Oceanfront property for sale!

This property was listed for sale in Malibu.

I dunno it looks like it already fell into the ocean?  Anyway it’s listed for one point five million dollars.  

could be good if wet rocks become the new currency.

Headlines and stocks

From Bloomberg, today.  What are these four contradicting claims meant to mean?  Whoever composed them and put them together doesn’t know which narrative thread to follow (or invent?)

The game of trying to translate “news” into predictions about stock price movement seems fun and confusing.  Maybe the best investors come close to ignoring headlines.  But even Warren Buffett turns CNBC on when he arrives at his office after going to McDonald’s.  (Or so he says — be careful with Buffett, he didn’t become a millionaire by not being crafty.)

Sometimes I wonder whether stock market forecasting is any improvement on the ancient Mesopotamians divining the future from sheep livers.

(image from Larry Gonick’s incredible Cartoon History of the Universe series, hope you don’t mind that I used that Larry!)

To continue my amateur studies of this topic – stock market understanding, not sheep liver reading – I started a podcast, Stocks Let’s Talk:

click to listen, six episodes so far, we are very much still in beta and trying to find what it is we are, exactly, figure ten episodes at least to get there, but each of these six has a fabulously interesting guest.  Try it, let us know what you think!


What to make of Beto?

credit: Beto?

Jeff and I talked about immigration, about his travels in the U.S. and then about Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. He had just read it again after finding it for a dollar at a used book shop. I told him I read it as a kid and really liked it, and wondered if it held up. Surprisingly well he said. He then moved down to the other side of the table, I think to make sure that the students could more freely engage in the conversation.

Reading some of the former Texas congressman’s travel dispatches.  He was just where I was, Taos pueblo:

We walked further into the village where I was struck by the magnificent beauty of the adobe homes, built next to and on top of one another. The Pueblo was established in the 15th century, had these homes been here that long? Men were shoveling snow off of the roofs against the backdrop of the breathtaking Taos mountains in the distance. As we walked, Tina shared with me history, of the Taos people and of her family. She talked about the role of the Catholic church and of the religion of the Taos pueblo. We talked about family, the village home she had just inherited from her mother, about the role of dance in her life, about her hopes for her community and her children.

In my grandparents’ time, Debbie said after a long while, we were not allowed to go into those mountains. When Teddy Roosevelt created the national forest, he took those mountains away from us. They are sacred mountains, so you can imagine what that felt like. We had to get special permission, a pass, to go beyond the fence line into what had been our home for centuries. It was only until Richard Nixon’s administration that those lands were opened up to us again. So, she said with a laugh, while most people admire Roosevelt and detest Nixon, we feel just the opposite.

The combo of hipster travel writing and political engagement.  (Is travel writing always political?) The work to demonstrate you are listening, not proclaiming.  Obama’s rise was partly due to his skill as a writer, the acclaim for his self-revelatory memoirs, why shouldn’t Beto’s?

A hazard of this kind of writing, of writing your life in close sync with living it, is becoming a character you’re trying to create on the page, of enacting scenes that you might imagine will become good copy.  The danger then becomes manipulating what you really thought, and felt, of trying to pilot the course of your explorations a little too much.  That doesn’t work, as writing or life, it’s inauthentic, you get yourself spun around and caught in whirlpools that way.

That’s always a danger when you’re a presidential candidate.  Your soul’s at hazard.  Somehow it feels extra tough though when your way of getting yourself there is your show of authenticity.

When you claim to report your very thoughts, almost in realtime, you need either an extreme level of mental self-control, or to have your actual self and your presentational self in some very real and genuine and hard-earned harmony.  Maybe you need both.  The first is terrifying to ponder.  The second is rare, difficult both technically and at like a soul level.  And scary to practice for any long amount of time, like walking a mountain ledge.  If you fall you will suffer, somewhere from being revealed as a phony to breaking mentally and morally.

I know we can do it. I can’t prove it, but I feel it and hear it and see it in the people I meet and talk with. I saw it all over Texas these last two years, I see it every day in El Paso. It’s in Kansas and Oklahoma. Colorado and New Mexico too. It’s not going to be easy to take the decency and kindness we find in our lives and our communities and apply it to our politics, to all the very real challenges we face. And as Tina says, it’s complicated. But a big part of it has got to be just listening to one another, learning each other’s stories, thinking “whatever affects this person, affects me.”

We’re in this together, like it or not. The alternative is to be in this apart, and that would be hell.

A way to defend against inauthenticity when you’re writing/living is to make yourself the fool of your story when you really were a fool, and everyone’s a fool sometimes.  But it’s tempting to exaggerate that direction, too.  Writers can make themselves look foolish but maybe presidential candidates can’t.

I left the Pueblo heading south toward Chimayo, aiming to be back in El Paso by bedtime. Snow was starting to fall. I thought about all of the places I’d seen over the last week, all of the people I’d met. Communities within communities. Nations within nations.

Would it be terrible to hear, every once in awhile, like:

I could feel horrible diarrhea coming over me coming down the 291.  I was so relieved when I saw a Wendy’s in Espanola.  But also troubled.  I thought, ‘what if they recognize me, racing into the toilet at Wendy’s?  Do I have to stop and buy something?  What if buying something is when they recognize me?  What if they recognize me buying something at Wendy’s and that becomes a thing, like ‘Beto O’Rourke skips local New Mexico food for corporate Frostie’?  Well expedience trumped discretion in this case, I made it to the blissfully clean Wendy’s toilet a second ahead of a bottomside avalanche.  I left without buying anything.  Or apologizing.  How could I?  Should I have?  I’d wonder that, on the road back to El Paso.

Good news bad news kinda thing: nobody at Wendy’s recognized me.

I can hear the Peggy Noonans groaning, that’s just what we need, to hear about candidates’ bowel movements!  OK, sure, and Donald J. Trump is the president.  Any candidate who wants to get the votes of anyone under forty will need to project authenticity.  For anyone truly authentic, that’s not hard.  Among the schemers, where will the quest for that end?

Anyway as for Beto good luck to him.

Spinning Ice Disk

Nothing to worry about, we’re told.



See if you can guess the name of this feature

Watching this mesa melt away


Why take pictures of Monument Valley?  Someone’s taken better pictures of it.  Why take pictures on vacation at all?  To show someone else how incredible it is?  In a way I felt dumb driving around, stopping, taking pictures.  The park is really geared towards taking pictures, even steering you to particular viewpoints (“John Ford’s Point” for example).  You become part of a parade of people taking pictures.  It gets to feel kinda silly.  Aren’t I taking myself out of the moment of experience when I snap away? Couldn’t there be some more meaningful or meditative way to experience this?

When you see something staggering, there’s a need to engage somehow, to do something to mark the occasion, and I guess taking pictures can be an act of acknowledgement.

The act of taking the pictures, too, framing them and composing them, can help you focus on what it is, exactly, that’s giving you the emotion.  Hemingway:

Watch what happens today. If we get into a fish see exact it is that everyone does. If you get a kick out of it while he is jumping remember back until you see exactly what the action was that gave you that emotion. Whether it was the rising of the line from the water and the way it tightened like a fiddle string until drops started from it, or the way he smashed and threw water when he jumped. Remember what the noises were and what was said. Find what gave you the emotion, what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so the reader will see it too and have the same feeling you had. Thatʼs a five finger exercise.

Ansel Adams:

Similarly, while the landscapes that I have photographed in Yosemite are recognized by most people and, of course, the subject is an important part of the pictures, they are not “realistic.” Instead, they are an imprint of my visualization. All of my pictures are optically very accurate–I use pretty good lenses–but they are quite unrealistic in terms of values. A more realistic simple snapshot captures the image but misses everything else. I want a picture to reflect not only the forms but what I had seen and felt at the moment of exposure.

Looking at my photos later maybe what I was chasing was how the fallen snow revealed the depths of the landscape.  Where snow had fallen, where it had stayed, where it was melting.  And the way the shadows moved, making a movie out of time, light, place.

Snow, water, mud, sand, rock.  Different degrees of permanent but all of it in a process of melting away.

Monument Valley is so epic it feels “timeless” but you are watching temporary freak abnormalities wash and erode back to dust.

Spontaneous Helytimes Travel Prize to The View Hotel, a Navajo-owned property with a one of the best in all planet Earth location.  Look at how the building is set into the landscape.

(Note to readers with mild to severe alcohol dependency: there is no alcohol served at the hotel.)

WARNING in three photos there will be a photo of a dead horse

Catching up on New Mexico politics

Thom Cole in the Santa Fe New Mexican reports one.  Governor Susanna Martinez was given a necklace that ended up at the state museum.  Who owns it?

As long as it’s not connected to any act by that official. 

A stressful New Year’s Eve:

I made the mistake of looking directly at the sunset in Santa Fe, which is intense.  It really did look like the New Mexico state flag:

Northern New Mexico