Summer Begins and Troubling News Keeps Washing Ashore.

I recently returned from a Memorial Day hiatus down on Cannery Row, less than an hour’s drive South to local Monterey. We spent a couple of nights in the Spindrift Inn just a few hundred yards from the world-famous Aquarium.

Our room featured a King bed, large programmable gas fire, binoculars and cushion-filled seating nestled into a spectacular Bay window overlooking the Bay; all this is perched just yards off the waterline where gentle waves lap relentlessly upon a sandy beach directly below. The views are breathtaking from the third floor and the weather cooperated throughout our stay with alternating mild overcast and moderate occasional sun.

Some 50-150 yards offshore a flourishing band of underwater kelp forest stretches from the West beyond Fish Hopper Restaurant, continuing passed our North-Easterly perspective, then thinning out beyond the protruding point to the East that obscures Fisherman’s Wharf Pier, just 1 mile away as the crow flies.

Traffic and distractions are visible across this majestic, scenic outlook throughout the day…

At 0600 a couple of Sport-fishing boats head out (one from Chris’ Fishing and Whale Watching business) and a half-dozen otters begin working the kelp for mussels. By 0700 a few small, night-working commercial fishing vessels and trawlers meander East back into Monterey Harbor and Wharf, straggling past the large red swaying channel marker standing 100 yards outside the Kelp off the Fish Hopper.

I sailed about that very marker buoy years ago when learning off-shore keel-boat skills from Dutch’s School operating from the very end of the main wooden Harbor Pier. It was this same area between that channel marker and kelp which was closed-off in 1997 as remains from the fatal John Denver experimental aircraft crash were sought. Times have happily moved on since then; now only peaceful coastal activity fills this scene.

During the day occasional single and small groups of canoes pass back and forwards through the kelp, moving slowly, watching the array of wildlife on display… now cormorants, seagulls, red-legged Pigeon Guillemots, otters, harbor seals, sea lions and pelicans work from the sandy beach, moving around rocks protruding from the shallow sands and out to the nearby kelp forest.

A 20-foot skiff powered by a small, ancient, outboard motor showed up a couple of times on the Tuesday following memorial Day. Two workers manually hauled kelp aboard until the boat was filled midships some two feet higher than its sides. Then off they went, bringing their harvest to companies supplying now-desirable kelp and seaweed-based products to the world.

On the last morning at around 0800 a group of eleven scuba divers appeared lower right into my view. They waddled across the sands some 30 yards away then flopped into the shallows to affix lengthy fins upon their feet, before floating slowly off in a circular group towards the Kelp. One by one they disappeared into the forest.

I saw no sign of them again; no obvious bubbles nor any disturbance at all. A pair of canoes passed over where they had vanished and the occupants moved slowly, looking downwards, seemingly transfixed.

By 0900 the divers suddenly and collectively re-emerged. First a group of seven appeared, followed  minutes later by the final set of four reappearing 30 yards further out. And they slowly paddled their way to the beach in these same groups, till they hit shallow water then removed their fins. Finally, they stood and staggered, ungainly in their weighty gear, to disappear again in a few yards, passing beyond my immediate view.

It was an odd sighting. Right off Cannery Row; only 50 yards from the road to the water’s edge. And at 10.00am the whole event was repeated as a group of (this time) 10 divers waddled back down into the water and replayed similar events. Were these the same divers, or a second group? Ahh, the mystery!

Time in Monterey was well spent. The Summer crowds are not yet in full swing and Memorial Day itself is considered just the beginning of the Holiday Season.

We mostly avoided (the Pier of) Fisherman’s Wharf as it looked a little busier; finally, we had dinner there one evening at Domenico’s, where it is rumored as many as 5 Presidents have dined, overlooking the pristine and prestigious marina. The otters still entertain and play in the still channels by the docked boats, amusing diners and passersby alike.

I wonder if the 20-year waiting list for permanent slips for vessels in the inner harbor is still the norm?

Stores along Cannery Row are a mixture of decent tourist attractions; some souvenir shops, restaurants with just a few higher-end suppliers of jewelry, art and designer ornaments. And of course, there is the World-famous Aquarium, which is always worth a visit, providing you buy tickets ahead of time on busier days.

I managed a couple of bike rentals during my stay. Firstly, for a manual bike trip from the Spindrift Inn, East passed the Harbor and Wharf down to Seaside for a Starbucks where the paved trail ends. The crowds were not too busy on the trails during this extended Memorial Day break.

The next day we this time rented eBikes and headed West on the trail to the picturesque, man-built cove at Lovers Point, then used bike lanes to head out further and venture a few miles along 17-mile Drive. The weather was clear, sunny and mild.

We cycled the couple of miles after the Point alongside bright pink/ purplish rock flowers covering the low sweeping cliffs like a carpet right down to the rocky inlets and seashore which varied from just 20 to 50yds distance; blue skies and calm ocean panoramas featured all along the way. 😊

Back at home in Santa Cruz the recent months leading into June have been mixed with overcast, occasional sunny days and temperatures typically running from mid-50’s F to high 60’s. The result of this combined with the preceding stormy winter and wetter months has caused both yards and empty lots to explode in new growth.

By late May our garden featured a great cascade of white roses tumbling down a six-foot wooden fence and reaching into billowing shrubs of orange Cuphea and red-tipped Salvia (Hot Lips) below. The maroon Lorapetalum are chasing up the trunks of the Queen Palms, sprouting their small pink flowers and flourishing wildly.

A couple of ferns sheltered under trees have massive fronds reaching over 7-feet high with Azaleas firing off unseasonably, flowering in bright red and pinks beneath their shade and overhang.

Several of the giant, potted Camelia Japonicas are flowering in reds and pinks, uncontrollably dropping blossoms and petals in quickly forming mounds upon the paving beneath their healthy glossy leaves.

And all this following aggressive pruning and cutbacks last Fall before the deep stormy winter took hold and coastal damage became common hereabouts.

Hummingbirds are slowly returning to the five or more well-positioned feeders, though their numbers have not yet caused the usual protective sentry duty performed each year by a few bullies, which will soon enough control the whole back garden, again.

The storm-damaged Pier at Capitola may have its missing planking (a full 15-yard gap) repaired by late Summer, but it seems likely bureaucracy may yet impede short-term progress. As for the staircase down to  the beach at 26th Ave., some 250 yards away, it has now been repaired and is fully restored. Most of the beaches have been bulldozed and the numerous remaining debris piles have been removed ahead of the Summer Season festivities.

Sadly, the railings and paving keeping pedestrians from falling into Moran Lake (again about 250 yards (SE) from my door) are still missing. Logs, trees and various ocean-borne detritus swept away the previous structures when unusual winter storms washed over the road in December-January, tearing them apart.

But the flowers and blossoms are out; plants, shrubs and trees are flourishing making everything look so much more attractive and renewed despite the seasonal gloom normally associated with June in these parts.

So, it again became time to chase away the noisy crows from our immediate vicinity. This was last done 3-4 years ago and held up quite well. But as expected the massive rookery just a mile or so away eventually housed newcomers that encroached upon the property; they had to go. And this is how it is done…

Go out and buy two or three large fake synthetic models of black birds. Place these in plain aerial view, laying on their sides about the property and wait. Very shortly crows (typically ½ dozen sometimes many more) will gather about, circling or perched on viewing sites overlooking the scene.

They become disturbed, audibly distressed and very loud. It seems they sound the alarm and warn the greater community. After an hour or so the cacophony dies down and they disburse. But IMPORTANTLY when you take the models away a few hours later, crows do not noisily return in numbers; often for several years. 😉

I am not sure if ALL birds are driven away, but it is clear the cawing of crows is immediately much diminished, and they can be seen perching and cycling their operations a good +50yards further away from the house. As for Hummingbirds and others, their appearance seems to persist and they are then safer from egg-robbing, scavenger crows as the year moves into Summer then Fall.

The Santa Cruz pier is over a mile long and is set next to the famous Boardwalk in the Northern area of the massive, almost semicircular Monterey Bay; here the coast runs almost N-S. The end of the Pier lies about (1 mile) due East of the famous surfing spot, Steamers.

There is now a new attraction established on the Pier. 😊

The local Humble Sea Brewery has opened an open-air Taproom about 400yards from the end of the Pier on the Western, sunset-facing side. And it is extremely popular.

The Taproom has simple chain link fencing isolating it from the pavement and parking. There is plentiful, garden-style seating and numerous propane heaters for effect and warmth on the cooler evenings. It is very popular, and its slightly pricier beers attract a more discerning crowd which makes the whole experience a little more upscale.

Humble Sea was reportedly solicited by local operators, offering them the opportunity to expand their existing similar local (brewery and taproom) operations while providing an interesting and wholly new service on the Pier. It works! They feature a dozen boutique beers which would satisfy the most discerning palette. 😉

On busier nights food trucks back into the Taproom space; Thursdays there are excellent Fish and Chips to tempt customers and passers-by from Noon till early evening. Other food types will routinely be on-hand at busier times throughout the Summer season.

This place is well worth a visit!

And in the same vein, this new Taproom provides similar entertainment and views as does the rest of the pier this time of year. On evenings there are daily and sunset sailboat cruises  out of Santa Cruz Harbor, just a mile due east of the Pier. These are offered on the massive (60’ Catamaran) O’Neill  and (70’ Sloop) Chardonnay Charter boats. 

Every evening these vessels swing right up along each side of the Pier to the great entertainment and delight of both foot traffic and those aboard sipping either wine, beer or their beverage of choice. It is an impressive sight and unique photo-op.

The scene is completed by various other ocean-bound activities, including a few transient vessels being anchored-up each night within 100yards both sides of the Pier and run-throughs of this same area by as many as eight, 6-man canoes with outriggers and sundry smaller local sloops out enjoying the extended and newly warmer nights.

It is busy, fascinating and it can all be viewed from either side of the Pier, most of its Restaurants or the new Taproom.

And beneath all this are the constant shenanigans and clowning of the Sea Lion population that lives beneath the pier, noisily resting and playing between feeding excursions upon the rafters and crossbeams that support the entire structure.

One of my favorite pastimes on the Pier is watching visitors from around the world excitedly watch, photograph and film the antics of the Seal (and sea Lion) population.

Just last night I watched a seagull squawking relentlessly, seated upon its’ nest, resting on the same support beam that accommodated a newly arrived, bellowing Sea Lion with its head not eighteen inches from the bird. And vociferous intimidation was offered by all.  😊

Just a few weeks ago the winds around the Pier could occasionally become quite slack, even as larger swells rolled in from a more Southerly direction outside the otherwise protected Bay. On these days, the waves would drive 30’ high spray onto the cliffsides around the lighthouse/ surfing museum at Steamers and the better surfers would stay out till darkness drove them in.

Upon other such nights the winds would run 10 knots and so wind-waves often amounted to little depending on the direction. But for the last 2 months there have been the (previously mentioned) boats anchored on either side of the Pier. Frequently, the occupants that tendered-in as night fell would get rolled and tumbled heavily by swells as their night aboard ran on. A 30-40’ boat can buck quite wildly when swinging on an anchor into a +5-foot swell or wave, even when those are arriving 15-18 seconds apart. ☹

On the positive side, being aboard during such a ride provides an effective way to develop great sea-legs.  😉

And as we move into Summer things around this neighborhood keep changing and evolving…

A couple of weeks ago I spotted a Grey Whale cow and calf slowly circling into the outer area between the Santa Cruz pier and the Lighthouse/ Museum. It was one of few (whale) sightings for me this migration season. NOTE:  The cows sometimes hear hunting Orcas further out to sea on their route North to Alaska and so circle back into Monterey Bay to protect their calves until the threat has passed.

Just last night I saw ½ dozen Skim boarders were back at Moran beach working the new sand profile, washed over and built up by the Summer tides.

That same evening the Crow’s Nest in Santa Cruz Harbor reopened their traditional, free-entry, fenced-off weekly Thursday beach-parties for the Summer season, tucked up adjacent to the flourishing and busy public Volleyball courts.

And the weekly Bandstand Concerts are already back playing on the Capitola seafront.

Summer is truly upon us.  😊

But there is a closing note I really should add about observations of matters affecting my personal life…

Again, I must mention everyone’s susceptibility to Cancer. One in Two people will develop cancer in their lifetime, so it behooves us all to be keenly aware of the liability of late detection.

Anything you can do (Dr. visits, checks, scans or tests) that promote early detection is a major step in the right direction. It never pays to ignore signs and concerns that allow potential problems to grow.

For myself, I now have Cancers detected early on two occasions. On neither occasion was detection other than an unrelated and fortunate fluke.

I recommend everyone develops their own, medically supported plan and installs a proactive detection scheme in their lives. You just cannot rely on LUCK!  😉

And now it is time for me to chronicle in the briefest terms possible the most notable Domestic and International events that have ruffled World News outlets.

Everything I record is solidly visible with simple Internet searches. I relate only well-accepted (albethey unpalatable) truths that are difficult to refute, though may not yet all have received global acceptance and may be denied and hidden for some years yet to come. But Good or Bad, Right or Wrong, they are real

US Military Wokeness has deepened:

              Airforce… at least three bases have recently been hosting Trans shows for minors (*).

Navy… banning/ monitoring the use of pronouns, specifically outlawing use of “conservative,” “religious,” and “family” themes in speech and frowning on use of pronouns such as “Dad’ and “Mom.”

              ARMY… recruiting is down almost 25% and struggling.

              Cadets… Academies are typically being taught CRT.

(*) Generals Milley and Austin (Chair of Joint Chiefs and Sec. of Defense, resp.) claim no knowledge of such things. These are the same guys who thought the Afghanistan withdrawal went just fine.

Defiant Gen. Milley insists claims of wokeness in U.S. military 'grossly  overexaggerated' | Fox News

Biden recently sent 1500 Troops to the Southern Boarder. You might think that these were to help with enforcement? Not so. They were allocated to help with simply processing the now increasing streams of Illegals INTO the US, as Title 42 ended.

The BRICS Alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is interested in expanding membership and creating an alternative to the USD as the World’s Reserve Currency. New countries like Saudi Arabia are circling this group with interest but are wary of proposed new participants that will further expand China’s influence. 20 Nations have expressed interest in joining the group.

The US has been officially booted out of the Philippines. This is to say their use of the Islands to address supporting local war efforts relating to China are now not permitted; no American supplies or weapons are allowed that are necessary to defend Taiwan from Chinese attack.

Domestic Social Turmoil remains front and center…

At a National Teacher’s Conference, Biden proclaimed, “there is no such thing as someone else’s child.” This underscores the State push in schools for uncontested controversial sex teachings, CRT etc. and the intent to dismantle traditional Family structure.

Leftist Billionaire George Soros continues to fund countless radical DA’s (who are soft on crime), BLM and Antifa movements (and rioting). He has funded Coups in 8-9 Countries and his son Alex has met with Biden at least 17 times at the WH since his presidency began. Soros destabilizes nations and helps install new governments.

Hard Left politicians (Ilhan Omar and Bernie Sanders) are sponsoring a bill to provide 3 meals/ day plus snacks for 50 million people in the US. Who these people are, how this will be funded and what it will cost is not explained.

A Civil Rights lawsuit has been filed against the University of Minnesota for implementing a 10-week graduate Summer Research Program that only accepts students of color and provides them with a $6,000.00 stipend.

In Florida Gov. DeSantis has signed an eVerify Law into effect that enforces the existing Saye Law in ensuring local job applicants are legal residents. Concerns revolve around the likelihood of illegals being driven out of Florida towards Sanctuary States.

Promotion of Trans lifestyle and products has quickly backfired, first on Annhauser-Busch (AB) and then Target. AB pushed a promotion of transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney with Bud Light beer that left them $20B down in Market Cap (MC) within weeks. They were quickly followed by Target who were pushing Trans clothing for children, front and center in their stores; they are currently down $10B in MC. The tune of “Go Woke, Go Broke” loudly plays these days with Companies caught between their customers and unrelenting hardline LGBTQ activists.

CA Gov. Newsome is suggesting bringing in the National Guard to work with the Highway Patrol in San Francisco to shut down the escalated, rampant open-air drug dealing in the City. How bad are things? “People can’t even walk the streets anymore.” The concern is that when such policing is again removed, drug dealing will immediately return.

Dozens of US States have bandied together and requested Biden drop a new program that financially punishes good-credit Homebuyers by having them pay more to help fund poor-credit borrowers. Pennsylvania Treasurer (Stacy Garrity) warned that “It is already clear that this new policy will be a disaster.”

An inarguably sick man (a Mr. Neely, who is black) who was acting out was restrained with a chokehold by a Veteran (a 23-year-old white male) on the NY Subway. Sadly, this man (who had dozens of arrests and needed care) subsequently died. The local (Hard Left, Soros funded) DA is charging the Vet with murder and other radicals are calling for those who assisted to be charged similarly.

Then next we have the Durham Report

Finally, the report about Trumps “Russian Collusion” has been released by the Special (uninfluenced, we hope) Investigator. It decimates the entire Russia narrative.

It is clear the Idea (the Steele Dossier, a “sack of lies”) was bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton, willingly Run (though already known false) by Obama with both FBI and DOJ Collusion. The scandal is reportedly the largest ever in American Politics, but will the guilty be punished?

GOP Senator Tuberville (AL) feels that Hillary Clinton should be in jail for the Hoax. Indeed, now some of the four Clinton Foundation criminal investigations (for influence peddling, fraud etc.) that were squashed by the FBI when she ran for President in 2016 may be reopened. We will see. 😉

And GOP Rep Anna Paulina Luna is seeking a $16M fine against Intel Committee member Alan Schiff for constant, outrageous and never-substantiated lies. His proven-unfounded fabrications and claims were made continuously throughout a shamelessly biased House investigation of the Russia Hoax.

Next up is Biden

It is abundantly clear that son Hunter’s Laptop has proven ownership and hosts a wealth of business and personal information, photographs and data that should have seen him indicted 3-4 years ago.

It seems the FBI has been running interference to prevent investigators accessing specific documents further proving Biden family dealings in selling political influence under Obama’s nose, when Joe was his VP. It appears a “Contempt of Congress” charge against Dir. Wray may shortly break this loose.

In addition, 51 Intelligence experts knowingly originated and signed a weaponized letter During the 2020 Election that claimed the Hunter Biden Laptop was fake, disinformation. This was not true, and all signees were fully aware that no such evidence existed.

However, this letter provided the impetus for Democrats, Big Tech and Media to go into overdrive to suppress and discredit the story and prevent it reaching (2020 Presidential) voters. This was successful.

Recent polls of actual 2020 voters confirmed that had this evidence been correctly acknowledged, Biden would have lost votes across the board and Trump would have easily won the election.

The current house Investigative lead (James Comer R-KY, House Oversight Committee Chair) has openly confirmed that Obama was fully informed of (his VP) Biden’s large-scale illegal family influence peddling and turned a blind eye. This also explains Obama’s much delayed endorsement of Biden during the 2020 campaign.

And now the Whistleblowers uncovering the Biden Family Corruption are under weaponized Government attack…

Chair James Comer offers that “9 of the 10 people we have identified that have good knowledge of Biden family business dealings with China and others, have one of three things in common: they are either currently in Court, currently in jail or have gone missing.”

Comer insists that the Biden WH, Lawyers and Media are trying to intimidate and discredit whistleblowers… surprise! 😉

It seems Biden may be following in the Clintons’ notorious footsteps as a WH Whistleblower has recently gone missing, too.

Whistleblowers are being brushed aside from the Hunter Biden IRS investigation as the DOJ has moved agents off the case, impeding reasonable progress. The already slow-walked work at the weaponized IRS is now further impeded by a weaponized DOJ, while the FBI holds back providing its own, Biden corruption evidentiary letter(s).

The current corruption update is that the investigations have proven distribution of $10M in ill-gotten gains among the Biden family with expectations that the final total will run $15-30M.

Last report suggests 10 Biden Family members are currently involved in these activities, but this number may increase to as many as 12.

The sources of funds are China and Ukraine, though I saw one article suggesting there are provable improprieties committed by Joe’s brother in Saudi Arabian dealings. News just broke of another deal “with a Country more troubling than China” involved. Hmmm? ☹

Investigators have said that illegal fund acquisitions and family distributions were committed through a network of shell companies, but they were nevertheless not difficult to track. It seems The Big Guy and family are not as clever as they thought. Perhaps they feel entirely above reproach and accountability?

The scale of this corruption and collusion is again setting records in American history. Who might be indicted or fully brought to reckoning?

And Biden is not the only one with scandal potentially littering his Legacy.

Obama’s record might finally get the scrutiny it warrants. He has much certain, media-suppressed corruption and scandal on his hands…

Because he:   Knew  and ignored that Biden was peddling influence as his VP; Actively drove an illegal witch-hunt and surveillance on the known lie which was the Russian Collusion Hoax; Funded Wuhan Research illegally; Weaponized the IRS against Conservative Groups; Lied about Benghazi; Implemented comprehensive spying on Citizens (all of the US, German, Brazilian and others); Drove the Ukrainian Coup (with Soros) that stimulated the 2014 Russian takeover of the Crimea; Facilitated the origin and growth of ISIS; Materially harmed the US Military with questionable appointments of (>200) Generals and Admirals etc. etc. Need I go on?

Presidential choices in US Politics are commonly disappointing. Perhaps I am being too polite?

There are 8 Billion people on the planet and 340 Million Americans. And the total current landscape of Presidential Candidates is what we are offered? Ouch.  ☹

Insiders seeing Biden falling (literally) and Harris’ incompetence are looking for change on the Left. Rumor has it this pair will be brushed aside: certainly, Biden’s in-your-face corruption and coverup combined with Kamala’s pitiful record and persona will assist this process?

It is proffered that a (Susan) Rice/  (Gavin) Newsome ticket might be a replacement. Can you imagine? Rice is the one who BEGAN a week-long PR tour pushing the Benghazi coverup story for Obama a FULL week after it had already been 100% proven discredited. What brass and total disregard for public opinion!

And Newsome… sigh. The man who sees a new radical cause and jumps in to claim the lead, charging to predictable disaster, time after time. He is genuinely pathetic, personifying the disastrous trail of CA policy decisions and choices.

Then we still have the harms of the COVID Vaccination to understand and assimilate…

A massive data-release of all Pfizer internal/ CDC documentation was federally court-ordered and facilitated a large-scale, carefully coordinated review by numerous teams of medical professionals from around the World of exactly what was known before the Vax Programs went public.

If you want to wade through the endless frightening list of consequences associated with the Vaccine, then view the presentation made by Naomi Wolf who had this Pfizer data release reviewed and analyzed.

To be clear, the problems were profound and numerous. If you were vaccinated, you ARE infected with these problems. Issues are numerous, severe, life-threatening and at best debilitating while permanently residing within the (membranes within the) body.

The US FDA was already fully aware of these test-proven issues, even as big pushes were being made to vaccinate (in the US) people of all ages. It seems unquestionable that recipients should have been more appropriately advised of risks, although people with severe health issues and pre-exiting problems may have had little alternative but to chance vaccination, anyway.

I watched a Video of Mark Zuckerberg speaking to his direct reports and advising they carefully consider receiving the Vaccination, given how unproven it was and how it might affect you (it DOES affect your DNA) 5, 10, 20 and even 30 years in the future. I feel sure Zuckerberg was privy to the Pfizer/ CDC early knowledge and was providing a warning. I DOUBT he and his family would prove to be vaccinated if he were ever tested.

And the push for vaccination was profound in every walk of life and for all ages…

Pfizer’s own trial found that in 2021 54% of pregnant women experienced a range of adverse and even severe reactions after vaccination with their mNRA shot. Both Pfizer and the CDC knew that the Vaccine jab caused damage to fetuses and babies , but recommended them to pregnant women, anyway. 21% of those experiencing adverse reactions fell victim to spontaneous abortions.

Pfizer’s own documentation shows that everyone making shot recommendations knew the harm the vaccination could cause.

In the US, pregnancy deaths skyrocketed in 2021. The CDC still offers no explanation, despite obvious conclusions that can be drawn from data, immediately described as available, above.

Sadly, even those who were NOT vaccinated are subject to infection by those who were, by the process of shedding that is a consequence of the shot.

Researchers in the UK have found that 1 in 310 of people receiving their first BOOSTER vaccination DIED withing 48 Days. This data was released by Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS). As the unvaccinated are dying at a much lower rate than this they conclude that the excess death in the UK is directly the result of COVID Booster shots.

It is believed that the ONS is not as corrupt as the CDC in the US. Who knows? However, they (ONS) did publish records nobody wants to brag about. But perhaps other cuts of that same data were much worse again? ☹

In mid-April, the FDA quietly lowered their recommendation so that now all that is required for (full) vaccination is one VAX plus one booster. And in early June the recommendation is that children 6-17 who are healthy do not need to be vaccinated at all.

We can all recount that in very recent months the US was still pushing VAX for babies and children under 4 years. Why?

Personally, I recall that even before the VAX was available it was clearly publicized global medical opinion that “children not at risk need not be vaccinated at all.” What changed? Events always showed that the aged and compromised were the ones at risk. Certainly, hard data can NEVER have shown that vaccinating healthy young people was wise; however, it IS highly profitable.

Now subsequent, troubling thoughts come to mind. Why is the mNRA element of the vaccine finding its way into cattle, their feed, fertilizers and OTHER established vaccines? Why is Bill Gates talking about the untenable 8 Billion earth population and the need for population control “using vaccinations.” I can see why conspiracy theorists might run riot thinking about these connections!

And what of the still unconfirmed specific Origins of the Coronavirus

Bat virus funding in the US was sought mid-2013 and initially funded before mid-2014. Records show that funding was requested to create Coronavirus “Mutants.”

Four Labs were selected with the #1 being the Wuhan Institute of Virology chosen by EcoHealth Alliance. The US is proven to have funded these endeavors with Dr. Fauci writing checks on Obama’s watch.

Personally, I would just like to be fully convinced of two things:

  1. The virus was NOT released deliberately.
  2. The major flu’-like outbreak during October 2019 at the World Military games in Wuhan was NOT COVID.

Given the millions of consequential deaths around the World and the potential for similar future liabilities, it is well passed time for accountability and precise corrections.

Around the World, other calamitous events continue…

In UK schools there are reports of people being bullied to BE Trans.

France continues with its latest season of rioting; sometimes the Nation seems ungovernable. These latest demonstrations come because of President Macron’s personal decree that (their currently very low) retirement age for benefits will be increased to 64 years. This resulted in street riots, destruction, police-conflicts, walk-outs and strikes across the Nation.

France is now well off their original AAA debt rating (normal for a modern industrialized Nation) and has fallen to AA-.

France Avoid S&P Credit Downgrade But Concerns Persist | Barron's

As a country, France looks like Swiss Cheese from the perspective of governance and policing, with ~1000 Government-reported No-Go Police zones in Muslim areas.

China has converted virtually every aspect of domestic life and governance to be under the official umbrella of National Security. So, ANYTHING the CCP does not like is now readily prosecuted accordingly. And with President Xi elected for an unprecedented third time there is an all-powerful single untouchable Chinese leader in a fully complete Communist Autocracy, ramping the Military like it is 1930’s Germany.

Then there is Ukraine. What is really happening? All News I find (in US, UK and elsewhere) is about Russian losses and collapse. But this is not exactly what the reported Battle Lines implies.

The WH is no longer pretending that their Special Forces (along with similar from the UK) presence is to track logistics and spending and now openly admit they have boots on the ground, US soldiers engaged in direct conflict with Russian Military. This might appear minor, but is actually a VERY notable unauthorized (by Congress) escalation of US Policy.

It is generally assumed the US is running the entire show for the Ukraine military. Perhaps a clearer image of events (and an outcome!) will be reported by Historians in 10-20 years from now?

On the scientific front, Kamala Harris has been officially appointed by Biden as the US Czar of Artificial Intelligence (AI)…

British scientist Geoffrey Hinton is known as The Godfather of AI. He has quit his job at Google to sound the alarm at dangers posed by AI, which include “ending people.” For myself I have seen AI video demonstrations which feature robotic responses alarmingly disinterested in, or disrespectful of human opinion.

This subject is considered VITAL to US security, (and indeed all Nations of the World). So why has Biden selected a known unqualified and proven incompetent as Czar of AI? Such appointments are globally viewed as a clown show.

And finally, we have the much-despised Sussexes, frustrating and annoying most Royal watchers on BOTH sides of the Atlantic. WHEN will they just get out of the way and live quietly?

Love or hate them, the UK Royal family (now headed by recently crowned King Charles III) is largely respected around the world. Indeed, they are a net money-maker and exceptional good-will ambassador for the United Kingdom.

As for (Prince) Harry, I do not pity nor excuse him because of the early loss of his Mother. A sad reality is that statistically many millions of children are alive today that lost mothers (and / or fathers) at an early age, frequently in equally and often even more horrific circumstances. It is the nature of early loss.

Personally, I would prefer he dealt with this more privately and did something about his disturbingly bad choice of a wife. What a miserable and malicious pair they have become.

I am not particularly a major fan of the Royals, but acknowledge they remain a good deal for their Country. What is not to like about having them around while simply keeping a sensible historical perspective about their role and place.

And that about wraps up this revisit of many prominent events occurring since my last Posting.

On a Happier front

Are you making the most of your neighborhood and surroundings? Sometimes there is more going on than we realize, and a larger, balanced view of life is more rewarding.

Find out what is going on around you. Local friends, family, places and events are your support system. So, make the most of these special offerings which surround us all.  😊

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Weather Storms Pass, Other Types Fester and Grow

The last many weeks in Northern California have been all about rains and fronts cycling in off the Pacific.

Santa Cruz has taken beatings from high winds, heavy rain and waves rolling branches and tree trunks up to and over roads, while Yosemite closed to clear fifteen-foot snow drifts from around cabins and Tahoe saw homes squirreled away down narrow, snow-walled lanes looming over vehicles making nervous exits and entries.

Yet the coast saw mostly heavy intermittent rainstorms, providing just occasional clear days with momentary peeks of sunshine quickly followed by more rain fronts repeatedly topping-up and overspilling Lexington reservoir as local standing ground recesses and holding pools all filled to their rims.

People mostly stayed indoors hereabouts, outdoor activity dwindled and when rain briefly held off a few wandered out for quick walks, bike rides and runs before winds rose again and rainfall returned. But a few still ventured out in all climes and wildlife soldiered on…

In early February, the Great Blue Herons began their mating season as usual, typically some dozen or so gathering on the two highest northside rooves above and east of the bridge crossing Santa Cruz Harbor with its winding inlet-channel filled by docked sail and motorboats. They arrive and stand for hours each day for about a week, like sentries spaced and motionless, acting their parts in some mysterious rite before the nesting part of the breeding season properly begins.

After this portion of the ritual, they fly in and out of the long, eighty-foot-high stand of Eucalyptus just a few hundred yards away directly across on the South side of the harbor inlet. And the colony of nests is repaired and built anew as a few occasional fervent photographers arrive lugging then setting up viewing cameras sporting two and three-foot long lenses to capture the nesting proceedings.

A mile away the sealions on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Pier go about their business somewhat independent of the storms. I visit them most nights, parking towards the furthest reach of the structure, next to the welcoming, well-lit Dolphin restaurant sporting half-dozen flagpoles with their wind-ripped triangular flags, thrashing in the troubled air.

I park facing West across the half-mile to Steamers surfing point, always arriving before sunset and recently listening to more Peter May audiobooks featuring Enzo MacLeod. There are usually a few surfers enjoying the bigger breaking waves and you can watch their antics through binoculars or with just the naked eye.

And there below, are always the Sealions. As the light dwindles this time of year the waves and swells remain well below the pier cross-members on which the seals rest for endless hours following their return in herds from feeding trips further out in Monterey Bay. Eventually the waters rise enough for them to leap aboard the beams, but often hours pass with rafts and groups of them playing or drifting around, entertaining any visitors who are out-and-about, braving the weather.

There are always a few people milling around watching, leaning over the rails, talking excitedly, pointing to and photographing the antics in the heaving waters below. Young or old, their expressions are priceless. The shenanigans of the sealions usually seem new to them, so they are likely not locals, but off-season visitors, making the most of smallest respites in the storms.

Recently, there was a small boy, pulling towards the rail as his mother tried to better fix and close his heavy jacket for the weather as he called and tugged, “foocas, foocas” (phonetic Spanish for Seals). Everyone loves the Sealions with their endless calls and tumbling antics. 😊

And with this entertainment comes the gulls, wheeling and circling in groups of many tens, even through the strongest winds. Many times, they hang motionless, just feet from the windshield of the SUV, balanced and held perfectly on heavy blows, their heads casually searching about, seeking the next tidbit or feeding opportunity.

When the winds ease large stands of seagulls arrange themselves on the tarmac footing of the Pier, facing in alignment towards any blow remaining, while others sit or stand like statues atop the few vehicles parked about, braving and enjoying the season. As cars move off the attached birds reluctantly raise their wings and lift off into the breeze; some wait longer, appearing like vehicle ornaments.

And with all this, every night brings a spectacular sunset directly ahead into my chosen Westly view; each time is so very surprisingly different.

During rainstorms, the setting light pushes up into the heavy clouds, still providing an impressive show. When it is less stormy or momentarily clear the colors keep rising for a long and colorful 40+ minutes past sundown. Every night offers a unique setting with constantly changing scenes and colors ranging from the blue-black of a stormy, clouded evening to the delicate pastel blues, pinks, yellows and tangerine hues of momentary clearer skies gently brushed with thin and morphing clouds.

From the warmth of my SUV, each and every setting is both peaceful and magical. 😊

Valentines’ Day storms still offered the opportunity to head down to Phil’s (Fish Market) new restaurant location in Castroville High Street, just a few miles South of his previous long-time setting within the Moss Landing Harbor. And it was well worth the trip. The Siete De Mares and Cioppino dishes were washed down by excellent value red wine and followed by a double rainbow sighting immediately upon leaving…

As we headed back the rains and skies suddenly cleared to more fully display two complete and perfect half-circle rainbows that slowed the light traffic to gaze and rewarded us and many others who stopped for the rare photo-op.

To round off the day we stopped at Gayle’s in Capitola Village to be spoiled with their usual offerings of desert, all supported this day with the surprise of a live in-house jazz quartet gently entertaining local customers who either sat about in a relaxed leisurely manner or just occasionally, rose to dance.

The weather hereabouts has been fierce, relative to the norm. A couple of weeks back I ventured up to The (Silicon) Valley, over the hill to attend some appointments in Los Gatos. There were downed road-signs, seemingly numerous Power, traffic light and internet outages with wooden fences knocked-over, branches, even full trees spilled onto streets and cloth screens on temporary fencing loose and thrashing in the winds.

Highway 17 over the Santa Cruz mountains catches heavy rains as the many fronts push through and so it is a constant source of stoppages. The mudslides and falling trees are now less frequent than previous years, but the rains flowing across the winding road cause countless car spinouts and accidents with resulting traffic back-ups occurring many times each day.

In later March, the coastal Highway 1 near Watsonville towards Monterey was closed for around a week after massive mudslides ensued when a levee broke, over-flowed and ran amok. There were countless flat acres of fruit and vegetable crops flooded and destroyed in the area.

I heard of a locally owned motor salesroom in Watsonville that was flooded to the point all vehicles in the yard were written off. My local Auto-repair guy’s home was located near that same dealership, where a distant lake and creek brought so much flooding, he was actually fishing just yards from his fortunately elevated house. His wife caught an eight-pound carp that was swimming over the black-top street; he had good pictures of it, too. 😉

In my neighborhood, Moran Lake has been filling daily and emptying with consecutive tides flowing through the five-foot culvert passing to it from the beach, running underneath the narrow two-lane road. Each high tide reaches the culvert and pushes through to the expansion area of the Lake where countless massive logs and branches now sit exposed upon every successive tidal drainage of its waters.

The lakebed detritus is too large for the culvert so much had passed over the road in the rough storms and high tides that washed across the street during the last couple of months. Protective rails and robust cables that fenced off the Lake from pedestrians walking by have all been ripped away, and the lake’s edge lies unprotected from careless passersby.

But the short (perhaps 150 yards long) storm-thrashed Moran beach remains popular. It has lost five or six feet of sand and now displays an often-pebbled surface, spotted with massive rocks, huge tree trunks and stripped branches. The large tides roll in and the waves lap, more calmly now, but just some 10yards from the crossing East Cliff road.

The search for colored Sea Glass on Moran beach has been relentless. I see locals young and old rummaging in the pebbles for such treasure day and night, often when rain is still falling, and the tides are closing in towards the street.

There was one day a week or more ago when a weather break was forecasted and arrived on schedule, bringing kindly modest seas and clearer skies. The local rowing club out of Santa Cruz Harbor took brief advantage and put out seven, eight-man canoes sporting outriggers which stole past the lighthouse, then slipped by the main Pier while running West heading out near Steamers. They then came about, pushing quickly back towards shelter before the depth of sunset and rainclouds set in.

During lighter rainy evenings on the Pier when the waves have still attracted a few dozen surfers to Steamers, I have been seeing a fairly recent activity emerge. It is the arrival of Foil Boarders. Sometimes just one, never more than three so far.

Foil Boards are a similar length to larger skateboards, but have a small, torpedo-shaped motor sporting what looks like a six-inch propeller all mounted about two feet below the board on a robust but narrow stem. The motor runs, propeller turns, and the board rises a foot or two out of the water with the rider atop.

This is not designed for rough waters or large waves at this point. The skill is in balancing on the board, which offers riders the opportunity to move about calmer areas at what appears to be 5-15 mph. I hear that these Foil Boards cost around $1,000 each.

As quickly as a weather forecast offers respite from rain, the local Santa Cruz restauranteurs around Portola and 41st open their outdoor seating and light their attractive, flaming, propane heating-towers for guests. And the customers arrive on cue, enjoying their evening out even though the next day might again bring rain and blustery winds. And the passing cars get to admire the diners reveling, albeit briefly, in their pleasantly lighted evening surrounds.

Our local businesses are eager to enter the Springtime and hopefully early Summer Season. 😉

Along those lines, the long-standing Stagnaro’s Restaurant on the Santa Cruz Pier re-opened right at the end of March. It was shuttered to Covid concerns for almost 3 years (ouch!) and the family has finally re-entered the market in time for the warmer tourist season. This is a local treasure and landmark. It is a great feeling to finally enjoy a sense of normalcy and be able to visit a familiar haunt, once more.  😊

Over the last few days, the weather forecasts have been showing no rain or storms for ten days out. Temperatures are still modest for this time of year, but warm enough and sunshine is returning.

The signs of Sailing Season are upon us as the first (initially rainy) regattas have begun and boat owners are hauling out logs and various detritus from the waters surrounding the marinas. Shredded and beaten flags and burgees are being replaced and there is activity and chatter on the docks once more.

It seems much or all severe weather is now behind us in Monterey Bay.  😊

On a personal note, I have been following the well-trodden path of many cancer recoverers. This includes the ups-and-downs of semi-annual searches for re-occurrence. My latest tests uncovered a new, different alert, so I will spend the next several weeks tracking down that concern. Such is the lot of most recoverers… sigh.  😉

Now let us consider the News and what else has transpired Locally and about the World during these last many weeks since my last Blog posting.

I have been recording my Log of the many notable (news) events as they have occurred both long before and throughout Covid. This narrative serves as a reminder, chronicle and diary of said events, as seen being prominent from my own perspective and position.

It is necessary to recognize major events. It is prudent to review what has transpired and reflect upon the significance of these events. In some way, we are all ultimately affected by what we see and hear.

Having said that, let me offer a precise-styled update for expediency and ease of consumption…

There is no delicate way to begin this review without the mention of the obvious World ramp-up to War Footing. These events are certain and in Summary the issues are:

  1. Putin has abandoned the START agreement “to protect Russians from NATO actions“ and is building new nuclear warheads at will.
  2. WWIII discussions must be rampant within the White House, but the press is invisible on the subject… just more resultant gaslighting.
  3. China is “ramping their entire Military like 1930’s Germany;” all Air, Army and Naval Forces.
  4. China’s Navy is already on par with the US (by numbers) and will massively exceed its size within a few years.
  5. China is rapidly building Nukes, moving from holding a smaller strike deterrent arsenal to having 1st strike capability.
  6. China is hoarding food that will eventually cause shortages in the US. The US Dept. of Agriculture says China will soon have 69% of World Corn reserves, 60% of its Rice and 51% of its Wheat. Control the food, control the people.
  7. China has taken the role of World Power Broker, facilitating a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran that puts the latter back on the World stage.
  8. China is working on removing the $ as the World Reserve Currency and the Saudis have been flirting with this possibility for a decade. This move would plunge the $ to Devaluation as was seen in 1972 Britain when the GBP lost that footing.
  9. President Xi is now (believed) offering weaponry and support to Russia which facilitates his own proxy war with the US. Xi is the most powerful figure in this relationship, now demanding (of Putin) seven Eastern Siberian cities (including Vladivostok) be renamed on maps with their Chinese names.
  10. Xi has been elected to an unprecedented 3rd term. His position is unassailable and unchallenged in the CCP. He has clearly stated to the Chinese people his job is to fulfil their long-time historically defined Global destiny of world dominance.
  11. In the recent Putin/ Xi talks announcing their Alliance these leaders openly mocked the US financial decline and lack of Global dominance, while lauding the emergence of China. A new boldness is on display.
  12. Putin has announced he will be moving his own low-yield, battlefield nuclear warheads into Belarus to assist with the war in Ukraine.
  13. A recent attack upon US forces in Syria (US has <1,000 troops remaining there) killed one US contractor and injured approx. six more; the US responded with a rocket attack on the culprit Iranian forces. This Iranian-sponsored attack was the +80th such event since Biden took office. Looks like they could not hide this one from the press and continue the gaslighting.
  14. North Korea (NK) recently claimed +800K people signed up in their military, supposedly spontaneously in reaction to regional war-games being conducted by the US and South Korea. All this complements various NK ramps in missile systems testing.
  15. The latest NK defector divulged that ALL negative actions by North Korea are directly and completely controlled by the CCP.
  16. Saudi Arabia is now featuring SNL-like mocking skits featuring a senile Biden and hopeless Harris on mainstream Government TV; not good to see from a supposedly close, conservative ally. In early April, the Saudi’s announced they would be cutting oil production shortly, along with other OPEC members in “a move towards economic independence from the US.”
  17. It is clear that at least Russia, China, North Korea, and (a fully nuclear?) Iran is in global alignment (but not within any circles in which I travel. ☹ ). And the Saudi’s intentions have become far less clear.

So, what is happening on the US front given these alarming developments? The Preparations are:

  1. As of late February, the US has pledged $115B of taxpayer money going wholly unsupervised and untracked to a known-corrupt Ukrainian Government. This is for a US Proxy War with Russia.

Ammunition, weapons and MUCH of the US Strategic Oil Reserve has been heavily depleted in this process.

  • The US has increased personnel from 30 to 100-200 in Taiwan in preparation for Chinese aggression and in response to reported Invasion plans.
  • The leading Admiral of the US Navy is confirming his current priorities are squarely focused on “climate and equity” (as China rapidly ramps their Navy). ☹
  • The Pentagon has just asked for $842B to “prep for War with China.” The argument from Head of Joint Chiefs and Sec. of Defense (those Generals Milley and Austin that thought the disorganized US bail-out from Afghanistan was just fine) is that this is “cheaper than fighting a War and should back China off.” Ah Ha… so brinkmanship is a plan?

What can one say? The preparation and activities look far more substantial in one camp than the other. And I have never heard much about people prepping for war and NOT going to war. Have you?

Putting these concerns aside, it is time to summarize other Spurious Events…

Who blew up the Nordstream2 pipeline? The US insists it is an unidentified, pro-Ukrainian group (still wholly invisible and unknown to Zelensky). Others are reporting US divers laid charges the preceding Summer.

There was a less plausible belief it was the UK and three Governments (including Germany and some Scandinavians) are still investigating the matter. Most widespread and firm belief: it was the US. The only certainty is that this was not the Russians.

Who Blew Up the Nord Stream Pipeline? Suspects and Theories.

Government corruption has been running rampant in recent years. It is a fact that a disorganized, conflicted populace is easier to manage as they are nicely distracted with diffused concerns about matters such as Race, School Teachings, LGBTQ issues, Religion, Politics, Policies, fleeting News Items, Rights, Laws, Drugs, Events, Social matters etc. etc. With such chaotic MSM bombardment nobody is looking behind the curtain.

The Politics of Division is what is sought on every front. It is a proven way to hold unchallenged power and rule.

Today we are left (in the US) facing another major election in 2024. Currently, the most prominent candidates are stated to be Biden/ Harris and recently indicted Trump.

Let us just say all candidates “have issues.” One side is horrible, the other side is terrible, and it does not matter which side you prefer, this is true. The characters of many prominent leaders about the Nation and World are NOT good, reliable or endearing right now. And these are elected officials.

We can live with the flawed nature of Man (or Woman), but when the preponderance of statements made by prominent people are willful, blatant lies and flagrant misrepresentations, you have a problem. If you cannot trust leaders, you stand on very rocky ground.

But the most upsetting twist is that the situation appears to be, inexplicably, culturally accepted and tolerated, there is no speedy, reliable backlash to right the wrongs. The pendulum of accountability swings too slowly to right a heavily listing ship. Such is the recourse and diminished hope we face today.

And examples of Incompetence abound…

When the new Administration arrived in 2020 Julie Su was tapped from CA to a senior role supporting one of the new government secretaries (of whatever). Julie had just lost CA State $42B in fraudulent Covid claims, basically because she saw no need to monitor where these funds for which she was responsible ended up, how they were solicited, by whom and from where.

So, this criminal negligence got Julie a promotion and new National level exposure. Well, Julie has just been promoted again and is now Secretary of Labor. Congrats, we are so proud. Sigh. 😊

Biden taps California's Julie Su to be next labor secretary

In closely related news the Government has just announced that a TOTAL $276B of Covid relief was lost to FRAUD in the US. Knowledgeable insiders say that both this and the $42B lost similarly in CA are massively understated.

Such news is not inspiring and frequent general mismanagement within some States has fueled new discussion of Secession and once again brought this subject to the forefront…

Eastern Oregonians want to join IDAHO as a State and that legislature is now listening and reviewing the possibilities. Crack, Fentanyl and Heroin have been legalized in Oregon State along with much more these Easterners dislike and do not want controlled from Portland. So, they wish to take their completely untapped, massive oil reserves and merge with Idaho.

Now the Blue leaning folks (in Portland) do not want this, though they have little-or-no voting presence in these Counties. Nevertheless, the prevailing laws of Oregon may ultimately still prevent the desired escape to Idaho.

There is a comparable situation in California; San Francisco, San Diego and LA may be bright blue politically, but ALL the lands in CA outside of these cities are overwhelmingly inhabited by Conservative voters. These folks have been wanting out for decades, demanding policies that reflect THEIR interests and concerns. I expect they will watch the progress in Oregon to their immediate North.

And now Texas has introduced a Bill that proposes Secession for the whole State. It seems the perception is that “the current (US) Government antics have gone too far.” Where will this all end?

Not unusually, there seem to be many Troubles all around the World…

Israel is in convulsions regarding Judicial reforms that further empower the Government.

France just cancelled a State visit by King Charles III due to Civil unrest. There is street rioting across the Nation as the Government tries to implement autocratic Pension reforms.

India is thrashing through leadership attacks by old-guard families (Gandhi on Modi) trying to neutralize each other’s futures and all while Global Warming alarmists scream about inevitable catastrophic, decade-ending Climate Target failures.

And there were Canadian Security leaks to (2) UK outlets which confirm China kept Trudeau in power (2021) by running Disinformation and Interference Programs in Canada. This is causing questions about the Chinese liking for Trudeau and indeed Joe (81Million Votes in 2020) Biden.

This brings us to the laundry list of reports about Biden’s Integrity which ARE getting to the Press…

There have been statements about clear records of money and paper trails to Biden’s coffers from sources in Ukraine, the CCP (both through Son, Hunter) and now Saudi Arabia (via his brother).

By mid-February there were strings of reports regarding Biden’s loose handling of Classified Materials found at multiple locations, thus sparking major National Security concerns. Some articles are confusing but some 4 or 5 (as many as 6, now?) locations have unearthed illegally and inappropriately exposed documentation.

Gun licensing (jailable) offences by son Hunter have been stymied for a few years and it is now reported the Secret Service has been actively involved in this suppression.

House oversight Chairman (R-KY) James Comer is on the record stating that the proven, Hunter Biden “laptop from hell” provided “enough evidence to indict (Hunter)… even three or four years ago.” There has been little progress from the US Attorney with no explicable reason.

Biden’s actions regarding TIKTOK and CCP access to data on >>100Million Americans has bipartisan officials quietly questioning his impartiality to Chinese needs.

Joe has spent 40% of his Presidency on vacation and he does not seem to routinely move his office with him on these excursions, as have several previous Presidents.

So much for the nature of Joe Biden. Now let us review some recent California Follies…

CA Leftists want to ban Police Dogs and are calling them racist. If this is because of their training or instincts is not entirely clear.

California is now checking how to provide their Black population (2,000,000 people believed eligible) with a total of $800Billion in Reparations (CA GDP is $300B). This is tough on a State where slavery never existed and many 100,000’s of residents and businesses have already fled the region and their current $200B State debt. But all too often, where goes CA there follows the Nation. Ouch.

Simultaneously, it is openly rumored San Francisco’s countless, post-Covid empty offices, major business and resident exoduses will inevitably drive them into bankruptcy, without a Federal (more Taxpayer money) bailout.

And finally in the Homelessness center that is San Francisco, one of the few local Farmers Markets is being abandoned as drug addicts overtake the streets and vendors feel unsafe.

Just 10-15 years ago San Francisco commonly ranked in the top five cities to visit in the World; often it was top three, and I recall at least one survey placing it as number one. This is a truly tragic, rapid and massive decline.  ☹

Then next is the matter of Earthquakes…

Turkey and Syria suffered a 7.8 quake on Feb 6th that resulted in >50,000 deaths with casualties exceeding 120,000. Victims were mostly in Turkey where civilian outrage is aggressively focused on flawed and unenforced Government Building Regulations as executed by contractors, many of whom have already been arrested.

Alaska if the most seismically active US State, enduring >20,000 quakes per year. They suffered the largest quake in domestic history, a 9.2 in 1964 which saw <<1k deaths in the sparsely populated South-Central region.

The World’s largest known earthquake was the 9.5 in Valdivia Chile, during 1960, which surprisingly resulted in just >6,000 deaths, fortunately much lower than would be expected.

The Loma Prieta quake in 1989 CA was a 7.2 and struck >50 miles South of San Francisco in a lowly populated area.

And then there is the matter of Climate…

In a report issued ~3/20/23, the UN notified members that all fossil fuel usage must stop immediately. This is radical stuff. Other similar warnings have been made over the last 30-40 years.

Needless to say, the preponderance of Carbon emission emanates from the combination of India and China who show little material concern for the matter. Interestingly, in climate-sensitive California as much 25% of their air pollution comes in from China.

In related news, British Columbia, CA, ORE and WA States have formed an alliance to fight climate change. At their recent gathering a blustering Gov. Gavin Newsome (CA) promised $42Million in relief funds for victims of flooding; he delivered $300K.

And then there were the Bank Failures…

The Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapsed first, pursuing woke policies and failing investments, that eroded their foundations. They had only a single Board member with financial experience and no Risk Management professional in place for the nine months preceding the collapse.

At the root, the Feds kept borrowing trillions and trillions (National debt claimed now at $31 Trillion), month after month to fuel spending and debt policies which not only drove up inflation, but Interest Rates; this in turn caused the Fed to raise Interest Rates eight or nine times. Increasing rates cause lots of problems for big banks.

Following the SVB collapse, Signature Bank quickly followed suit, but with government agencies and the Administration itself assuring that all investors will be made whole and with no cost to Taxpayers. 😉

A list of ten more at risk regional banks with similar practices (to SVB and Signature) was published, but as of writing no more have (visibly) collapsed. The mechanism for the (“not a”) Bailout looks to most reasonable people like simple, blatant Taxpayer funding, just by another name. ☹

The UK branch of SVB was bought locally for $1.00 by HSBC, who promptly doled out very large bonuses, I assume to ensure employee retention.

Fallout from the  January 6th (J6) Committee hearings continues…

The new (GOP) House Speaker released the much-protected video footage from the Capitol building that was held close by the Investigating Committee.

There was MUCH more footage (42,000 v the 14,000 hrs.) than advised by the Committee. And unfortunately, the content makes the Insurrection, look more like a calm guided tour for the most-part, which has caused questions regarding the voracity of Committee Members’ claims.

Currently the news is that J6 Committee members may face charges for lying, even as the legal pursuit and prosecution of (close and) actual participants is in practice, expanding.

And of course, COVID-related issues persist in the news…

As of late February, it is broadly known that Dr. Fauci (despite his Congressional denial) personally wrote checks funding Wuhan’s virus research since the Obama era and into the emergence of the pandemic, late 2019. This is fact not theory. The US, China and WHO have lied about this for years.

The REAL question becomes, was this a leak accidental or deliberate? THIS must still be understood and made known.

Effects of the pandemic linger on…

In late March, the CDC finally released data showing that in the first full year of the vaccine (2021), deaths for 1–19-year-olds in the US were up >12x from (no vaccine) 2020. This demographic normally has a particularly LOW deathrate. No explanation has been proffered.

And Socially it has been pronounced that binge-drinking in the US is a lingering affect from COVID Isolation. The problem exploded in 2021 and is particularly prevalent in young women, where they now outnumber men in this category on College Campuses.

Next is the issue of Boarder Insecurity

There are now >100K US deaths each year from Fentanyl. Mexican Cartels are shipping related goods and supplies in from China, mostly through the US Southern border. The question is being asked if Cartels should be designated Terrorist Organizations and treated as such.

More deaths occur each year in the US from Fentanyl than do so in Mexico.

As for illegal border crossings during just the current Administration the rolling monthly numbers suggest >5,000,000 in total have occurred, but missed encounters probably have the real count over 10,000,000.

Issues with Artificial Intelligence (AI) have begun coming to the fore…

Several prominent people (Elon Musk included) have called for a 6-month stay while controls for safety and management of AI Developments are established.

Some experts steeped in decades of development history are asserting that advanced AI will inevitably lead to human extinction. Seems exaggerated (hopefully!), but I have personally read detailed accounts of AI Bots turning hostile towards humans: not much sympathy there while clearly challenging its creators’ opinion and position.

And we still have the Shenanigans of the comical Clintons

As reported in the UK Daily Mail another Clinton Associate has met a questionable end. This one was found tied to a tree with a gunshot wound and an electrical cord about his neck. No gun was recovered from the scene. Death was ruled a SUICIDE. 😉

The scuttlebutt on the Clintons is that they have had +40 (some even say +80?) hard-to-explain deaths closely surrounding their time in politics. New incidents just keep popping up.

Then finally we have Harry and Meghan

Looks like the World (Talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel, Chris Rock, SouthPark, plus countless authors and pundits) are turning on them. Nevertheless, they do not go away and seem determined to shade KCIII’s Coronation and ultimately “crash the Monarchy, then take over.” Sigh.

Honestly, it is a shame that any two such (mentally troubled?) malicious characters can simply PR their way to such visible levels of constant, now-pointless malevolence. Their malice is long-passed warranted.

But the whole sad affair does have its laughable elements. Pity it just does not end.  😉

That seems to complete the round-up of Personal, Local, National and Global news!

As usual events are mostly more troubling than entertaining and the outlook for much is unclear.

It is the time to enjoy your surrounds and make the most of the outdoors. Severe weather and seasonal disruptions do not need to constantly detract from the joys of living.

Are you getting out-and-about, enjoying your surroundings? Perhaps you should make the time and brighten up all experiences available!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Tales of European Travel & Coming Home

Uncharacteristically, it is a few additional weeks since my last posting. I have been busily occupied by a couple of trips to Europe and overcoming some minor ailments on the tail-end of travels, upon return.

The trips were interesting and typically so, encompassing several countries, involving local outings and offering new experiences.

During recent times and travels I have also been listening to a string of audio-book Detective Novels to simply while-away interludes when enjoying new sights and scenes, further enrich those sedentary times during travelling or when finally, back home.

These have recently included a couple of DCI Logan series by JD Kirk, Comoran Strike tales by Rob Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) and Peter May’s, The Silent Death. Good reading, great listening and recommended entertainment. 😊

In the early part of December, I visited the UK, in-and-out via the SFO-Heathrow connection and after returning for a week departed again pre-Christmas for Sweden. This subsequent travel took in Stockholm (and locally, Hudiksvall), Helsinki (Finland),Tallin (Estonia), Hudiksvall (again), Edinburgh (Scotland), then proceeded down through England with various noteworthy scenic, City, Town and Village visits until reaching an overnight at Heathrow for my return.

The first trip to the UK took in a funeral in the Midlands attended by some new acquaintances and known relatives alike. It was a solemn affair visited with slight drizzles, overcast skies and those in attendance diligently clothed in the traditional black coats and clothing still favored and expected on such occasions in Britain.

This passing means that a regular direct personal connection is now formerly and finally lost to all, and me. A great loss and sad event.

The post-funeral gathering was held in a locally favored pub and eatery (Plough and Harrow, Chester Road) near Aldridge, Staffordshire. A warm, welcoming Inn sometime frequented by the sadly absent guest of honor.

My several days locally were spent nearby at Moor Hall (Restaurant, Hotel and Spa) trotting in-and-out on shopping errands, avoiding rains, overnight snows and freezing temperatures. The place itself provided a warm retreat with 500-year-old wood-paneled features, extensive renovations made through the years, still rather small rooms but unlimited and complete Full English Breakfasts.

On consecutive nights there I secured close, warm, fireside seating in a quiet lounge and enjoyed cross-room chats with first a traveler harboring fascinating (if a little paranoid) conspiracy-theory tendencies and then a father-and-son combo of particularly interesting Indian descent and family history.

My Indian acquaintance was a well-educated ex-RAF, Loughborough Colleges grad who still routinely works for the MOD.

As for driving, the local roads were largely unsalted, but few backroads were slippery and main roads never, even immediately following light, daytime snowfalls.

And then when the time came, I hit the road and returned the couple of hours along the motorway, down to check-in for an overnight at the Hilton (Terminal 2, Heathrow), before returning my car on time, ahead of my evening appointment.

The journey down itself was uneventful but notable for constant sightings of fork-tailed hawks (Red Kites) successfully re-introduced thirty years ago by domestic nature conservationists. Over the last twenty years I have witnessed these flocks spread from somewhat exclusively ~60 miles North of Heathrow on the M40 to now flourish all the way down to London, outnumbering (and dispatching) competing populations of crows. The distinctive tail-fork and wheeling numbers are impressive and memorable. 😊

So next to my evening meeting with my sole remaining, direct-blood Mackintosh relative (a cousin), not seen for many decades…

And I fine evening it was. We met for convenience in one of the decent pubs (The Victoria, Pub and Restaurant) within 5-10 mins walk of Paddington Station from where I had journeyed into London on the Heathrow Express Train.

Arriving first I secured warm bar seats away from drafty doors, in the ornate, traditional Victorian-style pub and soon happily greeted my cousin. Time has changed and aged us both, but the hours passed quickly; we consumed much (6 or more pints of) beer and one good glass of Rioja, catching up on personal and family histories. What a treat. 😊

We parted fondly and separated with renewed, well-defined means of and commitment to, future contact. I wended my way back to the nearest Tube station (the Train option disappeared at 7.00pm when a strike began), quickly purchased my ticket, boarded the Underground, changing in-route to the Piccadilly Line and was back at my Heathrow hotel in what seemed like under an hour.

It was still before midnight for this journey; the Tube itself carried the same stale mechanical operational odors I first encountered while living briefly in London during my early twenties, before returning to University for post-graduate studies. Good-humored, dark-clothed passengers were universally engaged with their phones, girls sitting with made-up sparkle patterns around their eyes and eBikes resting aboard while people came-and-went as stations fell-away. All this brought back fond memories.

As for my cousin, my unfortunate lack of much recent contact is corrected, and I am certain my now-reconnected relative will be reading these very lines. 😊

The following morning, I checked out of the Hotel and in with United Airways. After lounging around and scouring the Terminal 2 stores for potential gifts I indulged my now traditional, pre-flight (from London) Scottish Salmon, Oysters and Sauvignon Blanc feast at the central airport caviar stand.

Finally, I quickly trekked the 15 mins out to the gate, boarded, hunkered down, then drank, ate and slept the arduous fight back to SFO, and endured the wearisome drive home.

And then followed 8-9 days of meticulous preparations required for (and before) the upcoming, almost month-long return journey to Europe to visit family, friends and enjoy familiar and many new sights.

But, before this travel we hosted our newlywed eldest son and his wife for a pre-Xmas, Christmas celebration in Santa Cruz. My wife had the house well decked-out and decorated for seasonal events during my recent absence and this two-day affair went off like clockwork…

We enjoyed our small family gathering, Turkey Christmas Dinner and excited gift-giving. The surprise insertion of the traditional family Treasure Hunt entertained the Newlyweds and the following morning we were spoiled with our typical Boxing Day left-over fare (including bubble-and-squeak) and activities. And all this, just days before the officiality of the actual December 25th.  😉

The following couple of days and remaining hours involved frantic final last-minute packing for travel and the rabid disassembly of extensive Christmas decorations to avoid superstitiously invoking retribution and supposed bad luck incurred from NOT having these removed by Twelfth Night.

Finally, we left Santa Cruz on December 23rd, flying out of SFO, changing in Frankfurt to be checked into our Stockholm overnight airport hotel by late afternoon on the 24th. After a sleepless night I picked-up a rental car early on Christmas Day and by 2.00pm we were unlocking our Airbnb just outside of Hudiksvall after a snowy, four-hour drive North from Stockholm.

The rental place was great. We quickly settled-in, deciphered the lighting, heating, TV, kitchen and electrical arrangements and shopped locally in familiar stores. We relaxed, enjoying the surroundings and shops (happily regularly revisiting Wayne’s Coffee, in town) for a few days until all our extended family group could be assembled. Finally, my (younger) son was recovered from a recent bout of Covid and we reconnected to host a traditional US/UK-style Christmas meal and gathering for friends and family.

This was the second time we have hosted a larger group in Sweden. The gift exchange was great fun and I again set up our personally traditional Treasure Hunt for surprise gifts; this provides an excited treat for both young and older participants and was again thoroughly enjoyed by all. 😉

After a quick clean-up and re-packing for short-term travel, we quit our rental Airbnb, stashed unnecessary clothing elsewhere and set out in a group of four, for a couple of cruise trips we had planned out of Stockholm.


I always enjoy my stays in Sweden; not just because my youngest son and his extended family now reside there, but the environment, climate and culture appeals…

Driving in Sweden throughout this visit is fun, providing you are not a long-term resident, I suppose. The few weeks I am there involve constant snow clearing, de-icing, driving about in ruts that pull the rental SUV about; wipers often brush aside flurries and you wait exquisite minutes for the car to warm up when first entering each day.

Restaurants are fewer and are entered with stamping feet to clean your boots. There is local Traditional, Mediterranean, Sushi, Pizza (endless pizza offerings), Fast-food and other fare from which to choose. Prices are perhaps only 60% of back home. Service is polite, efficient and considerate; people seem genuinely happy when greeting one another.  It is different, experiential. It is not here. This is an easy place to be.


And next, we (four) were on the road heading South from Hudiksvall, anticipating the two cruises planned, both departing from Stockholm…

After remembering how to approach the expansive Tallink Disembarkation Port and Parking Lot, we parked the SUV, entered the Terminal and began the wait to check-in and board. A few hours later were aboard and secured in our (2) cabins along with our minimal baggage for a 2-night, New Year round-trip to Helsinki, Finland.

First night out was the usual dinner service crush, followed by a show featuring a dancing and singing ABBA Cover Band. It was fun. A HUGELY different diversion for me and good entertainment.

After briefly wandering around the large cruise vessel’s bars and shops with howling (+20 knot winds) Baltic weather outdoors, we finally slipped into our berths to later wake for early breakfast to be followed by a full day wandering about the Helsinki Old Town and harbor area where we were to dock shortly.

As for myself, I remained jet-lagged and sleepless, so finally rose to wander about upper and lower decks around 3.00am, peaking out at the blow, finally grabbing some strong coffee and playing with eMail for entertainment in a 24hr lounge. At this hour there were just a few drunken men, wandering around harmlessly and fighting sleep.

As the ship had already passed the curious mid-point stop and momentary docking requirement at Mariehamn, there was no close-by land to be seen outside. The outdoor leeward side of the vessel was still chilly and quite breezy; all there was visible were other occasional, far-off heavily lighted cruise liners crossing the Baltic and intermittent, and sometime lighted buoys bouncing on our wake as we pounded by.

So, I eventually retired for a few hours more sleep, rising with the others to enjoy a hearty breakfast and a rapid disembarkation into Old Town of Helsinki

The Harbor and Town are just 10 mins walk away and the large brick, historic, well-stocked Old Market building is the first port of call for most travelers. Any fish, meat or game you can imagine was for sale here and intermittent Cafés offered appealing breaks, snacks and drinks. You can purchase all sorts of breads, preserves and pastries; varied meats from Reindeer, Bear, Venison, Elk, Boar and more are available. And the stalls, people and building itself offer great photo-ops.  😊

After this we hit a couple of nearby Churches/ Cathedrals, each within 10-15 mins walk and sight of the harbor. The massive white church on the hill that loomed over the annual (just removed/ closed) Christmas Market had Lutheran origins and the other, red-brick, more ornate, domed edifice is now known as Finnish Orthodox in defiance of its Russian-built origins.

Following these visits, we wandered the few hundred yards back passed a busy outdoor sauna / dive pool setup nestled into the side of the sporadically ice-bound lower harbor and then through the year-round grouping of a half-dozen Outdoor Market stalls offering hot drinks, food and souvenirs for the small groups of tourists milling about in the freezing air.

We crossed from here into an adjacent square housing a massive, heated, glass-built (walls and arched roof) café and restaurant to board a bus-tour around the Finnish Capitol. The one-hour tour of Helsinki entertained and provided English-language descriptions of the City and its history for a nominal price.

When this tour was complete, we headed back to the brick Old Market for hot drinks, last minute shopping and respite before hiking back the few short minutes to the Boat. Once returned we readied for dinner, evening show and the scheduled New Year revelries.

Dinner was crowded, decadent with exorbitant buffet offerings of good food and the show was the same Cover band from the previous evening, but this time dancing and singing in a Queen Tribute. They were followed by a four-man singing troop who would give the Righteous Brothers a run for their money. 😉

As we moved about the ship, I had noticed several dozen, well-dressed women wearing ornate black and silvered evening gowns featuring large, stand-out wide-hip structures from which their dresses hung to the floor. Upon enquiry I found these to be Finnish Gypsies who have been uniquely allowed to legally settle permanently in Finland. Their male companions were correspondingly attired in black suits with white shirts and long black ties; all were dressed ready to proudly celebrate the New Year as a group. It was a heartening to behold; something I have never heard of nor seen, before.   😊

Growing increasingly tired as midnight approached, we slunk off to mid-ships on the main central shopping deck, next to a small operational stage and singing concert, where we seated ourselves in an up-scale wine-bar in preparation for the calling of Midnight and the ringing-in of the New Year.

Finally, the count-down was made; hundreds of balloons released from above into the raucous, yet well-behaved crowd all cheering, singing, jumping, dancing, hugging and kissing as mobile videos and selfies recorded from countless outstretched arms.  Overhead, large arrays and strings of colored lightbulbs swung gently in concert with the slight, subtle roll and dipping of the ship. 

Within 20-30 mins that main deck was empty and the previously large crowd dispersed into numerous cabins and bunks. And a great time was had by all.  😊

The next morning, we timed our Stockholm disembarkation to dodge the crowds and went ashore into the terminal to watch over our group baggage until we could check in for our second cruise, another 2-night return, booked to Tallin, Estonia. Two of the group headed into Stockholm to pass the hours; I chose to wait and played games on my cell phone until our boarding.

Our cabin had a sizeable outboard porthole through which to view the journey and usual momentary Mariehamn required mid-point Baltic Ocean docking. The trip itself was uneventful yet pleasant and we arrived to plan the following morning.

And then came the trip around Tallin. It is an older town with much, particularly medieval, history and architecture. The reason for this trip was to see the incredibly special Christmas Market still running (for another week of January) in the Old Town Main Square. It was as picturesque and special as I recalled from a few years prior visit.

We wound our way from the dock to the middle of the Old Town, taking pictures and admiring buildings as we passed. The main square housed several dozen stalls offering hearty hot-food plates, drinks, woolen and hand-made goods and souvenirs alike. I desperately wanted to eat foods from the Market but was spoiled more by a meal in a square-side restaurant after we were heavily courted by an animated and solicitous Maître D.

The restaurant served Venison, Bear and Elk meals. Everyone tried a little of everything including some local beers and good red wine. We then finally visited all the stalls and a few nearby shops but were eventually forced to head back towards the boat for embarkation.

As daylight began to fade the Old Square, Market Stalls and massive, decorated Christmas Tree presented increasingly pretty, photographic opportunities sprinkled with countless twinkling lights.

Along the return walk we made a final stop at an exceptionally large, old medieval Ale (and dining) Tavern. No modern dress or electric lights here; servers and food were the style of >500 years ago and candles offered the only lighting. We quickly indulged ourselves with coffees and snacks then meandered back through the streets to board our cruise ship and depart on schedule.

The return trip was memorable for next-day views of the early daylight winding journey through the Swedish Archipelago into the Port of Stockholm. It is a unique experience; our huge vessel passing within 100’s and sometimes 10’s of yards of the countless snow-covered, frequently forested, steep-sided islands dotted all along the route, exposing their occasional and isolated, very private homes and often ramshackle docking areas below.

Unfortunately, Tallin is in Estonia, where I assume many Russians (and Ukrainians?) might happily wander if escaping the proxy war in the Ukraine. So, unlike our prior journey into Finland which requires almost no identity check when re-entering Sweden, Tallin provides a different proposition. There was major scrutiny of all persons entering Sweden upon return.

As a consequence, inefficient, slow passport checks at Stockholm backed up some 3000 (est.) disembarking passengers in a 250-yard (long) by 30-yard (wide) gangway for an hour. Such Low temperatures, Winter climate and overcrowding has consequences. Upon my subsequent return to Hudiksvall I turned up a Positive Covid test within a couple of days. No surprise, here! My second infection and fortunately, again feverless. ☹

Well, the Covid blight followed the usual track of later viral mutations: seemingly more contagious (certainly in immediate environs) but far less virulent. Within ~72 hours after arrival I was still ploughing through my 5-day course of Paxlovid and already testing negative; the symptoms were quite mild and very similar to my first such infection last August when returning from Alaska.

Before shortly thereafter leaving Sweden, I was able enjoy a few more experiences: First, to drive out to the local village of Hog, wade into knee-deep snow surrounding the local church and get some snaps of a couple of 6’ high Viking Rune Stones stationed outside of the cemetery walls. Next, negotiate my rented SUV out of a shallow, snow-filled depression and finally, go Ice Fishing.

Such Rune Stones are more common in this area of Sweden; these were >500 years old and more recently moved to their current location.

The escape from the off-road snow-bound layby was a really fortunate experience. I was turning around on a narrow country road after seeing a monster snowplow (shovels front and another channeling snow, nearside rear) approaching from ahead; better to move over and let it pass. Consequentially I backed into the shallowest roadside depression that proved too much for the modest, rented SUV. There I sat, wheels spinning, within 250-yds of my latest Airbnb accommodation which loomed above, across the way, perched atop a long, steep, icy gravel driveway.

So, I worked with a local farmer who was fortunately feeding cattle 20 yards away to contact a town tow company, which arrived within 20 mins. It then took less than two minutes to attach a front axle cable hitch from a large flatbed towing truck to underneath the SUV and effortlessly pull it the couple of feet required, back into the narrow road. Problem solved.

And all achieved with aid from a couple of helpful locals, both speaking only very broken English. 

The moral of this story: Do not bother needlessly moving-over for snowplows, no matter how large. 😉

As for the fishing, that was a very typical Swedish experience…

We set out before light and drove around 20 miles, the last seven or so being on fresh, thick virgin powder that had not been ploughed this day. There was nobody ahead of us and the few, long snow-covered hills along the road required some speed and concentration to successfully mount the climbs and stay within the narrow confines of high white berms piled either side.

And then we arrived at our destination.  An untouched, 10” deep snow-covered deserted parking lot, surrounded by pines and deciduous growth; it was deathly quiet with little-or-no breeze.

The lake had fresh powder and the recent fall sat over a foot of ice. We slogged out onto and along the ice to a known, fancied fishing spot.

We drilled a lot of 10” diameter holes that day with a newly re-bladed manual auger.

Beneath the snow upon the lake sat water which appeared to fill every footprint and depression made; this made relocations and finding new sites hard going. No fish that day, maybe a couple of knocks, but the experience was nevertheless spectacular.

This section of lake was tree-lined and perhaps 300 yards across where we fished. At one end it appeared to terminate in shrubs and grasses that quickly blended into the tree line and half mile in the other direction, it narrowed and turned a corner vanishing into the woods. Throughout the hours we fished a heavy mist moved closer, in then out, sometimes settling close and upon the immediate tree-tops, only to later lift a little and slip back away.

In early afternoon the sun could briefly be discerned, trying and failing to peek through the more determined clouds and mists.

With all the gear we wore it was never cold; all day the temperature held -1 to -2deg C. The air was constantly still, and I never felt the slightest breeze. If hands got wet till tested, they were best covered quickly to avoid further discomfort in already chilled fingers.

After four or more hours we trudged back to the lake’s edge breathing heavily, lugging gear up the final few hundred yards through the forest to the SUV, where we quickly shed our heavy clothing, repacked the trunk and wended our way out of the pristine parking lot, retracing our lonely inbound tracks.

No photographs were taken. But the memory of that place and outing will hold strong.

And then the time in Sweden was done. The following morning, we rose early, completed packing, drove to make saddened rushed farewells to local family and barreled South the four-hour journey to Stockholm, finally boarding our late afternoon flight to Edinburgh, Scotland.

We overnighted in an Airport hotel then next day rented a small SUV from Hertz and headed South through Northumberland to catch the major sites and stay two nights in Newcastle-on-Tyne.

This region houses more castles than any other in England and is worth a visit, especially in the less busy off-season. On this journey we stopped first in the quaint fishing Village of Eyemouth during a downpour, then drove a little further, crossing onto Holy Island at low tide, capturing spectacular snaps of historic Lindisfarne, rising defiant and majestically from the watery flats into clear skies.

Next, we ran down to Banburgh Castle and opened the unlocked entry gates, enjoying our exclusive private viewing of Grounds, Buildings, Battlements and ancient Keep. The phot-op and panorama were unprecedented. There were no tourists to disrupt our views and shots as this great edifice was momentarily closed for the Winter season.

A solitary couple later followed us inside to the consternation of an indignant worker who shooed us all off, in a belated bid for enforcement of the current closure. We already had our experience and photographs, so meandered back passed fortifications, cannon-filled balustrades and old stone buildings, politely closing and bolting the gate behind us as we set off into the local village nestled right below, beneath the massive Castle.

The village itself is worth the visit. A Bakery, Michelin Restaurant, Hotel/ Pub/Restaurant and Shop(s) all side-by-side across from a large central Green. Picturesque and a phot-op itself. The pub food and beer by an open fire were well worth the stop-in, too. 😊

We finished the day at Alnwick Castle, made famous for the filming of Hogwarts School in Harry Potter movies. The castle is massive, rambling and in various, mixed stages of aging, from fine condition to notable disrepair.

Here we learned about free local (time-limited) parking in multiple locations throughout the town for the price of a simple, re-usable display disk; this must be set and displayed to indicate time of arrival. The disk costs 1.00GBP (~$1.20) and is re-usable forever once purchased and displayed. What a great deal. 😉

The castle itself presented well for decent photographs, even in failing daylight. We forwarded those to friends and family who are Harry Potter (HP) junkies. There is also a modern HP/ Castle Theme Park attached for those with children who might be interested; this is closed during Winter months.

After cappuccinos and snacks we trundled the last few miles into Newcastle City, its rush-hour and the newly minted, torturous one-way system. After frantically circling the hotel in heavy traffic we finally found ready local parking and checked-in, before heading out to local pubs, late-night Indian fare and a short walk back to the hotel.

The following morning, we again over-ate yet another Full English Breakfast and set out on a walkabout. Newcastle has a long and important history, evidenced by the magnificent, well-preserved 1000-year-old Keep and Barbican (heavily fortified gated entrance) we toured. The Cathedral is right next door and houses an impressive refectory and well-stocked Café.

After teas, scones, pies and biscuits there, we walked the mere 10 mins back to our Hilton Garden Hotel opposite to the grand old Central Train Station, grabbed the SUV and headed out of town.

Next stop was a visit to Hadrian’s Wall (circa 120 AD) and accompanying Roman Town/ Fort ruins. We pay-parked, surveyed the bleak, windswept, rain-lashed exposed walk, read the posted notes about the town remains that we could easily view from our ½ mile distance, then jumped back into our heated vehicle. With some wisdom we drove back a few miles to another, far less-exposed section of the Wall / ditches and took some snaps for the records, just as some brief welcome sunshine emerged. A much wiser choice. 😉

NOTE: Hadrian’s Wall and accompanying ditch-systems was built to keep out unfriendly warring tribes of Picts from further North.  It is visible on-and-off for 10’s of miles in this region. After almost 2000 years it remains discernable, rambling, utilizing erratic natural geographic contours and still present over much of its 80–90-mile length.

Shortly after this photo-op we returned the few miles to a one-lane bridge over the heavily swollen river Sill (?). Alongside stood The George Hotel in Chollerford, where Baden Powell often visited before founding the now world-wide Boy Scout movement in 1908.

It is a nice old hotel with its own docks, sitting along the banks of the river, stretching out towards the solid, stately multi-arched stone narrow bridge. We took drinks there in a warm lounge in front of an open fire. Although aging, the Hotel has great ambiance and offers rooms and a large dining restaurant for travelers.

As the day was fading it was time to head back to our Newcastle hotel.

Along the way it seemed that every time we passed the smallest of villages or towns there were often visible signs of the Strip Farming that had been practiced there by peasants and farmers from >>500 years ago. The characteristic rows of consecutive, humped, typ. 10-15-yard-wide strips are still clearly impressed and exposed upon obviously ancient fields, particularly in the immediate proximity of older clustered dwellings and structures.

These sightings caused me to keep looking for similar signs throughout England as I journeyed South. Indeed, the evidence is there, visible from roads and Motorways even down in the farmlands North of London, but less so. Time does not always quickly erase all.

And so, we returned to Newcastle and deposited the SUV back in the low-cost long-term parking of the main Railway Station immediately across the street from the Hotel. This gave us the opportunity to stop in the station’s Centurion Bar, which has been fully restored by private investors to its magnificence as an exotic, floor-to-ceiling fully tiled, ornate 1839 First Class passenger lounge for early train travelers.

What an edifice. Even today commuters stop in while waiting for trains and it is a go-to place for evenings out, watching televised sports and photo-ops. The bar offers a large range of tap beers, some snacks and was a welcome stop to begin this evening out.

Following this we wandered just a couple of hundred yards along the same street and found multiple attractive pub/ eatery options and settled there for beers, pies, fish-and-chip (French fries) meals before catching the end of a Premiership game and settling in for the night back at the Hotel.

SIDE NOTE: Despite constant sampling of food and drinks I didn’t fare too badly in maintaining weight this trip. Must have been all the walking?  😉

The next day I rose early, got the SUV packed and headed the few hours’ drive South to the familiar, old City of York. Traffic was forgiving along the way; even the rush-hour congestion when entering town favored my route at every turn and I checked-in at the Hilton and parked before the 3.00pm crush of new arrivals.

The hotel entrance stood 100 yards directly across the road from the 1000-year-old Clifton Tower, an ancient Keep perched sedately atop an ~60’ high dirt mound. It makes an impressive setting though oddly does not always photograph well at night, even though spotlighted and illuminated.

That evening we were off around town, checking a few pubs and eateries, enjoying the lighted streets, open stores and historic architectures before returning to enjoy the open fire and drinks in the Hotel bar.

The following day we savored breakfast at the well-run and stately hotel restaurant. After this we hit the well-known and prescribed sites that every visit to York should embrace. Firstly a 1-hour orientation and  history-class tour atop a Hop-on-Hop-off bus around the City, followed by a visit to York Minster Cathedral.

The Minster has its foundations laid in part upon the remains of a more massive major Roman Fort. It is a unique structure with classic English Architecture providing the only remaining example of an expansive, stained-glass-window central tower, whose supporting pillars had to be surgically reenforced with gigantic concrete footing collars secured by innumerable horizontal steel rods, to prevent its weight from crushing its own foundations.

This mighty building is full of light penetrating through enormous stained-glass window structures, making the Cathedral an architectural marvel. Well worth a visit. I recommend making an advance on-line reservation to enjoy a scheduled climb of the main tower to the roof above. That is truly special.  😊

Surrounding the Cathedral are streets and buildings that go back some 700 years. We wandered the narrow street of The Shambles and affiliated street market. There are cafés, souvenir and various other shops to browse. We stopped for a Cream Tea (local jam and clotted cream on scones with a pot-of-tea for two) along the way.

In The Shambles stores offering Harry Potter souvenirs, Ghostly goods and providing Ghost Tours now enjoy much of the excited, busy trade from Gen Xr’s and Millennials alike.

There are always new things and facts that pique my interest when I visit this ancient walled city. First this time was the huge, impressive, fortified gate (Micklegate Bar) where the heads of transgressors were rolled in tar and impaled on high for all entering the City to behold. Second, is the fact that TWO Roman emperors died in York and a THIRD (Constantine) was proclaimed there; the Romans treasured Britain, their most Northerly important conquest.

After the stay in York, we moved down to the lush green countryside of the Midlands and overnighted in my familiar childhood nearby town of Warwick. In the past I have usually favored visiting Stratford (some 10 miles distant) but have been there so frequently that my memories of Shakespeare’s picturesque Town Centre, Tudor buildings, Canal, Avon River and Theatres do not need refreshing anytime soon.

So, there I was in Warwick. We stayed at The Globe, a comfortable place where the off-site parking was a little inconvenient but the Hotel and Restaurant/ Bar itself sat right below the main Old Town Square, just 2 mins walk away and loaded with pubs, eateries, coffees houses and convenient local shops.

That night we wandered around the Old Town then ate out at a local pub in front of an open fire, nestled in deep sofas and warm surroundings. After dinner we sat and cleaned up our aging eMail business then eventually left when a couple arrived and proceeded to spend an hour in increasingly loud, wholesale vocal disagreement. A manager spoke to them to quiet the spectacle, which was apparently a frequent occurrence for this local pair. But we were tired and faced an early morning so moved back to our hotel, grabbed a drink at the bar then turned in.

Pressed for time the next day we quickly visited the Old Alms House and Lord Leycester Hospital (built from 1126AD to late 1400’s) which is currently undergoing extensive repairs and renovation. This is an important historical structure of medieval courtyard architecture and sited on the High Street, next to the old West Gate Town entrance just 5 mins walk from the Old Town Centre. Again, worth a visit, check for re-opening if you are in the area.

And do not forget Warwick Castle, one of the finest, most complete medieval examples in the UK, that I have enjoyed several times before. Its fortifications, battlements, encircling wall, interior buildings, historical displays and extensive gardens are a popular Summer destination. However, we were short of time and so passed on visiting this trip.

After packing I drove the few hours South to my familiar haunt of the Hilton at Terminal 2, Heathrow Airport. As mentioned earlier, the trip down again presented several views of Strip Farming activities, and the now familiar Fork-tailed Hawks made their appearances above.

Upon arrival I snagged a couple of free trolleys from the airport parking areas, loaded them with all the bags, checked-in then returned the rental vehicle to prepare for a last evening out.

Upon Hotel recommendations we took a Taxi to the apparently wildly popular and trendy Pheasant Inn on West End Lane near Heathrow. It is a very different place to dine. The Pub/ Restaurant has a great menu and good drink offerings. Most everything seems to be served in robustly tented heated areas attached to and wrapped about the main building. Most unusual.

After seating by the Maître D you scan the provided menus then take your orders to an ordering position where your choices are diligently recorded. Same goes for drinks, where you approach the bar. Then you sit and wait. Appropriate utensils arrive which are quickly followed by really well-prepared appetizers, meals and desserts, as ordered. The food is great.

Basically, there are no traditional waiters taking orders. Just a well-dressed crew of timely workers delivering food and bussing as required. The interior is modern with simple grey walls and stained-wood appointments. Service is crisp and helpful, and they seem to be insanely profitable. Clientele appear to be well-heeled locals, eclectic diners with a sprinkling of travelers such as we out of Heathrow. 😊

We returned to the Hotel by Taxi, having earlier dropped-off the Hertz rental SUV. The Maître D courteously and willingly arranged this transport home.

The next morning, we left the Hotel, walked across the terminal with our trolleys and labored through the (albethey helpful and friendly people) new, extensive automated check-in and data-entry procedure now required for International Travel with United. Sigh.  😉

After muscling through security checks, we did our own thing with preferred pre-trip dining (Scottish Salmon, Oysters and Sauvignon Blanc again for me), a quick visit to the United Lounge and boarded on time for a 45min delayed departure. The return trip was well-served but seemed grueling, and eventually passed.

Upon reaching SFO I sped through Global Entry in minutes, paid the exorbitant fees ($8.00 ea. ONLY required in CA… sigh) for a couple of trolleys, collected all our baggage, retrieved our SUV from Alamo Parking and drove back to Santa Cruz, quite weary upon arrival home.

After quickly unloading the baggage, I surveyed the garden and house surroundings for obvious damage from the preceding weeks of globally publicized, local California Winter Storms. A few garden furniture coverings were torn-up and those were superficially addressed, to be more fully secured the next day. We were then officially returned.

During these travels I notably greatly benefitted financially, from THREE things: The strength of the US dollar versus more badly struggling currencies (Euro, SEK, GBP), the largely vanishing practice of TIPPING outside of the US and the typically 30% (oft times 40%) lower prices of goods and services in Europe.

Most (non-US) Countries now take payments for everything by contactless Credit Card. This means the option to tip seldom comes up nor is directly inserted into the automatic billing process. I asked people about this in several Countries, and each assured me that tipping is nice (and appreciated) but really neither necessary nor expected with current local pay levels. Wow. This certainly beats the 18% (often 20%) expectation commonly seen in the US, where, as mentioned, prices are also typically much higher than in Europe. 😊

As for using cash, do not ask. I have never seen it expected regardless how inexpensive the purchase. And in many European places (stores, restaurants and Hotels) cash is often unable to be accepted at all.

In the days following my return I worked through the inevitable jetlag and snuffles, a seemingly inevitable result of long-term travel. And there were immediate, scheduled regular medical tests and appointments to attend and local damage to view that had resulted from the extensive storms centered around my Santa Cruz home.

Storm damage was close to, but not at my home. Some 300 yards East, the almost sea-level Moran Lake inlet had lost several feet of sand off the short beach and countless logs and branches, some as long as 30’ feet and 2’ in diameter had washed up to, and over the road. Now annual sea glass hunters have arrived early and search a graveled beach for (often) 100-year-old small, smooth, colored fragments mingled with the pebbles, washed back to land after being dumped off-shore by glass-waste disposal practices common hereabouts, many years ago.

Some 400 yards West, East Cliff Drive falls again to almost reach sea-level. The standing water, sand, trees and branches that had washed in have already been quickly removed and 5’ high sand berms flank each side of the road, holding off further flooding and clearing way for cars to pass.

Some 250 yds from my home the wooden steps descending ~30’ to the beach, winding through the massive seawall of giant boulders were destroyed, and water reached up and onto that immediate area of 26th Avenue.

Amazingly there were few or no signs of fallen Eucalyptus trees. The recent, aggressive proactive removal and pruning of the numerous stands in this neighborhood following last year’s storms and damage has fulfilled its purpose. 

All the beaches hereabouts are strewn with massive logs and driftwood that was tumbled, stripped, then washed in. Now each night there are impressive wood bonfires that light the skies with flames and sparks and slowly help diminish the piles of debris. The beaches are no longer feared after a week or two of calm, and normalcy has returned.

Down in Capitola Village the storms wreaked some havoc, with waves again making progress into the low-lying central Victorian buildings that stand just 50 yards from the short, futile seawall barrier. Several of the half-dozen frontage restaurants had their aging underpinnings, support pilings and even some interiors damaged or destroyed by waves and the debris they bore. A couple are amazingly already open again for business. 😊

The Britannia Arms stands slightly further East, nearer cliffs and on fractionally higher ground, yet only 60 yards or so from the same Seawall; there was no damage apparent there. After a forced evacuation one storm day they were brazenly opened-up for business the next even during continuing heavy weather.

The entire Capitola beach seems lowered several feet by the loss of sand, and the old concrete spit reaching to the ocean from the Creek now stands fully exposed again, protruding boldly on wood-strewn flats.

And the Capitola Pier still stands, but with some 40 yards or so gone of its decking and rails in one place, oddly absent from above the pilings that remain there, resolute. Here, cables and service lines now hang listlessly between the two lengthy, still-decked sections of Pier that live on.

The decking lost was to waves reflecting off the tall cliffs behind the Pier, accumulating height with those incoming on the storm, thence attacking the structure from below; it was much the same location and damage suffered similarly and recorded in the 1960’s.

Out on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk the mile or so of frontage beach is also strewn with massive logs and drift, as is all seafront surrounding much of the Monterey Bay. There appears to be no specific notable storm damage to the Santa Cruz Pier and Boardwalk entertainments.

And the President himself made a brief, superficial flyby to survey the damage, alarming some residents with the enormous din produced from his squad of intimidating, thunderous black military helicopters.

The major storms are now behind us and repairs are well underway.

Following these local inspections, I took enjoyment in a rare visit to the Cinema on 41st to enjoy an evening, 3-D showing of AVATAR: The Way of The Water. No matter your convictions, likes and dislikes, this is a spectacularly entertaining treat for both young and old. It provides a happy distraction from the woes and troubled News that surrounds us all. I highly recommend it for everyone. 😉

In closing, my most recent, happy particularly personal news is a reported clean bill of health. I apparently remain currently cancer-free, as determined by my latest six-monthly checks. 😊

And so, this completes a chronical of (much of) my recent journeys. Time away, travelling, visiting new (and even old) sights is refreshing, enervating and a joy. I do enjoy my Winter, Holiday-Season travels.

How about you? Did you take time out and meet up with Family, Acquaintances and Loved ones? Have you enjoyed recent travels and diversions?

If not, it is a New Year, so why not treat yourself and make some of these choices happen!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Passing Into Winter, Enjoying Local Life and Watching Global Madness Expand

In the last month or so the weather in my home territory of Northern CA has seen temperatures drift from their daily mid-60’s to the lower 50’s with nights falling into the 30’s but still normally holding above freezing. This is typical Winter hereabouts.

Nights see occasional rains, sometimes heavy and persisting as much as an hour, which leaves the following days displaying steaming wood fences, rooves and roads as dampness burns off.

Steam rising from a frosty fence and garden shed in the early morning sun  Stock Photo - Alamy

With this has come spectacular sunsets. Indeed, I have spent many recent fading afternoons on the Santa Cruz Pier, seated behind the steering wheel, parked facing West with beer in-hand watching the sun drop over the horizon behind the famous Steamers’ surfing waters. The gulls swirl above and the post-feeding sealions rollick in the chilly waters below, waiting for the tide to make the lower Pier joists accessible in height so they can launch themselves aboard and finally rest.

Surfing Santa Cruz in Style — Sigma Adventures

The many juveniles and fewer mature sealions return at speed each evening, leaping from the water in multiple inbound groups of 5-10, approaching their final nightly resting spots on beams and planks beneath the Pier as the seawater rises.

As temperatures drop the Dolphin Restaurant at pier’s end bustles with diners seated behind glass windows, intermingling with flaming propane heating towers. And outside, occasional groups wander about, peering through the few, through-pier viewing spots and over rails to photograph and enjoy the antics of resident sealions.

One November evening we were joined here by a rare bird only normally seen far South in Baja or much further West in Hawaii. Excited local press and media caused a stir about the sighting that later attracted interested folks from around the region wanting to see the distinctive young (with still just pinkish feet and legs), Red-footed Booby.

When I first found it fearlessly perched on a rail, it seemed almost open to being handled and posed implacably for close-up mobile-phone camera shots by occasional puzzled passers-by who wondered what it might be. It clearly was not a gull and indeed would aggressively shoo-off other such birds that approached.

It was identified and announced a few days later in local press outlets. There remains the mystery of how it had ever arrived.

Mid November (by The Hook of Pleasure Point along East Cliff Drive) provided a one-night show of rare abundance. Some 1500 Pelicans settled 100-200 yds off the cliffs, strewn over a quarter mile, with a couple of teams of some two-dozen sealions (up from the Santa Cruz Pier, 1-2 miles West) thrashing back and forwards through the same area, just aside of a flotilla of surfers working their usual spots. A shoal of small fry had surfaced and induced a feeding frenzy for diving birds and speeding sealions, alike.

As for myself, these colder days have found me binge-watching multiple TV series and enjoying audiobooks while travelling or just sitting watching the spectacular array of recent local sunsets.

Amazon Prime Video (with included Acorn and Britbox Apps) offers many options for Detective Stories and Intrigues; recently I have burned through multiple series of Red Election, No Offence and Annika (on Masterpiece). All worth watching.  😊

As for Audios, my recent indulgencies include two more detective series featuring DCI Logan by J.D. Kirk and Cormoran Strike by Rob Galbraithe (aka J.K. Rowling).

In late November I made another night boating run around the San Francisco Bay, taking friends along the Embarcadero waterfront, enjoying the crisp evening and many early displays of City Christmas lights on buildings and the Bay Bridge itself. What a great, bracing outing wrapped up with drinks and appetizers after a safe return to the dock.

On the health front I have been paying the price for being outdoorsy in California with my latest six-monthly visit to my now-regular Dermatologist.

When I met this fellow a couple of years ago, he greeted me with, “Ahh, fair hair and blue eyes. We have been waiting for you.”

It appears these Northern European qualities mean you do not belong in the California (or any generally fiercer US) Summer sun between Noon and 4.00pm, ever. And at all other times you best be bathed in high-end, zinc-based sunblock; even then, the odds you will have a Dermatologist in your later life remain extremely high.

It seems my lifestyle of Sailing and Fishing are incompatible with my genes. But we do what we must and manage the consequences. These are: Almost annual chemical facial skin scrubs and 6-monthly, freeze-offs of any precancerous, suspicious specks. These are uncomfortable and essential treatments. ☹

And be warned…  no-one is immune to these specific, immutable laws of outdoor living.  😉

Thanksgiving was a different experience this year. Most friends and family were off in their different directions and with my having extensive personal European travel plans (England, Sweden, Finland and Estonia) through Christmas and the coming New Year, a more solitary celebration was in order for my wife and self. And it was a wonderful day…

The early morning temperature rose from high 50’s to 63F by Noon, so we got in a 17-mile bike ride before an early-evening dinner. It was the usual East Cliff run down to Capitola, back West along Portola Drive, around the Santa Cruz harbor and up passed Aldo’s; but then we added-in an additional run up to and around the estuary, along the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and on the Pier. Surprisingly, a few Fairground rides were operating on the Boardwalk, enticing happy squeals of delight from both young and old as we rode by.

THE BEST Santa Cruz Bike Tours (with Photos) - Tripadvisor

We next stopped for beers at the Crow’s Nest Café on the return route through the Santa Cruz Harbor and enjoyed those seated outside under umbrellas, behind the Café El Palomar Restaurant, watching a few festive groups of locals play (including Brazilian-Style, no hands) beach volleyball.

Happily, the weather remained sunny, cloudless the entire day and it felt like temperatures were in the 70’s.  😊

And the traditional, early evening dinner that followed at home was as special and welcome as ever.  😊

Sadly, I lost a good friend recently after his two-year battle with Cancer and will attend his funeral service in England mid-December. He was a good person; just wish tears could wash away the grief.

The 2022 Men’s World Cup has begun with its massive Global coverage and fanaticism. Local Qatari officials angered Sponsors (esp. Budweiser) when they reneged on commitments and in the days before opening games enforced a no-alcohol-consumption rule in Stadiums.  But life went on…

The US team made it out of the Group Stage competition but lost in the Round Of Sixteen and is already returned home. American Pundits and fans alike focused on the real successes the team did enjoy during their participation and run.  😊

In 2026 the World Cup is billed as a primarily US event and perhaps the historically frequent host team successes will play out for them.  😉

On December 3rd, the Annual Lighted Boat Parade was held in Santa Cruz Harbor. It is always a picturesque and happy event. Even after the parade, many docked boats carry their lighted decorations into the Christmas period; there usually remain several dozen decked-out vessels on each side of the bridge which crosses the harbor by the Yacht Club…

Each year we wander down to the harbor to enjoy these displays. This year was a chilly, wet night but as is usual it was brightened by sparkling decorated vessels scattered throughout the Harbor. The Crow’s Nest (CN) and Johnny’s restaurants were packed-out with festive customers following the Saturday Night parade. So instead, we sat away, sheltered from wind and rain sprinkles behind the (CN) Café, drinking beers, listening to Christmas music, gazing over the twinkling vessels, and surrounding decorated buildings.

The Harbor is well worth a night visit this time of year.  😊

On another sad note…

There is still a drive-thru’ food bank operating 1-2 miles from my home, at a Community Center near 17th Avenue on Portola Drive. I believe it has been there many months now, as inflation continues to run rampant and the economy withers. Each Wednesday, cars line-up around the parking lot and one-by-one gratefully seize large boxes of food stuffs and deposit them in their trunks.

It is fortunate that this service is there. It is SAD that it needs be.

And now on to the broader scope of (some) contemporary issues that affect the Nation and World alike and so warrant being recorded…

Let us begin with the elephant in the room. I like to travel, so early 2021 Covid shots and a December 2021 booster were an inevitable and easy choice for myself. I thought little of the ramifications and was not too concerned about what appeared (and was cast) as fear-mongering unproven conspiracy theories about risk tied to these vaccinations.

I was wrong and apparently foolish. There are now extensive proven and well-documented medical facts published by leading experts across the World (> one dozen Countries now have related data published) detailing the now FACTUAL, codified risks and liabilities. If you do NOT believe this and continue vaxxing and boosting yourself, you too are making a major mistake. The supported and proven facts and publications are plentiful and are ignored at your own peril…

Prominent and sough-after Oncology expert Dr Angus Dalgleish (Prof of oncology St George’s University of London) has written that Covid vaccine programs are no longer necessary especially because of known links to myocarditis, heart attacks and strokes now being well accepted. He predicted these risks in his June 2020 QRBD article. Problematic incidents especially follow Boosters, and the pattern is being seen and reported in Germany, Australia and the USA.

The USA (especially prone to NOT reporting such problems and actively still promoting Vax programs) recently published the 2021 data on the incidence of Cancers in the Military, which only began vaccinations that same year. Cancer incidence increased from 3x-8x depending on Cancer-type, relative to 2020 occurrences. This is simply not coincidence.

Medical reports (accepted by Government bodies and appropriately peer-reviewed) in prominent journals about the World have now published data showing proven Vax ties to Heart Disease, Strokes, Blood Clots, Cancers, Comas, Brain Damage, Stillbirths, Infant Deaths and more. The published (in UK Science Magazine) belief is that the result of Boosting vaccinations inherently and inevitably depletes the auto-immune system, and it is well-known Vaxed people contract Covid, anyway.

It is repeatedly stated that longer-term vaccination impacts on human DNA and immune systems have not even begun to be understood.

As a result of many folks now finding and reading these proven and accepted medical reports there has been an inevitable explosion of patients requiring blood transfusions demanding non-vax blood. Unsurprisingly, this demand is proving hard to support. ☹

Pfizer and Moderna are now just starting long-term studies to figure out of there is a link between Covid shots and Heart damage. Finally.

This fulfils my duty of at least reporting items those needing vaccination should at least now research and consider.

Next, the UK is banning Puberty Blockers for under-18’s. Pursue yourself if interested.

As regard to a couple of individual characters…

In a recent Poll it was found that 60% of Americans want Hunter Biden investigated by the incoming GOP. This includes only 30% of Democrats.

The release by Twitter of so much information regarding FBI-supported suppression of the Hunter Laptop-story in 2020 has caused quiet apologies from several media sources, who now are acknowledging an inevitability of an investigation (and the corresponding implication of associated corruption in Joe Biden). We will see if The Big Guy is ever held to account.

A pair of Trump’s minions have been Indicted for distorting Company records to feather their own nests. The push to neutralize Trump himself will continue into next year since his 2024 Presidential run has already been announced.

From acquisition to termination: Everything that's happened post Elon  Musk's Twitter deal | Technology News,The Indian Express

Inevitably, the continued release by Elon Musk at Twitter of information proving biased censorship of Conservatives (esp. the Hunter Biden Laptop Story) has brought him death threats of which he confesses to being disturbed and concerned. By default, he is upsetting both Dems and the FBI participants with these actions. And by association this may bring him into the historically efficient world of deadly Clinton Retribution.

As I write, Poland has reversed course and is now accepting the offer of a Patriot Air Defense System from Germany. If you recall, a couple of Ukrainian-fired missiles recently mistakenly landed in Poland which were maliciously, deliberately and erroneously claimed by AP to be of Russian origin.

Interestingly, in April this year I met a young Polish Hotel worker during my stay in Edinburgh. She told me that even before the Russian invasion, her relatives in Poland who live within 100-200 miles of the Ukrainian border, had already defined personal evacuation plans if any warring spilled over.

Can you spell escalation?

Another corruption and fraud scandal has exploded on the international stage. The largest scheme ever inflicted upon Investors. Namely, the collapse of the giant Cryptocurrency outfit, FTX

What are the troubling facts and background? Consider this:

  • The major Investor in FTX is the Ukrainian Government, who was known as outrageously corrupt until the day of the Russian invasion.
  • The US has poured untracked money (>$91B as of Nov. 2022) into Ukraine in 2022 at a spending rate of 3X the cost of the Afghanistan war. $10B’s have gone in unknown directions.
  • Ukraine poured money into FTX.
  • The FTX CEO is/ was the second largest Dem Megadonor behind Soros over recent times.
  • The Financial Oversight (by an actual Congressional Committee) of FTX was required and was obviously little or none. FTX Donations spilled into Dem coffers. Maxine Waters (on this Committee) is the multi-time winner of the “most corrupt congressperson” award and (again) personally received funds.
  • Generals Austin and Milley (Sec. of Def. and Joint Chief of Staff, resp.) are now pushing immediately for more unregulated $10B’s from US Taxpayers into Ukraine.
  • NY Prosecutors were looking into dubious practices of FTX months before the collapse and belief is that NY long-since possessed proof of same.
  • It is believed that Military assistance funds to Ukraine were used to invest in FTX.
  • Getting fat: Politicians and Military contractors.
  • Getting shafted, citizens of: Ukraine, US (Taxpayers), Russia and power-starved Europe.
  • Seriously depleted:  Arsenals in US and across Europe.

This FTX collapse of Cryptocurrency is the largest loss in the history of the WORLD.

It seems this would need some serious investigation and review. Apparently, nobody wants this to occur, and the foot-dragging has begun. There are clearly a lot of dirty fingers in this pot!  😉

On the (US and Local, CA) Domestic front…

Gavin Newsome is pushing and will close on a Reparations Package that will bring each Black person in CA (who can demonstrate kin to a slave ancestor) a $233K /per head payout. This will generate an INITIAL cost to CA taxpayers of $970B in a State where there never was any slavery NOR were most of its inhabitants even IN the State until after slavery ended AND they also likely have no connection in their families TO slavery.

California Gov. Newsom Signs Bill Opening Door To Slavery Reparations –  Deadline

It is a tough sell to residents, but as its CA it will likely happen.  It is believed that similar laws will be passed shortly thereafter in Oregon and Washington and (possibly) NY. Some say Biden will push for equivalence at the Federal level and make it an issue for (votes in) the 2024 elections. Likely Newsome will be carrying that flag anyway and use it to drive his own personal Presidential bid.

Gavin N. has always found new emerging trends, grabbed them by the scruff and got out in front, claiming them as his own; this is his modus operandum. Unfortunately, there is no known cause he has championed where he hasn’t worsened or destroyed the original situation… a hard reality for the wannabee President and any supporters he garners.

Now in closing let me comically mention Meghan Markle. Apparently, she took the UK and (strangely) the Argentinian Citizenship tests concurrently BEFORE she and Harry bailed on The Firm. These tests are not too challenging, defined for inclusion and to bring a simple level of awareness and familiarity with the Country to new Citizens. Meghan failed both tests. Sigh. This is moronic.  😉

That really concludes my round-up of personal activities and observations. I trust this provided an easy read, useful synopsis of recent events and an interesting diversion?

Hope you are having fulfilling experiences and finding ways to enjoy YOUR life and times.

Recommend you look for such opportunities! They are all around.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Enjoying Local Surroundings and Recording Notable News Events

The last several weeks have seen a lot of activity around both my local neighborhood and the Alameda/ San Francisco areas I visit regularly.

Weather has been mild hereabouts, and the Summer tourists and weekenders have melted away as schools got back underway.

A major sign of the changes was apparent when I recently left my house, turned the corner wandering just a few yards down to the bottom of 26th Avenue to then be greeted by a Hang-Glider drifting back and forth along the cliffs some 100 yards away.

The warm on-shore, <10 knot updraft off the Monterey Bay allowed the glider to lazily move a few hundred yards back and forth some 40 feet above the cliff-face. An easy, lazy day for the pilot and an incongruous view for my solitary self, standing directly below.

Just a few weeks before and 100 yards inland from here I had a 7-foot eucalyptus branch drop +40 feet squarely onto my head as I rode in the bike lane immediately beneath a canopy of trees.

This >2lb. cutting had remained from tree-work done earlier and chose to fall directly as I passed below. What are the odds, and what good luck! Just a knot on the head, scuff on the forehead and I was not even separated from my bike.  😊

Mid October surfing contests show up on weekends for High Schools and other participant events. Temporary canopies and Audio commentary is then set up along The Hook, which stretches along Pleasure Point from the Café down to 41st Avenue. Non-participant surfers still arrive and line up slightly away from the tournament action, either down toward the O’Neill cliff house or the opposite end of The Hook from the competitions.

Capitola recently held its massive annual fireworks display, run from off the end of the old pier. The event is always spectacular, lasts 20-30 mins and is hosted this time of year by local businesses as a Thank you to Residents for their vital ongoing support.

The show is well worth the visit. The Capitola Village is packed, and the East Cliff is lined by pedestrian-only traffic with heads thrown back admiring the creative display reflecting off the Monterey Bay waters and towering into the skies above the crowds. A true spectacular, just a short walk from home.

I ride a bike year-round and normally 5 days a week. Rides usually run about 12 miles/day, with some weeks a couple of 20-milers thrown in. Weekends I save for sailing out of Alameda on the San Francisco Bay, which is just as well as there is always more road traffic around Santa Cruz on both Saturday and Sunday.

And biking hereabouts has changed, even during the week.

Since the pandemic ended, more people ride. In the last 6 months things have evolved from sightings of e-Bikes being <1-in-5 to now being 90% electric. And those bikes fly around!

E-bike safety tips for new and experienced riders - Los Angeles Times

It seems folks who seldom rode have picked up electric versions. Bikes are new and custom, sporting racks, paniers, kiddy-seats and all sorts of adders, often towing or even pushing child and animal trailers. The varieties are endless, and it is uncommon to see any two alike.

Riders seem to peddle little and travel fast. >>20 mph speeds for Electrics seems common-place and users effortlessly cross the 5-10 mile stretch from East-to-West Santa Cruz in just a few 10’s of minutes.

Electric Bike Top Speeds: How Fast Can You Go? | Juiced Bikes

I suppose increased accidents will soon inspire the introduction of consequential new regulations needed to accommodate this major trend. Strangely, cannot even recall when I last saw a new bike that was not electric and in truth this has all occurred in <12 months.  😉

As a warning: if you ride a manual bike for (say) just 10 miles hereabouts, you are going to need to avoid typically 3-5 risky (to yourself) actions by other travelers. Culprits are unobservant vehicle drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists, respectively. And the problem worsens greatly as your average speed increases. It seems speed somehow makes you far less visible to others; we develop a cloak of invisibility. 😉

By early September I had finished the planning for my 2023 trip to Alaska. It is a case of plan early or miss-out on the best Trips, Guides and Facilities for the next adventures. If you wonder what is available there, check out my last BLOG posted September 11th. In a related theme…

During late September, a friend from Alaska stopped by on his annual drive from his home in the Kenai Peninsula to his Summering setup in Arizona. It is a long drive with quick, regular business stops along the way; he is a great guest and welcome company who needed a break from massive daily driving schedules.

On his arrival I was treated with a delivery of bear-meat for my freezer, and we spent our brief available time running around touring my local area and haunts, ending up with evening drinks and music outside, seated by a firepit. There is so much to see and enjoy here, it was a treat for myself to have someone else appreciate what is offered locally.

Following this fun visit, we are now planning a joint Sailfish fishing trip to Southeast Florida next February / March.

Hopefully, we can make this recent stop-over a regular event. Maybe next year I will take the pilgrimage with him and provide some relief on the driving duties?

San Francisco Fleet Week occurred early October. This is truly a Family treat with ships to visit, the town bustling, street vendors everywhere along the waterfront and a unique and special aerial display on Saturday and Sunday.

The Airshow runs across the space between the Embarcadero Piers and Alcatraz. The viewing area is good from Fort Mason even down to the Ferry Building, but best North of Pier 39. Sights include a couple of jet display teams (the Blue Angels are a highlight), aerobatics and a host of one-off fly-bys from both major military and commercial aircraft.

Planes and flights come in from Golden Gate and Bay bridge directions, over Angel Island and even enter the performance area right overhead, from behind the City itself. The display has low, highspeed passes and endless acrobatics; a unique treat to watch and experience. Crowds can revel in the thrill of the event and enjoy a profound sense of pride. 😊

For myself, I have been fortunate to see this Show at least a half dozen times. Mostly from the water, where I usually motor a boat of half-a-dozen passengers about in a clockwise direction around the cordoned-off, low-fly area which runs several miles both East and West between Alcatraz and the Embarcadero. It is spectacular viewing for passengers, but when you are at the helm the heavy boat traffic often demands your complete attention elsewhere.  😉

If you have not seen this or similar displays, try to do so. And soon. I hear a City Supervisor in San Francisco is moving to ban the Blue Angels from their airspace. He is also extremely vocal in complaining about the attention outside press gives to such local issues. I wonder what his true agenda might really be. ☹

The area I live has many splendid features and opportunities. But much is changing. It is good to enjoy the numerous positives that remain available while we can. 😊

Let me now move on to summarize some of the more prominent News items occurring in the last weeks; specifically, those that have possible downstream ramifications of concern…

Over $3 Trillion has been wiped out in Retirement Accounts (401’s, IRA’s etc.) in 2022, alone. If you own such an account, you will currently have seen a >30% and perhaps as high as 40% drop in your accounts’ value. Most investors have now lost around 2.5 years of gains in the last year or so. This is a result of Market confidence in Government and consequential Outlook. Ouch.

Average folks are being abused by reported inflation running 8-9% (at 40-year highs) and constantly spiking gas prices. Retirees are additionally under the gun with Administration promises of Capital Gains Tax increases that will further establish the US as having the largest such Tax in the World.

With Fed Rate hikes already underway and more promised the Housing Market has come under pressure and the Dollar has grown abnormally strong, which severely hampers US Exports.

Dollar strength inevitably brings downward pressure on numerous smaller Currencies and Countries around the World which will consequentially economically decline further, with many not even being able to service their debt.

Fuel prices are exploding all over Europe because of the Ukraine proxy War. Europeans (esp. in places like Germany) cannot fire up Coal Plants fast enough before the colder months arrive. The UK is forecasting that over 70% of it’s restaurants are expected to fail this Winter because of energy costs. Hard to imagine the pain and pressure that will similarly fall on every household across Europe. ☹

10 states now have average gas prices above $5 : NPR

As always, s***t rolls downhill.

The weaponization of Government in the US continues in many forms…

A Federal judge revealed that Biden ordered the raid on ex-president Trump while denying ALL current knowledge of the event. No surprise there. Blatant lies are commonplace.

Whistleblowers have confirmed the FBI is creating a false narrative by classifying the January 6th Capital incursion as separate individual nationwide Domestic Terrorism instances, to be tried in every State possible while simultaneously moving agents off child sex abuse cases. Such priorities and caring. ☹

Pelosi is legally obliged to investigate the Administration for blatantly trying to manipulate the Saudis to delay reducing oil shipments and so momentarily aid US gas pump pricing ahead of November mid-term elections. It seems the Saudis have well-documented scruples about such action which would have produced large global economic downsides downstream.

Joe Biden has personally and publicly threatened dire consequences to the Saudi’s for outing him on this matter. Wow. He may have forgotten about the essential neutralization role the Saudis play in the Middle East, having Iran as neighbors and all.

Apparently, the Administration act of soliciting in-kind actions from Foreign Sources to aid a Partisan political goal is illegal. I am sure Speaker Nancy P will give this all the attention her party requires. Sigh. 😉

On the lighter side, the BBC is reporting Hunter Biden will be charged with Tax crimes. His personal laptop has been providing corruption insight to his activities (in Ukraine and China) for a few years already. It recently additionally turned up his Swalwell-like engagement and dalliance with a new Chinese spy. So far, no charges for Hunter for anything (while Dad holds the reins). 😉

I saw some Poll or other a couple of months back that had ~70% the US General Public agreeing that Biden is both corrupt AND had likely benefitted financially from his corruption. It was implied that voters simply DO NOT CARE this is the case. Wow.

On the local home front, San Francisco was reporting a 25% Office Vacancy rate at the end of September. Looks like Covid Impacts, Out-of-State moves and Neighborhood Toxicity (prices, crime and homelessness) are all in play.

And soon to arrive will be the November Elections. Over a dozen States are on the record with reported major voting fraud issues occurring during the 2020 elections. Yet no significant prosecution, anywhere. How odd. How can this be? Sigh. ☹

France outlawed Mail-In Voting in the 1970’s as being too readily subject to voter-fraud. They conducted their last recent election entirely with a hand-count. In recent weeks Germany announced a re-vote for ~6 million people in one District because of known Polling Machine irregularities.

German Works Council Election Procedures: Changes to Upcoming Elections in  2022 - Ogletree Deakins

The US has a storied history of serious Voter Fraud issues dating back >100 years. I have seen countless Polls overwhelmingly agreeing the US simply needs Voter ID laws to have safe(r) Election Polling.

Yet Voter ID is currently politically framed as Racist, so cannot be allowed. Go figure.

And I expect there will be rampant, approved mail-in requirements and voting misdeeds in many US States and Districts come November, regardless of the outcome. Why would anything be different? 😉

On the Global front we still have Leaders who need wars (that end well) to buoy up their numerous Domestic problems. Putin is in trouble and needs a soft landing and historically corrupt Zelenskyy is spoiling daily for bigger and better action.

Biden has his proxy war and is rattling his Sabre, threatening an imminent Nuclear Armageddon to his citizenry. Despite major depletion of US Weaponry (to Ukraine) and Strategic Oil Reserves (to China and hopefully, Domestically) he has still somewhat prepared, as his HHS has stockpiled nuclear warfare treatment Nplate drugs at $1.2k each. Sadly, for you and I these only have a shelf-life of 18 months and he only bought ~250k units. If he knows something we do not, we are in trouble. 😉

Lastly is Premier, Xi. He is right now entering a new phase of Government Control which brings him unprecedented and unchallenged powers. He is already leaning in to take territories from Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and others; even claims in the heavens (Mars and Moon colonization) are freely mentioned. China believes this now-open New Era is where they will fulfil their promised destiny and Xi is the accepted and anointed one.

NOTE: The New Era is defined as the next 30years, which is to include the successful realization of The Chinese Dream.

And all this comes when US overseas image is at a low. The UK’s Telegraph newspaper (THE major National publication) wrote an October piece referring to Biden’s weakness, endless failures and ways as being more than simple mental decline and senility, referring to him as also being historically evil. This from (a, THE?) major overseas ally and a FRIEND. Ouch.

So, what might actual ENEMIES think, say and be prepared to DO? Historically it is always the weak and inept who become inevitable active targets and victims. ☹

Well, so much for these reflections.

In all honesty they are (just some of the) things that cannot responsibly be simply, totally ignored. These are the troubling chickens in our lives that can come home to roost. Some are much more likely, serious and immediate than others.

We live in sad and dangerous times, both Locally, Nationally and around the Globe.

But nobody should dwell incessantly on such matters. It serves no purpose if no immediate action is required or yet relevant. So, time to move on, but still sleep with one eye open…

Do you track both the small AND large issues that might impinge upon your World? Should you?

It can be miserable to follow all such issues relentlessly but keeping an eye on REAL liabilities that can enter your lives is usually wise.

As for myself, I will now change my immediate focus and prepare for a trip out East to enjoy a Wedding in North Carolina with some Family friends. 😊

Here’s to wishing you similarly pleasant distractions!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Family Outings In Alaska, Two Weddings Redux & A Sad Goodbye

It has been a busy month or so since my last posting and much has occurred.

I recently returned from a three-couple outing in Alaska. This offered an Alaskan introduction to four travelers and a third consecutive annual vacation visit for me.

Alaska changed throughout these COVID years. It has become a recently more favored escape and experience for those seeking simpler ways and contact with a larger outdoors.

Alaska - Wikidata

Although I have travelled there for short visits in the past, my first significant holiday was in September of 2020, when the State was an early opener for vacation travel during the pandemic. And much has changed.

2020 saw small crowds and State entry burdened with new and imperfect (Covid-related) entry requirements. By 2021 the word was out, and crowds increased with residents needing to financially recover from pandemic-depleted recent times further compounded by lesser recent seasons of Salmon runs; it was busier and more expensive.

But this year (2022) the season ran with even greater attendance and enthusiastic tourism than the prior two years. The peak Summer season, running into September and quickly to Autumn was busier again. Indeed, my own bookings were necessarily made a full year earlier, immediately following my 2021 visit.

And it was well worthwhile. 😊

Alaska is about grand displays of nature, hikes, outdoor living, simpler more independent times, hunting and fishing.

So, let me describe our outings and experiences…

After separate flight arrivals in Anchorage, our three couples (two from NorCal and another from Sweden) picked up a pair of vehicles (SUV’s) and gathered at an overnight Airbnb on the local outskirts of the City.

We shopped for a few essentials that night before turning-in quite early. The next day we found a great local eatery before heading down to the Kenai peninsula.

The journey out to Fosters Alaska Cabins (outside of Soldotna and Kenai) provided great phot-ops for our new visitors during the 3-4 hr. drive-time South. Expansive views of gigantic, U-shaped canyons were all along the way, passing narrow-gauge railway, tributaries and glacial run-off rivers at almost every turn.

We stopped for an hour or so at a Wild-Life conservatory (AWCC) featuring Bears, Wolves, Musk Ox, Deer, Reindeer, Moose, Buffalo, Porcupines, Foxes and much more. The various herds generally contain a dozen or more animals; Elk were in rut with the males separated, again strutting about menacingly as I have witnessed in previous visits. (NOTE: The park is well outside of and South of Anchorage, passed Beluga Point).

After sampling drinks, reindeer hot-dogs and similar we got back on the road in our 2-vehicle convoy.

Following another communal stop for meal and souvenir viewing we ran the last hour down to Soldotna and proceeded to our destination camp.

Upon arrival we checked-in, unloaded luggage into a couple of cabins and then each had ourselves fitted with the waders and boots we would use for the duration of our stays.

Dinners in our camp are large, substantial smorgasbords where guests congregate to feed each night. Ladies first, sit where you please outdoors or upon under-marquis seating, with an eternally open bar. Our first night of this was a great introduction and orientation for our group.

Following or during the feed, details of the next day’s trips for each party were reviewed. The dinner and clarification of the pre-arranged upcoming outings is a nightly ritual.

Some evenings featured singing by local performers. Those remaining following dinner gather around or near the open propane firepit, sipping on drinks, often making song requests for an hour or two.

Chimenea Propane Fire Pit

After our arrival meal we headed back to our cabins for an earlyish night’s rest in preparation for our first outings.

And the first day did not disappoint.

As on most days we split into two groups. This day half of us (3 of our group) headed pre-dawn down to Homer Spit where we boarded a 40’ power boat for a day ocean fishing Halibut and Silver Salmon.

We pounded our way out for an hour or more on the Gulf of Alaska, ringed in the distance by five visible volcanos. There was a little rain, but four of the 6-person total passenger group sat inside, unconcerned about the risk of seasickness.

Most everyone aboard got their 2-fish Halibut limit (one OVER and one UNDER 32” in length) and their accompanying exhausting experience of the serious workout involved in hauling them up from the deep. Following this, we that cared fished for and caught a few Silvers for our 3-man group.

It was then time to forge our way back to Homer Harbor; the journey and fishing had left us all somewhat wet and definately chilled. The lady captain and male crew performed admirably, keeping everyone happy and having all the fish filleted by the time we tied up at dock.

The second part of our group had departed camp a few hours later (also to Homer) where they took the comfortable 49 North Boat Taxi to the State park for a subsequent hike. They had their fun and returned before the fishing group to the Homer Spit and made the traditional round of tourist trips to the famous Salty-Dawg Bar, wholesome restaurants and stores.

After stashing our catch in a cooler, we finally reconstituted our total group, then had a couple of drinks at the Dawg before heading back up the road to camp and the usual evening arrangements.

The next day, two of us set out early on a 50-minute float-plane fly-out to the Kustatan River for Silver Salmon fishing. It was a new adventure for my partner on the trip.

We checked-in, located our plane dockside, climbed aboard and flew out. It was great trip with fine photo-op views, always ensuring a fun adventure. There was just one problem: the landing area was heavily fogged-in.

Normally the plane drops its floats into a narrow river, with wingtips reaching out to the banks either side and swings its way along a short course to a preset stop consisting of manageable mud banks and a couple of wood duck-bords where passengers can clamber out. But not today.

The fog was heavy and persistent. It hung like a curtain some 400yards before the viable touchdown spot, flatly carpeting the entire region. Despite our making multiple passes to get in during 30 mins over the landing site, we were consistently met with an impenetrable wall that just would not move, so we were forced to repeatedly pull out of approaches.

Inevitably, after <2.0 hrs. we touched back down on the small lake from which we had departed earlier. Some 30mins later, subsequent flights verified that nothing would be getting into the Kustutan any time soon; thus, our fishing trip was cancelled.

So, we rushed the few miles back to camp to rejoin the rest of the group who had slept-in prior to leaving for a Sockeye Salmon introductory (“Flossing”) fishing trip. We reconfigured our arrangements so that the two younger couples went out together and my wife and I picked up a separate last-minute arrangement to go flossing later with a new local guide.

In summary, the team of four had a phenomenal time with the group limiting out their couple of dozen salmon. The two girls were novices and enjoyed major success; I do believe the more experienced men were even a little envious of their catches.  The guide was excellent, put them in the right spot at the best time and taught them well. 😉

As for my wife and self, things were not so great. We arrived later in the water and the best spots and time was gone. I got a few Sockeyes yet needed to work extraordinarily hard for that catch. But it was fun and always is.  😊

The highlight of dinner that night were the tales of fishing success and new positive experiences that were had by all. So ended the second day at Foster’s Camp.

The next day was a group trip (3 couples, the six of us) down to Seward for a ferry ride. The journey to and from the Port is spectacular and often forgotten as a treat within itself.

We checked-in on-time after our 2-SUV journey down. The giant, 1-year-old ferry we boarded sparkled in its pristine white and blue colors, all immaculately wiped and spotless throughout its decks, café, seating and glass-windowed viewing areas.

After slipping dock lines and sliding out of Seward we were gone about six hours. Along the way we saw several whales, many seals, puffins, innumerable sets of rafting otters and an endless coastline with massive U-shaped Valleys truncating at the water’s edge.

And the highlight of the trip was a 1/2hr stay, in-close beneath a 0.5mile wide glacier that terminates its 10+ mile length into a spur off the Bay of Alaska. It is one of seven such edifices that originate from a massive, plateaued ice field that enjoys its own climate at about 1000 feet or so higher.

It is a spectacular sight and was an important photo-op for all aboard. Despite the chilled air the passengers posed relentlessly (as we did ourselves) for group shots and videos as large chunks of glacier growled and occasionally broke off, generating small tidal waves that dispersed into the ice flow below.

As much was filmed and photographed of this glacier as there was of the surfaced whales we had cautiously shadowed earlier, capturing their antics for 30 mins or more.

It was an enjoyable day out and we all returned weary and relaxed as we reentered Seward, then disembarked for a pre-arranged Dinner booking at a large local restaurant.

When we arrived back at camp there was a familiar pair of local singers still there, entertaining a small group (of <10 guests) around the firepit beneath the marquis. I listened for a while, confirmed the next-day arrangements and then retired early for the upcoming morning’s adventures.

The following day, three of us (myself, younger son and his significant other; they both in from Sweden) headed out at dawn for a float-plane trip up to Crescent Lake, >1 hr. flight-time away.

I arranged for the lady to take the co-pilot chair as my son and I took our seats in the main cabin with the other 6 or 7 passengers aboard. The flight out garnered some of the better happy-face and mountain landscape pics I would capture on the entire trip. And we landed on the starkly emerald-colored, isolated lake just as planned, beaching up behind another flight that had arrived minutes earlier.

There are only 6 guides allowed to work this lake and 3 were on the beach after we landed. We quickly split into 6 or 7-person groups, boarded our flat-bottom, motorized boats stationed near the landing area and dispersed about the lake.

Our day featured (almost) “Snagging” for Silvers and Humpies down in a corner of the Lake, shortly before it gently spilled into a sluggish downhill river. The fishing was productive for all; I picked up the 7 or so bright red humpies I mostly cared about while others targeted and captured the 3-fish limit Silvers they wanted. Our group had a few Silvers we brought back, too.

Alaska Magazine | In Defense of the Lowly Pink Salmon

Most of the day fishing involved keeping tabs on a nearby group of 4 brown bears (an underwater swimming Mom and 3, 2-year-old Cubs) who constantly threatened to cross over towards us from 150 yards away. Fortunately, they harried the opposite bank of a dozen anglers and a couple of guides all the time and never became sufficiently interested in us. But again, they were so close we were easily able to watch, photograph and video all their mischief and antics.

Last year (2021) I had seen these same bears and as many as a dozen more. This trip there was just “Swimmer” and her 3 boisterous cubs.

After all the fish were had we took off by boat following these bears, taking pics and videos from close range but keeping safely behind them as they quickly progressed unimpeded by any fishing groups down the bank towards the plane landing area.

I managed to fish alone for Dolly Vardens (like Rainbow Trout) and picked up a dozen in the very place the bears were gamboling 3-4 mins before we beached. And this, as the guide filleted the fish, my son tried for more Silvers and the others in our small party looked on, drank and ate while watching for a surprise visit from bears. Finally, we piled back in the boat and moved on.

After a subsequent, quick (< 5minutes) stop required for me to pick up a 19” Lake trout (using newly harvested Salmon eggs) lingering beneath a floating filleting station, we rounded a couple of bends and beached again to await our incoming float-plane transport out.

There were soon perhaps 20 of us on the beach awaiting fly-outs. No bears arrived and a few of the anglers started fishing with snagging rigs while we waited. I must have seen ½ dozen more silvers caught and filleted during the 30 mins or so we stood about and chatted. 

A couple of planes arrived. We all quickly helped load gear, bagged fish fillets and snack coolers then scrambled along the plane’s shore-side float, clambered up the fixed boarding ladder, dove into the cabin and fell into our window seats.

Within the hour we had taxied, taken off, run low out through the blustery, tree-spotted Valley, then crossed the large expanse of water to the mainland, while passing over a few solitary oilrigs in the brown silty waters ~2000 feet below.

We banked sharply into the Lake landing site and within an hour we were back in our own cabins at camp.

The second group (3 persons) of our party rose later that day and had gone on a guided and guarded short hiking tour through bear territory to Russian River Falls. They did not get along too well with their guide that day and thus had not enjoyed the fun and adventure anticipated.

Much as they wanted to ditch the guide, they realized that the other hikers they saw that day were well-armed (lots of bears are around) and so them wandering carelessly unarmed and w/o even bear-spray was perhaps very ill-advised. They did not immediately enjoy the trip, sights and experience as was hoped. It happens. ☹

Dinner that evening was quite a contrast. My Swedish guest saw her flight, fishing, bear viewing and boating as “one of the best and most memorable days of my life.” Great to have such a unique, wonderful experience while capturing so many pics and videos for memories.

The Hiking group even seemed to reflect that there were perhaps some special memories to their day, too.

And so, another day in Alaska passed into history and personal memory.  😊

The following day the Swedish couple in our group began their trip home to work responsibilities.

My eldest son and I took a 2-seater, side-by-side ATV trip into the Hills around 1 hr. drive South of Soldonta, towards Homer. We passed through an old Russian Village with a small, highly ornate church at its center, before taking off on our remote, guided trek.

Alaskan Back Country Side by Side ATV Adventure with Meal 2022 - Denali  National Park

The hills were strewn with brilliantly purple Fire Weed and we ran by deserted trapping cabins and the few remote ruins, all the time travelling on regulated State land. If I recall correctly, for some reason the Government owns >40% of all Alaskan Land. Such massive ownership is typical of many Western US States.

After driving outbound some ~90 mins on moderately tricky trails we reached a halfway point and turned back. Our ATV’s front LHS tire was already running low air pressure when we had set out, and by the time we were 5 miles short of reaching our SUV and trailer, that tire broke its seal, and we ran off-trail.

As no tools of any form were brought along by the guide we staged the vehicle slightly off-trail and returned in the guides (fortunately) 4-seater ATV to our vehicles just outside the Russian Village.

We settled with the guide, and he told us he would return later with tools and a spare wheel to recover the vehicle. It appears that as the weather was starting to turn (colder, wetter; with the Fire Weed dwindling, changing bloom) and the region is so remote, it was unlikely anyone would need to pass the abandoned ATV in the immediate future, certainly not for a day or two.

So, off we went North, back to camp and dinner, with another fine tale to tell.  😉

The following day our NorCal couple (my recently married eldest son and bride) packed up their SUV and headed up to Anchorage and their flight out. My wife and I took a break, just doing laundry and lunching out before the routine evening camp dinner.

The next day I fished alone with a familiar guide. We had planned to fish the Kasilof River, but the Silver runs were not yet really happening there. In fact, other than on fly outs or in the Gulf, they were pretty sparse with the major runs still yet to come in after the Sockeye flow gave way.

So, we fished the tail-out of the lake by the Lower Kenai. It was painfully slow progress and as you can only run a single rod when alone, it is impossible to quickly check out optional lures when pulling plugs. Some of the other six boats we saw that morning also only caught an occasional Silver, despite each being able to run at least four rods.

Eventually we hauled out and headed back down the Kenai River and I picked up a few Sockeyes flossing to add to the single Silver caught at the Lake. So, it was somewhat productive, and provided additional meat to add to the freezer. But it was a good day, and I spent more time with a familiar guide and friend.

The following day was my last fishing on this trip with another guide known to me and hailing from Oregon. Ryan had moved up with his whole family this year for the Summer guiding season in Alaska.

This time I was targeting my favorite, Rainbow Trout. It is all catch and release, but great sport.

The fish were spread out in pockets and so are not easy to find until the Silver Salmon runs are in full flow.

But Ryan found the fish and I had a big day. I took a spectacular 25” Rainbow, a couple of 24 inchers with about 45 total brought to the boat, mostly in the 19-22” range. I lost a 28-29” monster who was a little too smart for my skills; he made my 25” fish look like a tiddler and me feel like a complete novice. 😉

The day demanded a lot of judgement and realignment to the quite different trout nymphing techniques used in Alaskan waters. It took a few hours before my skills really began to set back in with subtle back-handed casting and drift-mending adaptations. In the end I was even able to pick up some nice Rainbows in hard-to-manage, low expectation areas.  😊

And then the fishing was done, and nothing was left but satisfied bragging rights, organizing fish shipments and arranging travel home.

There was about 130 lb. of fish shipped back. Mostly Sockeye, but a smattering of Silver Salmon and some decent Halibut. The freezer is again adequately filled after being only recently emptied of the few last 10’s of pounds of fillets which were still in prime condition from the similar 2021 haul.

But we did not get out Scot-Free.

A few days before we left my wife contracted Covid and it was a full three days later before I finally tested positive. This played havoc with our return. Fortunately, my case was VERY mild; no temperature issues at all and I was testing negative again within 72 hrs. Lucky me!

We both hit the PAXLOVID 5-day course treatment along with a recommended battery of supplements and vitamins. As my own case was so surprisingly short-lived, we were both simultaneously ready for travel and returned home.

Noted lessons learned and worth noting, re: HAVING COVID…

If a standard Covid Lateral Flow Test (CLFT) shows a PALE (Positive) line that takes a while to appear, your case is likely less profound and symptoms less debilitating. The Viral Load you carry is LOWER and most likely you are less infectious, supposedly “only to perhaps pass it on to a Spouse.”

HOWEVER, if you have a DARK RED (Positive) line that appears within a few minutes, the opposite is basically true, and you might even be classed as a “Super Spreader.”

Medical professionals have elsewhere offered these pointers. Your guess is as good as mine as to their efficacy.  😉

Now changing subject…

Since my last posting there a have been a couple of (shall we say), Phase II wedding celebrations to attend. Let me explain…

Inevitably many people still got married during the Pandemic which caused attendance at events to be somewhat to severely limited as folks were either reticent to travel or Covid restrictions remained profound and ominous in the vicinity of the event.

So, some couples choose to have belated, secondary events in more convenient locations and at a (sometimes) much later time. Both thwarted guests and newly married couples often favor a celebration redux. Hence, I attended a pair of such events in recent weeks…

In the first case it was the reception redux locally for friends and neighbors who did not attend my eldest son’s wedding in Kauai, last May. There were a few speeches, great food and a fine turn-out.

The second reception was a celebration of a friend’s eldest son’s marriage which occurred quite quietly during the very early depth of Covid restrictions (mid-2020). This event was a full-blown wedding / vow redux, and the couple now even had their new baby in attendance.

In both cases it was great to see the joy and closure that both events brought to guests and couples alike. People always have fun on such occasions, but it was precious to witness the obvious happiness and satisfaction on the faces of all those privileged to attend.  😊

Perhaps such Phase II events in convenient secondary locations will become increasingly commonplace and traditional? Certainly, the Pandemic has already affected many other aspects of life.

Then next of course there is the Local, World and Domestic News that has flooded in since my last BLOG.

Only the most noteworthy is worth mentioning. So let me begin with firstly a couple of simple Local observations…

Not greatly mentioned is the fact that the entire San Francisco Bay turned a vivid reddish brown for over a month. The effect began in early August and was only diminished and constrained to mostly the Alameda estuary by mid-September. It was recommended the fish caught were not eaten.

An algae bloom not seen for almost 20 years has again returned. The effect was initially quite alarming since the muddy redness deepened as the days warmed and it spread so extensively throughout the entire Bay.

Many of the local Ducks (mostly Mallards and Canadas), Herons (mostly Night Herons, some Great Blues and Egrets) and Cormorants temporarily quit affected surrounding marinas and headed for cleaner fishing grounds, only slowly returning as waters became clearer.

In Monterey Bay, the great Blue Herons nesting in the +80’ high Eucalyptus above the bridge running through the Santa Cruz boat harbor have already produced a new generation for 2022. The birds and their young still frequent the nests and caw loudly to all who will listen.

On the World front…

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom passed away, aged 96 years. The Country, Commonwealth and many around the World mourn as a new King dutifully awaits his Coronation. And the outpouring is staggering. Sadness of loss remains palpable, yet a new, continued and stable era is anticipated and quickly needed.

Reports from Ukrainian front-line soldiers suggest they lack basic weapons, ammunition, communications, transportation and manpower. As many $100B’s in weaponry and other forms have poured into the Country, one must wonder what is going on.

The day before Ukraine was invaded the President (Zelensky) was considered to the be the head of the most corrupt Government ever known. One day after the invasion he was being hailed as a modern-day Churchill.

The US is reportedly severely depleting their military reserves by channeling much advanced weaponry, ammunition and funds to the Ukraine. Similarly, many European Countries are contributing the same way. So, something smells bad, here. Things do not stack up.

On the COVID front there have been >10 Countries that I have personally seen officially reporting Government-recognized problematic findings from the impact of Vaccination. These include the likes of Germany, Denmark, Israel, the UK, Turkey, Japan and more.

Other than Media reports offering 11 dubious (non-Vax) explanations to now routine and numerous, so-called sudden adult deaths, there is no similar mention or reporting in the US at all and certainly nothing hinting at any problems whatsoever with vaccinations. No wonder there are conspiracy theorists running wild. 😉

The US Domestic front inevitably remains very bumpy…

FBI whistleblowers are coming out of the woodwork and uncovering the obvious current bias and politicization of the Bureau that we have already been increasingly witnessing for decades. They say heads will roll. Time will tell… sigh. ☹

The border crisis continues. In early September, the Administration acknowledged that around 2 million illegals had entered the country under Biden’s reign. Independent bodies are already on record stating that with known missed encounters and existing official recordings the number already greatly exceeds 5 million, with no end in sight. Someone cannot count.

Gas prices in California can now be found in the $5.50/ gal range. We are supposed to celebrate this progress down from >>$6.00 / gal. I recall quite recently when reaching $4.00 / gal was considered disastrous.

Most of the price reduction we are seeing is driven by a great fall in demand driving down pricing. Folks cannot afford gas prices and so are finding other ways to minimize their budget expenses by limiting personal consumption. Another inconvenient truth.

Why high gas prices are more about Wall Street than the White House

The situations we create and to which we are offered delusional or deliberately misleading insight are almost comical. So, let us not dwell on any more of such frustrating News and simply move on…

We are heading into Fall (Autumn) around the Northern hemisphere. The News channels and Media offer their own spins on the reality that they wish us to accept. And this remains our choice, at this point.

As you can see from above, I have personally experienced and fortunately enjoyed several happy, convenient diversions during the last six weeks. I recommend you similarly find a path for distractions.

And as for the News reported… keep questioning what is offered and try to look behind just some of the screens. 😊

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Warm Weeks During Summer Months

There have been a few weekends since my last BLOG published mid-June.

A lot has happened around the World, much of it miserable, so I have actively tried to focus my energies and personal time on happier events.

Let me share (in no particular order) some snapshots of experiences and sights enjoyed over this recent month or so…

I have been binge-watching evening TV for many weeks now, having found a treasure trove of Seasons from a comedic Panel-Game; it is called, Would I Lie To You and can be found on Prime TV (in Britbox area) and YouTube.

The series really found its feet in Season Three and has since run though Season 15.  It is a GREAT watch and really lends itself to binging. The show will put a smile on anyone’s face; ad-libs and rants will draw tears of laughter. If you need or just want to laugh, this is for you. 😊

A local Market (Los Pericos) off Portola in Santa Cruz has become my go to haunt for a Numero Uno Breakfast Burrito. I always show up late in the day and beg for my eggy breakfast-menu treat which they have so far routinely obliged. The significant downside is that my diet only permits one or two of these a week. 😉

I have upped my daily (weekday) bike rides over the last month and am averaging >20 miles a day. No idea why I did this, but here we are. As I get a picturesque ride from my house along East Cliff Drive down into Capitola (CA) village, back along Portola and into the Santa Cruz harbor, then up to and around the estuary, back along the Santa Cruz Boardwalk onto the Pier, there is much to see and enjoy.

And the season for Holidaymakers attending the seafront beaches, rides and Fair is in full bloom.

There is also plenty of other entertainment along the way…

A couple of dozen nests are producing noisy young in the towering eucalyptus trees alongside the upper Santa Cruz Harbor, just 100 yards beyond the trafficked bridge that cuts over the inlet. There are giant squawking Great Blue Herons, large Great white Egrets and even a few Cormorants resident in the massive nests planted in the highest boughs.

Great Blue Heron

The recent warmer Summer days have produced higher rolling swells that come crashing down onto the beaches hereabouts, extending from the fully filled Moran (overflow) Lake right along to the Boardwalk frontages; all this noise, despite the lack of significant winds driving events.

And local residents can open their windows to allow the boom of waves to carry their crashes indoors throughout the day with sound levels gently moderated by constantly changing tides.

The large man-made stone breakwater that protects the Santa Cruz Harbor and carries its sturdy white lighthouse has seen early evening swells staging occasional 40’ high spray being thrown up in quick progressions over 200 yards of its length, while concurrent 4–5-foot waves break into the boating entrance.

A few nights ago, several of the half-a-dozen young Holidaymakers cheekily braving one onslaught were summarily knocked down by the spray’s force and then quickly scrambled away towards the protection of the land.

During this same time, I looked out NW to Steamers surfing runs a mile or so across the Bay and could see massive swells surging down the cliffs in crested waves with the most intrepid local surfers aboard. Quite a display of power and human determination.

As I write the local Luckys grocery store on 41st has employees back in masks with several workers out on their 2nd and/or 3rd doses of COVID. There is nobody very sick it seems, but company protocols keep them home, often personally doubting any VAX efficacy.

Like many others, I expect a surge of notices for COVID masking requirements to arrive by October in time to secure Mail-In Voting for the November Mid-Term Elections. Sigh. ☹

I watched the July 4th celebrations from the cockpit of a boat docked in Alameda, looking across to Oakland, barely 1 mile South of Jack London square. There was a (I assume legal) firework display some +4 miles away at the Oakland Coliseum; quite impressive and obviously well-orchestrated.

There were many other unauthorized (and illegal in CA) firework displays in play from a mile or so North, mostly near to and along the shoreline of Oakland right down to the Stadium show. I counted > 15 distinct active venues colorfully lighting up the evening skies.

Perhaps most impressive and prolific was a setup directly across the estuary some 400 yards away from me, almost opposite Marina Village docks. It began around 9.30pm and was still firing off at 1.30 am the next day. The venue lay in a construction site and was left to run unabated for many hours.

Marina Village Docks

Two weeks later I was taking out a sailboat and ran into a female Mallard leading her brood of 10 very tiny, fluffy chicks across the estuary directly towards that very same sterile site. They were formed up in a precise, determined column. So, I halted the boat to let them pass. That was a long paddle for such small, flightless ducklings; I still wonder what attracted them across the way?

Every weekend I go sailing on the San Francisco Bay, out of Alameda. This causes me to regularly pass by the Oakland docks. In later July, the obvious routine back-ups of container deliveries stranded on the waterfront suddenly and dramatically worsened. Now there are acres and acres of 5 and 6 high stacked containers languishing unattended.

Blatant supply-chain issues that have run all this last year have radically deteriorated even further. The issue is the Government imposed Contractor benefits requirements that have spilled beyond upsetting Lyft and Uber drivers to now directly impacting the legal operation of Truckers, >90% of which in CA are subject to the very same restrictions. And we thought it could not get worse. Sigh.

Fortunately, when the docks are passed, sailing begins then the views and experiences on the Bay are as pleasant, distracting and fulfilling as ever. The fogs still roll in through the Golden gate, wind blows down the slot over Alcatraz and the Hills South of the City are washed over by low cloud approaching from the ocean as later afternoon arrives. And in the Summer, skies overhead often remain generally cloudless, with the offshore views of the City allowing it to appear as untroubled as in previous years.

I made another recent ferry trip with a group of friends from Alameda to the Ferry building on the San Francisco Embarcadero. The crowds are somewhat returned, and ferry schedules are similar to pre-COVID times.

The outing remains the same once the Ferry is docked and passengers disembarked. A quick wander through the weekend Outdoor Market stalls by the Terminals, a visit to the (most still remain and are now open for business) indoor stores, meandering through the unmasked crowds. Then along the front up to Pier 39.

The numerous Taxis and bicycle-powered rickshaws are back. People are generally quite mellow in the Summer warmth, milling along the waterfront where clusters of Vendors are set up with carts offering bacon-wrapped hot-dogs or even some surprisingly available alcoholic mixed drinks. It is relaxed.

Some half-dozen well-known restaurants are closed and gone, victims of COVID closures and lost business. A few other stores have closed too, remaining shuttered here and there, but the atmosphere remains lively, and the Wharf area appears largely separate from the plague of Homelessness and Crime centered in the Downtown Center of the City.

The usual walking journey continues passed the Boudin Bakery through the busier parts of Fisherman’s Wharf and up to the Buena Vista on Ghirardelli Square for Irish Coffees and the inevitable light-hearted banter with the bartenders mass-producing their tasty whisky-based hot drinks.

It is a great outing. A low-cost Ferry Trip adventure from Alameda, no parking fees nor hassle with San Francisco’s City traffic and social woes.

Finally, the journey ended with a hurried Uber ride required to make the Ferry Departure times and enjoy the speedy powered catamaran ride back to the Island and waiting (Freely) parked cars. It is a great day out.  😊

And now, back in Santa Cruz the Summer party evenings are well underway. The Harbor features a roped-off-beach musical event each Thursday, hosted by the Crow’s Nest restaurant, and Capitola Village presents a band every Wednesday at their beach-front Bandstand. Both are very friendly civilized events with eating, drinking and dancing activity enjoyed by locals and visiting holidaymakers alike.

As for myself I just got my second, Cancer All-Clear confirmation, following surgery just last September. The check-up regimen includes alternating 6-monthly scans of lower abdomen and then chest, looking for signs of return. This basic routine protocol is similar for many, should they remain fortunate.

If you are lucky then your concerns of recurrence only return as the next tests are done and only escalate as you await the results, several days later. Good outcomes feature a few happy days, hopefully followed by a quickly fading memory of liabilities as the next six months roll by, despite the very real ever-presence of a Damoclesian sword.

Half the people reading this will have cancer in at least one form; likely ALL will have it intrude upon their lives in some way, visited upon loved-ones, colleagues, acquaintances or some such. For all of you I wish the best outcomes and unburdened awareness. 😊

Returning to another stellar and happy fact (providing your finances are US-based) …

By mid-July, the Euro was on a par with the US Dollar for the first time in 20 years. I.e., 1 EU ~ 1 USD. Great if you want to travel in Europe. It is even worth buying Euros proactively if you have some European travel planned in the not-too-distant future. However, not so good coming the other way, of course. 😉

For myself, I have a trip planned to Alaska from the start of August. I visited there a couple of times more than 10 years ago, but this will now be my third consecutive year on a primarily fishing trip.

I first went fishing to Alaska as soon as COVID permitted, two years ago. But this time the whole immediate family will go together. It should be fun.  😊

If you ever get the chance to visit, go!  I hear the Alaskan cruises are great, but ocean travelers tell me they always wished they had been land-based for the duration; this is my recommendation, too.  For myself, although having previously visited the spectacular Denali region, I have kept my more recent fishing, travelling and day-trip adventures South of Anchorage around the Kenai River and Peninsula.

Well, that completes my review of primarily Happy Stuff. 😉

At this point I normally review the last month or so’s list of World, US, Local News, Events and bona-fide Warnings. Indeed, I am sitting with a pile of diligently compiled and trustworthy clippings and notes by my side, as I write. These latest records are particularly miserable. BUT DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH as I intend to PASS on the review, this time. 😊

I am sure most people feel much the same way as I do about current events. Like many, I am tired from the inundation of blatant, self-serving lies, corrupt and insane actions, regardless of their origins.

And with that, I close the book on the last several weeks of disappointing News and Events.  😊

As for my closing message…

Do you ever truly get a break from the incoming storm of miserable News?

Does your family ever enjoy the opportunity to celebrate each other and tune-out negative surroundings?

With Summer Holidays upon us, it is a good time to do just that. So, make time for a true break from the misery and dial-in some positives. Now is as good a time as any to savor life and enjoy your blessings.  So, make it happen.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.


Finding Joy In Travel and Reviewing World Events

Well, it is 100 days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine and News outlets seem to be switching their attentions elsewhere. And I will follow suit and move to happier events to begin.

In the past five weeks I was fortunate to travel up to Northern California and then out to Hawaii.

The trip North took in Shasta City and trout fishing on the McCloud river below the dam, followed by a couple of days drifting the Lower Sacramento around Redding and Red Bluff. This was shortly thereafter followed by a visit to an old stomping ground of mine to Kauai, Hawaii; this latter journey being prompted by the spectacular destination wedding of my eldest son to our (now) new daughter.

Let me just concentrate here solely upon the locations themselves and primarily provide insights for travelers to local destinations and activities.

So first came the early May drive North to Shasta.

Middle McCloud Falls

The drive itself was warm enough but weather up there was still colder as my youngest son and I headed Northbound along the the I5 corridor, paying an arm-and-leg at fueling stops along the way.

Stopping for Fuel

Before reaching our destination, we passed Shasta Lake; it seemed even lower than during my prior visit late last year. At best guess the vivid orange banks were exposed >>50 feet below the vegetation line and several fingers of the basin were now completely emptied of all water.

The boat sheds had been moved with new ramps installed, enabling boaters to reach the shallow Lake, gain access or launch.

We continued North, then checked-into the Shasta Inn late afternoon as snow was beginning to fall. This was a troubling proposition given our fly-fishing plans for rainbow trout the following morning. ☹

We hit the Black Bear diner for comfort food and then retired to our cabin/ room, watching the picturesque snowfall through the window while laying on our beds enjoying fishing programs on the TV.

The next day was a pleasant surprise. Before we had left the snow had melted away around the SUV, so we dressed quickly and warmly for wading and headed up the higher elevation of the McCloud Dam to arrive before the sun could reach down to the river at the base of the gorge.

The water-level in the reservoir was at a low and barely reached the spillway gates. So, we each geared-up and went to our preferred and separate hunting grounds.

I hiked into the thundering dam outlet pool to then fish 100 yards further down, against the cliff-face beneath the spillways’ end. My son took off on higher ground along the blocked-off mile-long, rock-littered road toward Ash Camp to then clamber down towards the deep pools and swirling waters offered a mile downstream from where I was installed.

Oddly, the day was warm. I picked up a few strong, vividly patterned Rainbows and then climbed the rocks back onto the spillway itself and picked my way across its empty base. From there I descended back down and into the river, winding my way several hundred yards further to the sharp left bend below.

The day became warm. The sun shone, I shed much of my gear as I fished the bend, basking in the surprise warmth and sunlight while picking up three more fish.

We met up mid afternoon back at the SUV and then went our separate ways to finish the day. The deeper pools continued to be hard to exploit and my own attempts had yielded a little less than typical in the colder weather. But we were fishing and thoroughly enjoying our unexpectedly warm surrounds in the lush McCloud river gorge.

That evening we went in search of new places to eat and ended up back at the Black Bear. Like most places in CA, things close early and staff shortages abound following Covid closures and constraints. The diner attracted more than its share of locals and so we ate there again; good wholesome food and plenty of it.

Black Bear Diner Shasta California

There was no snow that evening when temperatures dropped. So, the following morning we donned our lessened gear for the warmer day and repeated the prior days action in largely the same places, fishing till early afternoon when we packed-up and wound our way down from the dam to the freeway which sped us within the hour to the much warmer climes of Redding.

The deep pools of the McCloud below the dam remain difficult to fish, a true enigma. The pockets are filled with trees and branches deposited over decades; tight-line nymph fishing is ideal, but the constant snags and associated reties make it a tedious (and expensive) proposition.

Nevertheless, by late afternoon we had checked-in at our Redding hotel and were off to my favorite eatery (Kahunas) for Mongolian BBQ and Sushi.

Kahunas, Redding Californina

The next two days we drift fished the Lower Sacramento with my favorite guide Jason from River Pursuit out of Red Bluff. The river is historically low with minimal water release, and we first worked nearer the Redding area. The second day we fished further South by Red Bluff in the Canyon.

The waters are loaded with Sucker fish in places, but we snagged very few of these and the pair of us combined probably hooked into over two hundred rainbows during the two days. A couple of carp joined the ranks but most of the many trout ran 15”-19” with the majority on the larger side.

Both days we beached the boat for a lunch of hot-dogs, soda and to afford Jason a break from rowing. The fishing was spectacular; mostly we were regular nymphing but also caught on dries and tight lines.

There were few other boats to be seen; the solitude, warm days and focus of the fishing were constantly refreshing. The views were green, lush and impressive, but our attention was constantly and heavily drawn to the waters and the bite.

This trip I realized more about the subtleties of fighting fish that jump (Trout, Salmon, Bass etc.) with barbless versus barbed or treble hooks whether using dry flies, nymphs or lures. There is always something to learn and such massive experiences quickly speed the process. 😊

Eventually this fishing outing was sadly complete. So, we quietly and reluctantly drove ourselves the five hours home to Santa Cruz, CA.

What a great outing.

The next few days were hectic as clothes, shoes and goods were picked up and packed for the wedding-centered trip to Kauai.

So, as a fun break to the preparations we first made a two-man trip down to Moss Landing and Phil’s Fish Market. What a great recent local find this has proven for our family. Excellent food, friendly, lively atmosphere and sensible prices in a now Covid-free setting. Hard to beat outstanding Cioppino, inexpensive quality wines and beer for an afternoon outing.

All this is secreted in a picturesque working harbor on the Monterey Bay and situated just 30 mins drive South of our house. 😊

And then on to Kauai. I was last on that particular Island some forty years ago. I recalled the exquisite quiet, deep red earth, rough roads and the golden bay sands laid out before the Kauai Surf Hotel.

Of course, all is now much changed. The Hotel has long-since fallen in two major hurricanes, the population has grown, and more tourists now visit. Everything moves on, as it must, but Kauai remains favorite over my (also ageing) recollections of other subsequent visits to Oahu, Hawaii and Maui.

The flight over was on-time and the approach built with excitement as passengers pressed to the windows for views of the Island as we descended towards its shores. There were smiles everywhere as new visitors marched from the plane through the airport while bathing in the welcoming warm air.

We bustled swiftly through the open-air Baggage Claim, fought for our rental cars at Dollar and headed quickly for late-night shopping essentials at Safeway on the way to our apartment.

And at Safeway, we met the chickens. And we met the cockerels. And everyone was enchanted as photos were had. 😊

Googling commenced as the shopping went on. Chickens are everywhere, especially on Kauai. The politicians in Honolulu have plans to sterilize and diminish the population, but to be honest, I like ‘em. They show up everywhere and seem charming to me, even when they opportunistically wander into open-sided restaurants in search of scraps. 😉

We had a ground-floor apartment to the North in Princeville overlooking the ocean, about 45mins up the East coast from the Lihue Airport. It stood 100 yards off a golf-course and 20 yards from a steep drop to a narrow bay. All of Princeville is apartments and houses centered around a lush golf course (Links) that partially sits upon cliff tops.

The lawns that run to the cliff edges were intermittently populated with the endangered indigenous Nene Geese and mostly-white, stork-like Cattle Egrets which were brought in during the 1950’s to control the insects around local herds.

We had a beautiful place to stay and many more to visit.

The local store was (Foodland) five minutes away in an extensive open-air Mall area, which supplied most our needs, including great Sushi, Pokes, Vegetables, Local Coffee and all that a Safeway has to offer, plus beach-related supplies and sundries.

Eating-in is convenient and there are many great options. This is helpful as often the restaurants can prove a little pricey and are limited (coming out of Covid) by opening hours, demand and staff shortages. And naturally, prices for most goods are generally above mainland offerings as one would expect on an island.

Goods are flown or container-shipped into the larger Island ports then often transported less expensively by barge to smaller Islands with shallow-draft harbors, like Lihue on Kauai.

Then there are the outings we tried…

First up was a fishing trip on a forty-foot powered catamaran out of the small boat commercial harbor just South of the Lihue Airport. Well, our party of two were out on the water Northeast of the airport by 0600 with a skipper at the wheel and a single crewman setting all the rigs.

A trip like this is not for the feint-of-stomach on such exposed waters. It was not particularly rough for early May but was a vigorous trip on the windward side of the Island. I sail, so no problem. It IS however a problem for most of those less familiar with ocean waves and swells, with or without some of the many sea-sickness aids available today.

As for the fishing… we had at least six lines out for the two of us. After about an hour we heard, “Fish on. It’s a Marlin. She’s takin’ a lot of line.” And before the rod could be handed to me in the fighting chair, “She’s off.”

We trolled around with half-a-dozen other vessels by a buoy set up about 90 mins out to attract fish, while following clues from Goony, Shearwater and occasional Albatross activity, before eventually heading further North another hour looking for bites. I got to eat my fill and drink a little beer, but that was IT for the fishing.

We were back in and tied up by 1.00pm and headed home to the apartment after a stop-off for a couple of beers in a Mexican restaurant where we were charmingly entertained by a few chickens wandering in and out, looking for scraps.

Next up we tried Bike Rentals out of Kapa ‘a, 30 mins South of Princeville. There is a paved, flattish, 10-mile ride out, all along the coast. Nice journey. We favor NON eBikes, so the outing is inexpensive and not too demanding. It is clear where the trail ends (it just does, with rocks barring the way) and there are plenty of outlook stops to rest or picknick. A recommended trip for all ages with a million photo-ops along the way. 😊

We even stopped off in Jimmy’s in Kapa ‘a, just off the Bike trail for a beer and Pina Colada before we returned the bikes. Friendly staff, hot food and welcoming atmosphere if you are inclined.

A couple in our group rented snorkels and fins in Hanalei for nominal fees (<$10.00 each per day) and had an exciting time viewing turtles at Anini Beach just a mile or so from our apartment. Quite private and great fun for all. The swimming is NOT demanding but weaker swimmers and children really should rent lifejackets and wear them. Remember: stay 10 feet away from the turtles and no touching these >2’ wide, ambling behemoths.

Needless to say, the water is clear, the skies brilliant blue with the air warm and enticing. What is not to like? What is better than a restful, post-swim lunch and nap upon a quiet beach?

And what would a trip to Hawaii be without the hikes? There are countless to choose from with trails running back into an interior of lush green tropical forests, canyons, towering volcanic peaks, streams, rivers and waterfalls. Truly a paradise to explore and enjoy.

Both locals, tourists and travelers will quickly suggest and offer their favorite spots to explore.

Then there was the dining out. There are sandwich, drinks, restaurants and food shacks scattered around all the populated areas. Inexpensive breakfasts and snacks can easily be found. There’s always visitors and friendly locals with whom to chat and share a tale. And on the Island the smaller shops, stores and shacks are commonly brightly colored and cared-for.

Everything runs on Island Time. Rushing to get things done is not a priority. A common sign hung on business doors is “Open till Closed.” And they mean it. If things are already booked-up, folks just close and leave. If staff is short (as it often is, following recent Covid re-openings) or unavailable, restaurants and shops close early or just do not open. By mid-May it was common to see restaurants stop serving by 8.30pm and empty by 9.30pm… even on Saturday and Sunday.

Kauai is now quite different from my long-ago visit in the early 1980’s. Back then there were many rough, red-dirt roads. The ONLY traffic light on the island was in a sugar-cane planation to manage trucking operations. You could only reach Hanalei by Gondola and the road out there was referred to as a donkey-track, by the locals.

The locals like to talk about those times. They enthusiastically recall them from their youth and wanted to hear my own stories from back then. I spoke with a few who truly lit up as they shared their own recollections and listened to what I could tell.

It is simply different now. The main road almost rings the Island, running from NNW, across the North shore, down the East coast, along the Southern Shore and up the West coast falling short at the rugged and impressive Northwestern Na Pali coastline.

The Island looks like a slightly squashed donut on a map… as the crow flies it is about 30 miles from the most Northerly to most Southern point and maybe 35 miles from East to West. The main road basically circles the outer edges of Kauai so the journey from the most Southern to Northern point is about 45 miles by vehicle.

There are commonly traffic lights, now. They even often have 15-minute traffic delays between Kapa ‘a and Lihue, which locals and GPS systems steer around using the few inland roads.

And with these changes comes opportunity and business. Tourists, visitors and an increased population. Yet when I spoke with locals, they often seemed sad at what was lost, more than enthusiastic about what was gained.

I have since heard that locals are now aggressively attacking local officials complaining of the high tourist activity and associated traffic access into quieter towns like Hanalei. Residents in many ways enjoyed the peace and seclusion that was afforded during two years of Covid-related quiet.

Then there is Hanalei itself, just 15 mins West of Princeville where we stayed. It is entered down a steep (recently repaired from a major collapse) road, passing over a one-way bridge that runs alongside a meandering river which rambles to the nearby coast.

I ate out in Hanalei several times. The main street sports a few hundred yards of restaurants, colorful, busy shops, a church or two and a public school that enchants the gaze of bustling tourists. Architecture is picturesque and almost colonial in appearance.

One evening we ate as a group of four at the Dolphin Restaurant, opposite the Postcard restaurant and nearby a large Kayak-renting center. What an interesting and lively place to eat. One of our party wanted to try Sushi, so we hit that adventure and accompanying wine offerings hard. What a great meal.

The place was pricey, hard to get into and the staff were effective, polite but overworked, understaffed and a little stressed. In all honesty their business was most likely relatively quiet a month earlier, but the post-Covid ramp-up hit them hard. They ARE one of the best places to eat yet they too stop serving by 9’ish each night. But it WAS a great night out and I can highly recommend the Dolphin. 😊

On another afternoon we (as a wedding party) rented a large beamy powered catamaran sailboat out of Port Allen to run in the lee of the Island for a four-hour trip up to the Na Pali Highlands, returning outside the harbor for sunset views and phot-ops.

After my previous offshore experiences that week I was suspicious of how well the forty or so folks on this boat would fare, even though we were protected from larger waves after rounding up the more heavily sheltered West Coast.

In all honesty most people fared well. Just maybe half dozen folks later commented on being a little queasy and only a couple suffered greatly. The crew managed their guests well, by metering drinks early-on and serving the excellent, on-board-prepared steak dinner late in the trip.

The Na Pali coastline is huge and precipitous with waterfall outlets etched into then light brown cliffs, a unique sight, well worth the journey. We encountered spinner dolphins along the way, viewed the forbidden Hawaiian Island to our West and ran at around 20 knots Northbound and the same again on the softer return journey with the kinder, rolling following sea.

And we were back for sunset, where the colors in the sky proved particularly spectacular as the spinner dolphins returned and put on a brief closing show to entertain us all.

A final outing was made by me with an old family relative; it was a geezer trip. We had searched all day, finding only sold-out and absent kayaking renter facilities, until we took a chance and ran back North to Hanalei, nearby the aforementioned Dolphin restaurant. Et Voila!

We booked a couple of single kayaks in intermittent rain, and I was soon thereafter off on my first ever Kayaking run, up-river. I clumsily zig-zagged my way between tropical riverbanks for an hour or so, enjoying the occasional downpours that conveniently cooled-off my overworked, unskilled efforts.

By the time we turned back downstream I would mostly steer in a straight line and used far less energy as a result. I could also competently pass other canoes without fear of my colliding with them. 😊

It was great fun and something I will likely repeat back here in the safety my local Santa Cruz harbor, for learning purposes. Although I thought my arms would explode because of my unskilled thrashing, they did not, and the next day did fortunately NOT bring any of the expected aches and pains, either. 😉

As I neither flipped the kayak nor crashed into the bank (or anyone else) I can safely recommend that anyone can try this. It is a fun, healthy activity for all the family. But everyone needs to wear a lifejacket when participating.

Our final day on Kauai featured a run up the famed Waimea Canyon ahead of a late-day flight out. This is a journey I have made before, but we struck out this time.

The Canyon provides massive wide views of the lush surrounding cliffs and a river nestled down deep in its gorge.

After lunch in the bustling bay-side Waimea town, we headed uphill and inland to enter the side of the canyon on the West. There are spectacular walks and serious hiking trails penetrating high into the Waimea Valley Park and Canyon on both sides.

As we entered, our first stop (at 1200’) displayed the yawning Canyon entrance to our right and the open flats running to the coast and open deep blue Pacific on our left. Quite a phot-op. Unfortunately, on this day we subsequently ran into mists above this height and saw little more but cloud all the way to the top.

The Waimea Canyon and Park are a must see for visitors to the Island; just be aware of the cloud-cover on your chosen day. 😉

Finally, after visiting friends in their local beach-side vacation rental in Poipu we dashed back to the nearby Lihue Airport, dropped off our Dollar SUV rental, rushed to check in for the flight and then just caught last drink orders (by 9.00pm).

The flight left on time and by 0600 the next day we were deposited as a somewhat saddened and disheveled group into the SFO terminal.

But it was a great trip. We will certainly visit Kauai again. 😊

I have generally and deliberately not mentioned the Wedding I was attending on Kauai and all the directly associated Ceremonies, Blessings, formalities, emotions, treats and special surprises that accompanied these very precious and memorable events. This would require a mighty book in and of itself. 😊

Suffice it to say that the Wedding and Reception were held privately in the Botanical Gardens which are a twenty-minute drive South of Princeville on the East Coast of Kauai. The location is prized for destination Wedding Events and provided an idyllic surround and setting for the beginning of my son and his new wife’s life together; they present as a very fine couple. 😊

The recent return to our Santa Cruz (CA) home has yielded a couple of pleasant surprises. Weather has been warm and welcoming with the Summer Holiday crowds still not yet arrived en masse.

There have been a few local visitors…

The occasional Humpback can be seen from the Northern shores of Monterey Bay, nestled beyond the kelp-line between Capitola Village and towards the crumbling Cement ship at Seacliff, just a little Southeast of where juvenile Great Whites typically congregate. The Whales’ presence is given away by occasional spouts and birds massing to grab spare fish thrown off from expansive feeding activities.

And as I write the Sooty Shearwaters have made a seasonal return in their hundreds of thousands. These birds dive tens of feet beneath the ocean swells, grabbing from the massive shoals of smaller fish. They travel the world from Australasia in a figure-eight pattern on the wing and ocean for 8-9 months a year, only coming ashore for three months or so to breed.

While here they run East-West along the Northern shore of the Monterey Bay. Their narrow flight path is just beyond the kelp, running from towards the tip of the Santa Cruz Pier, passing Pleasure Point and as far East as Capitola. They fly in a tight band some 50-100 yards wide, miles long, just a few tens of feet above the waves, constantly searching first East then returning West. And the cyclic procession is endless.

If you board a boat that sails through the flock, you are entertained and bombarded by excited, noisy chatter and seemingly frantic activity; Shearwaters are wholly unconcerned by vessels either drifting or charging through their flight path.

And as they busily proceed East and West with the sun beginning to set, constant evening flights of resident Pelicans pass Westerly overhead, lazily heading in drafting formations towards their favorite nightly roosts.

Strangely, locals strolling the beaches and cliffs often do not seem to even notice this mass of life surging out to sea just a few hundred yards offshore. The countless Pelicans and other seabirds overhead pass largely unseen, too. There is so much all about us that proceeds largely unaccounted.

And now I should fall to responsibly recording some of the more notable News Events occurring since my last BLOG. There is quite a list…

Iran has dismantled twenty-seven UN monitoring cameras ensuring there will be no tracking of their Uranium Enrichment activity nor even the current location of their centrifuges. They claim the UN has no right to monitor and scolded the US for their concern and comments. This should end Iran’s hope for a revitalized Nuclear deal with the (US and) World, but with blundering-Biden policies, who knows?

Adding salt to the wound North Korea (while managing a major domestic Covid outbreak) has announced it will be joining the China and Russian Block with Nuke testing.

China has now eased the massive personnel Covid lockdowns in Beijing and Shanghai and is finally experiencing some encouraging growth after previously disappointing results, which were further hampered by decreased World demand.

Most fiscal growth in China is stimulated by massive local Government funding fueled by regional Land-Sales (which provides >50% of all local Gov. revenues) and business-friendly policies. However, Land-Sales will ultimately prove finite and the central CCP has now seized the collection of all these land-revenues and is meting the monies back as it deems fit into the local regions. This chokehold is feared capable of subduing successes the previous approach had made to local economic recoveries.

The US has well-publicized and massive Inflation, Supply-Chain and other Fiscal problems now broadly accepted as being the result of bad Administration Policies. The bigger problem is that if the US has economic woes the rest of the World suffers similarly and sometimes even more-so, as a result.

Basically, the US recognized foolishness and disarray is victimizing more than US citizens. At this point the argument can be made that Domestic Biden insanities are bringing harm across the entire World.

Those dependent upon Market funds (401k’s, IRA’s, Investments and other financial Instruments etc.) to finance their lives are experiencing typically 25-30% losses in value over <18months of the new Presidency. Those without such investments are looking into the teeth of massive cost-of-living increases with even less protection. ☹

The US uses the “Basket of Goods” method of measuring inflation. This highly questionable scheme was adopted by Bill Clinton, copying the same method used by the British. It has enabled inflation to be regularly CLAIMED as ~3.5% for decades within the US.

The big issue is that this method ignores major economic factors such as cost of housing, gas etc. altogether, and is manipulated by removing from consideration any items that experience large price increases. Yup, the number is basically cooked. So, if this massaged and manipulated number has currently ramped-up to reportedly >8.5%, you can image what an honest view might look like. ☹

My own crude assessments suggest that real inflation is clearly running >20%, but probably <30%, for just the last year, alone. If you are not scared by this, you should be as there is nothing in the works to check this ramp-up of inflation, nor the confidence-stimulated free-fall underway in the Financial Markets.

Amazingly the Administration recently opined their concern that associated continued Low Polling might cause parallels being drawn between Biden and Carter. Honestly, with the articles, numerous Polls and (even) declining Democrat Leadership support it is staggering there is no realization that this particular horse has LONG-since left the barn. 😉

Then there is the tragedy of Gun Control shenanigans.

Without arguing one way or the other just let me offer that most guns and weapons have been made in largely the same way for around ONE HUNDRED YEARS. In the past guns had LESS not MORE controls on their access than now. Something changed and it was not the guns. Logically we would be wiser to understand and chase the root causes rather than just the guns themselves…

Around 60% of all gun-related deaths are historically suicides. If we are looking for a substantial impact upon gun-related deaths, we might want to at least CONSIDER Mental health issues; they are front and center in total death-count and in the specifics of most all Mass Killings.

Also, there is a great irony in that it is mostly Politicians and Parties that ultimately publicly debate, publicize and fight about Gun Control. Let me explain…

Citizens seek their Second Amendment rights to be upheld so they may Hunt, Defend Themselves, Family, their Property and so on. But almost every gun owner with whom I have ever spoken holds one thing in common, and that is their great distrust and lack of faith in Government. They often believe self-protection is required from their own Political Leaders who cannot ultimately be trusted.

Naturally in all discussions and debates on this subject, such leaders NEVER state this fundamental point. Why would they? And right there is both the sad irony, and an inevitability. 😉

The Southern Border Illegal Immigration crisis continues, but the DHS has a new shipping plan to disperse such immigrants. It is sarcastically called the Abbott Plan. Since border facilities are filled to overcapacity, the DHS has begun shipping excess people to cooperative LA from whence they are quickly released on their own dime to move on, untracked and certainly unlikely to show for further processing.

When LA overflows the intention is to then start using Albuquerque facilities, followed by Dallas then Houston and wherever else then becomes necessary.

The Head of DHS (Mayorkas) was just recently before Congress where he asserted on questioning that maybe as many as 1.6-1.7 million illegals have been processed through on Biden’s watch. During April alone ~235, 000 entered the US. Like many I have regularly seen these numbers, month after month. I would say a realistic number is >> 2,000,000 but less than 3,000,000 would be more accurate.

And these are the numbers of JUST the people found and processed. The real number with Open Border Polices could be staggering. The COST and social impacts that continue to be understood will be staggering.

Nancy Pelosi made nearly $100 million between 2008 and 2018. The average senator made around +$150k/ year during this period ($174k in 2021). Technically there is nothing to be seen here, since trading on Insider Information (the Speaker, bringing or NOT bringing issues to the floor of Congress) is not officially illegal. But trading on Political position (Hunter and Joe, take note) is just not kosher and needs investigation and updated Laws.

The Administration is being sued by a group of Medical Doctors for hiding and making unavailable known-good COVID cures and treatments. This is especially troubling as Government-driven Lockdowns during the pandemic are now proven to have caused many unnecessary deaths per a series of related articles and studies appearing around the World. These facts are IN.

The New Zealand Labor Government is officially now taxing Cow and Sheep farts in the name of Climate Change. This was DONE, despite NZ being 90th in carbon emissions and this consequently having zero Global impact. It does, however, punish and discourage their farmers and meat industry while driving up food prices (and Government revenues).

Early June Polling surprisingly shows that support for abortions is falling

The likely leftist SCOTUS leaker may have seriously misjudged the mood in the US. The potential overturn of Roe V. Wade only returns powers of decision to what is (per Ginsberg and many other legal authorities) a more correct legal basis, ie. to within individual States.

Although Polling is around 50-50 (a surprise in itself) for the overturn, the pro-abortion polling apparently craters after the first Trimester. Another surprise. It seems this leak may NOT provide the Voting support bonanza that Leftists had hoped.

Whistleblowers confirm that the FBI is purging Conservatives; hardly a surprise in the wake of left-biased actions taken in the last decade. This is not the bureau once loved and trusted. But was it EVER really trusted, given positions and actions taken even as far back as HOOVER?

The word is that there are now “thousands of FBI whistleblowers coming forward” denouncing the actions of senior officials they who they say have been acting alone. Time will tell. Post mid-term election results might well facilitate the threatened ground-up shake-out at the Agency (or, NOT?).

Early leaks of the CA Study due later this year regarding Reparations suggest this will indeed go forward. The on-going recent outflux of wealthy Californians will likely continue as many will resent being tapped for funding in a FREE State (no slavery ever there), where neither they nor their families ever owned slaves nor facilitated that industry.

California wants to lead the way on Reparations. I suspect it will go forward and anger the very many in their population who never even migrated to the State nor indeed the US until well-after Slavery was banned Nationally. But that is CA. 😉

And I must close with something about Joe Biden again being Number 1. It seems he is well on-track to most certainly easily beating the most embarrassing Presidential Record Ever: Let’s Go, Vacation Joe!

Well, those are some of the News snippets worth leaving on record.

As for myself I am glad for my recent vacations and breaks, but after keeping up on current events, am already waiting for more. 😉

Again, during these troubled times I recommend to you and yours that you prepare for and enjoy the upcoming Summer Holidays. It is just too wearing to stay abreast of the News without taking a break.

So, find ways to put the media onslaught behind you from time-to-time to enjoy the positive relationships and experiences that present themselves in your life.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Unearthing Your Own History With Travel, and A Look at The Wider World.

For a couple of years through the pandemic and particularly the last 15 months or so, I have been sharing and passing along every reasonably funny cartoon of social and/ or political satyr which passed under my nose. All forwarded in text Messages or on Messenger.

My focus tends to be upon items which most folks of mainstream opinion would not find disturbing and worthy of (often) ironic laughter.  😊

This provides me a great distraction from the brutal onslaught of news reports, which I still follow religiously (even though often painfully) from both sides.

A friend who is one recipient of my texts captured the purpose best when he simply said, “It’s good for me to laugh at this stuff so I don’t go nuts.” And this mirrors my purpose in the distribution. 😉

Watching the chaotic and predictable present emerge has caused me to recently reflect a little more on the past, as it was. It is a useful and necessary distraction to take your eyes of an often sad and predictable horizon and view your own present by contemplating the wake of history.

31,683 History Book Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock

I have previously written several times about the way human personality is formed. In part by our experiences, cultural exposure(s), position, intellect and more. But there then always remains the issue of our genes: the often-profound impact from whichever bloodlines we sprang.

For my own part that genetic hereditary connection runs far back in known history directly though the male line from the Highlands of Scotland and similarly so on my maternal side: Mackintosh and Ferguson Highlanders, respectively.

Our genes and histories often profoundly affect our self-image, personality and psyche.

Given my own propensity for travel, these thoughts, a pending social event (family wedding) and desire to perpetuate records of the family history uniformly along the line made me realize it was an ideal time to again visit the Highlands of Scotland.

10 Best Things to Do in the Scottish Highlands - What is the Scottish  Highlands Most Famous For? – Go Guides

A recent opening in the pandemic window over the UK made it possible to quickly arrange travel and meet with my youngest son in Edinburgh during April.

The Northerly destination and off-season timing made it relatively easy to find good flights, Hotels, car rental and willing services for the planned journey.

I was quickly in-route to my flight out and forwards, fully masked-up for the SFO airport passage and flight experience with fortunately no actual Covid-testing required to enter the UK.

The United (UA) flight was unremarkable, two-thirds empty and easily supported by a polite and seemingly tired and weary cabin crew. The arrival in Heathrow (LHR) was however somewhat different.

As London is a port of entry, I was required to retrieve baggage after passport control and manhandle my way via free Express Train from Terminal 2 to Terminal 5. A free baggage cart eased the transfer and notoriously long march.

Heathrow Terminal 5 - Wikipedia
Heathrow Terminal 5

Terminal 5 houses Domestic and more local European flights. It seemed when I arrived there for my onward flight to Edinburgh that everyone in the UK was going somewhere, especially with the school holidays in operation, too. Lines for food and snacks were long but speedy with (now) maskless travelers happily bustling around and enjoying a resurgence in travel and lessened (Covid-related) restrictions.

The British Airways (BA) Edinburgh flight was packed, polite, slightly delayed and efficient. After grabbing another free trolley upon arrival there, I muscled my baggage some 400yds to Avis and picked-up my rental SUV.

Not wanting to immediately fathom the SUV’s on-board GPS I set up my own (apparently outdated, I found later) portable unit and plotted my way into downtown Edinburgh and my overnight Hotel. I passed by the Murrayfield Scottish National Stadium, navigated my way around the now changed 1-way system and used the force to reach my hotel, parking illegally (as recommended) outside the main front entry, leaving flashing emergency lights as I checked-in.

Murrayfield Stadium
Murrayfield Scottish National Stadium

The Hotel proved to be a great stop, just 10 mins walk from the main downtown and Princes Street.

After dropping my car into the hotel-recommended NCP parking lot right below the landmark Castle, I set about my evening search for a meal and entertainment. Finding an empty table in a warm, busy traditional Irish pub showing live European soccer and providing endless opportunity to people-watch, was just the ticket.

After downing a few pints of draught Tennants, accompanied by a steak-and-ale pie with fries I contentedly meandered the charming roads back to the Hotel and settled in for a good night’s rest.

The next morning, I awoke refreshed, dressed hurriedly, packed, checked-out, stowed luggage with the concierge, then sped off walking to retrieve my SUV and then return for my baggage pick-up.

All this went well, and I next sped to Edinburgh airport to meet my son who arrived just a little later than originally planned on his own BA flight out of Heathrow, which had seen several threatened and actual destination and timing changes that eventually just mostly magically disappeared. 😊

Edinburgh airport

We quickly headed to our transport, set our directions on the more current SUV GPS and headed North to the Highlands.

By way of historical catch-up we first crossed the new, third Firth of Forth road bridge and stopped-off in Dalgety Bay to visit a bungalow I had rented overlooking the massive estuary below, when living in Scotland decades earlier and working briefly for General Instruments in Glenrothes.

Dalgety Bay 2022: Best of Dalgety Bay, Scotland Tourism - Tripadvisor

We then charged on into the moderate Friday evening rush-hour traffic which quickly dissipated as we headed along the Motorway then towards the A9, Northbound to Inverness.

After muddling through a confusing array of constantly changing 50, 60 and 70mph supposedly fanatically monitored speed-limit requirements and occasional snowstorms, we arrived late afternoon and checked into our hotel some 2-3 miles outside of Inverness Town center.

We quickly dropped off our bags and sped into town. The light was slowly dimming, so we parked alongside the River Ness on Ness Walk, across the bridge from the main town and overlooked by Inverness Castle that has been sometimes stewarded and controlled by Mackintoshes in the past.

Inverness Castle

Then began our rapid search for restaurants, pubs and a review of opening times for the now-closed tourist shops and local stores we would later need to visit.

Having made this journey several times before left me already aware of the best areas to search that would turn up later shopping opportunities and suitable restaurants for the next couple of nights.

It seems that if you want a timely seat in many of the better Inverness restaurants you need to book in advance, especially for Friday and Saturday nights. They too have just recently re-opened, are training inexperienced staff and are stretched to serve their belatedly post-Covid surge.

So, we booked an excellent restaurant (Prime) right on the Ness for the next (Saturday) night and finally settled on an accessible Jamaican-styled eating place off the nearby main street for this (Friday) night. What a pleasantly surprising eatery this proved to be. I had a piping hot Haggis starter and Rack of Lamb main course. That chef really knew his stuff.  😊

We retired after a great meal and successful fact-finding viewing of the town. The next day was assigned for a rapid trip, revisit of family history, places and events.

And a busy day it was.

We began by entering the remaining 12,000-acre Mackintosh Estate surrounding the current Moy Hall on Loch Moy, a more modest 1950’s mansion built to replace the 1870’s Baronial Castle demolished (with great difficulties) right next door. The ruins, current home and surrounds provided picturesque photo ops for our trip.

Moy Hall - Wikipedia
Moy Hall

Next, we approached the gamekeeper’s wife who brought her husband (Ian) to visit with us by their lodge and we chatted about access to the small Mackintosh family Museum as his dozen or so friendly dogs covered us with mud from thigh to boot. He directed us to one of the two family Land Mangers and his lodge, just a 150yds further along the road.

There we knocked and were greeted by a kindly, smiling Alex Fraser who secured us entry to the private museum and talked with us at length about known and shared family histories.

The (museum) collection features a sign-in log reaching back through many decades of visitors. The building famously holds an old four poster bed where Bonnie Prince Charlie slept while at Moy before the battle of Culloden. Old swords and weapons decorate the walls including a family broadsword used in the Battle of North Inch when the Mackintoshes successfully represented Clan Chattan in 1396, and the saber used by an ancestor of our host (Alex) during the route of Moy (1745).

Culloden Moor in Scotland • Scene of the Battle of Culloden in 1746 -  YouTube

The walls featured paintings, pictures and records of the more notorious family and clan events. There were even a couple of real (stuffed) Scottish wild-cats in cases, displaying the pure genes represented in their 7-ringed tails; these are however, less accurately represented on the family crest!

We registered our names, recorded the visit and before departing were requested by the Dowager Lady Mackintosh to call on her before leaving. Then, once again (Covid) masked to respect local and health needs, we visited with her outdoors for a brief time and caught up on mutual family events and travels.

Her son (the new Laird since his father’s death in 1995) is returning to assume his family responsibilities from his elderly mother’s care in 2023 and was planned to visit in the coming week following the (quite belated) loosening of Covid restrictions in Scotland just a few weeks prior. John Lachlan is the 31st Chief, the Mackintosh of Mackintosh and the head of the recently reconfirmed ancient Confederation of Clan Chattan.

It was a fortunate and productive visit. As the morning was still young, we said our goodbyes, jumped in our SUV and headed the few country miles to Rait Castle.

Rait Castle - Wikipedia
Rait Castle

After running a bumpy half mile from the main road, the last few hundred yards peter out into a simple dirt track as the approach to the main castle ruins. The thick Keep stone walls and attached Tower still stand in good order and photograph well despite having not been occupied since the slaughter of the duplicitous Comyn Clan owners in 1442.

There is a great family story of deceit and discovery surrounding our family’s massacre of their mal-intentioned hosts (the Comyns).

A pair of young men drove up and joined us at the castle. I did not speak with them but was surprised to see anyone at this private and less well-known historical site. Maybe they were Comyn descendants? Perhaps it was better not to ask.  😉

NOTE: It still seems very strange to have been taking snapshots on the known, precise spot where this notorious slaughter had occurred.

Following this diversion, we ran back <10miles to the Culloden Battlefield and visitor Center which also lies close to the Moy Estate.

The last pitched Battle fought on British Soil was in April 1746 at Culloden Moor, following the events of the initially popular ’45 uprising by the Jacobites, championing the Stuart claim to the combined Crowns of Scotland and England.

That waning campaign finally retreated into Scotland from gains as far South as Manchester in England during 1745 and culminated in a Government victory at Culloden the next year.

As usual the Mackintoshes took pride of place, front and center in that battle and so as a clan sustained heavier losses than any other. Two burial pits are marked with headstones, accurately positioned on the battlefield by the Victorians who later memorialized the resting places of some 250 kinsmen lost in the Battle.

A half dozen or so more stones additionally mark other clan resting places (in trenched burial pits) of another ~1000 fallen Clansmen from the Jacobite ranks.

File:Culloden grave (Mackintosh).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The Visitor Center building is pristine and substantial. The café features great snacks, meals and the store offer a large and varied selection of related souvenirs, books and memorabilia.

The Museum there is expansive and chronicles the events, leading to, during and following the historic battle in unprecedented detail, even sharing the subsequent suppression of the Clan system (including banning wearing of the kilt), disproportionate punishments, trials and transportations all leading into the infamous subsequent clearing of the Highlands.

Outdoors lies the battlefield itself, now restored to its best-known state at the time of battle. Flags mark the battlelines of both sides and features of the event (landscaping, walls and a small dwelling / farm) remain fully intact. We walked the field, visiting the burial pits while leaning into the teeth of a brief, unseasonal windstorm of sleet.

Returning to the Museum itself we grabbed more hot drinks and finalized a quick last review of the many showcases and exhibits.

A meaningful visit to the Culloden Visitor Center should take 2-3 hours, minimum.

Most of our review of the more notorious family history was done, so we headed back (~10 miles more) into historic Inverness itself, looking for a few souvenirs and gifts.

We parked directly beneath Inverness Castle and walked the 150 yards further into the main part of the busy bustling town, below.

After a quick stop for beer and essential shopping we headed the few miles out of town to freshen up at our hotel, prior to the previously reserved restaurant meal at Prime, just over the Ness bridge and across from the main part of town.

File:The Ness Bridge, Inverness - - 548020.jpg - Wikimedia  Commons

Dinner was excellent: Steak, beer, wine, a fine local whiskey for me with a shared dessert. And all conveyed by a chatty and entertaining Hungarian waiter who was additionally busily occupied training new staff in the wake of a post-Covid and seasonal revival of the local restaurant business.

We visited a few whiskey stores on this trip. More out of interest and curiosity than anything else. There are so many, and each has its own decorative, elaborate and entertaining offerings. It seems travelling Scots have always historically carried whiskey on their persons: along with the food packed was ALWAYS a good ration of whiskey for the journey.

So, Saturday was an enormous success and we retired to our hotel to rest for the Sunday run back to Edinburgh and its tourist and historical treats.

After a hotel breakfast we hit the A9 early and enjoyed the sunny hills, picturesque valleys, streams and rivers as we headed South. Again, we fought the mysterious 50, 60 and 70 mph implied (or truly enforced?) speed limit restrictions and by early afternoon reached the Bruar rest stop.

This stop is a place to behold. It features numerous large stores, shopping and dining opportunities. Most of the goods can be a little pricey, but the quality is excellent, no matter what you want to buy.

The place is just a few miles South of the Dalwhinnie Whiskey Distillery on the A9 and offers goods, foods, dining, clothing, outdoor supplies and equipment of all kinds and more. It is a must-stop on North-South travels in the central-East of Scotland.

Dalwhinnie Distillery -
Dalwhinnie Whiskey Distillery

By mid afternoon we were back in the NCP parking lot beneath the towering cliffs supporting Edinburgh Castle (which seems like) a thousand feet above. We marched up the steep road to enter the main street running along the spine of the hill, approaching the Castle entrance from the front.

There were tourists everywhere this Sunday. The streets were bustling and happy. A couple of Pipers were playing in full regalia and street entertainers were stationed here and there.

Bagpipes - Wikipedia

We walked up the quarter mile to the castle entrance to find that late-day tours and access was already fully booked on-line. No matter. There were activity, shops and people enough to entertain the rest of the day.

For the next several hours we wandered back down the main street for a dozen blocks and eventually followed an anticlockwise downward spiral of roads and pedestrian activity to the base of the castle, crossing the railway bridge by the Waverley railway station, then into the famous walk down Princes Street.

The weekend bustle of visitors, local shoppers and tourists was at treat. We passed above the grassy Castle gardens, down to our left where the largest European Christmas Market is normally featured, Covid-permitting.

After a few stops, drinks, afternoon snack and much people watching, we eventually completed our anti-clockwise walk beneath the castle and headed up Lothian Steet into the parking lot to pick up our SUV and head out to the airport hotel for an overnight.

The next morning, I shuttled with my son into the airport for his return flight via Heathrow to Sweden. After briefly returning to the Hotel, I picked up the SUV and ran back to central Edinburgh for my last day out of shopping and tourism.

Again, I parked in the NCP lot and this time walked the steep steps directly to the Castle frontage. Not too exhausting after all.  😉

After viewing a few more of the historical memorials surrounding the entrance I wandered with the tourists into numerous stores trying to solve my purchasing requirements for memorabilia and gifts.

There are many busy, elaborate, extensive and interesting shopping opportunities. Visitors and tourists have been entertained and supplied from these same buildings for centuries and it shows.

Finally, I had my purchases and once again meandered down an anti-clockwise but different route to the Railway Station, passing sidewalk and street vendors, alike.

I crossed over Princes Street and continued the same direction as the day before, stopping for a Subway sandwich and a Starbucks. The coffeehouse house featured cavernous upstairs seating and high ceiling to floor gabled windows that looked directly up to the Castle, perched serenely above. Quite a view and a spectacular photograph to forward on to friends and family.

Princes Street in Edinburgh - Edinburgh's Main Shopping Street with  Stunning Castle Views – Go Guides

Returning to the parked SUV I climbed aboard with purchases in-hand and weaved my way out of town and to the airport where I returned the vehicle a day early and shuttled back to the nearby Hotel.

That night I had my last Haggis appetizer, local pie and retired late after cleaning out an email backlog. The food in the hotel was surprisingly good, too.   😊

Early the next day I called for a 6.00am shuttle and dashed to the airport for an early check-in on my own BA flight down to Heathrow to secure later afternoon Covid testing, ahead of my next-day SFO flight.

I reached the crowded Heathrow Terminal 5 and muscled my baggage and handcart to Terminal 2 for a Hilton overnight while my Covid testing was secured for the international flight.

Everything about the required Covid testing was simple and efficient except the actual booking of it on the providers website. I stood in an outdoor wind tunnel entering my data with my phone, over and over and over again. Eventually I had papers, passports and tickets blowing around as I re-entered my Name, DOB, Flight details, Passport Information, Residence, Sex, etc. etc. again and again and again, ad nauseum.

Eventually the data stuck, and the repetitious questions ceased. My appointment was secured. Sigh. 😊

I was able to enter the near-empty testing facility in Terminal 2, get tested and receive results within the following 60 mins. To relieve my earlier, data-entry frustrations, I went for a soup and beer in the Hilton Bar and retired early, watching local TV, metaphorically happily and securely clutching my negative Covid Lateral Flow test in-hand, ready for the SFO flight the next day.

The next day, Terminal 2 was overwhelmed, crowded with travelers who had been requested to show up 3 hrs. before flight time. The UA check-in was predictably miserable though I was passed security and settled within an hour of check-in being finally authorized to proceed.

As a parting celebration of our visit, I hit the Seafood Bar for a plate of Scottish Salmon Lox and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. It proved to be as spectacular and appreciated as the one my son enjoyed as his appetizer just a few days earlier in the restaurant Prime, Inverness.

After the obligatory (posted as) 18-minute trudge to the Gate, I boarded my UA flight and binge-watched movies throughout the entire journey back home.

Upon arrival in SFO I waltzed through Global Entry in moments, only to be stalled by a broken conveyor belt delivery of the baggage onto the allotted claim carousel. Fortunately, I then had plenty of time to purchase/ rent my $8.00 luggage trolley to facilitate the hike to my own vehicle.

My Global Entry Enrollment On Arrival Interview - Live and Let's Fly

Why is it ONLY SFO that charged for baggage Carts on this trip? And why so much? Aaaah… California, sigh.  

The trip was well worth the effort and exceeded all expectations I might have had. A great revisit of family legacy, my origins and more explanation of why I am. And I was able to share, spread and reinforce a little more of the Family History within our ranks.  😉

Let me now digress and share a couple of anecdotes from my very recent travels…

Firstly, while in Edinburgh I had a brief conversation with a Polish girl working as a receptionist in one of the downtown Hotels. She mentioned that her entire family still lived in Poland in an area less than 120 miles from the border.

Even before the first shot was fired in Ukraine each one of her relatives had a clear evacuation plan in event of troubles moving in their direction. For centuries Poland has historically been engulfed early in every major European conflict. Inevitably, their expectations are set low, and anxiety is high. ☹

Days ago, I ran into a local building contractor at a gas station in Los Gatos (CA) and we ended up chatting for 10-15 minutes. He said he had many Mexican workers in his crews and that their political views were very much affected by their news-savvy children who faithfully explained and discussed current events with them. As a result, he said his workers were constantly asking, “Why are you letting these things happen to your Country?”

Let me now move on and feature some verifiable and objective truths about recent current events

The war in Ukraine seems to have not provided the expected cover for personal and policy failures that some world leaders would have hoped. Putin is embroiled in a conflict where his execution is readily portrayed as flawed, inhuman and incompetent, and Biden still seems unable to convince people that all his self-inflicted domestic woes are caused by Putin.

Vladimir Putin - Wikipedia

War continues as a human tragedy and will go on until Putin has the position he wants, and all the major infrastructure of the country is levelled. Troublingly, with the aggressive supply of weaponry to defendants the conflict is devolving more clearly into a proxy war between NATO and Russia. Tick, tick, tick. ☹

As for Xi, he continues to have major cities (Shanghai and Beijing) under large areas of total lockdown where citizens are generally not even allowed out to shop for food. He seems to have the military power to control the masses, but within the US public opinion of China is polling at all-time lows.

Xi Jinping - Wikipedia

China has moved on to now threatening countries that who communicate directly with Taiwan as this violates their claimed one-China control of that nation. Ukraine’s recent statement of unity with the island was greeted and treated accordingly.

The first female, black supreme court judge has been delivered. No ironic racism, here. 😉

Disney has flip-flopped and doubled down on a hard political line which is getting their local controls in Florida cut away. The distorted portrayals of each side versus the other are both cynical and deceitful.

Musk executed a purchase of Twitter. Perhaps the permitted treatment of Elon himself on the platform will convince some of his intentions? I suspect not. Loss of control of the discussion from this outlet seems just too hard for many to bear.

Elon Musk - Tesla, Age & Family - Biography

The reaction to this (Twitter) purchase is the Administration (and Obama) push for a Disinformation Board, to be nestled within in the DHS. This ensures activities will be squarely and powerfully placed in Domestic Politics. Legally, Congress can shut down this move. But…

An Orwellian, Government-run Disinformation Board in America (not Russia or China!). What could possibly go wrong?  😉

Next, the actual use of CRT in education is receiving much push-back. Certainly, it is already well established in most aspects of education in the West, particular Washington, Oregon and into California where the systems are long-since biased and controlled with political influence.

Mathematics in many of these places is still tagged as racist and the personification of white supremacy. Yet moves away from such traditional teachings have seen subsequent minority testing performances immediately decline even further.

A recent UCLA study published in late April now suggests that Long Covid is a product of an UNDERACTIVE immune system rather than OVER activity as previously believed.

There are more and more studies emerging that provide very troubling reviews of the impact of Covid vaccination. Death rates and records of complications are squeaking into public view since mandated vaccination programs were being enforced from 3Q2021. Sadly, the word Democide has even been bandied about.

A few reputation-sensitive experts and institutions alike state that cardiac disease is a certain result of vaccination and independent researchers (John Hopkins, Blackrock and others) are posting spiking deathrates (>80% increase) in Millennials and Gen-Xers. Quote: “The numbers are so bad that if you were an unvaccinated 75-year-old last September you had better odds of seeing the New Year than a vaccinated 40-year-old.”

For myself I chose to be fully vaccinated to facilitate my travels. However, after I received my Moderna booster in December 2021 I did acquire a couple of below-the-knee blood clots within days of the injection. What to do when the next shot is due? 😉

At this point it appears that blood clots are also a medically accepted feature and risk of both Covid itself and its vaccination.

I think we can expect troubling data to keep trickling out over the coming months. Perhaps in a decade or so an honest and more complete record will be forthcoming.

Most worrisome is the fact that many 100’s of millions of vaccinations have been dispensed in the US alone. You can be sure that extensive and intricate investigation has already been completed. The fact that simple overwhelming evidence and reports of efficacy is NOT forthcoming is simply suspicious.

And Hunter Biden and his laptop just keep on giving. This is a validated and proven factual story for many years and precedes the last election for which the related news was actively suppressed and ignored. It is hard to believe that President Joe will not retire into history with long-term corruption and influence peddling tainting his resume.

Hunter Biden and Laptop Are Prime Targets If Republicans Win Congress -  Bloomberg

As for Joe Biden. Well, I lived through the Carter years and still cannot understand how one man can have had such a flawlessly negative influence on the Country in a single year.

I tire of listing Joe’s fails and incessant gaffes. It is distressing. The world is watching and is truly unimpressed. Nevertheless, let me mention some crises:  The Southern Boarder, Inflation, Supply Chain, Afghanistan, Crime, Drugs, Human Trafficking, Gas Prices, Ukraine, International Reputation, Leadership… oh, and I suppose now on-going Covid execution and mandates.

Even if Joe is Titled-Out or (inevitably?) Impeached, we now have only Kamala in the wings. Her disastrous cackling performances, all-time low Polling and proven incompetence precede any further role to which she might aspire.

Europe is threatening to harm Russian finances by discontinuing and / or diminishing the supply of oil and gas it receives. Much of their entire usage will be taken up by additional consumption into China, India and others, anyway. What are they thinking is the endgame, here? This is simply positioning and self-flagellation.

And so, price problems for gas sales continue at the pump in both the US and Europe. The US problem is the result of a 100% self-inflicted and continuing Policy failure. It seems even many deep-blue protagonists are now forced to this realization and embarrassed by the US being rebuffed by both their Venezuelan and Saudi Arabian approaches for relief.

Transgenderism, particularly as it impacts womens sports, has been all over the news in recent weeks. Oddly, transgender participation in Olympic competition was approved several (c. 2015) years ago; apparently, the issue just never became prominently visible.

How Does Science Explain Transgenderism? - Online Psychology Degree Guide

But now we have bathroom usage, womens sports, military and government surgical funding and school teachings all ablaze with problems relating to both gender and sex. There are genuine issues, harm and suffering on these many fronts, all of which seem inevitably doomed to on-going, compromised and imperfect solutions.

And lurching into view are the US Midterm elections. The transgressions of well-known and documented voter fraud from 2020 (and most every previous election, stretching back centuries) remain unpunished. Realistically, what might we expect in November? A Red-Wave is predicted, but there is still much time to establish, fund and push many questionable narratives.

We have long since passed the point where Politicians and Media honestly serve and advise their followers. This might be tolerable if only there were some direct and reasonable level of accountability in force, punishing knowing misdeeds, deceptions and outright lies.

Nevertheless, with realistic expectations in-hand I just hope everyone will still get out and vote. 😊

On a lighter, personal note I am experiencing a recently increased onslaught of unwanted on-line advertising on both my (Droid) Phone and Laptop. Why is that? Is it just my devices? Sigh. Clearly, it is time for yet another clean-up and a stiffening of the defenses.  😉

Well, that is a wrap on my diligence covering many major news events and issues. Back to the happier subject of my travels…

It seems to me that every single soul has a noteworthy family history, worthy of exploration. Sometimes a little digging is required, but ultimately, we can learn a lot more about who we are and how we arrived at this point.

Our bloodlines and histories tell important stories and explain much. They are on the path of our self-discovery and awareness.

Have you ever dug back into your family history? Have you even tried? And recently?

In an era where the present and future are in such disarray, it can be comforting to simply sometimes look back in time.

Also, remember that those that come after us are invariably grateful for any insights we provide into our shared past.

So, take a little time to uncover your own history. Then share what you find.

Simple enquiries can unearth the most surprising treasures. And happy hunting!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Living In the New Norm.

The last few weeks have seen several proclamations that we have re-entered the non-pandemic World and a New Norm prevails.

For my own part it feels like I have dived into a seemingly innocent pool to find it much deeper than expected, infested with both sharks and powerful swirling currents not immediately apparent.

What I am told and that which I see and is reported can all be quite different.

The expected and unilaterally provoked war in Ukraine is well underway. News outlets are re-stocked hourly with indignant records of atrocious incidents. The country, its cities and infrastructure are continuing to be destroyed and eventually completely levelled.

And innocent citizens, men and women, young and old are sacrificed, violated and displaced. Over 3 million refugees fled Ukraine’s borders within the first month of hostilities.

The prodding, poking, goading and political maneuvers that began this progression are quickly accomplishing inevitable outcomes.

Reporters and observers are outraged, even surprised. Yet this type of (almost) Total Warfare have been the norm since even before the writing of the notorious Von Clausewitz.

We have seen similar events and progressions of destruction since WWII in former Yugoslavia, Georgia, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and on and on. Each of these countries saw on-going warfare for many years even following the initial destruction of their infrastructures.

In the beginning there are Lofty Goals, Inspirational Rhetoric, Political and National Maneuvers at the forefront. These eventually and quickly faded, leaving the simple civilian populations exposed as the meat in the ground-level grind of warfare.

There were no National innocents involved in the provocations that led to the inevitable outbreak of this war. Yet as in every war each side believes it is wholly right and positions its National News, Reporting, Opinion and Insights accordingly.

And so, from where these words are written and read the monster is called Putin.

Things swirling around in my local world also have their own, yet far more minor ups and downs.

The clocks have jumped forward in the US for what may be one of the last Daylight Savings events. Times will truly be changed. 😉

Masks and Covid mandates are falling away in the US since the SOTU address and even the UK has dropped its vaccine mandates for unwilling Health workers so as NOT to lose a further 80-90,000 professionals from their already diminished ranks.

Gas prices continue to rise following the onset of the Ukrainian War. In my recent Northern California travels North upon the Highway 5 backbone I have seen fuel prices run up from the very lowest just under $5 / gallon to over $6.10 at supposedly more cost-effective stops.

As for Diesel, that is already often priced well over $7.00, adding expense to every single product that can be purchased.

I read that Inflation is now around 7.9% by current measures. For my own part it seems every product or service I purchase has risen steadily to objectively be some 20-30% more costly than at the end of 2020. That is a large jump in 15 months, way beyond what is advised and emerging long before any knock-on effects of the Ukrainian War could occur.

Everywhere I go in Northern California there are “Help Wanted” signs. In addition, Placards adorn most businesses, commonly requesting patience with their understaffed offerings.

Services and products are reduced in Restaurants, Hotels and Stores. Everyone requests your tolerance as employers struggle to first attract and then retain workers now accustomed to their home-based, Covid lifestyles and funding.

And the worker shortage has fueled wage increases, in turn driving staffing reductions which then affects overall service and prices levels. We have indeed entered a New Norm. ☹

As routines return there have been Irish Bands and Music in my local Capitola Village. St. Patrick’s Day offered a welcome break and return to celebration and the more familiar. 😊

Springtime blooms and blossoms have appeared and my cold weekend overnights on a boat in Alameda are moving into the rearview mirror.

For daily activity, my time has been mostly consumed in February and March with bike rides and surprisingly picturesque and brilliant sunsets. The evenings have steadily become warmer, and the post sunset-chill has diminished.

From the beginning of March there were just more people out and about. Days hereabouts have been sunny, somewhat warmer (if not so the nights) and less cloudy. 😊

The airline industry is concerned about travel, not just caused by exploding fuel prices, but as a direct result of quickly and massively growing demand.

Recent weekend stays in Alameda have also highlighted signs that the Supply Chain constipation continues, visible from the (lack of) movement in the Container Ships being processed through the Oakland docks.

Virtually NO Container Ships ever anchored below the Bay Bridge in the San Francisco Bay as recently as the end of 2020. Now seeing 5 or 6 vessels piled high, held-up waiting to get on the docks from their anchorage is a common sight, even when as many as 7 other vessels are already tied-up dockside.

The once quite open land around the docks’ waterfront and beneath the giant, stork-like cranes is filled to water’s edge, stacked to the skies with Containers waiting for trucks to move them on. The system of delivery and pick-up remains visibly choked and moving sluggishly.

It is noticeable that when I travel the 300 miles from my home in Santa Cruz to as far North as Redding there are distinct cultures in play, affected more and less by their Covid experiences…

All this region is in Northern California, which was largely aggressive in pursuit of Covid medical restrictions and requirements. In the busier towns like Alameda and immediately along the Highway North leaving the Bay Area, people are still often following covid protocols and using masks. Here Doctors, Dentists and medical professionals remain required to be masked while processing visitors with Covid practices.

My own ophthalmologist complained that although he never now wears a mask outside of work, he feared the rest of his working career might require him to do so on-the-job.

In early March I boarded one of the now fewer, sparsely filled high-speed ferries from Alameda into the Ferry Building on the San Francisco waterfront. Masking was mandatory aboard and of mixed interest on the streets of the city. However, entry to restaurants required vaccination and masks that could be quickly discarded once inside.

Upon entry to the world-famous Buena Vista for Irish Coffees we were required to show official proof of vaccination which was carefully scrutinized. No masks were required indoors though our servers chose to wear them.

The size of crowds along the Embarcadero seemed perhaps 60% of normal on that warm, sunny day and many street vendors have returned, but were now often confined to slightly different street locations than before the pandemic.

Several passages around the Piers (esp. Pier 39) channeled pedestrians in strange ways and even had multiple blocked-off walkways, clearly tied to obviously persisting Covid restrictions. Oddly, this restrained organization seemed to funnel people together, which is intuitively unwise. 😉

As I visit more rural towns and travel further North such restrictions seem to vanish entirely and are actively dismissed. Nobody is masked, many are not vaccinated and frequently proudly so. In conversations I find people often disdainful of the lack of working ethic in their neighbors just to the South in more suburban regions.

For myself, I like to travel and have done so continually throughout Covid locally, Nationally and Internationally. Inevitably I am vaccinated. By visiting other places, at-risk people and watching my own health I have been tested some 20+ times for Covid; always negative.

Following a Moderna Booster shot before my Christmas travel, I managed to pick up a couple of blood-clots below the right knee within a day or so. Coincidence? Really? Such risks are only JUST starting to be acknowledged liabilities and even then, most infrequently.

There have been several hundred million Covid shots administered in the US alone with more recently >>50 million Boosters… ideally data that will have provided massive information and pinpointed efficacy, benefits and even very minor health risks that might surface over a very meaningful period.

Yet nothing is published that overwhelmingly demonstrates the simple proof of benefits. Why is that?

Did the CDC forget or miss this blatant opportunity? Could this focused, major Institution really be that foolish? Or does this mass of data show something that is better not revealed? In all honesty there truly is reason for suspicion.

And do we not all know fully vaccinated (even Boostered) people who have contracted one or another variant of Covid, sometimes even twice. Though in all reasonability, this can be expected.

For myself I am fully vaccinated. Yet I am extremely suspicious of the shocking lack of detailed data presentation. Its sheer absence is at best, quite troubling.

And Certified Covid Testing can be a pricey business. After last New Year I paid $250 /person for a required rapid certified PCR test to board a flight from Sweden to the UK. Less expensive self-administered Lateral Flow tests can be intermittently hard to find in stores and yet also fail to offer any certification that may be required.

California is (politically) bright Blue in its major Cities (particularly San Francisco, LA, San Diego and their surrounds) and deep Red everywhere else.

As I travel about California it seems blatantly obvious that even localized political affiliations sharply affect on-going ties (or lack thereof) to Covid Protocols and Pandemic Fears.

So, now moving to a lighter subject, let me describe my recent fishing trip (300miles from Santa Cruz) up North to Redding, CA…

Well, the Drift fishing was a blast!

Again, I was looking for Rainbow Trout on the Lower Sacramento River, this time South of Red Bluff.

The fishing was mid-week and quite quiet after Mid-March where daytime temperatures were still below 65F and rains on-and-off, though dry on that day and with afternoon winds topping 12mph on more exposed sections.

There was just me fishing and a guide aboard our drift boat.

Water flow was at the lowest legal limit (perhaps just 25% of preferred fishing flow norms) the water authority can release from the dam; it was the same as six months earlier but now headed into Spring and then the heat of the coming Summer.

So, local fishermen, guides and suppliers are concerned for the future of the fishery.

Well, we had a peculiar, unique and banner day.

I doubt we saw more than 7 or 8 groups of people including those in boats or on the banks. Groups were typically of 2 or 3 people each; not many were fishing on the 15 or so miles over which we mostly drifted and partly motored through.

We spotted truly little successful action among them and those we asked professed minor or no success. Ours was a different tale.

Between 9.00am and 4.00pm we hooked into over 70 Rainbow trout. Over 35 were brought into the boat for release. The fish ranged from 14”-20”, mostly around 16” and >2 years old.

Typically, a good day fishing for TWO Anglers would be hooking into 30 fish total and getting as many to the boat as possible for release.

In all honesty we had stopped counting catches by noon and the estimates may be quite conservative. Everywhere there should be fish, there were, and I hooked fish most everywhere I tried.

We joked that the guide’s year would be a disappointment from this point onwards; everything to come would likely be downhill.  😉

In truth I have always been remarkably successful on this river, but this was an exceptional experience. 😊

We employed three different fishing techniques, all of which produced: Dry fly overhead casting with a nymph dropper was least successful. Euro-nymphing with bottom bouncing worked well in deep holes, but a basic triple rigged nymph setup with an indicator was most productive and required less touch and skill, anyway.

There was however something quite different about this trip…

Less than a year ago (mid 2021) I had noticed increased numbers of Sucker Fish in these waters and was concerned the fishery would be destroyed for Rainbow Trout. Suckers are an invasive species. And I saw this same phenomenon play out about five years ago in the Merced River coming out of Yosemite.

The trout there were gone in a just a couple of years. Each visit found more prime Rainbow fishing runs overrun with Sucker Fish.

By September of 2021 I began noticing more Suckers in the Lower Sacramento water and even caught a couple of (5lb and 7lb) those fish. This was already a notable change from mid-year.

I commented on it at the time, but nobody seemed particularly concerned, at least outwardly.

This visit (mid-March 2022) I was seeing 100’s of Suckers, actively spawning in the shallower water. I probably saw as many as 1000 fish over the entire day. This was new. This is dramatic.

These fish have few natural predators other than the Trout grabbing their spilled greenish eggs and an occasional Osprey pulling a Sucker-fish meal and loudly advertising its success.

Clearly these massive numbers of sightings say this invasive species has already been extraordinarily successful. They stick to the bottom of the river, are not troubled much by angling and generally have little affecting their proliferation.

And how does all this matter? Consider the following…

My own fishing trip likely benefited greatly. I was running a (green) egg pattern at the top of my most successful rigs. Even though many of the Rainbows I took were on other flies and droppers, the egg pattern was almost always there and at worst functioned as an attractor. The Sucker Fish were in spawn.

I am guessing only a few other fishermen that day were running a GREEN (various Trout have red and orange eggs) Egg Pattern. I had an INCREDIBLY wise guide. Thank you, Jason!  😊

And the greater significance…

There is probably little, or no work being done by local fishery employees that can or will meaningfully control this invasion. My own experience has been that when such damage is underway it happens very quickly, and all goes in one direction.

This does not bode well for locals who rely upon the river for their livelihoods: Guides, Stores, Suppliers, Hoteliers and so on.

Perhaps this major trend will not prove disastrous? Maybe there are steps (of which I am unaware) that can protect the fishery and reverse the trend? But at this point the signs are not good.

And there is more to life than fishing…

Covid has been put on the backburner. Restrictions are lifting in many places but persist (as already mentioned) as cultural norms and hang-on in some regions and many (all CA?) medical environments.

Covid has been down-graded to “a flu-like risk to work thru’” in several parts of the World. I am sure it will be brought forward again when the War in Ukraine no longer serves all required purposes, or if a genuine, powerful new variant emerges.

But for now, many will get a general break from the Covid onslaught. 😊

Today, Putin and the War are tagged as the focus and cause of all our woes and the people of Ukraine must die, suffer, be displaced or flee as hostilities rage on.

It is said that people deserve the Government they get… the belief being that if it is truly bad you should rise and overthrow your oppressors. This is easier to say than do when the collective and personal cost is often so formidably high.

Much of the Western World is on-board in support of the Ukrainian cause. It is mute that its government was thought, until weeks ago, as highly corrupt. Times change. Convenient Politics reign.

Many other Countries see Russia as an ally, or a sovereign State protecting its historical territory, interests and own security. And this completes the troubling division of World opinion.

China has made its choice and (generally) backs the Russian efforts. She also wants to re-assimilate Taiwan under her umbrella and is biding time and watching how things play out for Putin.

The recent Middle Eastern peace-accords forged by the last Administration have now been abandoned and displaced. Consequently, previous allies (Saudi Arabia and UAE, etc.) will not even take US calls to address a bail-out for the US Oil pricing catastrophe.

And inevitably, Iran and North Korea are back, acting-up with spurious missile shots. This, even as the US is seeking an inexplicable renewed and punitive (to the US) Peace, Nuclear Proliferation and Oil-Supply deal with Iran. Ouch. ☹

Further, an Administration attempt to get Oil Supply relief from Human Rights Violator and failed Socialist Venezuela after Russian imports were finally banned, had the Venezuelans formally reporting back on the conversation to their (Russian) ally within days. Ouch, again. ☹

Domestically, the last 15 months of open boarders have shepherded in >> 2 million illegal US entries, Gas Prices have gone out of control, Inflation has spiraled, The Supply Chain is staggering, Afghanistan has been disastrously abandoned, Debt has surpassed the imagination and Crime has exploded with Drug and Human Trafficking growing precipitously.

The current US President is already broadly tagged as worst ever, surpassing even Carter. There is a convincing argument he OK’d the Russian incursion with inviting words and absent proactive action. His VP is similarly maligned and despised domestically and on the World front. Where does this all end? How deep a hole might yet be dug?

With all the aid pouring into Ukraine for defense, what could possibly go MORE wrong?   ☹

Not surprisingly it seems the (Ukrainian) defenders are running out of space to operate. Let us hope operations do not spill into adjacent territories and ignite an even larger and more Global event.

Several months ago, I wrote about three Leaders (Putin, Biden and Xi) who needed wars to distract from mounting Domestic political failings and personal unpopularity. Two of them now are up and running with Xi is in the wings, watching and waiting.

Weak leadership provides a catastrophic platform and opportunity whereby events can quickly overtake the players.

Realistically, these are gloomy times. The world needs to move quickly toward measurable de-escalation.

As for myself, I have little meaningful effect on problems of this scale. So, I will focus on things that might be accomplished. 😉

Every day offers the opportunity for work, exercise and the chance to find and enjoy those positive scenes and events that surround us all.

Are you able to find such opportunities? Are you, your friends, colleagues and loved ones able to find truly effective distractions and diversions?

We need not ignore the reality of events. You can keep abreast of both troubling and inspiring News.

But be sure you find time to clear your head and do not obsess unhealthily about those things you cannot practically affect or control. And above all, keep your chin up!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.