Saturday, August 23, 2008

the comparison of islands

Life has thrown many islands at me, and I like a good geography problem. So if one has just visited Santa Cruz Island off the California coast, and is then asked by someone on Long Island, NY what the relative size of it is, then the time has come to compare the land areas of various familiar islands.

Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the Channel Islands, is 96.5 square miles, making it close in size to Martha's Vineyard (91 sq. mi.) and St. Croix (82 sq. mi.). It is nowhere near as large as Long Island, which at 1,401 square miles is the largest island of the United States mainland (both Alaska and Hawaii are full of significantly larger islands).

Long Island is flanked by two much smaller islands of approximately the same size -- Shelter Island (27 sq. mi.) and Manhattan (22.9 sq. mi.). Could you imagine if the country's largest city was built on the former, and the latter was an obscure summer destination?

At 3,515 square miles, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico could fit about two and one half Long Islands. At 4,244 square miles, nearby Jamaica could fit exactly three Long Islands. This is a great way of teaching your children math and geography.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

cargo ships & oil rigs

Apparently it's possible to be against what these things stand for but still find strange beauty in them...
...thank you Big Oil, thank you China.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

those Channel Islands, that Santa Cruz

Another travel wish realized after years of patience. Where there's a will, there's a rugged geological wonder baking in the sun, a uniquely Pacific-Mediterranean experience.
Like a kinder, gentler version of Big Sur?
The sun-parched interior of Santa Cruz Island...
and the boat that got us there.

Friday, August 15, 2008

August surprise

OK, I forgot to mention the oil pipeline. That is also certainly a factor. Along with the fact that when Karl Rove was subpoenaed to testify in congress this summer, he was actually in Yalta, meeting with Georgian President Saakashvili and others on how to launch an October surprise in August. Unfortunately for Rove such meddling with the intent to influence U.S. foreign policy is a violation of the Logan Act of 1799.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Georgia on my mind

My impression, which was confirmed by Gorbechev on CNN, is that Russia and Georgia have historically had good relations -- remember that his foreign minister, Shevernadze, was Georgian.

The current conflict is being framed by the Western media as the return of Russian aggression, but if you study the facts this just isn't so. South Ossetia declared its independence from Georgia in the 90's. Georgia started the current conflict, which was carefully orchestrated by the John McCain people to help boost his campaign, carefully timed to coincide with the distraction of the Olympics, and carefully designed to clinch the Polish missile deal, all of which serves the conservative agenda of expanding NATO and reviving the Cold War. Don't forget that this all a pile of horse shit.

Monday, August 04, 2008

galong galong galong

Another Jamaican artifact from my distant past. I guess you had to be there.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

did someone say Jamaica?

A souvenir of Jamaica -- the hand-carved wooden map of the island showing all the parishes against the national flag. On the beach it was one of many such items aimed at tourists, but back home on my wall it has a lot of soul. And of course the man gave me a blessing after buying it. Not a bad deal -- help the local economy, get a blessing.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Union Pacific

It's a beautiful thing to see a Union Pacific freight train, with its mostly sun-parched ochre tones, roll through the Salinas Valley, its mostly sun-parched ochre hills serving as the backdrop. This is one of the archetypal scenes the west, and while I'm not sure if hobos still ride boxcars, the spirit of that era seems to live on, at least in my head.

It's also a wonderful thing to be driving down a freeway alongside such a train, especially when it's going the same speed as you are. The freeway already provides a sense of collective motion, but when you add the train it's as though there's these two shifting parallel planes -- the plane of man-made transportation, and the plane of natural earth. I've had this experience in the Salinas Valley, and also along the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge. Really it can work anywhere where river, road and railroad run alongside one another.