China’s National Park System

I am often critical of the USA, and with good reason, but, to be fair, there are some things that the U.S. gets right. The national parks system, for instance. Ever since Teddy Roosevelt established the system, it has provided millions of American’s the opportunity to get a good look at the world the way it was meant to be. Despite recent efforts by conservative politicians to chip away at the system, and being over-run by public demand, to the point that there are traffic jams within the parks at times, and the campgrounds are filled with modern conveniences that aren’t in tune with nature at all, the 423 American national parks are still something to be proud of.
But, China is topping us once again. I just read this article about how China is creating a national park system with over 10,000 national parks! Admittedly, there is a bit of cheating going on, or at least semantic juggling. They are setting up a national parks system to centralize the planning in what is already one of the most centrally planned countries on Earth, and renaming all of their currently existing nature reserves as national parks.
Still, 10,000 is a very impressive number, and they are not merely renaming, but in many cases seriously upgrading, because it will be great for their tourist industry, create several thousand new jobs (not so much, in terms of their overall population, but it will no doubt help out a bit in the regions these parks are in) and it will be great for the environment. Also, they’ll be able to say they have 20 times as many national parks as the U.S.
So, lots of advantages. Kudos to China for this program and I hope it works out well for them. We need more parks (with more trees), everywhere in the world.

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Pot Shop

I did something very cool this afternoon, even life changing in a way. I don’t know if this possibility has actually been there for a while, and I’m one of the last, unhip, out of the loop characters to figure it out, or if it’s a new thing, but either way, I’ve discovered it now and it’s going to be my routine from now on.
I bought marijuana over the counter. It’s a lovely, little, hole in the wall shop where they also sell bongs and marijuana related products like skin cream and medicaments, so I was a bit worried that the marijuana would be ‘for medicinal purposes’ and wouldn’t, somehow, be the same as regular old getting stoned as fuck marijuana, but no worries there any more. Bought my pot, brought it home and smoked a joint and, if anything, it’s a bit stronger than what I’m used to.
Not that I’ve ever had complaints about quality, and I’ve been buying from the same dealer for many years now, so I feel a bit guilty and disloyal about that. The price is exactly the same, the amount is exactly the same, and he was very reliable, but it is really nice to just go into a shop, a nice, well lit shop, and not have to send text messages to set up a meeting in the park with the homeless people, and surreptitiously transfer the money in a handshake and hurriedly stuff the bags into my pocket, worrying about the police the whole time.
So, there’s no going back. Prague just got a bit cooler, my life just got a little bit easier.

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Retirement Schedule

I woke up at 11 a.m. this morning. That’s not that unusual for most people, and there are some who would even consider it early. Our internal clocks are not all set at the same time, and don’t even operate at the same speed.
But, for me, it’s a change, an adjustment. I have been, throughout my adult life, and even in my childhood, I guess, an early riser. Many is the time I’ve woken up hours before anybody else, just because I was done sleeping, and gone out for a long walk. In the country, in the city, on vacation, doesn’t matter. It is always a fresh view of the world at that time of day. You get to see what the world would look like without people, you can hear the birds singing, which they do all day but most of the time the air is filled with the sound of traffic, the humming of tires across the pavement, the doppler roar of approaching engines and the doppler whine of their retreat, the occasional honk of a horn which says “I am a rude bastard! Fuck you for existing!”, and the all too frequent wail of a siren which is an indicator that somewhere something is going very, very badly for somebody.
It is a great time of day to go out walking, clear your head, and write a poem or two, if you are lucky.
But, today I woke up at 11 and I feel quite good about it. I’m well rested, and ready to deal with the new day. I am retired. I am 67. And, I must admit, I could kind of get used to this.

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A Sci-Fi Lesson

Sort of a science fiction day. Watched Valerian. I’d seen it before, and remembered I liked it, but, like a goldfish in a bowl, I guess, it was interesting straight through. One thing I really liked about it, was the cool alien worlds. The beaches of Mul (there’s supposed to be an umlaut over that, but my keyboard offers me no such possibility) and the Big Bazaar, or Grand Market I think it was called. The story, in the end, was not that amazing, our hero and heroine saved the nearly extinct alien race and caught the bad guy, but it was visually spectacular and that’s what I want in the future.
Then I went back to binge watching Another World. Season two is easily as good as season one. Sure, there’s action and cool science stuff, but there are ethical dilemmas galore. Do you sacrifice one person to save the whole crew? Can you ever really trust an AI? But the central question of the whole show is are the Archaians friend or foe – it’s looking like mostly foe but there have been a couple of points where negotiations seemed to be open – like when they saved the little girl.
But, it seems to go back and forth and the people on Earth have definitely seen a friendlier face than those out in space. But, it got me to thinking: it really will be a problem because we can’t even make that determination very well in our every day lives. There have been tales throughout history, and up to the present, across all strata of society, of people misjudging people, trusting somebody for years, maybe a business partner, maybe a spouse, and then are betrayed.
So, there’s no reason to think it will be any different when we meet our first alien species.

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It’s a Puzzle

Once again, my view of reality is shattered, and one more pillar holding up the ceiling of how I thought the world worked has crumbled.
Over the past couple of days we put together a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Well, mostly Helena and Isabel. I put a couple pieces in here and there, and Sam stayed the hell away, as he tends to do with anything not football related. It was a puzzle of several of the world’s landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, the Roman Coliseum, stuff like that. I was amazed that we finished in two days. With one piece missing. It was an edge piece, mostly light green lawn and at the top a strip of white, which was the base of the Mayan Pyramid.
So, anyway, just now, Helena, seeing I wasn’t doing anything productive with my day, suggested a solution. Since she just happened to have on hand the same exact puzzle in a different box, which is not as surprising as you think. I don’t think the puzzles quite outnumber the books on our shelves, but in raw area, they’re pretty close to even. She suggested I sort through and find the missing piece, and I said “Oh, hell no” or words to that effect, because I am not even good at jigsaw puzzles, much less finding 1 piece in 2,000, but the more I thought about it, this was an entirely different skill set. I didn’t have to find one piece. I just had to eliminate all the others, first by sorting out everything that wasn’t an edge, and then tossing aside everything that wasn’t light green.
I found it in about 5 minutes. But, it didn’t fit. It had to fit, that was it’s spot, but it didn’t fit. I called Helena over, expecting her to tell me I was stupid and that went somewhere else, but she agreed. She then found a couple of other pieces which could only go in a very specific spot, and they didn’t fit, either. Same picture, cut in different ways. “Why would they do that?” she asked. “To stop people like us,” I said.
But, really? Why would they do that?

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