Corona virus an opportunity to bring much-Needed change

Corona virus an opportunity to bring much-Needed change

If this is the end of the world as we know it, is that such a bad thing?

I was talking to someone about how long she thought it would be until things return to normal. I said I didn’t believe they would return to normal. I’m not sure I would want to if we could. Was the world so great before this strand of the Corona virus entered our lives? Were we too dependent on others?

While so much of the world is in isolation, it is actually uniting us. Finally, (nearly) all of us have one focus. It is the Corona virus. Those being responsible are diligent about telling others where we have been and if we were really 6 feet from others. We are honest about underlying health issues and not wanting to be in contact with good friends or family. We are finding new ways to socialize – remote happy hours, watching the same movie at the same time to hear each other’s laughter. People are helping others personally and professionally however they can. I know new businesses will be created as a result of this. The Great Recession saw my massage business dry up, and my freelance work disappear. I launched an online news site in 2009 in the throes of the economic downturn. It might not have been a smart decision, but after year one it was a profit-making one. I have confidence there will be other entrepreneurs who will see this upheaval as a time for renewal. Already businesses are repurposing their plants to create things we need now like perfume manufactures making hand sanitizer.

Not to trivialize matters, but what if we considered all of this a reboot like you would with your computer or phone? Every now and then they need to be turned off, caches cleared, files purged and then restarted to be operating faster, cleaner and more efficiently. To take it to more of an extreme, consider this a hard drive crash. Can you repair the damaged drive or is it better to start with a brand new one? It’s a personal decision, but something we all should be thinking about. What do we want life to be like post-COVID-19? We have the power and obligation to be thinking about this. We need to take control and not let others keep controlling us.

But also consider this down time as an opportunity to personally recharge. In the era of being connected to work and others 24/7 through our electronic devices, getting news around the clock, it can’t be good for us. This should be a time for introspection so then you are in a better place to help your community.

Now we are feeling the effects of China being the supplier of so many products, even if it’s parts for an item. This is not to condemn China, but to call out the U.S. (and other) countries for going after cheaper labor instead of paying their own citizens a living wage to make the same product. Corporations for too long have been favored over people. The U.S. Supreme Court made that all too clear in 2010 with Citizens United. Shareholders (of which I am one of many individual stocks) have been the priority, not the general public. Remember, greed is one of the seven deadly sins, if you believe in that sort of thing. It’s the bottom line, not people at the bottom of the line that we care about. That mentality is changing for the good, and ideally permanently. Grocery store workers and gas station attendants are now deemed essential workers. Would you have ever thought they would be more important than you and your job title?

Perhaps this is also a good opportunity to rethink education. I don’t know what the outcome should be, but how about rethinking what is being taught and how it is taught? A friend posted how she allowed her kids to come up with questions and then they researched the answers. Children are naturally curious. Let’s encourage that creativity. Let’s not keep boring them in the classroom by preparing them to take another standardized test. I’m not criticizing teachers; I’m critical of the system. I hope through all of this teachers might be more respected as parents are dealing with their kids all day, every day.

It’s also time to rethink health care. Prior to the novel Corona virus most people had a strong opinion about socialized medicine. Now many of the naysayers believe tests for the virus should be free, the treatment should be free, and they should be compensated for missed work or losing their job. Why is it that we have to have things affect us directly, so personally, before we are willing to see the light and help others? I hope this pandemic helps us have greater compassion and understanding for those who are more vulnerable – be it people who are older, have underlying health conditions, are living paycheck-to-paycheck, those who want to work but can’t for whatever reason, who were already caring for a child or parent and still trying to make ends meet, and all the others. Health care should be a right, especially in the United States where the wealth is so great.

We also need to be providing health care workers with the tools to do their jobs. It is mindboggling there is a shortage of essentials like masks. Everyone on the front lines – which includes people in the food supply network and so many others – needs the tools for their jobs, deserve our gratitude, and should be applauded for not quitting. Remember, they have a choice to work. They are showing up every day. That says something wonderful about them.

I hope we are stronger when we come out on the other side of this. I hope we re-evaluate our priorities as we are in the thick of it. I hope we figure out we have more in common than we previously were willing to admit. I hope we see this mass disruption in our lives as an opportunity for good. We’ve had other disruptions, but apparently not significant enough for us to change our trajectory. Sept. 11 and the Great Recession are two that happened this century. But they didn’t rattle everyone enough to make the change needed for a better world. I hope this crisis affects everyone. By no means do I want everyone to get the virus, or anyone else for that matter. What I hope for is that you take the time to see how the world as we knew it wasn’t so great. It was time for change.

I thank people for electing the current president of the United States. With the other option, we would have had the status quo – but still have been a country (and even world) that needed fixing. Donald Trump is the ultimate disrupter. He says things no other leader has said, does things no other leader has done – all bad, crappy, offensive, raw, in your face, inflammatory things. He has no grasp of science and refuses to surround himself with officials who are experts. A good leader surrounds herself with people who are smarter than her and lets them do their jobs. She is the conductor, so to speak, and the ultimate decision-maker and the one who has to take responsibility when things don’t work and gives credit to others when things do work. This president believes the opposite. I hope this virus allows others to see how the actions of this president are detrimental to all of us – not just people in the United States. I hope the chaos that he has brought to the office of the presidency, to the United States, and to the world is happening for a reason that will make us all stronger, smarter and living without blinders as we go forward.

If a better world order doesn’t come from all of this frenzy, we will have wasted a rare opportunity for significant change. Things aren’t going to be the same, so start reimagining how you want your world to be – as an individual, a family, a community, a state, a country and the world. As Mohandas Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Free Exhibit Captures Essence Of Photographers Adams, Weston

Free Exhibit Captures Essence Of Photographers Adams, Weston

The photography of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston are on display at Stanford University until Jan. 6, 2020. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Similar, yet different. This is one way to describe the photography of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.

Each captures the landscape surrounding them in a way that draws the eye to examine every detail. The play of light, lines and natural beauty beckon one to admire what their lenses captured. As with all great photography, it goes beyond the equipment. It’s having an eye for the subject and the patience to capture the moment.

A sampling of their works is on display in the exhibit “West X Southwest” at the Cantor Center on the campus of Stanford University.

“This installation explores how Weston and Adams expressed content and navigated aesthetics during early and formative moments in their careers. It considers how the artists sharpened their modernists visions through a selection of images created in the place that biographer and curator Nancy Newhall (1908-1947) called each artist’s ‘Paris’,” Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell, curator and director of the Curatorial Fellowship Program, wrote of this exhibit.

Adams is known for his work in Yosemite and the Southwest, while Weston explored Mexico.

Together, in 1934 they were founding members of Group f/64, a San Francisco Bay Area photography collective. They had met in the mid-1920s; then crossed paths at various times. It was Weston who introduced Adams to Death Valley, while it was Adams who showed Weston Yosemite and other parts of the Sierra.

Adams said, “(We) had both come to be sympathetic to each other’s work, though we were never on an identical wave length.”

This sentiment is obvious as one walks through the exhibit. What I learned is that in 1941 Adams was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Interior to photograph national parks, mostly in the Southwest.

Having been an admirer of Adam’s for years, it was his photographs that captured my attention the most. This exhibit includes his iconic “Moonrise” at Hernandez, New Mexico. Before reading the description for “Dune” I thought the photo was a winter scene of plants struggling to survive in the snow. Instead it is an image of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

With the latest trend being printing on canvas, seeing an exhibit like this makes me wonder what the future of photography will bring. To me, this is real photography and a better representation of an artist’s craft.


Deets:

  • Exhibit is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 11am-5pm; Thursday from 11am-8pm.
  • Exhibit ends Jan. 6, 2020.
  • Cantor Arts Center is at 328 Lomita Drive, Stanford.
  • Cost – free.
  • More info is available online.
Just completed East Shore trail captures majesty of Lake Tahoe

Just completed East Shore trail captures majesty of Lake Tahoe

Nearly three miles of paved trail are open for walkers, dogs and cyclists in Incline Village. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Breathtaking. That is one of many superlatives to describe the East Shore multi-use path that opened earlier this summer. The nearly 3-mile paved route goes from Tunnel Creek to Sand Harbor in Incline Village.

A few years ago, for a story I did for Lake Tahoe News, I had the opportunity to walk along part of what was the planned route. Even then I knew this was going to be something special. It’s so much more spectacular than anything I could have imagined.

“It is a trail that takes you someplace, but the journey is the destination,” Amy Berry, head of the Tahoe Fund, said during that excursion in 2014.

It takes a while to walk the trail because there are so many vistas to photograph. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Estimates during the planning stage were that 100,000 people would use this trail each year.

The East Shore of Lake Tahoe has some of the most dramatic scenery in the basin. This trail allows almost anyone to enjoy this slice of Tahoe that until now may have been off-limits to certain people. Before it meant seeing these views from a vehicle whizzing by on Highway 28, being on a mountain bike along the Flume Trail, dealing with the masses at Sand Harbor beach, or risking your life parking and darting across the highway to get to the water.

The pavement is 10-feet wide and built to ADA standards. There are a couple curvy and steep sections that had skateboarders using their foot as a brake, and some cyclists panting. Walking didn’t seem like any big deal.

Looking north with Highway 28 in the foreground. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Planners were able to keep 11 offshoots to the lake. This is the only place bikes are not allowed. With the lake being so high this summer, not all of those locations offer much sand to sprawl out on. Still, it’s nice to know these spots are there for those with dogs who would want to have a drink.

Major troublesome spots for dogs are the six steel-fiberglass bridges. The longest is 810 feet. This also happens to be the longest bridge in the basin. An Ohio company made the bridges. After dogs had their pads damaged from the hot surface, signs were posted warning people about the bridge temperature. At the long span and another bridge are wagons people may use to transport their canine. The Tahoe Transportation District, which oversaw the project, would not say if anything is going to be done to lessen the danger on the bridges.

Some of the bridges are so hot that local residents have left wagons to transport dogs. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t go barefoot – on any surface – because of the heat, a four-legged family member shouldn’t be either. This includes asphalt and sand. At sunset the temperature wasn’t an issue.

TTD manager Carl Hasty would not say if the heat of the bridge should be a concern to cyclists’ rubber tires.

Bike racks are plentiful along the whole trail. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

A nice attribute to the route is the abundance of bike racks, as well as the couple stations to do minor repairs, including adding air to bike tires.

The total endeavor came with a hefty price tag – $40.5 million. This was a mixture of private and local-state-federal government dollars. About half went to the trail, underpass and parking, while the other half was for environmental and highway upgrades. Considering construction was right next to the lake, this meant more environmental concerns; then there is a tunnel where the path goes under Highway 28 taking people from the mountain side to the lake side; plus, there are a multitude of granite vista areas – ideal for sitting to take in the views. Parking spaces were also added. Eliminated is all the highway parking between the two points of the trail, with this being done mostly as a safety concern.

More than half of the trail is along Lake Tahoe. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Eventually it will cost to park at some locations. Tahoe Transportation District officials would not say what the fee will be or when it will be implemented. The payment portals are already in place.

For those who want to enter Sand Harbor State Park it costs $2 on foot (dogs are not allowed), while it is $10 to drive in.

While the bi-state Tahoe Transportation District was the lead agency to make the path a reality, it will be the Nevada Division of State Parks which maintains it. It took three years to build it.

Views along the trail are mesmerizing. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

This is the second section of the greater 33-mile Stateline-to-Stateline trail. One day it will cover the entire Nevada side of the lake, thus the reference to the state lines. The end/starting points will be Stateline and Crystal Bay. The first section was completed it 2013 with 2.2 miles that go from Rabe Meadow in Stateline to Round Hill Pines Beach.

Cyclists enjoy the scenery at one of the many granite rest stops. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The third phase is already being planned, with the comment period on the U.S. Forest Service’s draft environmental assessment document having ended Aug. 11. The documents are available online. This next section will be eight miles from Sand Harbor to Spooner Summit.

As with all the sections, it’s not just a multi-use path that is being laid down. A major goal is to eliminate parking on the narrow Highway 28 and to create parking areas that are safer. Improvements to utilities, a focus on erosion, and reducing sediment from reaching Lake Tahoe are all goals of the project.


Isla Espíritu Santo — more than swimming with sea lions

Isla Espíritu Santo — more than swimming with sea lions

Isla Espíritu Santo off the coast of La Paz is a full day of outdoor splendor. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Belly rubs. Who knew a sea lion would love one?

The baby swam around me, then stopped underwater as I stroked her stomach. It was just like petting my dog, AJ, where she can be so submissive. I had no idea how playful these wild creatures could be, or how soft they would feel.

Swimming with sea lions was one of the highlights on this particular excursion to Isla Espíritu Santo off the coast of La Paz.

In addition to being a national park, in 1995 UNESCO declared it a world heritage site and biosphere reserve. Espíritu is 15½ miles long and nearly 5 miles wide. The highest point is about 1,968 feet. It is the 12th largest island in Mexico, at more than 31 square miles. There are more than 1,000 islands just in the Sea of Cortez.

A blue-footed booby on Seagull Island. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Hector, our guide with Alonso Tours, and captain Polo, were wonderful with the information they provided and skill in navigating the waters in what was a rather small panga. It was perfect for the seven tourists who hailed from Baja, Europe and the United States.

The tour is actually of three islands which make up the national park. Isla Partida is where we stopped for lunch on the beach in Ensenada Grande Bay. Just north of it at the top of the trio is Los Islotes where the sea lions were.

Even before we reached the main island, which takes about an hour to get to by crossing the San Lorenzo Channel, we cruised by Seagull Island. We were treated to the rare sighting of a blue-footed booby. Baja is a gathering place for birds from North and South America, making it a paradise for birders.

The land and water are beautiful in their own right. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Thirty-eight endemic species call Espíritu home, with 500 animals on land or water residing in the area.

The heads of a few green sea turtles seemed to bob in the water as they came up for air. Dolphins and a couple manta rays did their dances.

As we snorkeled past the sea lions, it became an underwater party with all the fish – puffers, parrot fish, trumpet fish, golden jack, balloon fish, sergeant major and more. We swam through a narrow rock passageway that led to a lovely coral reef. Here sea urchins, starfish and other creatures were nestled into the coral.

These sea lions reside here year-round. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Without a wet suit, being in the water for about 30 minutes was plenty.

We had another opportunity to swim and snorkel at our lunch stop; glad we chose to do so.

Unfortunately, we were not permitted to explore on land beyond the beach; this was a protected area. A hiking trip might have to be the next trip.

Captain Polo guides the panga through the arch. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Espíritu is mostly volcanic rock and sandstone. It’s an interesting blend with the volcanic rock appearing to be prehistoric and the yellow-red sandstone looking almost delicate to the touch. A few cacti are growing out of the rocks. Other vegetation seems to be minimal, at least from our vantage points.

Most of the trip is on the boat – which is wonderful in itself for sightseeing, then swimming with the sea lions, and the lunch stop.

Hector, the guide, brings lunch supplies from the panga. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The only negative was witnessing a worker from another boat rinsing off the lunch plates in the otherwise pristine waters. This happened with an occupied park police vessel two boats down. Back on our boat, I mentioned this to Hector, our guide, and he said everything on the plate would be natural, citing the ceviche in particular. I called him out on this, saying that isn’t what fish eat. He said in recent years there have been a lot of improvements when it comes to being ecologically mindful, like not having individual water bottles for patrons. He concluded that things like dish washing in these protected waters is the difference between how a First and Third World Country treats national parks.

Going to Espíritu requires doing so with a guide or purchasing a permit. Kayaking and hiking are also available, with multi-day excursions an option.

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