Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nature & the Outdoors vrs the Social Media's Borg Collective Mentality

Staying Peaceful in an Angry World. How ???
Image -

The scene above is Toronto, Canada, 2010 G-20 Summit and the spectators, gawkers & other malcontents are recording the burning of a police car. This theme seems to be a common everyday occurence now being played out somewhere in our modern world and showing up on television or youtube. If these bad events weren't terrible enough on their own, another freaky phenomena is there are many wannbe citizen journalists out there who take time out from their selfies to be the first to record & publish some tragic occurence as it unfolds onto their flavourite social meda page. In fact this new perverted obsession has quickly become the latest hobby for those who are otherwise nature and outdoor challenged. It's bad enough that all of mankind are subjected to all manner of regular dirt from the conventional News outlets, but now the social networking sites offer a glimmer of hope to the average person wanting instant viral video fame. The total tonnage of riots and protests happening right now over every tiny little real or imagined social issue has caused many to want to be a part of the cultural experience. In this obsession to become a social media celebrity darling (even for a small moment), many people will participate in these violent protests, even to the point of going so far as to deliberately instigate a violent reaction from one of their oppsition protesters and/or police officers hopes of receiving some type of injury to be documented on video for the media. They view such an experience as a sort of twisted badge of honor. Suddenly becoming a victim provides a sort of status symbol among your imaginary social media friends & if you play your cards right, you might even find the right ambulance chasing lawyer & hit the Lotto. True we can't blame all this on electronic devices and social media outlets, but it certainly has helped to fan the flames of decadent behviour in our world and making things worse. Clever marketing hasn't exactly hurt either. It's kinda like how climate change has brought us extreme weather wind events that have brought us record breaking wildfires like the world has never seen before.

Then there is another issue of the type of subject content the film industry throws out there as entertainment. Most of it is garbage and doesn't exactly leave people walking away feeling good about themselves after watching. Interestingly, many modern day secular people out there generally claim to be skeptical about anything related to the subject about the supernatural and yet they have no problem allowing themselves to be addicted to entertainment loaded with the supernatural or violent junk the film industry spews out there. It isn't just Hollywood films, but also a variety of books, magazines, and video games which present war, sexual content or supernatural world as harmless fun. Some experts out there are now suggesting that the way TV shows and movies portray many of this subject matter is having strong influence what many people believe and how they conduct themselves. Watching the News and seeing the degraded decadent behaviour of many of these mass protesters all around the globe one has to wonder if maybe the experts are really on to something. But how can the average everyday decent person escape all this ? Since almost no one is willing to give up their precious electronic devices, maybe there's a proper way to put them to better use.
Finding more peaceful ways to use electronic devices wisely
Bill Mason's small Wanigan from "Waterwalker".

I stumbled quite by accident this 1984 feature-length documentary follows the naturalist Bill Mason on his journey by canoe into the Ontario wilderness. I had serious never seen this documentary or heard of this man before. The filmmaker and artist begins on Lake Superior, then explores winding and sometimes tortuous river waters to the meadowlands of the river's source. Along the way, Bill Mason paints scenes that capture his attention and muses about his love of canoing, his artwork and his own sense of the land. Bill Mason also uses the film as a commentary on the link between his God and nature and the vast array of beautiful canvases God created for him to paint. He reflects on some of the early Native Americans sayings and what they may have seen before the modern world changed everything. The film features breathtaking visuals and exciting whitewater footage, with a musical score by Bruce Cockburn. I really enjoyed the music. If you have 87 minutes to kill on a rainy day, this is an excellent film to watch. Interestingly, the film received a rating of 8.1 out of 10.

Exploring Yellowstone’s wildlife migrations through Science and Art
This next film I also really enjoyed. It documents never before followed migration of Yellowstone's Elk herds over high mountain trails to winter pastures at lower elevations. My only disappointment in the film is that it just wasn't long enough. Could have followed this for hours more.  Below are a a photo and couple of paragraphs from the story's link.

Arthur Middleton treks through Yellowstone. (Photo by Joe Riis)
"A new film produced by a UC Berkeley professor takes viewers on an incredible journey with elk herds on their migration from Wyoming’s ranch lands to Yellowstone’s high-alpine meadows.   
The film, Elk River, is directed by filmmaker Jenny Nichols and Joe Riis and produced by Berkeley’s Arthur Middleton, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Middleton teamed up with Riis, who is also a photographer, and artist James Prosek to follow these remarkable ungulates on their journey as they trek over steep mountain passes and ford treacherous river crossings. Along the way, this band of explorers meets backcountry guides, cattle ranchers, and the occasional grizzly bear whose lives are intricately tied to the fate of the elk and other migratory ungulates that live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Watch the film below."
(Source: UC Berkeley)

Huell Hower's, "California's Gold" video Archive!
Image from KCET
Chapman University: Huell Howser Video Archives
From The Archive Page:
"Welcome to the Huell Howser California’s Gold Archive, a special collection of Huell Howser’s entire California’s Gold television series, presented by Chapman University."  
"Search for favorite episodes by entering key words in the search box. You can also look at episodes by series topic, such as Missions, Palm Springs or Water. Or, you can search by date of the episodes." 
"Howdy and have fun"
The Huell Hower "California's Gold" video episodes (and there are 100s of them) are another way of pleasant wholesome escape. They allow you to view places you'd never thought of being interested in visiting before. In the old days before electronics when I lived up in the San Jacinto Mountains, I subscribed to the Arizona Highways magazine and often would take trips to places I had read about. The Huell Howser programs can inspire the same spirit of adventure. I'll post more interesting videos and subject matter within this post as time goes on, but for now these three will provide quite a lot of healthy entertainment time away from all the present activist violent protests, irrespective of the ideological politically driven cause behind them. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Southern California Wildflower Enthusiasts

Southern California 'Super bloom' wildflower trail closed indefinitely after photo-seeking visitors trample flowers
Photo - Andrew Cullen

As thousands of people descend on Southern California's wildflower fields, the impact is evident as stands of flowers are flattened by selfie-seekers, instagram celebrities and new trails through the flowers are created daily

Unprecedented crowds eager to snap up those photos of the California's super bloom have damaged a popular wildflower trail so badly that it is now closed indefinitely. The Wildflower Trail is located at Diamond Valley Reservoir in Riverside County just south from the city of Hemet California is currently concrete barrier blocked after patches of the stunning wildflowers were trampled into oblivion.  The Metropolitan Water District, which maintains the area said the primary problem is that people are walking off-trail to take that prize winning hope it goes viral photo among all the wildflowers. Environmental specialists brought in to assess the damage noted bare patches and flattened flowers like the California Poppies above. Here is the link to th entire story: - Overly enthusiastic visitors trample wildflowers, leading to trail closure
Photo - Andrew Cullen

When people start pioneering a trail, people behind them follow. And before you know it, they think they’re on a legitimate trail,” Wendy Picht (Environmental Specialist for MWD) said. “So it’s up to us to make sure they have the information to know where the trail is and where they can and can’t go.”  
Wendy Picht and Alex Marks have started putting up signs that say, clearly, “Stay on the trail." They also are tilling compacted soil and may re-seed bare areas with native wildflower seeds. In addition, Metropolitan Water District is placing staff along the trail to make sure people aren’t traipsing into the reserve. A half-mile section of the most heavily trampled area remains closed. 

Photo - Andrew Cullen

I don't imagine this is the kind of instragram fame these
wildflower enthusiats were hoping for in this News Report

Selfies vrs Selfless ??? & Doin' it for the "Likes" ???
“It’s sometimes nice to see yourself in a really nice picture with a really cool background,” said Robin Kopf, who was trying to get her friend Christina Barrett, who was sitting cross-legged in a patch of poppies, to pose. The girls had driven two-hours from West L.A. in Barrett’s mom’s minivan with a group of their friends from high school.   
But in order to get the picture, Kopf and Barrett had flattened a patch of poppies. They seemed to feel badly about it.   
“I don’t want to crush them,” Barrett said.   
“They seem pretty resilient,” Kopf said, looking over her shoulder at the poppies. “Lots of people are doing this.”  
Jonathan Pong of Glendale and a friend were climbing an informal trail up a steep slope covered in poppies and lupines. Pong said he knew he was supposed to stay on the trail, but couldn't resist. "But we tried very hard not to touch any of the flowers," he said. "And I think most people do that, but when you have a little too many [people], they probably get trampled."
Very Interesting Read on Selfie Obsession & Social Networking Sites
It's okay to stop and smell the Roses, just don't stomp and obliterate them 'Godzilla' !!! 
 Huffington Post: Scientists Just Validated Your Instagram Obsession
Anyone Remember this infamous Classic Bambi meets Godzilla Film Video by Marv Newland back in 1969 ?

Further Reading about this Area's History
Back in 2014 I wrote a series of articles about this region's (western Riverside County) flora as seen through the eyes of both Spanish Explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and Fray (Friar) Pedro Font both of whom recorded the details of massive wildflower displays in their journals. Everywhere they went they seemed to give special prominance to this. How could they not ? The first references of wildflowers started in the Terwilliger area of Anza Valley, thereafter venturing through Bautista Canyon, next through the Hemet & San Jacinto Valley all the way to Mystic Lake near Moreno Valley. The journals first meant a lot to me way back in 1981 (I was encouraged to read it by a US Forest Service employee - Steve Raybould) where I went to the Riverside County Library (no such thing as internet then) and checked out the diary to read about what the area was once like. For me it was my early motivation to explore the area in detail the actual physical geographical locations which back in the early 1980s was not yet insanely developed at that time, but pretty wild with only a few farms and ranches. Diamond Valley Reservoir wasn't even there. The road from Hwy 79 to Sage Rd was called Newport Road. Mostly open range with a couple of dairies. 

Here are the links to posts about the journals I created back in 2014, but I would encourage FIRST anyone who is genuinely interested to go online and read both Anza's and Font's own journals about what they saw for yourself. Don't take my word! 😏
Oregon State University: An Interactive Study Environment on Spanish Exploration and Colonization of "Alta California" 1774-1776
Word of caution about the above site. It's fascinating and full of incredible information and commentary. There should also be a glossary of terms and expressions (idioms) used by Anza and Font because much of the words or expression are not used anymore. The links below are from my perspective as I'm keen as to how the natural world looked back then. I actually quote more on relevant paragraph quotes that include natural world observations and leave much of the human politics, economics and land aquisition for the Spanish Empire out of it. Although this survey for the Spanish empire expansion is why they wrote about the natural world as their surveyed and documented all natural resourves such as timber, water sources, agricultural potential, etc. So below are my thoughts and observations. As long as my posts are, I didn't reveal the half of what I know because people today quite simply have got very short attention spans. Nevertheless, Enjoy! 😵
(Part 1) Juan Bautista de Anza's Journal sheds light on a past Extinct Ecosystem
(Anza Expedition Part II) The Valley that was, but isn't any longer
This next post is especially interesting because it focusses on the subject of the once (now almost gone) largest and most extensive vernal pool complexes in Southern California which are now mostly all gone in Hemet, Diamond & Menifee Valleys. These breath taking pools and accompanying wildflower mega-blooms are now just a part of the historical past:
Image is western Hemet Valley

This massive flower display are Goldfields which
 are now paved over for development and progress

The Vernal Pools of South and Western Hemet (Anza Expedition extra)
Old Bautista Creek Channel East and West side
The San Jacinto River Valley that Juan Bautista de Anza saw
San Jacinto River Wildlife Refuge & the wetlands potential beyond to Corona
Anza's Dairy & the Lessons Learned

Update: April 21, 2017
Wildflowers in the high deserts of eastern San Diego County within isolated portions of railroad right-of-way.
Photo by Alexander Elling 2017
The old San Diego Arizona Eastern Railroad right-of-way in eastern San Diego County now abandoned and being partially reclaimed by the nature world.