Approaching Heaven in 2011?

2010 was such a miserable year for both my family and I that if I liken my life's journey to Dante's journey in his Divine Comedy, I would expect nothing less than heaven to be over the next rise: 

it remains just out of sight, but there is a glow over the horizon, giving warm hope.

So here is the list of activities I am sharing in 2011.  The first two items are "carryovers" from 2010.  Both were started in 2010, but they were not completed until well after the New Year:

1 An attempt to more fully understand the dynamics of the Permian Basin and the formation of Nash Draw a half million years ago.  Includes a plainly worded description of the geologic history, going back to the time before dinosaurs, when there was but one continent, as well as photo pages on present-day sinkholes.
2

This multiple book review was started in 2010 but not completed until well into 2011: (1) The Case for God by Karen Armstrong, which is an accounting of the ways humans have sought to experience "a sacred reality," and (2) In The Realm of Inorganic Beings by Brian T. Johnston, which is one person's account of exactly such an experience.  The latter book is not available in stores, only online (click here to go there).  In order to understand the Johnston book better, I also read (3) DMT, The Spirit Molecule, A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences by Rick Strassman, M.D.X

3 Southeastern New Mexico: A Tale of Two Rivers a whimsical introduction to two desert rivers that are related, but that are also very different from each other, with links to picture pages about each of these two rivers: the Pecos River with emphasis on its salt loading from an underlying brine aquifer, and the Black River, a short river we can explore from its end to its beginning.
4 Southeastern New Mexico: A tale of two canyon trails this time, Slaughter Canyon Cave Trail and Slaughter Canyon Trail. On return from one of the hikes I met the family of the man who discovered Slaughter Canyon Cave.  I hope one of them sees this and sends me the story of the discovery so I can post it here.  (That is a hint, of course.)
5 White Sands National Monument was a real treat for me to visit again, after a 26-year hiatus.  Imagine my peaked interest upon finding out that when in the Tulerosa Basin, where White Sands is located, I was in a closed (endorheic = no water outflow) basin created by the pulling apart of land between two plates, just like Death Valley!  A grossly oversimplified page on the geology of White Sands is followed by a series of White Sands photo pages describing two walks in the dunes.
6

I made four 10 to 12 minute movies: "Gifts from the Permian"  (a musically accompanied series of four slide shows of the best I have seen, so far, in southern New Mexico and west Texas).

7 Speaking of the Permian in southern New Mexico and west Texas, I have several pages on what it is and when it was.
8 My next book review, to be posted later in May, will be Mark Booth's The Secret History of the World.X
9 The Hoover Dam Bypass project has a website with splendid photos giving the histry of the entire bridge-building project.  This bridge is one that my mother and I frequently visited during its earlier construction years, until August of 2005.  So it meant something to me to be able to drive and walk across it now that it is done.  The page then goes on to look at the Colorado River from the window of an American Airlines flight to Dallas/Fort Worth.
10

I liked almost everything about Mark Booth's book except one small part.  I recommend it highly to anyone wanting to know the importance of the secret tradition through history and today.  His book title is The Secret History of the World and the book lives up to what its title promises.  Of course I make some little critical observations even in the parts of the book I liked.  And some nice observations in the small part I didn't like.  But that is just me being me

11

Aus der Bauernchronik DER WEHRWOLF von Hermann Löns, with woodcuts by Hans Pape, published during the Second World War in Gouda, the Netherlands, to raise the spirits of the German occupation forces in the Netherlands in 1943.   Images of the book in German are posted here now.  I WAS working on a translation, but gave up and ordered an English tranlation instead (used an AMAZON banner to do so, on my Book Reviews page, a used copy is costing me $ 14 including shipping-not bad!).  I tell the story here as best as my limited German allows, then I'll correct errors when I have read the professionally translated version. [Done, and errors are corrected.]

12

The Warwolf, A Peasant Chronicle of the Thirty Years War Hermann Löns, as translated by Robert Kvinnesland. As compared with the previous title by the same author, this version is ten times longer and more detailed, with several helpful historical footnotes.  To judge its historical credibility other sources were consulted and are discussed in this lenghty review.  Illustrations of the setting for the story, and several etchings made during the Thirty Years War, are provided as part of this review.  Finally, a theory set forth above as to why the Nazi in charge of the Dutch occupation passed this book out to his soldiers and then killed himself, is further supported by this additional background information.

13

Gypsum caves (!) at the former Parks Ranch south of Carlsbad, New Mexico.  We visited two gypsum caves and greatly enjoyed their rock- fabrics and textures.  

14

Walking in and out of Carlsbad Caverns!  I do it again and again for the beauty, the cool air, and the exercise.  All I can offer you here is some images of that beauty.  Plus some mention of Dante's Inferno.  UPDATED 18 SEPTEMBER 2011 with additional photos and text.

15

The same photos as in item 14 but this time in a movie format, accompanied by the truly amazing music (used with permission) of Amethystium's album called Emblem (2006). The music represents track 3, Exultation, track 7, Shadow to Light, and track 11, Emblem. Listen to Amethystium's music at http://www.amethystium.com. Thank you.

16

Had enough of caverns for a while.  Good.  But not tired of Karst discussions and photos yet?  Good again!  So join me for a nice walk, on a hot September day, in Bottomless Lakes State Park, New Mexico, southeast of Roswell.  This is not about caves, but about what happens when the cave comes close enough to the surface to make the surface collapse into the cave, or the acid dissolution of the rock that is making a cave below just comes right to the surface.  

16

October, Paris.  A revisit to four places previously visited, and a visit to five places previously never visited, with background information on the motives for these visits.  One of the visits took me out of Paris to the small town of Maintenon to visit its chateau.  Places not visited previously were: The Chateau de Maintenon, The Catacombs, The Bois de Meudon, the Jewish-Deportation Memorial, and The Saint Eustache Church.  Places previously visited were: Les Halles, the Bois de Boulogne, Sacre Coeur Cathedral, and the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

17

One day in Northern Germany: (1) Introduction  to this day-trip, (2) Bad Fallingbostel, (3) the final resting place of Hermann Löns, (4) Hannover, (5) Köln (Cologne)

18

Carlsbad, New Mexico, where the Pecos River shines!  Just came back from taking pictures of trees in Paris, and trees and rivers in Germany, and then it occurred to me: you have trees at home in Carlsbad too, and a very nice river.  So here are some samples.

19 Paulo Coelho has a new book: Aleph.  This is one of my shorter "reviews," but that means nothing about how well I liked it.   I liked it very much.  More than I liked some of his other books in fact.  My "review," as usual, is more about what the book reminded me of than about the content of the book itself.
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