Archive for February, 2011

The Christchurch Earthquake


When the Earth Shakes, and We Humans on it.
Make a *donation directly to NZ Red Cross Christchurch Fund

Epicenter: Lyttelton from above our house, a day before the quake

Amanda and I escaped. We were in Christchurch about 19 hours before the earthquake hit, just in front of the main church , which is now collapsed,  in the square dropping off my passport and work visa application at New Zealand immigration, We also ran some errands, and split up in the afternoon, Amanda stopping by a store, and I picking up our van at the bus depot.

When the earthquake did hit we were both at home. I was in the hallway, and all of sudden, I was being thrown about. I was disoriented for a few seconds, then ran down the hallway to grab my pregnant wife’s hand. She looked as confused as I, as we ran for the door. We had just experienced the earthquake 1km from the epicenter. Our rental home is just across the Lyttelton Inlet in Diamond Harbor’s Charteris Bay.  As I grabbed Amanda’s hand and we ran out of the back door of  the steel-framed house, I thought, “This isn’t good for Christchurch.”

Little did I know how bad it was.  Just over the crest of Port Hills, 20 min away, it was Hell. (more…)

We’ve Gone Ad Free



Never Too Late to Stop Ads

We’ve been meaning to do it, but finally got around to it today. No more ads on this blog. In the spirit of being a nonprofit (Mountain Spirit Institute is indeed a non-profit) we thought this would be the better route. As editor, the ads never showed up on my screen, but I assume they were there. It was easy to put this task on the back burner because I never saw one. I hope they weren’t advertising for hosiery or wellness pills. I assume the revenue went to, as well is should. They’re a great company.  We’ll be paying for the privilege of an ad-free blog, and hope you’ll like it. Let us know what you think. And while you’re at it, let us know if you saw any hosiery ads or the like.
R. Richards
PS: Your donations,  for this blog, or for helping to further our organizational mission is always welcome. You can donate here.

The Kiwi Vagabond Travelers?


Kiwis and Aussies Travel Footloose Around the Globe, Right?
Not so fast…

A Surprising Read about NZ's OE

Young Americans on their trip abroad, usually see, in amazement,  the Aussies and Kiwis on their “OE” or Overseas Expedition, as they tick off another year, another country. It’s so different than the Yankee program, where we might take a semester abroad or a summer backpacking  and Eurail trip through Europe. The Australians and Kiwis really have it good. “How do that do that?” we ask ourselves.   The article below by Anna Hart gives a perceptive glimpse into the mindset of the Kiwis and how they value an overseas expedition. This story might surprise you as it did me.
Sunday Star Times Magazine

January 23, 11
By Anna Hart
This time last year, I decided to chuck in my job at a fashion magazine in London and spend a year in New Zealand. I wanted a break from the London Underground, I wanted an adventure and I wanted some sunshine. I chose New Zealand simply because every friend who had ever visited raved about the place. I was hopeful that I’d find freelance writing work over here, but if I didn’t, well, I could still remember how to froth a cappuccino. (more…)

Peru Newspaper Editorial on Wikileaks


The Peruvian Newspaper, El Comercio received a huge cache of Wikileaks cables. Here is an excerpt of today’s editorial in the paper on their decision making process.

Wikileaks: our duty to inform
Editorial from today’s Sunday El Comercio
English Version from: Peruvian Times

As has happened with other large news outlets in the world, El Comercio has received the Wikileaks cables, classified documents from the Department of State of the United States of America. The delivery of more than 4000 pages about Peru explain in part the dynamic of national politics and international relations. (more…)

Leading Peru Newspaper Receives Wikileaks


From: Andean Air Mail & PERUVIAN TIMES

Cables Sent to Peru Newspaper

Peru’s leading daily newspaper, El Comercio, announced in its Sunday edition that it has received more than 4,000 U.S. State Department diplomatic cables from Wikileaks.

The newspaper revealed two of the cables on Sunday.   The first covers a conversation in 2006 just after the presidential elections, when APRA Congressman and co-secretary general Jorge del Castillo requested the help of the U.S. Embassy to convince PPC candidate Lourdes Flores to accept her defeat against Alan Garcia (a difference of a little under 70,000 votes) and join forces with APRA to defeat the nationalist candidate, Ollanta Humala, in the second election round, in exchange for a working relationship or co-participation in the Garcia administration. 

The second cable, dated March 2008, reports on the work by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to help Ollanta Humala and other radical groups to organize an anti-summit in Lima for May that year, Read the rest of this story….

This Way of Life.. An Inspiring Film


Don't Miss This Dose of Inspiration

The film This way of  Life is as inspiring as it gets. Filmed in the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand’s North Island, this documentary is about a Maori family: a good and strong man and his wife who bring up their kids in the out-of-doors, raising wild horses. Peter, the father, is someone this writer admires for his steadfast adherance to what is right action in the midst of some people around him who act very badly.  We happened to pick up the movie at the library the other day, and were wowed by it.
A lot of what we strive for here at Mountain Spirit Institute is encapsulated in the documentary, and how this family lives their lives. No nature deficit disorder here. But the hardships, and even the new house where the kids get their own rooms, don’t sugarcoat the difficulties faced by the family.  We are about to bring a child into this world, and this film has added fuel to our fire to continue to head for the mountains. A cure for affluenza, for sure.

Director: Thomas Burstyn
New Zealand, 2010, 84 min.
Against the stunning beauty of New Zealand’s rugged Ruahine Mountains, Peter Karena and his wife Colleen instill in their children the values of independence, courage, and happiness. The family is poor in possessions but rich with a physicality and freedom within nature that most of us can only dream of. The children ride bareback, hunt, and play in the wild. Shot over four years, this film is an intimate portrait of a Maori family and their relationship with nature, adversity, horses, and society at large. Special mention at Berlin International Film Festival, 2010 Hotdocs, New Zealand’s Oscar shortlist.

You can learn a bit more about the family and the film on their Facebook page.
See the Movie Trailer

Obama approves GMO Crops


The Revolution will begin our food supply
Over the past 12 days, the Obama administration has unbelievably chosen to approve two biotech crops, Roundup Ready genetically modified (GMO) alfalfa and Roundup Ready genetically modified (GMO) sugar beets. Obama’s recent approval of them will allow them to be planted as early as this spring, despite widespread acknowledgement that these crops are certain to contaminate both conventional and organic farmers non-GMO crops. Their approval only benefits one company — Monsanto.

These decisions are a devastating blow to our democracy and the basic rights of farmers to choose how they want to grow food on their land and the rights of consumers who increasingly choose organic and sustainably grown food for its positive health and environmental impacts. Click here to join us in telling President Obama that it’s time to stand up to Monsanto and reject these GMO crops today.

Grand Canyon Quiet, It’s About Time.


Park Service Seeks Quiet in the Grand Canyon
New York Times
By  Marc Lacey
TUCSON — That the Grand Canyon is a visual spectacle is without question. But the constant droning of tourist aircraft overhead, which has worsened considerably over the years, has prompted the National Park Service to propose measures to make one of America’s premier natural areas much easier on the ears. Read the rest of this story.

By R. Richards
Sir Thomas Gresham’s (Financial agent for Queen Elizabeth) Law of Economics states that “bad”,  more powerful money always overtakes more benign forms of currency unless properly regulated. Ingram’s law, which has carried this into the recreation field, states that more powerful forms of recreation will always overtake more benign, if not regulated. Kudos for the Park Service’s acting Grand Canyon Superintendent, Palma Wilson, who comes out in favor of some peace and quiet in the canyon. Here’s some footage we shot in July of 2010 on the North Rim, complete with a non-stop parade of helicopters.