have made and saved a buck keep it.

I think it’s a sign of the times where this Progressive agenda that has bene percolating through society gets doused with a layer of commons sense.

More later

Posted by: nativeiowan | May 17, 2019

2019 islands die?

I remember vividly moving from rural Iowa, heading off to the new world of being a Peace Corps Volunteer. Moving from the solid, flat old-country to the steamy, rugged and dark islands of Melanesia.

I think I learned a lot about islands very quickly. Quickly for a flat-lander, that is. I learned that some beaches are golden sugary-fine coral sand, while others are black coarse volcanic sand. Some islands have surface water (rivers, stream, lakes), while other have no visible water sources.

I remembered Gilligan’s Island was a “desert-island”, so some of the stuff I learned made sense and some did not.

It took me a long time to figure out that wells in coastal areas would have “sweet-water” in the top layer of the well, and brackish or “sour-water” in the lower levels. The deeper you went the more brackish or sour the water became.

Now I am no scientist but I am an engineer. And a farmer! I think of myself as a quite astute “problem-solver”.

I remember the communal well at Siota PSS, on the Island of Small Nggela…

The school is still there: Screen Shot 2019-05-15 at 8.38.55 pm

Screen Shot 2019-05-15 at 8.39.49 pm

Now, in the major scheme of things Small Nggela is a small island. But it is a “big” island when it comes to islands and it has a lot of surface water. Big rivers, small streams, plenty of water.

But the school is in a weather shadow. The eastern side of the island got the weather, was the “weather-coast” of this island. Siota, though wet by many standards, did not have running water in close proximity.

One very important lesson I learned at Siota was how to manage freshwater resources.

The school satisfied its freshwater needs through a combination of water catchment and wells. When it rained it rained! Tanks would overflow, everyone had water when the rains came. The “kink” here was that the area went through frequent dry spells. A dry spell could be anything from a few days to weeks.

The facts about water catchment are simple: 1mm of rain on a square meter of roof space equals 1 litre of water. A 10mx10m square roof thus produces 100 litres for every 1mm of rainfall. Even though it rains a lot, your storage is what counts. You need to store the water and storage capacity is limited to the size of the tank(s) you have. The more you can store the longer the dry spell you can endure.

It’s easy for a person to need/ use 100litres of water a day for cooking, cleaning, personal use. Siota had about 300 students and staff living on site. That puts Siota’s daily water needs were around the 30,000 litre per.

Siota had nowhere near 30k litres of water storage capacity.

Once the rain ceased people had to stop using their rain tanks gratuitously. Water caught and stored in the tanks was reserved for cooking/ drinking. The wells were used for bathing and laundry.

The well I used, the men’s well, was by the HeadMaster’s house at the east side of the school. It was over 100meters from the sea-side. Of simple construction, three, 2meter, concrete culverts had been dug into the ground. The bottom was open, sandy. A nice concrete apron had been laid around the well. We used a plastic bucket with a bit of rope to draw water. You’d toss the bucket in the well, shake n pull the rope until the bucket started filling, then haul out your bath or laundry water. I learned quickly that the deeper you let your bucket sink the more brackish the water. It was a trick to be able to get a full bucket of fresh water.

I found that in times when the well was “high” there was a nice thick layer of freshwater. You did not have to worry about the bucket sinking too deep and filling up with sourwater.

I found that as the water level in the well dropped the freshwater levels decreased, but the sourwater levels remained fairly constant.

This puzzled me. I slowly worked it out…

Different from what I thought first-off, seawater and underground water aren’t isolated systems. The well isn’t filled up by rain water, like a rain gauge. The freshwater in the well is part of the freshwater aquifer. Below the freshwater aquifer was the seawater. The seawater and the freshwater are actually in the same well at the same time. The freshwater floated on top the saltwater.

Rocks, soil, sand, “the ground” is more or less porous. Water can move through (albeit slowly) so the rains supply the overall aquifer. Freshwater, being lighter than saltwater, floats on top of the saltwater. When the freshwater aquifer or “lens” is well supplied, the wells were fuller and the freshwater layer in the well was thicker. As the dry spells lasted the freshwater lens for the entire island shrunk as was evidenced in the well.

I moved from Siota to Taro Island in Choiseul Bay. Taro is a much, much smaller island. Its wells were shallower and more prone to brackishness. We relied on our water tanks heavily and were in strict control of how much freshwater was used.

Much later in life I spent time bouncing around the Vona Vona lagoon. One island I canoed past regularly, on my way to Zipolo Habu, had quite a big population, numerous houses, possibly upwards to a couple hundred people, men women and kids.

It was a “small” island, maybe 300meters long and 50 meters wide. It had large trees and one could see gardens as you canoed past.

Then one trip I saw that everyone had moved away. I didn’t travel that area often so I don’t think this all happened quickly, within 12 months or so the island went from being pretty well populated to being depopulated. I noticed the greenery on the island was gone. Except for the magroves…

Mangroves thrive in saltwater.

While there are a number of trees that tolerate some soil salinity and salt over-spray, there is just one species, the mangrove, that actually grows submerged in salt water. The mangrove is specifically adapted not only to survive the dehydrating effects of salt, but to thrive and spread.

So, as we canoed past what was now a ghost-village, I asked my buddy, Patu… “Why did the people move?” His simple answer was classic SI pijin… “Water hem finis”.  (The water is finished)

As the years went by and I canoed through the glorious Vona Vona lagoon, I paid special attention to this island that had been “murdered”.

As the vegetation died and rotted the seas encroached more and more. The big trees fell down. The magroves (the pict above not from this island) spread their influence. The little jetty got washed away, the houses all rotted to mulch. It’s probably been over 15 years since the folks left this island. The last time I checked it out it was a magove-swamp-type-sand-spit.

So what makes me think of dying islands?

I while back I was invovled in an eclectic and friendly, intelligent conversation about this news item…

Now as I see it, the “global warming” band wagon is much like any other extremist ideal. Their horizon is limited. They are almost incapable of open discussion.

I agree there are way too many facts to consider without research. And tho I do not completely agree with the info the referenced programme purveyed, I understand its view point.

And I consider the “reporting” in this 60 minutes segment as sensationalistic. They stretch the facts to suit their narrative.

When it was posted in a group I belong to, I asked the person who posted it if he had watched the programme. He had not, but the theme and the spiel advertising the programme suited his agenda. He posted it with the title “sobering”. I challenged this and was called names and insulted. I ddi not argue that teh programme was anything but sensationalistic. I didn’t say it was bullshit, false or wrong.

I tried to find out what, about the programme he found sobering, but of course such could not be answered because he had not watched the programme. All he could do was reference other matters in an attempt to distract the discussion.

When challenged the discussion became childish. I was called a “crack-pot” and was told how sad I was for holding such foolish ideas.

My view points don’t count when I disagree with truths he has adopted. He rejects out of hand my views with insults.

But to reject other view points is not very intelligent. Extreme views tend to grab an ideal and hold it as fact and irrefutable and uncontroversial. And to attempt to refute becomes blasphemy.

Not very intelligent to NOT listen to other facets of the whole story, me thinks.

Everything I read tells me that there is sea level rise and that sea level rise and sea level fall, overall, is not uncommon. During the various ice ages we have experienced, ice caps have grown and sea levels have dropped. Then reversed.

I understand that Sea level reportedly continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year… The two major causes of global sea level rise are thermal expansion caused by warming of the ocean (since water expands as it warms) and increased melting of land-based ice, such as glaciers and ice sheets. 

Interesting enough sea level rise is not global. I site Tuvalu as an example, where landmass there is actually increasing…

The above referenced programme stated that water in the Solomons had risen 15cm/ 6inches over the past 20 years. The info I ref above gives us an1/8th inch rise annually compared to the reported 6inches divided by 20years for is 1/3rd of an inch… compared to 1/8th of n inch… or 8.45mm compared to 3.175mm.  A variance by a factor of almost three.

I still claim the referenced programme is sensationalism in the guise of newz.

Big smiles and More Later…


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