Monday, March 28, 2016
|You have probably heard or read this multiple times, but I have come across an account written down by a man attending the Trump rally at Tucson. This person was so appalled over what has been going on there that he wrote it all down in a posting. As a Canadian I am extremely worried about Mr. Trump who is a man of only mediocre intelligence but tries to get into the White House. Why am I so concerned? As a citizen of Canada I will be directly affected as my country will be affected by the outcome of the ongoing US election. The United States have been playing world police and that has not been sitting well with a number of world nations. American politics have a habit of having a huge influx on very important things over the entire world. Terrorism has increased to today’s horrible event level only after the U.S. started to meddle in the Middle East. So it is not only Canada as the US’s biggest trade partner, but also the rest of the world is watching the tragi-comical developments in the U.S. |
But I digress. Here’s the story:
Today I went to the Donald Trump rally here in Tucson out of sheer curiosity with three of my friends. The four of us went as neither supporters nor protestors, but merely bystanders. It was one of the scariest and most uncomfortable things we have ever experienced. I saw things that will be forever burned in my memory.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
CTV Vancouver Island
It was a perfect storm of Canadiana on a Vancouver Island highway Friday.
Mounties had to briefly shut down a lane of the Trans-Canada Highway to let the country’s official animal – a beaver – cross the road.
Greater Victoria’s Integrated Road Safety Unit was conducting speed enforcement on the stretch of highway also known as the Malahat when officers spotted a motorcyclist trying to slow traffic down the road.
An RCMP officer and motorcyclist had a very Canadian showdown with a beaver on the Trans-Canada Highway Friday, March 25, 2016. (Courtesy IRSU)
“We saw something in front of him and we kind of thought it was a racoon,” said Const. Andy Dunstan. “Then one of my RCMP colleagues went up to find out what the commotion was, and it was a beaver in the right hand of two lanes.”
Dashcam footage shows the Mountie pull up to the motorcyclist as he tries in vain to usher the stubborn and sizeable animal off the highway.
The RCMP cruiser than backs up and drives toward the beaver several times in an apparent effort to scare it off the road.
“We found it quite amusing, it was pretty iconic that there was this RCMP officer trying to get a beaver out of the road,” said Dunstan. “As it turned out after a couple of minutes of hissing, by the beaver not by the RCMP officer, it didn’t want to listen to the sirens, it wasn’t particularly fazed by anything going on around it, it was quite obstinate and quite happily sat there in the middle of this lane way.”
At that point, the critter turned tail and waddled away into undergrowth on the side of the road, at which point police reopened the highway lane.
“It certainly lightened up the morning,” Dunstan said.
No word on why the beaver crossed the road.
|A cold icy northern wind hit me as soon as I walked out the door. Would this be the type of weather for Easter? I buried my hands, though gloved, in my pockets. Molly was happily ahead of me scouting out the most convenient spot for doing the early morning business. It would be convenient for me if she found that spot not too far off. I was really dreading a long walk. Well, it turned out we were on the same page this morning. Nuff said about that.|
Tomorrow is Easter and my thoughts are going to our families, our friends and further to what this world has come to. The terrible and despicable act of terror in Brussels, the general political movement to the far right in Europe and demagogue evil trolls popping up in public life, makes us worry. There are already clouds of war over Europe. Civil unrest will increase threatening our peaceful live.
We went just 150ft down the road before we turned back to the house. I filled up our indoor firewood storage and settled in the couch. Though I generally hate to be confined to the house, it gives me a cozy feeling to be in front of our fireplace with my laptop and I am planning to spend some quality time in the kitchen, producing some Easter cake.
And look what Bea did with Easter eggs.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
|Today I want to write about this greatest of all communities, – the RV-Community. Over many years of traveling by RV we have found RVers to be of the most social people we have ever met. Traveling throughout North America has given us so many friends in many places and many of these folks are traveling throughout the year, which makes for very interesting friendships. Our playground is the entire North-American Continent and in spite of this huge area people keep meeting each other in many different places, some co-incidentally, others traveling with concrete plans for rallies or just meet-ups with friends. As RVers we are the most dedicated group of users of modern communication technology. Many of us are keeping a diary or “blog” as it mostly called today. |
Another important part keeping the RV-community alive are the RV-Clubs like the Escapees with their wide-spread membership campgrounds. A relatively new RV organization is “Boondockers Welcome” which is a network where RV owners meet with property owners who can accommodate RVs on their grounds. We have been lucky enough to be with this organization from the first hour. The numbers of visitors we have been hosting on Campobello Island have gone up every year.
While most of our visitors have been of our own age or even older, last summer we hosted a young family from Michigan. They had started on a year-long adventure through North America. Their blog “Into The Transporter” is where they write about their experiences. Of course, we gave them a few infos about our own travels and also mentioned the BLM boondocking possibilities in Arizona and Southern California.
After traveling south along the east coast, being in Florida and following the road out west they have now arrived in Holtville at the Hot Springs where they have met up with friends of ours and found that there is a tight-knit network of RVers out there who love to meet and hang out together. This morning I read their posting from Holtville. It’s hot out there these days, but they have found Bob and his “Desert Cafe” where “The first cup of coffee is free and the second is the same price”.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
|President Obama is currently in Cuba marking the first visit of a sitting U.S. President after almost 90 years. Pres. Coolidge visited the country in 1928 to attend the Pan-American Conference. |
Pres. Obama and Raul Castro
After decades of being cold-war-era enemies, the U.S. government is finally on the road to a normalization of their relationship with Cuba.
There is little doubt that the U.S. was not too concerned with human rights on Cuba, but rather been obsessed with Cuba’s move to a communist-style government and a possible Russian military presence.
There was also fear that communism would spread to other Latin-American countries.
Almost two years after the Batista regime was deposed by the Cuban Revolution the United States imposed an embargo on Cuba on October 19, 1960 The embargo pertained to all U.S. exports to Cuba except for food and medicine after Cuba nationalized American-owned Cuban oil refineries without compensation. Cuba nationalized the refineries following Eisenhower's decision to cancel 700,000 tons of sugar imports from Cuba to the U.S. and refused to export oil to the island, leaving it reliant on Russian crude oil. On February 7, 1962 the embargo was extended to include almost all imports. The stated purpose of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 is to maintain sanctions on Cuba so long as the Cuban government refuses to move toward
"democratization and greater respect for human rights". The Helms–Burton Act further restricted United States citizens from doing business in or with Cuba, and mandated restrictions on giving public or private assistance to any successor government in Havana unless and until certain claims against the Cuban government were met. In 1999, President Bill Clinton expanded the trade embargo by also disallowing foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to trade with Cuba. In 2000, Clinton authorized the sale of "humanitarian" U.S. products to Cuba.
The political anxiety of the U.S. to be a direct neighbour of a communist country and the following embargo only reinforced Cuba’s dependency on big brother Soviet Union, which was more than happy to provide the Cuban Regime with goods and services until the day of the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991 led to great sufferings and materiel shortages on Cuba.
The UN General Assembly has, since 1992, passed a resolution every year condemning the ongoing impact of the embargo and declaring it to be in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and international law.
What was achieved through the 5-decade-long blockade?
The Center for International Policy believes that the embargo against Cuba is a cruel and irrational policy that works against the goals it professes to achieve. Isolating Cuba only strengthens the Castroite position on the island; the U.S. will only bring an end to authoritarian rule in Cuba through a measure of political and economic engagement.
There is no doubt that the people of Cuba have been suffering through the period of U.S. imposed embargo. Instead of helping the Cuban people through an improvement of their human rights the embargo has led to continued and even increased sufferings for the Cuba population. At the same time United States businesses have been cut off from conducting business on Cuba thus losing out on billions of revenue and profits, while other countries like Russia and Germany have been able to trade with Cuba.Private travel to Cuba has been prohibited for US-citizens while the embargo has been in place.
Internationally, it is highly unusual for a country like the U.S., which prides itself to be “The Land of the Free” to implement travel restrictions thus limiting the free movement of its own citizens.
Let’s hope that President Obama’s visit will lead to a thaw-out of the frosty relations between the 2 countries.
Links related to the posting: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/01/01/cuba.remembrances/index.html#cnnSTCText
Monday, March 21, 2016
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Friday, March 18, 2016
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
is that we know nature makes us happier. now science says it makes us kinder too.
New studies show being in nature may increase your willingness to be generous, trusting, and helpful toward others.
This article was originally published in Greater Good.
I’ve been an avid hiker my whole life. From the time I first strapped on a backpack and headed into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I was hooked on the experience, loving the way being in nature cleared my mind and helped me to feel more grounded and peaceful.
But, even though I’ve always believed that hiking in nature had many psychological benefits, I’ve never had much science to back me up … until now, that is. Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behavior, helping us to reduce anxiety, brooding, and stress, and to increase our attention capacity, creativity, and ability to connect with other people.
“People have been discussing their profound experiences in nature for the last several hundred years—from Thoreau to John Muir to many other writers,” says researcher David Strayer, of the University of Utah. “Now we are seeing changes in the brain and changes in the body that suggest we are physically and mentally more healthy when we are interacting with nature.”
While he and other scientists may believe nature benefits our well-being, we live in a society where people spend more and more time indoors and online—especially children. Findings on how nature improves our brains bring added legitimacy to the call for preserving natural spaces—both urban and wild—and for spending more time in nature in order to lead healthier, happier, and more creative lives.
Here are some of the ways that science is showing how being in nature affects our brains and bodies.
1. Being in nature decreases stress
It’s clear that hiking—and any physical activity—can reduce stress and anxiety. But, there’s something about being in nature that may augment those impacts.
In one recent experiment conducted in Japan, participants were assigned to walk either in a forest or in an urban center (taking walks of equal length and difficulty) while having their heart rate variability, heart rate, and blood pressure measured. The participants also filled out questionnaires about their moods, stress levels, and other psychological measures.
Results showed that those who walked in forests had significantly lower heart rates and higher heart rate variability (indicating more relaxation and less stress) and reported better moods and less anxiety than those who walked in urban settings. The researchers concluded that there’s something about being in nature that had a beneficial effect on stress reduction, above and beyond what exercise alone might have produced.
We evolved to be more relaxed in natural spaces.
In another study, researchers in Finland found that urban dwellers who strolled for as little as 20 minutes through an urban park or woodland reported significantly more stress relief than those who strolled in a city center.
The reasons for this effect are unclear, but scientists believe that we evolved to be more relaxed in natural spaces. In a now-classic laboratory experiment by Roger Ulrich of Texas A&M University and colleagues, participants who first viewed a stress-inducing movie and were then exposed to color/sound videotapes depicting natural scenes showed much quicker, more complete recovery from stress than those who’d been exposed to videos of urban settings.
These studies and others provide evidence that being in natural spaces—or even just looking out of a window onto a natural scene—somehow soothes us and relieves stress.
2. Nature makes you happier and less brooding
I’ve always found that hiking in nature makes me feel happier, and of course decreased stress may be a big part of the reason why. But, Gregory Bratman, of Stanford University, has found evidence that nature may impact our mood in other ways, too.
In one 2015 study, he and his colleagues randomly assigned 60 participants to a 50-minute walk in either a natural setting (oak woodlands) or an urban setting (along a four-lane road). Before and after the walk, the participants were assessed on their emotional state and on cognitive measures, such as how well they could perform tasks requiring short-term memory. Results showed that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination (focused attention on negative aspects of oneself), and negative affect, as well as more positive emotions, in comparison to the urban walkers. They also improved their performance on the memory tasks.
Nature may have important impacts on mood.
In another study, he and his colleagues extended these findings by zeroing in on how walking in nature affects rumination—which has been associated with the onset of depression and anxiety—while also using fMRI technology to look at brain activity. Participants who took a 90-minute walk in either a natural setting or an urban setting had their brains scanned before and after their walks and were surveyed on self-reported rumination levels (as well as other psychological markers). The researchers controlled for many potential factors that might influence rumination or brain activity—for example, physical exertion levels as measured by heart rates and pulmonary functions.
Participants who walked in a natural setting versus an urban setting reported decreased rumination after the walk, and they showed increased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain whose deactivation is affiliated with depression and anxiety—a finding that suggests nature may have important impacts on mood.
Bratman believes results like these need to reach city planners and others whose policies impact our natural spaces. “Ecosystem services are being incorporated into decision making at all levels of public policy, land use planning, and urban design, and it’s very important to be sure to incorporate empirical findings from psychology into these decisions,” he says.
3. Nature relieves attention fatigue and increases creativity
Today, we live with ubiquitous technology designed to constantly pull at our attention. But many scientists believe our brains were not made for this kind of information bombardment, and that it can lead to mental fatigue, overwhelm, and burnout, requiring “attention restoration” to get back to a normal, healthy state.
Strayer is one of those researchers. He believes that being in nature restores depleted attention circuits, which can then help us be more open to creativity and problem-solving.
“When you use your cell phone to talk, text, shoot photos, or whatever else you can do with your cell phone, you’re tapping the prefrontal cortex and causing reductions in cognitive resources,” he says.
In a 2012 study, he and his colleagues showed that hikers on a four-day backpacking trip could solve significantly more puzzles requiring creativity when compared to a control group of people waiting to take the same hike—in fact, 47 percent more. Although other factors may account for his results—for example, the exercise or the camaraderie of being out together—prior studies have suggested that nature itself may play an important role. One in Psychological Science found that the impact of nature on attention restoration is what accounted for improved scores on cognitive tests for the study participants.
This phenomenon may be due to differences in brain activation when viewing natural scenes versus more built-up scenes—even for those who normally live in an urban environment. In a recent study conducted by Peter Aspinall at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and colleagues, participants who had their brains monitored continuously using mobile electroencephalogram (EEG) while they walked through an urban green space had EEG readings indicating lower frustration, engagement, and arousal, and higher meditation levels while in the green area, and higher engagement levels when moving out of the green area. This lower engagement and arousal may be what allows for attention restoration, encouraging a more open, meditative mindset.
Being in nature restores depleted attention circuits.
It’s this kind of brain activity—sometimes referred to as “the brain default network”—that is tied to creative thinking, says Strayer. He is currently repeating his earlier 2012 study with a new group of hikers and recording their EEG activity and salivary cortisol levels before, during, and after a three-day hike. Early analyses of EEG readings support the theory that hiking in nature seems to rest people’s attention networks and to engage their default networks.
Strayer and colleagues are also specifically looking at the effects of technology by monitoring people’s EEG readings while they walk in an arboretum, either while talking on their cell phone or not. So far, they’ve found that participants with cell phones appear to have EEG readings consistent with attention overload, and can recall only half as many details of the arboretum they just passed through, compared to those who were not on a cell phone.
Though Strayer’s findings are preliminary, they are consistent with other people’s findings on the importance of nature to attention restoration and creativity.
“If you’ve been using your brain to multitask—as most of us do most of the day—and then you set that aside and go on a walk, without all of the gadgets, you’ve let the prefrontal cortex recover,” says Strayer. “And that’s when we see these bursts in creativity, problem-solving, and feelings of well-being.”
4. Nature may help you to be kind and generous
Whenever I go to places like Yosemite or Big Sur, on the coast of California, I seem to return to my home life ready to be more kind and generous to those around me—just ask my husband and kids! Now some new studies may shed light on why that is.
In a series of experiments published in 2014, Juyoung Lee, GGSC director Dacher Keltner, and other researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, studied the potential impact of nature on the willingness to be generous, trusting, and helpful toward others, while considering what factors might influence that relationship.
As part of their study, the researchers exposed participants to more or less subjectively beautiful nature scenes (whose beauty levels were rated independently) and then observed how participants behaved playing two economics games—the Dictator Game and the Trust Game—that measure generosity and trust, respectively. After being exposed to the more beautiful nature scenes, participants acted more generously and with more trust in the games than those who saw less beautiful scenes, and the effects appeared to be due to corresponding increases in positive emotion.
I seem to return to my home life ready to be more kind and generous.
In another part of the study, the researchers asked people to fill out a survey about their emotions while sitting at a table where more or less beautiful plants were placed. Afterwards, the participants were told that the experiment was over and they could leave, but that if they wanted to they could volunteer to make paper cranes for a relief effort program in Japan. The number of cranes they made (or didn’t make) was used as a measure of their “prosociality” or willingness to help.
Results showed that the presence of more beautiful plants significantly increased the number of cranes made by participants, and that this increase was, again, mediated by positive emotion elicited by natural beauty. The researchers concluded that experiencing the beauty of nature increases positive emotion—perhaps by inspiring awe, a feeling akin to wonder, with the sense of being part of something bigger than oneself—which then leads to prosocial behaviors.
Support for this theory comes from an experiment conducted by Paul Piff of the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues, in which participants staring up at a grove of very tall trees for as little as one minute experienced measurable increases in awe, and demonstrated more helpful behavior and approached moral dilemmas more ethically, than participants who spent the same amount of time looking up at a high building.
5. Nature makes you “feel more alive”
With all of these benefits to being out in nature, it’s probably no surprise that something about nature makes us feel more alive and vital. Being outdoors gives us energy, makes us happier, helps us to relieve the everyday stresses of our overscheduled lives, opens the door to creativity, and helps us to be kind to others.
No one knows if there is an ideal amount of nature exposure, though Strayer says that longtime backpackers suggest a minimum of three days to really unplug from our everyday lives. Nor can anyone say for sure how nature compares to other forms of stress relief or attention restoration, such as sleep or meditation. Both Strayer and Bratman say we need a lot more careful research to tease out these effects before we come to any definitive conclusions.
Still, the research does suggest there’s something about nature that keeps us psychologically healthy, and that’s good to know … especially since nature is a resource that’s free and that many of us can access by just walking outside the door. Results like these should encourage us as a society to consider more carefully how we preserve our wilderness spaces and our urban parks.
Something about nature makes us feel more alive and vital.
And while the research may not be conclusive, Strayer is optimistic that science will eventually catch up to what people like me have intuited all along—that there’s something about nature that renews us, allowing us to feel better, to think better, and to deepen our understanding of ourselves and others.
“You can’t have centuries of people writing about this and not have something going on,” says Strayer. “If you are constantly on a device or in front of a screen, you’re missing out on something that’s pretty spectacular: the real world.”