Jul 28

Yosemite is Beautiful

The Jungfrau is Beautiful

Yosemite is a National Park owned by the all of the citizens of the USA.

The Jungfrau* area is mostly privately owned land apparently with relatively good zoning.

The Jungfrau is a high alpine region sculpted by ancient glaciers.

Yosemite is a high alpine region sculpted by ancient glaciers.

Most of Yosemite is accessible only to those hardy enough to be able to pack their supplies with them.

The Jungfrau is perforated with small railways and ski lifts.  Every few hours walk along most trails there are inns, restaurants and bars.  It is accessible to many more people.

In the USA we act as if the only way to preserve natural environments is through common (government) ownership and control.

In Switzerland they don’t trust their government and its officials enough to even consider that an option.

Yosemite has beautiful waterfalls.

The Jungfrau region has beautiful waterfalls.

Want to think more about this alternative way of preserving nature?

Read The Rambunctious Garden by Emma Marris or Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes

* The Jungfrau is the area of the Swiss Alps accessible through Interlaken.  The three main peaks are the Jungfrau, The Monch and the Eiger.  The three main towns are Lauterbrunnen, which is about where Yosemite Valley is, Wengen which is about where Toulome Meadows is and Murren where we stayed which is about where Glacier Point is.  I suggest that a small town at Glacier Point would be a positive thing.

See more pictures from our hiking in Switzerland.

Jul 27

Hiking in Switzerland

Posted by Simon

Nurit and I did go hiking in Switzerland for my 65th birthday and we did have two days of perfect weather.  On the rest of the days the weather was not so perfect but we still had fun and learned a lot.

On the good days we walked on beautiful trails surrounded by wild flowers with the high Alps in the background.

It was really amazing, like walking in post cards. 

Thanks to Alpine Adventures for their organizing ability and to all of the other hikers who shared the trip with us.  Special thanks to the guides Ron, Janet and Jim.  Tomorrow a comparison of Yosemite National Park and the Jungfrau region.

Fifty Photos on Flickr

Alliteration is always free


Jul 25

While traveling on the lifts and trains in Switzerland we met some young men who were base jumpers.  It is a sport in which you jump off a cliff and free fall for a few seconds then release a parachute. For those of you not familiar with this seemingly irrational behavior there is more on Wikipedia.  The few base jumpers we met were handsome, virile young men from middle class backgrounds.  The question raised in our minds was: “Why do they do it?  They have about a one in fifty chance of dying!”

Base jumping is regulated behavior in Switzerland

The only answer I could think of was that they are base jumping for the same reason that other young men join gangs, deal drugs or drive cars too fast.  They have a genetic urge to be virile, to tempt fate.  They want risk.  It seems to me that a successful society should allow young people space for this risky behavior.  The ideal space will be one in which they risk their lives without putting anyone else in danger.  So, by my criteria base jumping is a good sport. Drug dealing is not so good because it risks the lives of others.  Street racing is bad but NHRA racing is a good.

A perfect base jumping cliff


Jun 20

Olean NY

Posted by Simon

I went to Olean, New York last week to visit my best friend from high school. And had a nostalgia filled day. We went to dinner at the Beef and Barrel and the next morning I drove around my old haunts for a couple of hours. I was surprised how little things had changed. It was really great to see Dave and Kathy again after 45 or so years. We connected as if it had been weeks not decades.


They have put up squirrel art around town. This is the one in the park.
In 1940 Olean had about 40,000 people now it has about 13,000. Like so many of the small towns in the northeast there is a shabby, depressed feel to the downtown. But Houses are cheap and the infrastructure is paid for. Maybe as the baby boomers retire enough of them will move back to revitalize them. Dave and Kathy have and it is working well for them.
How lucky I was to move to California in the 1970′s when everything was growing.


This is the first house we lived in when we moved to Olean from England. It is now a lawyers office.

Jun 18

Road Sign

Posted by Simon

We might need one of these signs on upper Sierra Madre Villa:


Jun 6


Posted by Simon

It is spring in Southern California and to massacre a metaphor the low hanging fruit are nature pictures.

We visited Lotusland in Montecito, near Santa Barbara last Friday and learned a little about Ganna Walska the garden’s creator and got some great photos.

The best single word for Lotusland is eclectic.

or maybe eccentric.

If you like gardens Lotusland is definitely worth a visit.  Reservations required.

Many more photos on Flickr

Jun 2

Tour of California

Posted by Simon

I went with Lillian, Barbara and Gordon to watch the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race a few weeks ago and had a terrific time.

It took all day but it was great fun to be up in the mountains at Mt Baldy Village with thousands of people who shared a strange enthusiasm for bicycle racing.  We were at a spot where we could see the racers go by twice and we did but the actual part where you watch the race is perhaps five minute each time.

Most of the time is taken up eating, watching the other spectators and casual riders, repositioning and trying to find your friends.  As the riders came by I rang a cowbell to encourage them and it seemed to work.  And I get to write the word peloton and know what it means.

Bicycle racing is a perfect sport for advertising upscale products.  The fans are all upper middle class people with nice cars free time and disposable income.  It is not unusual for someone to spend $3000 for a recreational bicycle and then an additional $1000 each for some super tires and wheels.

I get high with a little help from my friends

The Tour of California isn’t as big as the Tour de France yet but I predict that it will be in thirty years or so.


May 28

Wild Flowers 2012

Posted by Simon

In preparation for our hike in the Alps for my 65th birthday I have been doing some practice hikes in the San Gabriel Mountains.  As you can imagine I take great pleasure in being able to write that I am going hiking in the Alps.  Yes life is good.  On these training hikes I’ve taken a few good photos of the spring wild flowers.  Here are a few:

Wild Mustard on a hillside

a close up of the mustard

Orange Flowers

See lots more spring flowers in my Flickr album

Volunteer Vincas?

Even the desert can bloom.

Apr 10

The food in the
UK has gotten much
better (mostly because
of Immigration) The
crown jewels have
stayed the same.
Jolly Good!

Roots at N1 (one of our best meals in London)

Simon and his lovely aunts

Apr 2

UK Photos

Posted by Simon

Our trip to England for Bethany and Jame’s wedding was great.

It was fun visiting the family and the weather was terrific in London.

We visited some museums and gardens, went to Billy Elliot and visited Chislehurst Caves.  I might post more details later.

There are 50 photos on Flickr here with pithy comments.