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Mars Underground – By William K. Hartmann: Book Review

Mars UndergroundMars Underground by William K. Hartmann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The basic underlying story of the old timer explorer of Mars who disappears and the search that follows is very well written and if the author had cut the book back to 225-250 pages, leaving out some of the mind-numbing long descriptions of the inner thoughts of various characters, it would have boosted the book up to a 4 star level in my opinion. The techy search is good and well worth the descriptive paper. The attempts to sabotage the search for various reasons is also well done. So, as a reader of science fiction for over 50 years, I would say, skim through the late night bedroom rendezvous, unless that’s why you read Sci-Fi. Skim over also the mental contortions of the central characters and concentrate on what is the underlying faster moving plot. Eat up the surface walks and the rides in the dune buses across the uncharted dust seas with their cyclonic dust devils. Devour the descriptions of light and the hazards that exist in a world where preparation for the journey is everything because, without sufficient protection, food, water and, oh, yes, oxygen, you aren’t going to come back to spin tales of aliens. In the ending, I could have used a bit more descriptive work by the author on the alien vessel to perhaps bring me back for a sequel. Where did that shining projectile that approached the speed of light as it departed Mars actually go? Was it a messenger? Was anything on the receiving end? A lot of questions remain when we reach the final page.

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A Must Read Book: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious ManuscriptsThe Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here is a “Must Read” book if you want more information on understanding how the moderate form of Islam taught the world mathematics, medicine, science, literature, poetry, and a world view of religious thinking over a millennium. Author Joshua Hammer has made his career on reporting worldwide for a plethora of magazines and newspapers. Over a period of ten years, he followed and researched the life and work of Abdel Kader Haidara, a man who has dedicated nearly 50 years to the gathering, preservation, cataloging and saving hundreds of thousands of the world’s most precious books which had been written copied and hidden in and around the Sahara Desert city of Timbuktu, Mali. In the process, Hammer follows the paths that Haidara used as he traveled and traded for books as he worked to build world heritage libraries for UNESCO from the long-hidden in family libraries all over central Mali. Hammer understands the peoples of the area, their customs, histories, and religions. He describes how the moderate Islamic Sufis became the center of human knowledge, discussion, and new ideas over a tumultuous history of a thousand years. In the process, the families guarded their special libraries through a millennium of moderate and tyrannical government in order to preserve some of the oldest books of religious studies and critique as well as scientific learning. Author Hammer does an excellent job of describing the latest threat to world knowledge and learning, the Jihadi movement in Islam with its Saudi Arabian sect ideas of rule by strict Sharia Law. He follows the buildup of the movement in Libya which then spilled over into the central Sahara and entered Mali in the past ten years. He documents the anarchic rule of the foreign Islamic Jihadi warriors who eschewed the moderate Sufi ways and forced the people of Timbuktu and much of Mali to live in daily fear of their lives while capricious gangs of Jihadi enforcers thronged the city and meted out punishment in a medieval manner. As the threats to the populace grew, Haidara and the other librarians realized that the hundreds of thousands of books they had gathered over some fifty years, were in danger of being destroyed by fanatical gangs. At great risk to their own lives, these dedicated persons traveled overland by canoe, back roads and through checkpoints in the middle of a war zone to smuggle all the books in Timbuktu some eight hundred miles across the sub-Sahara to safe houses in Bamako, capital of Mali and far from Jihadi hands. The reader will learn an amazing amount of information about the ongoing work to save our world’s ancient literature as well as have a better understanding of the geopolitical problems facing frontline developing nations who are confronted with Jihadi movements that can take control of entire countries unless the western world and the African Union of States act decisively to stop this regressive movement that is spreading into any vacuum of power. Mr. Abdel Kader Haidara deserves a Nobel Prize. Author Joshua Hammer deserves all the awards and kudos he can get for this well documented and groundbreaking journalistic work.

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The Conundrum of Immigration – – Making the Gears Work Smoothly – – No Easy Fix!

Conundrum: A problem admitting to no satisfactory solution (Def. #2, Amer. Heritage Dictionary- 1969).

America —Europe—Africa—Asia—Worldwide:

We’ve all got a big Problem! It’s called IMMIGRATION.

It’s affecting World social systems—- it’s causing BREXIT in Britain and in the USA— It’s exacerbating America’s TRIBALISM

It’s not just Farm Workers, or Students, or Refugees, or Soldiers, or Au Pairs,


or Birthers, or Hotel Employees, or Factory Workers, or Wholesale, or Transportation…

IT’s Kind of Like Trying to Fit all The Pieces of a Watch Together and Then Make it RUN!                                                                                                                                                         I personally have failed many times with watches since the age of 10! In like manner, Our Government has failed for 50+ years on a system of Immigration


    Over 40% of our entire Labor Force was composed of foreign born labor from 2005 – 2010


The USA Cannot Function Without Numerous Immigrant Workers —–  so ——  Shutting Immigrants is Not a Solution!

What Then is the Solution?

It will take Time, Willpower, a Plan, and Money! to do the following:

  1. Upgrade fencing and border barriers that are falling to pieces.
  2. Integrate Technology such as drones into our border patrol to spot people in the desert.
  3. Either change certain oppressive Latin American Governments forcibly, or put so much pressure on them that they have to quit raping their own countries and killing their own people which sends them walking a thousand miles north to seek asylum.
  4. Give Incentives to Central American Counties to build their economies: eg. do you want help to produce bananas, or clothing, or tech parts, or auto parts…. etc. to help your people stay in your country and be happy, or do you want to keep the status quo of gangs and thugs? If it’s the former – welcome to the dollar club $$$$. Or, welcome to the US Marines and a new government!>))
  5. Help make Latin American and Mexico Boom! A lot of Latin Americans will stay home with improved industy and safety. Our industries will benifit too.
  6. Ports of Entry need high tech solutions for searching more big trucks and vehicles, including ships, that are carring in most of the drugs into the US.
  7. Stop Weapons Trafficking from the US to Latin America with high tech searches of vehicles and vessels going South! The gangs and drug cartels are getting their guns from us and then we complain about them.  Duh?
  8. Employ more US Citizens to process persons seeking immigration and visas at out embassies and at the border.
  9. Employ more U.S. persons at facilities right on the border to hold screen and house properly the families and others seeking political asylum in the US.
  10. Employ more judges to give a swift turn around for asylum and deportation cases so we don’t pay for people to sit in our prisons and govt. housing at exhobitant prices when they ought to be on a plane going home or headed to their relatives who are already in-country.
  11. Hire more seats on planes to give all those one-way people rides back to the southern border of Mexico and into countries south of that where they belong when they are deported. It’s cheaper than keeping them here.
  12. Start holding Annual Central and South American Summit Trade Conferences annually to build relations and open up new trade deals which will benifit all of us.








2018 Tax Forms a Big Paper Waster

Just finished doing myown 2018 taxes.  Smaller 1040? Hardley!Printing off on your own computer now find It’s got the designated 1040 looking shorter and smaller, but it still takes up two pages so no paper saved there.  Iven though the bottom of Form1040  says: “For Disclosure, Privacy Act, and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice, see separate instructions. Cat. No. 11320B Form1040 (2018)”

But it’s good for the paper mills!

white black and red person carrying heart illustration in brown envelope

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com


Bad for Big Trees!  Probably 135,000,000 extra pieces of paper used this year! That’s about 1700 extra trees !

building with tree
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com





My paper use for my 1040 is Itemized here:

My Page 1 – My basic tax info like all years only the signature is on this page rather than being on the 2nd page. (Only uses 1/2 the page)

My Page 2 – Again only 1/2 a page, but leaving out a whole lot of things that were on the old 1040 so what do I have to do? Print More Pages!

Then come Schedule 1,2,3,4,5,6….all with only about twoinches of printing on them.

Plus you still have to use Schedule A,B,C,D,E,F,…if their original forms.

Is there a CONSPIRACY going on? 

WELL! Note how many RESERVED BLANK TAX SPACES and on these new forms.  Guess how long they will stay blank in coming years?  $$$$$$$



photography of one us dollar banknotes
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com




Book Review: Power of the Sword, by Wilbur Smith

Power of the Sword (Courtney #5)Power of the Sword by Wilbur Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am once again reading Wilbur Smith’s books as inspiration to writing another novel. This amazing work puts it all together in telling the tale of two rival half brothers, Shasa Courtney and Manfred De La Rey as they grow up separately under the influence of their common mother for Shasa and a renegade father in the case of Manfred. During their teens, they meet as unintroduced tomcats who tangle and develop a lifelong hatred which grows as they compete at college, in Hitler’s Olympics and are influenced by respectively great and or diabolical leaders to become rivals for the control of The Republic of South Africa. Both men grow to maturity in the wide open spaces of South Africa during World War Two, during which they support opposing sides. The flaring up of apartheid separates them further as does the rising African quest for liberation from white task-masters. You won’t be disappointed in this specimen of editorial mastery.

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Book review: The Purple Plain, by H. E. Bates

Purple PlainPurple Plain by H. E. Bates

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I cruised through author Bates’ book in very short order, captured by the lure of one of the exotic areas of the world, Burma during World War 2 and the descriptive expertise of the writer who builds a plot that draws the reader from chapter to chapter.
The author accurately depicts the down and out mental condition of Forrester, who, after recovering from wounds as a pilot, has been stationed in an isolated corner of Burma. Here, sweltering in the insuperable heat and bugs of the tropical plain, he stagnates while awaiting the arrival of an unknown man, Carrington, who will be his new navigator. He has nothing to go back to in England, his wife having been blow up during the Blitz of London, only a few short days after their wedding. His anger and hatred of life and the world, over which he has almost no control, grows into a hatred that lashes out at his fellow officer, Blore, who is due to be transferred out of the hellhole of Burma and back to India.
At the point where Forrester is about to crack up completely, the unit doctor, Harris, cajoles him into taking a ride out to a local village where he is helping a local missionary pick out hymns for Easter Sunday. In a fit of pique, Forrester decides to go along and meet the missionary and ladies in the village who are living out the war in solitude as most of their men have been conscripted to fight the Japanese who are pressing southward and rolling over the country.
The common things of ordinary village life confront Forrester during that first day out, and he meets two sisters and their mother in the village and begins to make their acquaintance in a rather stilted manner. On subsequent visits, Forrester begins to enjoy the company of Anna, the younger of the two ladies and begins to develop a close relationship. He becomes involved with village life and is present when the Japanese bomb the village, killing and wounding a number of the children who are being taken care of by the women and missionary lady.
At the point that Forrester is becoming enamored with the village and Anna, Carrington arrives and Blore receives his final orders to depart Burma. As Forrester pilots the plane towards Rangoon engine failure causes them to have to crash land in the scrub bush wilderness. Carrington, injured and unable to walk, is carried by Forrester as the three men attempt to reach human habitation and find a source of water for drinking.
The book is a page-turner, not because of any violent action and heroes fighting off attackers, but rather because of the concise description of village life, the countryside, the thoughts of the characters, and the oppressive heat and dryness that prevails throughout the story. Your mind can picture the thatched huts, hear the happy children riding on the back of the jeep through the village, taste the coolness of a lime drink in the sweltering heat, and the screams and cries of the children as the village is bombed. The reader will pick up on the author’s amazing ability to describe the looks, personalities, and foibles of each of the three main characters as they struggle to survive in the face of impossible odds in an implacable unforgiving environment.
For those who have lived on the edge at one time or another in their lives, this book will give you ample opportunity to reflect and think about humanities’ purpose and direction.

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Growing Alstroemeria Seeds – Flowers?

Does it take a green thumb to grow Alstoemeria? Not to get the plants – The real question is, when do you get the flowers?

These are great flowers! found all over South America, I took this photo in 1980 in the Chilean Desert North of Santiago, near the town of La Serena. This one grows near sea level and  in a climate that is very dry as you can see from the cactus spines it was entwined about. I have found other varieties of Alstromeria at altitudes nearing 10,000 ft. (3,000 meters) in the Chilean Andes, two days ride into the mountains. I have a photo of a specimen from high above the Colorado River in an extremely remote area which has an alpine climate, so these flowers can grow just about anyplace world wide. .

Need Seeds? Try Outside Pride Alstomeria seeds

I have so far had great success with my alstroemeria seeds. I put my first packet of 200 seeds into the lower part of my refrigerator in a plastic bag mixed into damp potting soil. I then left them for actually over three weeks, took them out of the refrig. and put about 1/2 of the soil with seed into a flat and the other half into small pots and kept them inside for a month or two and they sprouted and came up inside. Then when the weather got above 40 – 50 degrees at night I put them out in as many habitats as I could find around our garden, so I have some in fertile soil, some in gravelly soil. some in clay and some in a loam and all except for the couple that I put into a south facing really dry area seem to be doing ok and I have them up about 12 inches now. So that means in the next month or so I will probably get some flowering. So, unless there is a mycorrhiza problem of them needing something found only in S. American soils, I feel I will be successful.

Having lived in Peru, Chile and Ecuador for a number of years, these plants have a wide variety of strains that can be all the way from sea level dry semi-desert to 10,000 ft. in the Chilean Andes where there are snows and extreme cold and heat, so probably the most common problem for a lot of people is that they treat them too softly, and as a consequence get weak stems and plants that died. I have another 200 seeds which I am putting into the soil in the fridge next week and will see if I can germinate them as well and put out in July-August for later season plants. Then I’ll leave all of them in the ground over the winter and see if any make it through the Hood River, OR winter under the snow and come up next year, or produce seed that comes up. It’s a game! Experiment and try different things to see what you get.

Here it is February and I have a bunch of alstomeriainside that grew all last summer, But alas, no flowers. Hoping they bloom this next year.  If they grow them in London near Buckingham Palace for decoration, why not Hood River Oregon?

More later as the flowers appear this year!

All the best!

Constitutional Crisis: Where is the Outrage Congress? Time to Pick Up the Ball on an Obstructionist Wall!

I don’t like to blog a lot on politics, but it is time for Americans to write to our Congressional Leaders and get them to stand up to a Presidential Constitutional Bully!

Our one-note Charlie President in saying repeatedly, “Build Me a Wall!”

Congress has allowed “The Wall” to get in the way of their duty as a body to discuss and develop solutions to one of the simplest of governmental problems, approving a long term budget to run crucial portions of our country.  They have a job to do and they are avoiding it because the President is being allowed to act as their dictator.

How have we gotten to the point where “The Wall” is Congress’s Ball,” and nobody at all is screaming about running the Government?

1. Congress has forgotten how to discuss and pass even the simplest of resolutions without adding their “Pork Barrels.” Thus somehow, extending a budget, has become a vector to push the President’s pet project, the wall.

2. Our President has forgotten his role, which is, to make things work. He will not advocate for the jobs and salaries of over 800,000 of his employees. It is the President  who is responsible for making the government run smoothly, and he is not.

800,000 human beings are being held hostage and the secure running of our airplanes, agriculture, businesses, taxes, disease control, etc….. is at stake!

In the Business World, a run-amok CEO can be overruled and even fired by the Board of Directors. The CEO must make the business operate in a smooth manner.

In the same way, with our country’s CEO, or President, if he is run-amok, then the full Board, in this case, Congress, can rein him in.  

A Presidential Bully-Boy who has held 800,000 persons hostage for over a month for his triviatal wall is out of control of his country and himself! His proposed tactic of a 2 week reopening of the government in order to pressure Congress into giving him a wall should be the final straw for our Congress.

Are we going to see Congress deal with a man who would be a dictator to them?

Where is the outrage, Congress? You must stand up for your Constitutional Rights and Duties! Put forward a long term bill to reopen the government and get our country back to full functioning. Let the Pre4sident veto it and then just Override any veto!

Quit even mentioning “The Wall”!  Let it Die on the Table!

If you don’t act, “The Bullying will only get worse.”



Federal Payment Warrants! A Solution and Stimulus to Get Government Moving!

There is an easy solution to the government crisis caused by the continual Political Squabbling between the President and Congress. It is called Government Payment Warrants, explained below.

Because of rediculous political gridlock, funding for the Federal Government has been stopped for  thousands of persons in a number of very important departments.  A large number of these persons are classified as essential. Thus they cannot be put on leave of absence and thus, as our TSA and other workers,  are working full time, but receiving nothing other than lip service about the fact that as minimum pay workers they just have to suck it up on paying their bills. This crisis has gone on for over three weeks, and they have no pay coming in forall those weeks of work. They are obligated to work or they will be fired, yet they are also obligated to pay their bills or they will get kicked out of homes, have cars reposessed and not be able to financially make ends meet.

Other departments such as the Forest Service, National Parks, and Agriculture Department are not considered essential and therefore their workers are furloughed until some funding is approved for them to go back to work. With these Departments, loans to farmers are stalled, National Parks are left open with no one to clean up after thousands of visitors,  The IRS is essentially shut down, Indian reservations have lost Federal Funding, Food Stamps are not being given out. So who is being affected? The most vulnerable persons in our society!

Read about it here! This isn’t Fake!

There is a way to put all these American Bacfk to Work!

Since the US Government has an Obligation  to pay these workers, why are they not receiving US Government warrants to help them pay for their rents, food, and other obligations? The Government can issue the warrants with very minor changes to their check writing procedures and then the squabbling politicians can go on jabbering and the people who really make our country run and work for all of us as public servants can keep the nation running while Nero and Company continue to Fiddle.

This system will stimulate the US economy because banks can honor the Warrants knowing that they will collect interest on the money from the government when funds are finally approved. This is also a stimulus for Congressional Fiddlers to get off their fat chairs and override any POTUS Fiddle veto because they don’t want the government to be run into any more debt and get their human constituents upset with bad government (public voices? Are you out there?).

Wikipedia explains Modern Government Warrants as follows:

 Wiki Link to Warrants of Payment

Modern warrants, Ref: Wikipedia Look Like This:

Need More information?
Just put : What isn’t affected government shutdown? Into your browser and read all the information.
Get on with it America for your little people on both sides of the political aisle!


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