Somewhere in northern Spain, June 1, 2012 – “What is so rare as a day in June, the poets used to say….” We used to sing that in Ms. Gibbs’ music class in Orlando’s Cherokee Jr. High about 1946 – over 65 years ago! How time flies :-)
Every June, the song – from Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore -- pops to my mind. June is a rare month – not too hot, not too cold, the end of school and the beginning of summer.
In northern Spain it’s not too hot yet – around 90 degrees, cooler in the early mornings, when I like to go for my daily walk while the birds are singing, the bees….whoops! I haven’t seen a bee since I’ve been here. Is Spain, too, being subjected to beelessness – the product, some research suggests, of too many mobile phones whose signals confound the bees’ sense of direction?
But mobile phone users the world around have said they’d rather give up sex than their mobile phones – the bees be damned! So, we have mobile phones, but no bees. How long will vegetable and fruit plants and trees continue to produce without the bees to cross-fertilize them?
How long can this continue? Not to worry; it’s too late now to make any difference, we’ve frittered away our chances to change civilization’s direction, says Dennis Meadows, who co-authored with his wife Donella the historic Limits to Growth in the 1970s, just before my and Wilson Clark’s book Energy for Survival was published. I’m surprised he’s still alive. But hey, I’m still alive, why wouldn’t he be? He is nine years younger than I am! Just goes to show what an old fart I’m getting to be :-)
Meadows is even more pessimistic than he was in the mid-’70s. Civilization has until about 2030 – another 20 years – before, like Wile E. Coyote, we find ourselves having overshot the canyon and go plummeting to…what? Chaos and starvation at least, and class wars and starvation at most, as the 1% privileged use their money and muscle to try to survive against the 99% majority. They will have the tanks and military and police to help them, so they probably will.
The real shocks will begin in about 10 years with not enough food to go around, and the world population will drop to about 4 billion – it’s 7 billion now and projected to be 9 billion by 2050. Meadows says – quite accurately, I think, that we’ll never reach it.
What is so rare as a day in June? Ask again in 2030. It’s enough to make me re-think my plans to live till I’m 100 in 2033. :-)
My only consolation is that I lived at the absolute peak of “civilization” from 1933 to ….? in the richest country in the world. We can tell that to our grandchildren – if we have any left :-)
In the shorter term, I don’t know now when Sasha is coming. After not hearing from him for almost two weeks, and begging him to let me know what was going on, I got a plaintive e-mail on May 23 saying:
My darling Dane, I am ill, and for that reason haven’t written. I am lying in bed.
Oh shit! I hadn’t considered that he might be ill, since I never am. What does he have? Is it serious? Will he be able to come on the 20th of June as we have planned? Poor baby :-( I wrote immediately:
How sad I am to know that you are ill. What with? I hope that you will still be able to come on the 20th of June. How I would love to be with you and kiss you, so that you could get well. I very much hope that it’s not serious so that you can still come on the 20th. But what is important is that you get well, no matter how long it takes.
Write when you feel better. I am very worried about you.
I love you very much, my darling, my sweetness.
I miss you very much
And then on Sunday, May 27, despite knowing that he was probably too ill to make it to the computer, I wrote the following so he would know I’m thinking about him:
Sasha, my Darling,
I was just wondering how you are. I hope you’re better. I love you and miss you very much and worry about you
Write when you’re feeling better
The very next day he replied:
My darling Dane,
I’m still very ill and lying in bed. But I am writing you to say that I love you very much. Don’t worry, everything will be all right!
I kiss you
“Everything will be all right.” How can we know? In the meantime, how I miss him! I wrote immediately:
My darling Sasha,
Thank god, “everything will be all right.” I very much hope so. All the same, I am worried about you :-( When you’re feeling better, write and tell me what you are ill with. I wish I were there to take care of you. Do you have medicine? Is there someone there to take care of you? Poor baby! I love you very much and miss you terribly. Get better!
All my love,
But then I got an e-mail saying former Moscow student, beautiful Max, is coming!! :-) Waiting for me the morning of May 30 was his e-mail:
Today I will buy tickets and give you full information. From you I need some kind of invitation, if it possible send it to me, if not I hope it won't be a big problem.
Anyway I need your address so that I may fulfill the entrance documents and reply the questions of customs officer.
First I needed to send Sasha an e-mail telling him to come after the 24th if he hasn’t already bought the ticket, and I’m sure he hasn’t because he’s been in bed:
My beloved Sasha,
I just received an e-mail from my former student, Maxim, and he says that he is coming from the 10th to the 24th of June. So, if you haven’t already bought your ticket, can you come after the 24th? If you have already bought it, that’s okay. He can sleep in a hotel.
Are you feeling better, my beloved? I hope so. Write me when you can.
I love you and miss you,
Your loving Dane
I hadn’t heard anything from Maxim for several weeks, and was prepared psychologically either way. But I’m glad he’s coming. I noticed he started it the way most Russians do. I answered and gave him my address and used “dear” to set a good example:
Can I send you the invitation by e-mail? You didn't tell me if your friend Anzor from Chechnya is coming with you.
If I can send you the invitation by e-mail, here it is:
“Hello, Maxim, can you please come to visit me in Spain from June 10 to June 24, 2012? I would love it if you could come visit me.
Let me know if you need anything else.
I hope you can come :-)
P.S. I can send you an invitation by regular mail, but Russian mail is very slow. Let me know if you want this.
So he immediately answered:
Could you please type this invitation in MS Word. Than scan and send it to me. If it is possible send it by mail post, no matter how long it goes, if it comes fine, if not I will print the scan copy. Don't forget sign the invitation with pen.
Write me your mobile phone in order we may find each other in Barajas Airport.
So it's less than one and a half weeks we will meet each other if everything will be fine.
Oh, shit! I don’t know what he means by all this gibberish. So I wrote again:
I don't know what you mean by "type this invitation in MS word then scan and send it to me." Remember, I'm computer illiterate :-( Why can't I send you an invitation by e-mail, then you print it out?
Also, honey, you didn't give me your airline and flight number.
Also, I need your mailing address in Moscow so I can send a mail copy.
I hope all this works, ’cause I really want to see you :-)
So nothing to do now but wait and see. The 10th of June!
I’m a little nervous about Max coming. I had decided a long time ago to put the moves on him if he came by himself. But then I got the e-mails from Sasha saying he loved me very much. Also I don’t know if putting the moves on Max would freak him out – he’s a devout Russian Orthdoxer.
The Russian Orthdoxers, like the American evangelicals, think that homosexuality is a mortal sin; on the other hand, 65% of young Russians have said they’d give homosexuality a whirl, the Russian Orthdox Church notwithstanding.
And he didn’t object to my hands roaming his inner thigh when he was a private student in Moscow. What to do? I think I’ll be guided by developments after he comes – er, arrives :-) Let’s hope he does.
A couple of years ago, at Druzhka’s suggestion, I submitted my name, e-mail address and phone number to a local gay Internet site. When I got no response, I forgot all about it. Imagine my surprise to find the following in my mail box:
Hello, Dane, my name is Carlos. I am a gay boy. I would like to meet you. I am 20 years old and attractive. I am a student at the university.
An “attractive” 20-year-old university student! Just what the doctor ordered :-) But where did he get my name if only Druzhka and his former boyfriend know that I am gay? I answered him:
Hello, Carlos, how are you? I would also like to meet you. As you probably know, I am not young and cute :-( but I am very nice. I would like very much to meet you. I don’t speak Spanish perfectly, but I think we can communicate :-)
Where can we meet? I suggest the “Wok” café on Rua Concordia between Rua de Paseo and Rua de Santo Domingo. I live in El Couto neighborhood, which is not far from Rua Concordia. We can talk, and if we want, we can come to my apartment in El Couto. I will be happy to meet you and learn more about you :-)
I am retired, so I have a lot of free time. If you want, we can meet today, Sunday. It depends on you. Or would you rather meet another day?
The Wok café is where my Spanish teacher and I meet twice a week. The cafés here, unlike the cafés in the U.S., don’t mind at all if you come in, buy a café con leche for a euro ($ 1.25) and spend an hour studying or reading the newspaper or gossiping. They’re happy to get your business!
Oh, and they don’t take tips :-)
The Wok is one of the few places I know that I could direct him to. Anyway, he wrote:
Hello, Dane, thanks very much for answering. Do you like the pollas (cocks) of cute boys? :-)
You have to be careful in your choice of words. “Pollo” is chicken and used a lot in grocery stores; “polla” means cock and used in gay e-mails and not in grocery stores :-) Anyway, now that he was down to brass tacks:
Yes, Carlos, I love to suck the pollas of cute boys. Can I suck yours? :-) I hope so :-)
Having gotten that out of the way :-) he replied:
Great! Do you know me? Do you know who I am?
I hadn’t the faintest idea! So I wrote:
Unfortunately, I don’t remember you. Do you know me? From where? Who exactly are you? Forgive me, please, for not remembering you.
He solved the mystery:
No, I don’t know you. I saw your profile on the Internet. There is your e-mail and your telephone number.
Aha! Maybe registering on the gay Internet is going to pay off after all :-) Carlos continued:
I like older guys like you very much. I would like very much to meet you. But I have a problem. My mother suspects that I am gay and therefore she is very angry. But I want to be gay! But she says this is bad. I am very sad because my mother doesn’t understand me…
Oh, shit! I never had to contend with hand-wringing mothers in Moscow, because all the boys I knew and had sex with there were run-aways. But he has a real problem. I wrote:
Thanks for answering. I know that it must be very difficult for you. But I don’t know what I can do. I would like very much to meet you and talk with you.
What I told my friends and family in the U.S. is that “God made me gay and He doesn’t make mistakes. I am what I am. I didn’t choose to be gay and I can’t change it. I am as intelligent, nice, and kind as I would be if I weren’t gay, maybe even more-so. If you love me, you should love me as I am. I can’t change.”
I don’t know if she will change her opinion, but she should be able to understand. The truth is, that if you are gay, you didn’t choose it. You were born that way, and you can’t change. I think that your mother loves you, and she should accept you as you are.
I hope that we can meet.
Good luck, my dear,
I should explain that when I’m dealing with true believers, I try to use their language. Although I’m probably at least an agnostic and maybe even atheist – I certainly don’t believe in the “god” that most people do when they use the word -- I use religious terms when I am talking with religious people.
What I really believe is that I was born gay, not that god made me gay. But as I say, when in Rome….
When I didn’t hear anything more for several days, I wrote again:
Hello, Carlos, you suddenly quit writing. Why?
He answered immediately; Mom again!
It’s because I have a problem with my mother. Can you talk to her and explain why being gay is not bad?
Oh, shit! No, I can’t. I don’t want to get mixed up in family quarrels and certainly not as an American teacher in the middle of a Spanish family free-for-all over gays :-):
I’m afraid that I can’t speak Spanish well enough and rapidly enough to have this kind of conversation :-(
Maybe you can tell her that the president of the U.S. last week said that he supported gay marriage. And tell her that it is not a choice; that you were born gay and it is impossible, IMPOSSIBLE, to change. And if she loves you (and I’m sure she does) she should love you whether you are gay or not.
Forgive me for not talking to her. It’s just that I can’t speak Spanish well enough. For this reason, she would win the argument :-(
Good luck, my dear, good luck! Please tell me what she says.
Your friend, Dane
I got an immediate reply:
Thank you very much, my dear
It’s the first time he’s used a term of endearment. Maybe I’m making progress :-)
I am going to try, then I will tell you what happens :-)))
And then a couple of days later I heard from him again:
Hello, Dane, how are you? Thanks very much for your support. And you, you live in el Couto? Do you know Elvira?
Holy shit! This is a very small town. My landlady and Spanish teacher’s name is Elvira. Could he be referring to the same Elvira?
What is Elvira’s last name? I know one person named Elvira.
You understand, nobody here knows that I am gay, so please, don’t tell anyone.
The last day of the month I got the following from him:
I don’’t know Elvira, but my mother has a friend named Elvira. So I have no idea what her last name is. But my mother says she is a teacher. It’s okay, I’m not going to tell anyone that you are gay, don’t worry.
How are you?
It’s the same Elvira. She’s an English teacher in the local schools, but doesn’t speak a word of English! She’s a good example of the deplorable state of English pedagogy here in Spain. But unlike in Russia, English isn’t necessary to get ahead in the business world, so there’s not the demand for it that there was in Russia. Anyway, since it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie, I didn’t mention her in my response. At least he’s not going to tell anybody; that’s a relief. I wrote back:
Hello, Carlos, how are you?
Thanks for not telling anybody I’m gay :-)
What university are you studying in? Is it here in this town? When do your classes end?
We’ll see what happens next!
And then there’s my problem child Igor in Moldova. Right after my last column, he wrote and asked me for 450 euros – almost $ 600 – for the driver’s license course in heavy duty truck driving. I told him I just didn’t have the money. Maybe I could send him some later. He wrote back:
Hello, my dear Dane! It’s too bad that you don’t have the money for the license :-( :-( :-( Later it will be too late. A group is starting now. The next may be two or three years :-( It is a serious company. People go from there to countries with big Kamazes (a Russian heavy duty truck) – to Spain, to Germany, to Bulgaria, etc. They make a Bulgarian passport and the pay is $ 1,000 a month and sometimes more…It’s a shame that it won’t happen.
Excuse me for not writing. I don’t have money for the Internet, or for the telephone. It’s very hard for me here, Dane :-( Thanks for helping me. If it weren’t for you, I probably would have died or killed myself a long time ago. Thanks, Dane, for helping me.
I love you, miss you terribly. I am sad :-( I kiss you. ’bye. Your Igor
I wrote in reply:
Yes, it is a shame that I don’t have money :-( I am very, very sorry. :-( I’m very disappointed that it will be two or three years before the course will again be offered. Honey, next Wednesday, the 9th of May, I will send you $ 100. Maybe it will help a little.
I love you very much. Don’t be sad, my dear. Things will get better.
I love you and miss you,
He is quite persistent. A few day later I received the following;
Hello, my dear Dane!
I beg of you; if you can, help me. Send 250-300 euros, better 300, but maybe 250, so that I can study,,,the rest I will try try to come to agreement on so that I can start studying,,,.I need this profession really badly….it exactly fits my health!
I will return to you everything that you send me…I beg of you……You help me very much, thank you, I am deeply indebted to you! But maybe in life I can help you somehow. I am ready to look after you when you are in poor health. You can always live with me! I hope you will be able to help! I miss you
I await an answer. I love you, kiss you, ‘bye!
Oh, dear. Maybe I can squeeze out 300 euros – certainly not 450 :-(
Hello, my dear Igor,
I think I can send 300 euros, but maybe it will be Thursday or Friday. I know that it is very important for you to take this course, and I very much want you to have a good profession. MAYBE later I can send you more. MAYBE. And maybe later you can help me ;-)
I love you, and wish you the very best.
A few days later I got another e-mail from him thanking me for the money and telling me that he had registered in the course. I wrote:
Hello, my dear Igor,
How happy I am that you got the money and signed up for the course. Good luck, honey.
Write when you can
And then a few days later, I got the following:
I enrolled to study, everything’s OK. Only there’s no money for the road I want to rent an apartment or place to live, and the first month, I have to eat…you couldn’t send me $ 200 for renting an apartment and eating?
Also we have a problem. Dennis is in the hospital He has something wrong with his lungs, and a weak immune system He also needs money. They say that if he doesn’t get medicine, that he will die There is no money If you can, Dane, send $ 200. I will be working in the city where I am studying! Then I hope I will have money.
Help me in the beginning in order to begin to live, so that I can have a profession, then I will pay back everything! I love you like a member of the family, thank you for helping me! I very much want to see you! I love you, kiss you, miss you! ‘bye! I await an answer!
Oh god! I wrote:
Hello, my dear Igor,
Unfortunately, I have already sent you all the money I have in order for you to enroll in the course. You didn’t tell me that you would need more, and now I simply don’t have any. If you remember, first you asked me for 450 euros. I told you I didn’t have it. And then you asked me for 300. I sent it, but I don’t have any more. I know that it is very important, but I simply don’t have any more.
I am very sorry, that Denis is in the hospital. I wish that I could send him money, but I don’t have any. I will have a little bit only on the 13th of June, but now I don’t have any. I have already sent you all I have. I can’t even pay all my bills this month :-(
I’m very sorry, but I just don’t have it.
And then a mea culpa e-mail from him:
Hello. My dear Dane! I’m very sorry L Forgive me for everything, Dane.
Just now I am in a very difficult period. L I don’t have a profession, no work and I am ill. And my wife threw me away. It’s hard. Not nice. I am very sad L
Do you forgive me for everything? I love you very much, miss you. ‘bye. Await an answer
I have a little extra, but I need to save that for emergencies. I could only write:
My dear Igor,
I too am very, very sorry. I know that you need the money, but I just don’t have it now. There is nothing to forgive, my dear; forgive me, because I don’t have money :-(
I very much want you to have a profession; I very much want you to work, but only on the 13th of June can I send you money. Please, don’t be sad. Please continue studying, please.
I love you,
A week later, I got another letter:
Hello, my dear Dane! How are you, how’s your health? How are you feeling? I am still studying, the theory is hard, but the practice, easy.
Dane, I have a big favor to ask. Can you send $ 100 tomorrow? Denis is in the hospital; for 15 days his temperature hasn’t gone down :-( It is a problem with his lymph nodes. He badly needs an operation; we sent him a little money, but it’s not enough :-( I beg of you, if you can, my dear.
Dane. I hope that you can help! I love you, kiss you, miss you. ’bye.
When Denis was fucking around with heroin in Moscow, he acquired a case of pre-AIDS syndrome. It sounds like it’s catching up with him. If he has developed a full-blown case of AIDS, I simply don’t have the resources to save him. But I have $ 100 now. So I wrote:
Hello, my dear Igor,
Thank god, you are still studying. I am very sorry that Denis is in the hospital. I can send $ 100 tomorrow, but I don’t have any more :-( I hope that he heals quickly. Tell him hello from me, and that I love him.
Again, we’ll see what happens next. But Maxim and Sasha and my trip to Morocco will take all my money in June and July, so I’m afraid he’s on his own for the next couple of months.
What is so rare as a day in June?
Stop the presses! One final cry of “the sky is falling,” and this time it really is; but the question is, have you heard it enough times that it falls into the “Peter and the Wolf” category and you ignore it? :-)
I just got word that Scarcity – Humanity’s Final Chapter? by Chris Clugston has just been published and is now available from Barnes and Noble. In a note to the readers of the EnergyResources web site, Clugston modestly describes it as “informative and thought provoking, and for many of you, unlike any book that you have ever read.”
William R. Catton Jr., author of Overshoot published in 1982 and described as “one of the most important books of the 20th Century,” praises it lavishly in the book’s foreword:
"Chris Clugston has pulled together such an array of facts about the path ravenous humanity has trod and the consequences we now confront that no person who fails to read this book should be eligible for election to high office."
Of course, that won’t keep people like Mitt Romney – or probably Barack Obama, for that matter – from running.
“It’s a book about humanity’s ‘predicament,’ which can be summarized as follows,’” Catton observes: “the natural resource utilization behavior that enables our current ‘success’ -- our industrialized ‘American’ way of life --and which is essential to perpetuating our success, is simultaneously undermining our very existence as a species.
“Our industrial lifestyle paradigm is enabled by enormous quantities of nonrenewable natural resources (NNRs) -- i.e., the fossil fuels, metals, and nonmetallic minerals that serve as the raw material inputs to our industrialized economies, as the building blocks that comprise our industrialized infrastructure and support systems, and as the primary energy sources that power our industrialized societies.
“Ironically, since the inception of our industrial revolution over 200 years ago, we have been eliminating -- persistently and increasingly -- the finite and non-replenishing NNRs upon which our industrialized way of life and our very existence depend. As a result, most of the earth's NNRs have become permanently scarce -- i.e., there are ‘not enough globally available, economically viable’ NNR supplies to completely address humanity's global NNR requirements going forward.
“Based upon analyses derived from US Geological Survey (USGS) and US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data pertaining to domestic (US) and global NNR demand, supply, pricing, and utilization, Scarcity provides compelling, if not irrefutable, evidence to support this assertion, in addition to enumerating the causes, implications, and consequences associated with our predicament.
Scarcity is essential reading for those who correctly perceive that the world, especially the industrialized ‘Western’ world, is in a state of decline -- decline that cannot possibly be reversed by our incessant barrage of misguided economic and political ‘fixes’. Scarcity will enable you to make sense of a world that is experiencing the most profound paradigm shift in human history.”
So go find the book today. If I weren’t in Spain, I’d gladly buy it and avidly read it to see what’s ahead for us, although I think I know. I think Clugston confirms what Clark and I said in our book 40 years ago. That’s why it’s a great book :-)
This day years ago:
2005-6-3: Chapt. #133 - Khodorkovsky: “Beginning of the end? A lot more cuckoos
2006-6-3: Chapt. #203 - Zhorik’s perfidy revealed; Anti-Americanism growing