Archive for February, 2021

I Visit My Hometown

26 February 2021

In recent weeks I have made a couple of visits to the Bay Area. They involved multiple facets of experience. Though I live with them all jumbled together (as we all do) I will try here to separate them out a bit.

The trip

Not too long ago, I discovered a commuter bus that makes a few trips each weekday all the way from Sacramento (Amtrak station) to the Pleasant Hill BART station. Connecting to BART then gives me access to a huge region (commonly known as the Bay Area).

Senior fare on the bus is only $2.50. I have taken the early morning bus both times. On the first I was the only passenger out of Sacramento and on the second I was one of two. It picks up a few more at subsequent stops. Coming back around 2:45 in the afternoon, there are usually six or eight. Most of them get off at Fairfield or Vacaville.

At the Pleasant Hill BART station.

The trip takes about 2 hours. It is pleasant, usually. I use the time to read the latest book by Dena Merriam. I have promised her to write a review when I am finished!

A new friend

I have met a woman who lives in Pittsburg. She wanted to meet me in person but can’t drive. So I decided to see how practical it would be to visit her. The entire travel time round trip from my house to her house is about 6 hours. So this is a bit rough for a single-day meeting, but more workable if I can stay overnight.

Parking lot at the Bay Point station where she lives.

My past

I have a lot of emotional attachment to my home town. It is the only place where I have made friendships with girls or women that ever amounted to anything. I feel more “at home” there. Go figure!

Last Friday I visited the place of my birth, 2120 Spaulding. I was surprised to find it under renovation!

A lot of buildings in this area of Berkeley are being preserved, while others have been knocked down and replaced with new construction, often apartments. I found an impression on a sidewalk in the area dated 1922. So many buildings in this area are about 100 years old now.

Fresher in my mind is the time I spent as a boy in the Berkeley Hills. These hills are a prominent visual feature of this area. When I first saw them on the BART before it went underground to go through Berkeley, I cried.

I returned to Berkeley in 1976 and lived there for about 5 years. The BART was running then, and I used it a lot. On this visit, I retraced my steps along the streets I knew so well back then, and thought a bit of the people I used to know.

Skylight in the North Berkeley BART.

I used to shop at the Co-op supermarket. It has now been transformed into a little urban Target…

Next door was the Co-op Credit Union. Now it is a Mexican restaurant where I enjoyed an early lunch of tacos and horchata. I had to eat them outside, but the weather was very nice.

I used to live in an apartment building at 1951 Chestnut. It, too, has been renovated.

I was on the third floor, this side, and had a very nice view of the city. Across the street was a “quadruplex” (four apartments in one building). A memorable event in my early adult Berkeley life was when a new woman moved into the upper right apartment and walked through her new abode clothesless, apparently unaware that she could be seen from my building!

Across the street from my building was the Finnish Hall, and next to it was a house that included a rear separated apartment, not uncommon in these neighborhoods.

This is where my friend Lenora Warkentin (an accomplished flutist) lived. My second girlfriend also played the flute, as have several other girls or women who I have found attractive over the years!

The gardens of Berkeley are know for their exuberant messiness and colors. This is a perfect time of year to catch many flowers blooming. I also saw several hummingbirds.

Eucalyptus flowers.

On this trip I visited Orinda. As children, on our drives through the tunnel to visit the Piersons in Walnut Creek (now Lafayette) we passed by Orinda probably hundreds of times, but never stopped there.

It has a touristy feel to it, yet most people there this day seemed to be locals. The “theater” actually functions as a food court. It is very cute.

I stopped by a Peet’s Coffee to get a sweet snack, and found this display in their store.

“My parents had a Chemex!” I told the barista. He was surprised, and didn’t know the design was that old. It is in fact older than I am, having been invented in 1941.

COVID

The COVID scare hangs over our planet like a dark storm cloud. It seems so out of place in the sunny springtime of my hometown! The population of the planet were set up for this, and most have fallen for the mainstream story hook, line and sinker.

Here a young mom helps her little one play in the park, wearing a mask! This is so unnecessary it almost makes me sick.

Most people in the Bay Area wear masks everywhere. I even saw a young lady out running in a mask! There are signs everywhere stating that this is our civic duty. It reminds me of a notable episode of The Prisoner (TV show) where the hero was being pressured to conform to meaningless “community standards.” Those writers knew what this was all about! They had probably read 1984 (even if I haven’t)!

I have to keep my mask on while on public transportation, so that meant hours wearing the terrible thing while riding the bus and BART. Cruel and unusual punishment.

Expanding slowly into a “new” future

The BART trains are some of the most futuristic transit vehicles I have seen in any western city. Every door is bent to fit the contour of the car, an enormous engineering complication that the Sacramento light rail does not share.

BART has been running long trains every half hour. Sacramento has been running short trains every 15 minutes. I prefer the Sacramento approach. I have not been on BART during rush hour, but it used to be VERY crowded at those times of day.

I am not familiar with BART’s setup, but all these public transit systems are heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars, and so have the income to employ drivers, mechanics, etc., even though there are practically no riders. This is a very strange situation for me to watch, since it makes so little sense economically, yet I rely on these systems to get around.

Such systems are part of the “new normal” of corporate hegemony on Earth. They (including our governments, which after all are corporations, too, and operate on a similar pattern) invest in what they want to invest in to suit their corporate plans. The population is persuaded to follow along. Like lambs to the slaughter.

More and more land and housing is in corporate hands. My friend lives in relatively new “apartment homes” like those in the photo below. Such large developments are all over the Bay Area.

Spirit sighs

Dena Merriam’s latest book covers four different lifetimes of a woman seeking high spiritual awareness. I am only half way through it.

The first lifetime happens in Vedic India, 900 years BC. Dena is a member of a wild jungle clan that retreats to an urban area in the face of invaders. There she meets a Brahmin who she falls in love with but cannot marry due to his vows of celibacy.

Later she finds herself in China in the 700s, a woman friend of famous Tang poet Li Bai. Li seems to be the reincarnation of the Brahmin she knew 1600 years earlier. In this life she learns all about the Dao. The book then traces her earlier experiences in China.

These stories speak to me! They speak of great longing, great sadness, and great love for self, for another, for children and parents, for community, mankind and the natural world. I have shared bits of these stories with my best friend. She is touched by them, but also confused. Most of us had no idea that our experience could be so vast and varied! I consider this awareness key to solving our problems here on Earth. If the enemies of Spirit can keep this awareness from growing sufficiently here, they will win and have us as their slaves. Although many of us would rebel and move on, it seems clear that large numbers are fully prepared for this “new” form of slavery and are completely willing to embrace it.

And so I sigh!

Reflections off a new building cast a pattern on a neighboring wall.

Disease Theory

20 February 2021

The germ theory is wrong; the virus theory is wrong. Viruses are not here to kill us; in reality they are exosomes whose role is to provide the detoxification package and the communication system that allows us to live a full and healthy existence. A war on viruses is a war on life.

Why Viruses (including “Coronavirus”) Are Not the Cause of Disease.
Thomas S. Cowan and Sally Fallon Morell. September, 2020.

Exosome, nano-sized vesicle secreted from different cell types that contains any of various biomolecules, such as proteins or nucleic acids. Exosomes are enveloped in a lipid bilayer membrane, reflecting their origination from endocytic (intracellular) compartments; they range from 30–150 nm in diameter. Exosomes are secreted via exocytosis by a variety of cell types, including cancer cells, and subsequently are taken up by target cells, where they communicate information via surface protein signaling as well as through the transfer of lipids, nucleic acids, and other biomolecules. Intercellular communication by exosomes plays a critical role in the regulation of cellular and physiological processes. Exosomes were first described in the early 1980s, when they were observed following their secretion by reticulocytes.

Encyclopedia Britannica online

A vesicle is a tiny sac-like structure. Lipids are biomolecules related to fats.

Cowan and Morell’s assertions

Tom Cowan was trained as an MD and lives in the Bay Area, while Sally has been challenging the conventional wisdom about “healthy foods” for years, is a follower of Weston Price, and lives in Maryland.

Weston Price was a dentist from Canada who advocated for a retreat from “modern” processed foods which he says are causing dental and health problems.

Cowan asserts that science has never proven that bacteria or viruses actually cause disease. He believes that these biological structures and organisms result from disease rather than cause it. He points to toxins in air, food, and water, as well as radiation such as high frequency radio and even psychological stress as the more likely causes of degradation of the immune system and all the various disease symptoms, as well as the appearance of excessive concentrations of bacteria and viruses in diseased bodies. He believes the trigger for COVID-19 symptoms is 5G radiation. “5G” is a radio technology for cell phones currently being implemented in urban areas.

This conclusion also brings the idea of contagion into question. And he believes that data showing that people in specific locations get sick at the same time indicate toxic releases in those locations, and even cites some evidence of this.

These conclusions, in turn, challenge the whole allopathic system of medicine, and in particular, the Public Health recommendations aimed at curbing COVID-19.

Here is my illustration of this theory.

It aligns more with what I have learned from Hubbard.

My church, however, is going along with the allopathic “solution” for COVID-19 for the time being.

As the reader my gather, I side with Cowan, Morell and Hubbard.

But the experiential evidence for the involvement of “germs” in disease is so strong, I can’t totally discount it. It seems what Cowan is mainly trying to do is to increase the importance of other factors in why people get sick, which I definitely agree with.

Pairing Up

17 February 2021

In recent weeks I have been devoting considerable amounts of my time to corresponding online (or by phone chat – same difference) with a variety of women (I hope they’re all women!) in the search for companionship in the face of an enforced loneliness.

On Silver Singles I have met a woman from South Sacramento who hopes to wrap up her regular work in a few more years and buy her own condo. She has actually met with me, but wore a mask the whole time!

I met a woman from Richmond who encouraged me to publish my own book.

I met a woman who thanked me for being honest about the fact that I am a Scientologist, which disqualified me from her list of possibilities.

I met a woman who didn’t want to meet outside because it’s too cold.

On eHarmony I met a Christian woman who finally figured out that I wasn’t a Christian.

I met a hairdresser and artist in Portland who enjoyed reading my blog but wants to stay put so will continue to look for a match closer to home.

And I met a lady who works in HR for UC-Berkeley who enjoys talking with me and really would like to meet, but (like myself) doesn’t drive and is in fact a bit reluctant to go out.

On Age Match I met a young black woman who was born in London but is currently staying with her family in Ghana. She enjoyed reading my blog and directed me to her blog, but we have a hard time staying connected because of the time difference.

I have met several young and middle-aged woman who seem to long for a lasting relationship to replace a previous one that ended poorly. A few of these have become very devoted to us meeting, and call me “honey” or “babe.” But several of them have asked me for money for various reasons, or requested assistance for financial transactions. And others act offended when I tell them that I continue to chat with other women.

I met a woman from Fresno who just likes to get with men for a little sexual fun and has no real need for marriage but is quite willing to speak quite frankly about her sexuality.

I met anther young woman who seems to be stuck in North Carolina caring for her grandmother, surrounded by men who only notice her for her youth and full figure, is financially challenged and just wants to find a way out of her current situation.

Beauty and the beast, a story of the magic in love.

Meeting strangers on the internet

This age of social media has nurtured a culture of online “con artists” who seek to make a living off the gullibility of others.

The basic con follows an age-old pattern: Pretend you are someone you aren’t. Convince the target (“mark” or “stooge”) that you need their help or are offering something of value, obtain money or goods from them, then disappear.

The internet has only made this easier and easier to do.

Thus, the first question most of us have when we meet a stranger online is: Are they who they say they are?

The Profile

All social media accounts include a profile, often including one or more profile pictures. This is where most of us start in our efforts to ascertain if this person is real.

A skimpy, shoddy, brush off or otherwise odd profile is the first sign of an attempt to deceive. The scammer can steal photos and life data from other accounts, or totally steal the account of a real person. The sloppiest profiles remain fairly obvious. An odd name, an age that doesn’t match the face, an obscure location, just a few posts, all made on the same day. A bunch of friends with African names. These are the “hallmarks” of a scammer.

The profiles that seemed more unique, individualistic, and expressive are signs of genuine people.

Language

The next give-away is poor English.

Some scammers seek to explain their poor language skills by claiming they are French, German or Spanish. While this is always a possibility, they are often posing as someone who you would expect to be well-educated, so this excuse can often seem dubious.

They may also ask you questions that make it obvious they did not bother to study your profile.

Projection

Criminals often project without realizing it.

Most criminals lie or act deceptively and are not trustworthy.

They will often claim to you that they have been lied to or mistreated, and that they are not sure they can trust you. They may seek to obtain useful information from you with the excuse that they are doing it to build trust.

They will express fear or suspiciousness at things you do that you consider normal, like the fact that you are not devoting all of your time to them, or in your attempts to verify who they really are.

They may be unwilling to share pictures of the room they live in, or tell you much about their personal lives.

They will probably try to impress you with alluring pictures rather than genuine facts.

They will not be able to refer you to more data about them elsewhere online.

The real need for intimacy

Real people, bless their souls, are quite often willing to share intimate details about their lives online if they trust you to respond with understanding and kindness.

I have learned some truly amazing things from the women I have met online. And so, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, even with the trouble caused by scammers.

Whether I ever meet these girls or not, I like to think that they consider the chance to share some of their life with another person as a valuable experience for them, and I try to make their conversations with me enjoyable and sweet, even educative if they seem open to that.

I mention Scientology to all of my online contacts, and a few of them seem genuinely interested.

On top of that, I have met a few people during this process that I knew earlier in my life and who I was very happy to reconnect with. Some of them say they remember me or that I meant something to them, even though they did not express that back then. And I often have a similar sentiment.

We all have past loves, now lost, and these connections often give us a chance to tell someone those stories. Those of us who are up to the challenge understand the value of this sharing and welcome it. It is only the scammers who may react with shock or jealousy, or the insistence that we put all that behind us.

A clear lesson I have learned is that we bring all our prior loved ones forward with us. We can see them merely as lost opportunities, or we can see them as part of a growing family of spiritual connections that is there to nurture us and keep us strong as we make our ways through life.

Every friendship, no matter how brief, has value. Intimacy with another is almost always worth seeking and is at the core of what we sometimes call “brotherly love.” Don’t shy from it!

A teenage couple cuddle on the train.

Window Shopping in Old Sac

11 February 2021

It was threatening rain, so I thought, why not do some window shopping? Most of Old Sac has covered boardwalks which are perfect for the few days in the year when it actually rains.

Lots of candy sold in Old Sac!
Gifts from Africa
Gifts with a native American theme
The new local arts boutique operated by Kip Bridges
Custom-made clothing
Handmade peanut brittle!
What’s your favorite message?
Garden ornaments
Kites and toys
Entertainment art
Fantasy worlds
Crystals!

Damsels in Distress

8 February 2021

Excessive isolation due to government reactions to COVID led me recently to seek out new friends online.

On the suggestion of a real offline friend, I decided to look into online dating sites.

I have been actively online now for over ten years. My involvement in various legitimate websites has resulting in a small number of friendly connections online. But these were not local friends. In the hope that I could make more friends locally, I subscribed to a couple of dating sites. This is my initial report on that experience. I may expand on it later, or continue the story in future articles.

Friendship and criminality

A classic strategy of the socially unwell (learn more about them here) is to “make friends” with someone, and then use the natural need and desire of the target person for interaction to “mine” them for physical and emotional resources that the highly troubled person finds difficult or impossible to create themselves.

Thus, a website dedicated to starting new friendships would be a perfect target for criminal activity.

Criminals would pose as, say, women who – buffeted by the challenges of living – have come to a place where they are both emotionally and financially needy. Using, perhaps, alluring photographs of pretty young women, criminals would sucker men seeking friendship into sharing data that could be used to compromise them socially or professionally. Then they would be asked for money. And if they refused, they would be threatened with the release of the personal data they shared with the “woman” in their search for intimacy.

In one such scam on Facebook, I got a young African man to admit that he was posing falsely as a pretty American girl. He then sent me a picture of himself, and proceeded to ask for financial help! This, then, could be a case of a double-layered scam, where the scammer has a second backup identity. Or this scammer might simply have been inexperienced in his “art.”

But from this experience we can see that the real person behind the online identity might be totally different than what they appear to be.

Is honest online dating possible?

Say you were an honest businessperson hoping to earn a living by providing an online dating service. Could you design one that would discourage or eliminate a takeover from criminals seeking to take advantage of lonely people?

Criminals seek avenues of less resistance. If it is quick and easy to set up an account on a website, they will try that first to see how it works. If it is too time-consuming to set up an account, they may never even try to get on that site.

eHarmony

eHarmony is an old and rather successful dating service. It was designed by a psychologist to “match” people based on answers to a personality questionnaire. If you want to interact freely with others on the site (see their photos, send messages) you must pay a subscription fee for at least a month.

I have no particular opinion about the validity of matching people based on a personality test. But what this test does do is make it much more difficult and time-consuming to create an account. I believe the popularity of this service is mainly due to the fact that the long set of questions discourages most criminals from setting up accounts.

Though eHarmony started as an American company, it is currently owned and operated by a German firm.

I use a service, Silver Singles, based on this same principle. It is owned by another German company. This company operates several dating sites that all require answering many personality questions to start an account. This results in a site populated by almost all very real people.

Age Match

As I like younger people and am perfectly willing to associate or get romantic with younger women, I wanted to try a site that included a larger age range of participants.

Age Match was mentioned in reviews as one such site, so I tried it, buying a month’s subscription.

However, this site is very easy to get onto. There is no long questionnaire. You have the option of getting your photo “verified” by submitting a picture ID. But almost no one bothers with this step. I did, but in my time on the site, I only found one woman who did.

I found that virtually every “woman” on this site was basically a scammer to some degree. You can normally tell this in several ways:

  1. Their profile is short and “vanilla” or not at all uniquely personal.
  2. Their photo or photos are all of young attractive women showing off their bodies.
  3. Their initial questions normally ask for data provided in your profile. In other words, they didn’t bother to study your profile before deciding to “like” you.
  4. Their ideas about love and friendship seem trite or simplistic.
  5. They quite normally tell a story or previous betrayal and financial hardship. They act stupid when you mention the fact that such information makes them look less attractive. They ignore or reject suggestions that could help protect them from future transgressions.
  6. They speak (write) in poor or broken English, even if claiming to be well-educated.
  7. They ask for money.

After a couple weeks on this site, I have discontinued using it. My experience with it has been uniformly bad. I figure if anyone there is serious about me, they can visit me via my blog.

The future of human interaction in the internet age

The foundation of all useful human interaction is honesty. If the bum on the street actually makes $1,000 a week, but for some reason prefers to live as a bum on the street, then he is misrepresenting himself in his interactions with people to the detriment of all involved.

And if the misunderstood young woman on the internet turns out to be some dude just cruising for people he can take advantage of, the that pollutes the whole field of human interaction, and should be discouraged or eliminated.

We have always needed ways to tell if people are who they claim to be. On the internet that becomes more important, as the capacity to deceive is also much greater.

We need online methods that encourage, if not guarantee, honesty. And I suggest that they should correlate to how we do it with people in person. This might be accomplished using video chat technology. It should be some sort of system that verifies or communicates the reality of a person to others online. Though I am sure any such system could be gamed, I see very little interest in doing this on online social platforms. This makes me wonder if they weren’t designed from the beginning to be criminal platforms.

Recent events have indicated that criminality is in fact their preferred use, as it is very difficult now to find any mainstream information that is not misleading if not outright untrue.

Our challenge going forward, if we wish to advance our culture, is to reverse this trend towards the criminal misuse of our communication systems.

Lucy, 23 years old