Sunday, March 30, 2014

Unerstanding Climate Change

For years now people have been banging the drum for Global Warming. Al Gore came out with a movie which would go on to be award winning, despite the fact that almost nothing within the time frame he stated within the Video has yet happened.
Now Global Warming has changed to Climate Change, all encompassing which also allows itself to be explained by the Global Warming crowd.
For years I have had a suspicion that Global warming was a hoax, that certain people would push and benefitfrom it.
It is clear that the Media manipulates people in the same way the Bible does, by promoting the same things which play on your emotions and fear, Famine, Floods, powerful storms, if you do not obey, the powers that be will come down on you.

Recently a MIT professor came out saying to slow down on Global Warming. Pretty much stating exactly what I have, "Global Warming is a Politicians dream come true, the opportunity for taxation, policy, control & Crony Capitalism"
He is swept under the Rug by the popular left wing media and not taken seriously. Look I do not care if you believe in Global warming or not, but do you really think people are not hyping this in order to make some extra coin, policies and control?

I know right now you are saying but what about all the Changes which occur, all the new hurricanes, floods death and destruction.
Well none of this is known, as the Professor pointed out, most of it is simply do to where we live and more importantly, how we live.

Floods have, and always will occur.
There are areas which are called 100 year flood planes meaning every 100 years it will flood. The real irony here is people actually live in those planes and feel they will be dead before it happens.
I was a contractor, and I asked someone "Do you know at what part of the century the next flood will happen?" His eyes were blank and I think like everyone he assumed that nature only did things at the turn of each century, hell why not it sounds easy.
When people started moving to America unfortunately we ended up with the lower class people, who were the least educated. Those people took away the old countries rule of building on higher ground, and started building next to rivers and right smack in flood planes. This became so much of a problem the LA river was actually re routed and concreted in to accommodate this nonsense.
The Bible played on Floods using Noah as your guide, GOD WAS ANGRY WITH THE PEOPLE SO HE FLOODED THEM! unfortunately believe this or not it is ingrained in your psyci, you will recognize a politician as someone of power and like it or not, some fear will come into your existence. Trouble is with the Noah story it has happened dozens of times over again and is a story retold long before the bible, and guess what, it still is being retold, Al Gore used it, made sure you knew if you did not do what the government said, you would be flooded as water levels ARE RISING WE ARE YOUR SAVIOR!

Well what about hurricanes and the mass damage, surely they are getting stronger?
Yea not so much. WE have taken to building in Hurricane prone areas, that is all fine and dandy, to top it all off we build right up to the water. It was such a poor Idea that insurance companies would not cover those wealthy who wanted the best view and beach front property. So the Federal government stepped in to offer insurance to cover these people who would inevitably lose their home, but get a very cheap remodel on YOUR tax dollars
Yup thats right, someone is benefiting, but lets move on to the poor people, using Katrina as an example, what about that?
Katrina became nasty because natural barriers which slow down wind and storm surges are now gone. Marshes were drained and trees cut down the results are predictable and down goes man. This is the same everywhere.

What about Forest Fires, god they are worse than ever.
It just so happens that I was a contract Wild Land Firefighter for nearly a Decade, so I learned a bit about that.
First off every five years roughly we have a bad fire season, those of us who contracted counted on a big year in that midst.
But wait you say, you live in a drought zone and fires are more predominant.
Droughts are nothing new and again the earth has its cycles. Forest fires are bigger and badder now simply because we want them to be. Let Burn policies have allowed fires to grow in size, and provided fires are not heading to civilization, we let them burn fairly unchecked.
Fires are not only big money for the contractors, but huge money for the government employees themselves who are paid away from home pay, over time, & hazard pay. Fires are so much of a boon many retired Forest Service Employees actually work summers just to fill their travel coffers. In other words incentive to put the fires out simply is not always there.
The most efficient fire I ever was on endangered a couple of local Politicians homes, we could not understand why all the resources were thrown at this tiny fire until that little fact was found out.
Roadless initiatives are another major factor. At one time they created a fire line and if a fire was not so large, it often would be stopped there. However with roadless initiatives those roads were decommissioned and grown over.
So now fire lines have to be cut, this does not happen in the blink of an eye and takes some time to do, days are often added to a fire in this alone. Further after the fire is out, those lines are decommissioned and turned back to original.

I have always wondered how much of this was all planned for the bigger scheme. Looking at history I suspect much is and often a bungling government on the outside, is controlled by someone organized on the inside.
Likely we in our lives will never know, what I do know is what I have put forth. I also look to the source themselves and I watch NASA very carefully. Over the past few years we were bombarded by unprecedented solar flares. NASA at the time was worried power would be knocked out, it did not, but what is that effect on your weather?

What about CO2 emissions? Can you think of an easier way to control and tax people simply by looking at a common every day tool and vilifying it? Even if CO2 is as nasty as claimed, then the easiest solution would be not not allow the lung, trees, to burn nor to allow them forests to be decimated in South America. Which brings about yet another panic, dont you remember 30 years ago when the world would perish if we did not stop deforestation in SA?
What happened with that? Someone decided those forests were best converted to farm land for Soy and Ethanol.

While I am at it one last point, Ethanol is such a horrible Idea it was tossed aside in the mid 1800s during the battle for what would power the combustible engine. Corn, where ethanol comes from is a very high water consumption crop, areas which previously did not grow corn started to, and why not, guaranteed coin. The problem came however as those corn crops caused droughts in said areas. Further corn as a crop is subject to natural droughts, soil depletion, weather, disease and poor harvest. It also as a power vs oil is no where in the same ballpark.

I can go on and on, this is something a book really would encompass better, but you are getting the Idea.

Look I am all for taking care of the planet, that is out duty, what i am not for is encouraging panic based on nonsense and offering unrealistic solutions which not only do nothing, often cause as much or more damage in the process.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Eighth wonder of the world, Banaue Rice Terraces

After spending the night in Baguio we would be ready to head off in the morning.

But hold on, I am an American after all and a breakfast buffet was offered so I had to check it out.

Not quit what I was looking for, dried fish, fish heads and something that looked like like Grits. I am not a fan of Grits but dried Fish is not something my Pallet preferes and fish heads are one of those things I just cannot get myself to choke down.
SO I scooped up a healthy bowl of Grits. They were yummy, and I was savoring the dish with the usual outstanding Philippines Pastries which honestly I consider the best I have to date had. My girl is staring at me so I know something is up.

"Do you know what you are eating?" she asks

"Well I assumed they are grits, but they taste different" I replied. She would go on to explain I was eating entrails and rice. Yea well damn good entrails and ironically I happen to love the insides of an animal so I helped myself to seconds.

We would get catch a Bus to Sagada to see the Hanging coffins and their Rice Terraces which were impressive, but not as apparently. However upon sitting on the bus we found we were mislead, and indeed Sagada was on the way to Banaue but we would not as told, be able to make it there by evening.
After playing hide and seek with a couple girls We decided we wanted to see the famous terraces, and while the Hanging coffins would be cool, they are not something I have dreamed of seeing. We departed the Bus and unfortuantely my girl would badly sprain her ankle on a curb. There I would be, my backpack, carrying her with hers and stepping out in the street to make sure a cab would stop.
We told him where were looking for a private cab to go to Banaue and this being the Philippines a deal was quickly made, he assured me he could get us there before sunset and we could see the Terraces, it was 10 am, an hour later after securing the documents he needed from the city to operate out of town we departed.
He started out driving like a sane man, but that quickly ended as we left the city and it would be pedal to the medal from then on.
And we would speed thru some of the most amazing countryside I had ever seen. The pine trees mixed with palm trees would give way to only pine, and I would feel at home. All the sights and smells were complete, tall pine trees which resembled evergreens they were called Benguet Pine. The Bamboo and Thatch Huts slowly transformed to pine slab homes, and it honestly reminded me of a living ghost town in Montana.

Our driver was screaming though, there was no slowing down for a picture, and I assumed the bus would come back thru here, so I could grab some pictures then, I would be wrong.
The pine would slowly give way to the normal jungle one would expect in the tropics.

We would slide around miles upon miles of corners and leave tire tracks on the pavement, he would rally style dive straight off the assphault to scream down dirt roads blistering past the huts and workers. THe strangest part is there would be signs up at each village to slow down, even with some baracades yo uwould have to maneuver thru, it mattered not he barely blinked.

Some of thee baracades would even have Law Enforcement and they would do nothing, I wondered what could they do as there was as shortage of patrol cars. Soon I would find out as he flew past one of these check points and then suddenly came screeching to a hault. "what are you doing?" I asked.

"They pulled me over" he said

So there I am looking behind us for some cherries and there is only a couple cops walking to the cab.
"Hide do not let them see you are American" he would say.
Out of the Cab he jumped and I slouched down, only looking thru the car mirror to see the frantic hand signals and pointing at us. Soon he would pay the Bribe I mean fine and off we would go, slowed down not at all.

We would climb into the clouds but there would be no pines, It was rainy as we continued to get closer to Bageuo, the Myst danced between buildings adding to the spiritual value of our journey.
My heart pounded with excitement, in between the trees over the buildings I could see glimpses of the terraces themselves.

We were told we would not be able to see the terraces themselves do to the cloud cover, but I argued I again wanted to see the spiritual aspect and I would be rewarded.

The villagers were concerened seeing me carry my girl, and not having any doctors they quickly sent for a Shaman to heal her.
He would confirm it was not broken. Laugh if you will her foot felt better.

It was also here that I would find the famed wooden bicycle I had seen pictures of and always dreamed of seeing. Every spring they would have a race down the hill. god no way in hell would I try that.

The man on the bike is one of the Original crew first photographed to encourage tourism. Nice gentleman who had suffered a stroke, he asked what was good for one and I would give him baby aspirin and instructed to take one every day.
Though without modern medicine they certainly realized they could benefit as well.

After taking in the breathtaking terraces our Cab Driver was a bit concerned with going back, but wanted dinner of course. Since he got hosed on the fine I treated him.

Now eating a developing country can be interesting and one has to watch where you eat. My rule is to always eat foods which are not touched after they are cooked, and fortunately for me one of my favorite meals in the Philippines is called Pancit Canton. A thin noodle mix with vegetables and shrimp.

Banaue was a very small developing city which was like being stuck in time, the resturant we were told was the best in town for a westerner. It had no windows and the Customers were wearing jackets, my girl was frozen.
Normally Meals in the Philippines run close to American prices however here I bought a nice meal for all three of us, with beer for me and the cabby for under five dollars.

Our cabby would ask before he left if I wanted a ride back to Bagiou, I said no, we would get the bus directly to Manila, he would bid us well with a scared eye of nervousness and leave. It occured to me after he left that he was probably scared to drive back in the dark with huge drop offs and bandits on the road. Truly I regretted sending him off so late but I simply had not thought it thru.

We would catch a First class bus back to Manila, there were no more seats and I would ride the full eight hours with only a piece of cardboard between me and the floor. I am to old for that shit.

IT was worth it though, another Amazing adventure brought forth in the country of Dreams.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The road to Banaue Rice Terraces, one of the Wonders of the World.

Wonders of the world are named such for a reason, their absolute magnificence and engineering when man made is at times beyond mental comprehension. It has always been a dream to see the Rice Terraces in the Philippines and I was determined to again make another amazing dream come true in this country of splendor.

I found myself in Manila with my girl, we would be conducing personal affairs and we discovered we had four days to spare before our next appointment, so what to do?

I would browse the internet and commented how I would love to see the Rice Terraces, she would reply "yes it is a dream of mine since I was a child, we need to go see them"

So I did some reading, discovered the bus ride was eight hours and we could catch one first thing in the morning, my girl was ecstatic and I was excited, another dream come true.

The following morning we would pack up and hit the bus station, first class accommodations as my woman booked our seats with first class accommodations for a mind blowing 15 dollars for both of us.
First class in the Philippines is truly that, you get a nice clean restroom, snacks and even a water bottle to start off the trip. Along with stewardess if you will to make sure your trip is comfortable.

The road is Amazing, the bus modern, and the Philippines despite being a developing country has some amazingly well kept roads and bridges

We would arrive in six hours rather than eight in Baguio, we had a bit of a walk to the hotel, there was a fellow ADV rider motorcycle parked and I loved his panniers.

The hotel was amazing on the outside,and had a first class resturaunt but the rooms were old, worn and not worth the 75 dollars a night.

Baguio is a very clean city, which is shocking after coming from Manila which is how people visualise cities in the Philippines, beggars everywhere, shanty's mixed in with Sky Scrapers and dirty. None of which were to be seen anywhere in Baguio.

The only Homeless people I saw where these two, the one actually was whistling while pushing all his valued possessions in his shopping cart.

I was very excited to be here, and upon checking in I would ask the counter girl where the Terraces where "Sir they are Eight hours away in Banaue."

I was shocked, I looked at my girl who had a blank look on her face, her dream of "seeing the Rice Terraces" had for her entire life only been visualized with the wrong city in her mind. Of course being a woman it was my fault as I was doing the homework the previous night and I should have known better.

IT was cold here a wopping 48 degrees, now before you comment understand that while the Philippines was undergoing a record cold spell, it by no means was unusual for this area where light winter jackets are sold.
Baguio also has Pine Tress mixed in with Palm trees, absolutely Mind blowing to say the least.

We would buy my girl a Jacket for the cold as she was complaining about her cheeks and hands "hurting" this was her first experience in anything below 78 degrees so I suppose that yes, she was indeed freezing.
The following morning we would rent a cab for one of the scariest rides of my life to the proper city where the terraces lay.

Until then.......

Monday, March 17, 2014

Run Over By A Whale Shark

What seems like an eternity ago, I took the opportunity to swim with gentle giants in Oslob, Philippines. My only information on the area came via an e-mail from a city sponsored website which had replied to my question of, "What are my lodging choices and how much to swim with these beasts?" with, "There are no hotels just come and you will find someplace to stay." There were low prices listed, which sounded too good to be true, and it turns out they were. So I decided to stay in Cebu, which is on the way to Oslob, because, I thought, Riding a bus is easy.

However, riding a bus in the Philippines is NOT easy, it is an adventure in itself. The streets are crowded, the traffic is measured by inches, and the only traffic law is that you use your horn to communicate via SOS signals.

Oslob is only about 70 miles from Cebu, but in Filipino time, that equals four hours of creeping, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and roads in desperate need of repair. The bus dropped us in front of a stretch of road where various former-fishermen-turned-tourist-guides advertised their services with big colored flags.

It was noon when I arrived at Oslob for my swim with the Gentle Giants and I was informed that swimming with the giants ended at 12 pm - I had just missed it. Frustrated and quickly finding that extra money would not buy me the happiness I demanded, I settled into a room at a house near the diving guides. The room was amazing and I wish I had cancelled my room in Cebu, so I could have stayed for a few days. The entire house was made from a red hardwood, which looked like mahogany and I have never been in a place that clean before. The owner was from America and had lived in this poor, quiet area for about 30 years. He was also a boat builder and I had the pleasure of seeing his latest sail boat skeleton. The owner talked my ear off, as he missed American company. He explained the only Americans he saw were the occasional backpackers who stayed with him.

That night it rained hard, and it was my first experience with a tropical storm. The sound of the rain was absolutely deafening, and as I tried to sleep, I wondered if it would ever stop, or if my dream of swimming with the giants would ever come true. By morning the rain had stopped, but water still dripped from the palm trees into puddles below which reflected the rising sun in their ripples.

I had to attend a small briefing on how to properly swim with the giants. With the smell of the clean morning damp air deep in my nostrils, I found it difficult to make it through even the short lecture as my mind raced about the experience to come.

We boarded a catamaran fishing/tour boat, which is operated by someone at either end, one of whom was a child of maybe twelve. He paddled away, and with his determination in hand, he would push forth as hard as any adult. The other operator was yet another kid of maybe 16.

The water pushed lightly under our bow as the air skipped gently off the turquoise-blue water. My first sight of the giants was a fin sticking up slightly out of the water and a giant mouth poking up ever so slightly as it followed a "trick boat". The trick boat is responsible for feeding the animals, to ensure we would have a show.

I was struggling with the new snorkel and mask I had just purchased. The normally easy task of peeling off stickers and attaching my snorkel made nearly impossible by hands shaking with excitement.

Finally we stopped and I slipped into the water. Looking through the clear water, I still somehow struggled to see about 30 feet. Then it happened!

The first beast was following the feed boat. Its body seemed never ending as it drifted past me. Camera in hand, I struggled to remember which button did what. The fact it was a new camera didn't help, but really, it was only a matter of pushing buttons, yet I still struggled keep my head straight.

I tapped into my instincts, and finally found the shutter button to take my first picture of the giant streaming by. My concentration was so deep, at the last second I saw a giant mouth open wide to filter its food. Now, let me just say, the knowledge of these giants not attacking people does not help steady the mind when a mouth that looked more like a cave is coming straight at you propelled by a 30-foot body. The theme song to Jaws played ever so quietly in my head.

We had a half an hour with the animals and it seemed like all day. As I swam about, and darted under tour boats, with their laughing passengers, I was having a blast.

Finally, I came to rest at my boat, chatting with my guides, a gentle giant swam to me, his mouth open at the surface, I struggled to get out of the water. The guides started yelling not to panic and stay in the water. However, their quivering voices were less than reassuring. What should I do? Its body was closing in and actually broke the surface as the water rose and tried to reclaim it. I lifted my legs and said a prayer to Poseidon as the beast got closer and closer. Keeping my body up and holding my breath, it traveled just barely below me. I finally exhaled.

I wondered if this was a game to it? How did it perceive me? Was I just a giant shrimp? I let go of the boat and followed the beast for awhile. It swam slowly and it was easy to keep close, only slightly losing the speed race. Another came at me, getting far too close, again.

Our instructors told us not to touch the animals. I really had no desire. I was worried about getting hit by its rear fin; I cannot imagine the force and energy that carried. I decided they were being a bit to aggressive for my liking and I headed back to the boat. I wasn't planning on being the first human attacked by a whale shark.

I got back to the boat, and relaxed by hanging off the side of a boat. Yet, another shark would come at me, again my guides yelled at me to stay calm and to not touch it. Yeah right! There it was by me, I lifted my feet high again, only to have its dorsal fin slam me into the boat. It was hard enough to leave nice cuts up my leg and arm. I had officially been run over by a 30-foot beast weighing 20 tons. I had enough and happily crawled into the boat.

What a day! I got to swim with one of the largest creatures in the sea and having battle scars to prove it. Scratch one more off the Bucket List, but then add more; heading to another island to swim with the thresher shark. One thing I love about the Philippines, it seems to somehow make each dream come true.