Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 6th, 2010

689.  The Red Bishop: Abbot Gregory; (Mar. 5, 2010)


690.  What’s going on in Harlem? (Mar. 6, 2010)


691.  Name written in coffee grind; (Mar. 6, 2010)


692.  Passing away surprised; (Mar. 7, 2010)


693.  You may look older than normal; (Mar. 7, 2010)


694.  Biter-sweet Euro: Before and after Greece; (Mar. 8, 2010)


695.  Part four: “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”; (Mar. 8, 2010)

Part 4. “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”: Toward town of Tannourine ; (Mar. 7, 2010)

Pierre Bared, a middle-aged man, tall, svelte, with graying beard and three children decided to walked alone for 22 days on the wild trails of Mount Lebanon, crossing from the upper northern town of Kobayat to the southern town of Marje3youn  in June 2008.

Pierre ascended a steep and arid mountain; he took a break at 10 am at one of the goat shepherds’ tent.  You think from afar that the shepherds are having a good splendid life of liberty, then you realize the hardship when you enter the tent, see, and hear; especially, the conditions of the children.

From the vantage point on the mountain Pierre could see the cedar trees of the next target town of Tannourine (natural reserve that I had visited two years ago).  Within an hour, Pierre was in the forest of cedars.

A conductor of a 4*4 broke Pierre’s napping under an old tree saying “This is the most beautiful napping that we can dream to have.”  Pierre resumed his walk toward the town of Tannourine Al Fawka (upper). The trip lasted 3 hours since Pierre lingered watching wild flowers on his path.

After visiting a bakery, Pierre napped for an hour in the forest.  He decided to go forward to the village of Balaa; the gas station attendant told Pierre to take the regular road.  He ate and gathered cherries off trees.

Pierre was not lucky in Balaa: a woman refused him taking a shower (she was an urban lady visiting her hometown for the weekend).  He finally located an abandoned house and slept under a chestnut tree.  Pierre’s days are long; he starts pretty early and ends very late: an average of no more than 6 hours sleep.  The next day some people redirect his trajectory: destination Akoura.  The trail is a descent and he accelerates the rhythm; he reaches the town in one hour.

Hassan invites Pierre to sleep in his motel for free.  Pierre enjoys a hot shower and spends the evening on the terrace with Hassan’s friends who turned out to be guides of the region. Pierre declined a walk after supper (Hassan’s friends seem to forget that he has been walking a lot lately).  Hassan’s father had died a couple of years ago as a landmine detonated under his feet, killing him and his two hunting buddies.  Pierre sleeps on a real bad this night.

Akoura counts about 40 churches; the ancient ones were sepulture and were converted to churches. The photographer Alfred arrives at 8 am for a third photo session of planting a cedar tree in the municipal garden.  Alfred then gives Pierre ride to Tannourine for a planting session photo shoot.  At noon, Pierre eats another “mankoush alla saj” and then talk with Hassan’s mother, daughter, and two smaller children.  The 6 years old first refuses to take his tray to the kitchen and then obeyed tears in his eyes as a consequence for his previous stubbornness.  The mother would not like Pierre taking his tray to the kitchen but Pierre knows better by now.

The next target town is Afka.  If Pierre has to escalate the high mountain and then turn around it then he would not reach destination by night fall.  Thus, Pierre is obligated to taking the regular asphalt road.  On the road, he is invited to a glass of raspberry syrup and then another one of cherry as he passes by a cherry orchard.  He arrives at 4 pm in Afka and spends a couple of hours amid women preparing tomorrow meals and men returning from work.  Afka is predominantly of Shiaas and Pierre felt frustrated with the conversation.  The hosts felt more affiliation with Iran than with non-Shiaa Lebanese: the danger in Lebanon is to belonging to a religious sect.

Afka is famous for its grotto and the abandoned Roman Temple dedicated to Venus.  Pierre decided to resume his trip to the village of Lassa. Ninety minutes later he stumbles on goat shepherds; they correct his direction.  The shepherds are not at peace with Pierre presence in the region: they want to know from where he is “Mnein int?

Lassa is still further down in the valley and Pierre spends the night in an abandoned house, the only one on his long path.  By sundown, the Islam Muezzin of Lassa answers another Muezzin: a chain reaction starting from south to north.

Biter-sweet Euro: Before and after Greece; (Mar. 7, 2010)

Before Greece, you have the States of Lithuania, Hungary, and Ireland that suffered the same fate of a prematurely imposed Euro on States of weak economies. There are many articles analyzing the financial crisis in Greece. I thought that I can make sense in a short post for readers eager to know, but would refrain reading lengthy erudite articles.

There are two main factors for Greece financial problems; and there are two resolutions available, equally painful, but one is far better in shortening the pain and healing faster.

First, the common currency Euro forced weaker economies to relinquish their sovereignty over issuing money in time of shrinking economy in order to re-launch the inner trade.

Second, the US financial multinationals before the crash infused too much credit in a small economy that did not correspond to normal credit rating behaviors. This quick infusion of money inflated the sense of economic boom and generated laxity in financial control and management.  Greece is awakening to new demands for harsher financial control and imposition of higher taxes to straighten the budget balance sheet.

The first remedy is inviting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to intervene and infuse $1.7 billion in the Greek coffer to pay the debts due this spring. This would be a bad decision. It is a worse alternative because even the EU is encouraging Greece toward that option. For example:

Lithuania GNP shrank 18% in the first year the IMF intervened with its draconian conditions: jobless rate climbed to 20%, the high level in health, education, and retirement suffered greatly. Actually, retired persons are bleeding and the socialist political parties lost ground.

In Hungary, the IMF intervention made sure that the people suffer and the socialist government be replaced by like-minded anti-socialist government headed by the former minister of economy.

If Greece ends up asking the “help” of the IMF, as the EU wishes too, then the socialist George Papandreou will start packing; a decision that will please Merkle PM of Germany.

Greece with budget deficit reaching 13% of GNP and growing, has a reasonable solution out of this mess if it wants to avoid 10 years of suffering and humiliation. Until the EU comes up with a financial recovery plan, Greece should revert to its national currency the drachma. Greece should regain its sovereignty in issuing money in this difficult period: Internal and external trades should not be hampered for lack of liquidity.

Since Greece imports amount to only 20% of its GNP, then better competitive drachma should enhance exports and reduce the loan deficit. With the already strict financial control in place, Greece will be able to shorten the period of its pain.  The EU will accept Greece currency to revert to the Euro in due time in order not to let other Euro member States to follow Greece decision.

Greece should learn how Argentina recovered.  After four years insisting of keeping the currency linked to the dollar, Argentina economy faltered entirely.  Argentina decided to float its currency and it devalued accordingly. Argentina was able to default on $100 billion of foreign loans. The government insured that bank deposits of consumers keep the same purchasing power by regular re-evaluation and re-fixing of the national currency.  People living in their own properties enjoyed the same financial facility at the rate of pre-devaluation.  Within a single semester, Argentina economy was back to normal and going strong.

Greece has choices: either the IMF intervention accompanied by ten years of suffering or reverting to the drachma until the economy is back to normal within a couple of semester.

Note 1:  I suggested in several articles that an internal Euro currency, Euro B, be created for European internal markets. In this case, smaller economies could issue Euro B to keeping liquidity available for their internal market. As the internal economy is functioning and creating jobs, harsh cuts in social budgets will be reduced.

Note 2: Spain, Portugal, and lately Italy have been experiencing bad economical and financial downturns.  If the “Euro B” was adopted, and the current Euro used for just exporting goods and dealing with foreign markets, this Euro would have been in better shape and more immune to currency exchange deals, mostly dominated by the US financial policies.

You may look older than normal; (Mar. 7, 2010)    

Seven percent (7%) of us will look older than others of the same age. Researchers at the University of Leicester and King’s College diagnosed 3,000 participants in the experiment. There are “telomeres” of certain length attached at the end of chromosomes: the faster the telomere shortens the older you look compared to same age people.

A person with genetic variation near the gene TERC that has the function of regenerating the length of telomere with the help of the enzyme telomerase may be deficient. This deficiency is worsened if the person is a smoker, obese, and lacks physical exercises.

I have at least two questions:

1. Does that mean that if we are not deficient in enzyme telomerase,  smokers, obese persons, and those lacks physical exercises can go on without looking older than expected, at any age?

2. Or it means that enzyme telomerase is affected by smoking, fat, and physical laziness, and might drop the towel if we insist on resuming bad behaviors?

It is these kinds of questions that researchers should factor-in in their experimental design so that practical conclusions can be drawn.

Passing away surprised; (Mar. 7, 2010)

Shadow of death never fluttered in his mind

Shadows are not meant to scare but to cool

Lucky is he

Who passes away surprised.

I have a friend who mocked death grandly.

Many of his dear friends died still young

New friends are friends with no names:

Vivid memory revolves around good old days.

My old friend had a stroke lately.

I learned to pray morning and night.

I pray for his relief the sooner.

Life is not worth living any longer

If he cannot talk no more

I have an old friend.

Proud and generous souls should be graced

To pass away surpringly stunned.

Name written in coffee grind; (Mar. 6, 2010)

Soothsayer saw something in the bottom of my empty coffee cup;

Something was written.

She read the name of my love in the coffee grind.

It was inevitable.

It is rational:

I sing her name sipping

Off the lip of my coffee cup.




March 2010

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