Ensenada Vendor Eviction


Bajadock: sounds like the street vendors won’t be eliminated, but, they will be regulated.   What will that mean in practice?  Careful, Image Committee,  if you try to make First Street(aka Lopez Mateos) look like Rodeo Drive.  Maybe I am in the minority.   But, part of the charm of Ensenada is the street vendor scene.  What will happen to the Super Viagra mascot?  “One man’s trash…”

FronteraEnsenada.info

Effective August 1 business establishment on First Street may not offer their products on sidewalks, in addition to street vendors must remove their vehicles from them.

Upon integration Committee Image and Improving Urban, this was one of the topics discusses, so it was agreed to remove the products of the street.   President of the Merchants Association Bouquet Tourist, Amador Arteaga Sahagun said that 31 July will be the last day traders to set up their stalls in the street.  “We know that sidewalk sale was initiated in 2009 by the crisis that hit us and withdrawal of the ships, but, it is a good time because the passage of people on them is complicated, plus it generated unwanted for the area image.

Arteaga Sahagun recognized that for many years this condition is abused, seeking cope with peddling and also try to increase sales.  July 31 everyone will put their merchandise and August 1 will not get anything, but, what is gained to Ensenada is the nearly 200 vendors of First Street that should be regularized”, he said.

Thus each of the persons exercising hawking, you must carry identification and a vest that will provide the Chamber of Commerce.  Which aims to eradicate informal trade and unfair competition for area merchants.

Mexico Wine Tax


Reporte Indigo July 2014  thanks, A.C. for this one:

The Mexican wine gains prestige at international level, but his industry is subject to a tax system that moves at a disadvantage compared with other countries.

The power of wine, beyond revitalizing therapies and holiday cheer, it is also an engine of growth when properly cultivated.

Baja California, a state ravaged by the violence of the drug war, has managed to change its image in recent years through the wine industry.

Earlier, speaking region involved addressing issues of insecurity and gave the impression that Tijuana was the only city of the place. Today California is the national benchmark for wine production.

Located northeast of the city of Ensenada, the wine region of Valle de Guadalupe each year catches the attention of most wine lovers.

In addition, the restaurant business and the increase of tourists going to the very crops have transformed the area in a few years.

Last week, the newspaper The Wall Street Journal reported that the Valle de Guadalupe has the potential to become the new Napa Valley, in the State of California known for its high quality wines.

However, instead of government interested in supporting the industry and revive the economy of the area, seems stubbornly become its anchor and eventual executioner.

Wine production in Mexico has one of the highest tax burdens internationally.

Servicio de Administracion Tributaria(SAT) is the IRS of Mexico

This is a pyramid scheme that adds the tax Value Added Tax (VAT) of 16 percent and a Special Tax on Production and Services (IEPS) of 25 percent.

According to analysts, CHARGES drink can reach 45 percent once they realize the bills.

In comparison, the wine in the European Union is considered a food supplement that is imposed an excise duty of 1 to 3, or even has a zero VAT rate and pay only.

But the Mexican government antagonizes the wine with the excuse that he is an alcoholic beverage, any intoxicating assuming should be treated equally.

This policy leads to the absurdity that, even with import costs, it is cheaper to buy a bottle of Mexican wine in the U.S. or Europe than in the country.

Growth Industry

Although the production and demand for wine in Mexico has grown steadily in recent years, it is still a developing industry that needs help to grow.

The latest data published by the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade asserts that since 2000 the demand for wine has grown at an average rate of 12 percent.

The problem is that much of this growth is exploited only by foreigners, since 75 percent of the wine consumed is imported.

Spain, which is the largest supplier of wines to Mexico, with about 30 percent share of imports has a zero rate of excise tax on alcoholic beverages for wine, so only have to pay VAT.

Mexico consumes about 600 milliliters of wine per capita, while in places like Spain, Italy or France consumption reaches 28 liters per capita per year.

However, experts expect that wine consumption in Mexico will continue on a growth of 13 percent annually for the next few years.

The profile of the consumer, the Mexicans who drink wine are middle-aged men with high and high socioeconomic status, although recently focused on niche markets have emerged younger consumers.

According to estimates by the National Association of Vitivincultores of Mexico, about 2 million Mexicans consume wine regularly, and only 15 percent of them drink wine daily.

Based on consumption statistics from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, spending on alcoholic beverages and snuff is postulated to increase by 19.2 percent between 2010 and 2015.

These figures show how the wine industry is at a turning point. Depend on the government if you fail to drive the business and create a new flag of national pride or buried in discretionary charges.

La Bufadora Merchant Cloud


labufblowhole

by tourism editor, Juan Dubi

The La Bufadora ejido landowners, merchants, federal and local governments have reached an agreement to solve the land dispute.  La Bufadora will become a national ecological park featuring medical marijuana sales, marijuana food & accessory shops and local artists.

Ensenada.net story on La Bufadora land dispute.

La Bufadora, translation “The Blowhole”, currently has a 400 meter gauntlet of shops hawking souvenirs, most of which are made in China.  The row of shops leads visitors down to the platform overlooking the water geyser.

“We are satisfied such that none of the shop owners to lose jobs vital or protect the land ownership rights due the Ejido.  Now, all have share in increased visit tourists that see the marijuana cloud largest in the world.”, said spokesperson Juanita Hierba.

The natural water geyser at La Bufadora, gushing to heights nearing 100 feet, is powered by waves pressured in the rocks below the tourist site.  The height of the marijuana cloud could double or triple the water geyser height.

Two major hotel companies are also in discussion with the landowners to build a major eco resort and spa.  Government leaders are also in discussion about assisting the nearby Tiger Woods Punta Brava golf resort toward completion.

Paper or Plastic Ensenada?


ensparallevar
Bajadock:  Paper or Plastic(Papel o Plastico)?  Ensenada comida para llevar por favor?  We’ll see if Nada town can survive another challenge, water shortage/outage,  to its business and tourist success.  The tax increase to 15%, border waits, recession, Scenic Road collapse, crime and threats to close the cheezee shops at La Bufadora have not helped.  This water shortage seems under-reported to me.
Today’s hike around La Bufadora spotted plenty of turistas and carros with the parking lots at approx 50% full at 2PM on a Sunday.
The GREAT NEWS, is that a taco or ceviche don’t really go well with leaded crystal, white table cloths and sterling.  Paper or Plastic?  Never leave home without your Baja BUG OUT BAG: Cooler with ice, beverages of choice, cork screw, other utensils and toilet paper.
The cuts also affect water bars and restaurants in the downtown area, where last Friday there was no supply throughout the day, a situation that led to the closure of several businesses and serve the rest in disposable dishes.
From 8:00 pm there was no water supply in most of the first frame of the city, which will hurt the local that do not have water tank. 
Managers, chefs and restaurant employees expressed anger because they believe in serving dishes and cups does not match what people offer and pay nothing for it, so that there is churn. 
The staff of the cafes operating in the tourist area said they did not affect them much in disposable serving coffee, tea or other drinks, but meals like sandwiches, soups, desserts, wine and snacks while in bars stopped using jars and glass cups.
VP regard north of the National Chamber of Industry and Spicy Food Restaurants (Canirac) area Travesí Bosh Carlos Garcia, said Ensenada is about to go on alert for lack of water. 
“What will we do when there is no water in short, is not only dishwashing, but the general hygiene, it will soon be impossible to receive tourists or locals if the bathrooms are dirty,” questioned. 
The restaurateur said that the situation is grave, because in addition to the economic damage that has been generated by the collapse of the Tijuana-Ensenada Scenic Road, now must face water shortages.
“Already are several years since the Business Coordinating Council by the GIA (Interdisciplinary Group Water), said this problem and has delivered several studies that determined the water shortage scenario would worsen between 2013 and 2014,” noted the employer. 
Grief and shame
García-Travesí Bosh is considered a state of grief and shame that has grown, where the three levels (federal, state and municipal) have failed in giving concrete solutions, as they have been asked in meetings, boards and forums where the issue was discussed.
They are also concerned, he added that the lack of water that is generated infections lead to sanctions by the verifiers trade and restaurant sector, partly because it’s what they should meet for obvious issues.
“We are at a point where demand exceeds supply in water and the economic situation has not allowed pay other systems to have the service, which is partly for having confidence that would not reach such a shortage,” he concluded. 
Consequences
- From 8:00 pm on Friday, July 18, the water stopped supplies in much of the city center, including the tourist area, which affected at least 15 local
- They had to serve dishes, glasses or disposable cups

Ocean Lovers


hoodmed

Bajadock: Thanks RON!  OK, this article is longer than your normal People Mag 60 seconds of attention gig.  Hey, it’s Sunday.  Slow down.  Relax. Dig your toes in the sand with your morning coffee and soak up the tranquility.

Water was my major draw when I considered moving from the desert of Denver, Colorado.  Most of my vacations when working were around water.  Without the usual albatrosses of job, house money pit and more, why not live in an ideal spot?  Part research, part logic and part luck landed me in Ensenada, Baja California.  Your mileage may vary.  

Above photo is my neighborhood, “Colonia Puerto Escondido”, 75 miles south of the San Diego airport.  No, we don’t have an airstrip, ecopark, line dancing classes(apologies to some locals), golf course(despite Eldrick’s still-on-the-drawing-board Punta Brava), shuffle board, bocce ball, swimming pool or covenants.  But, we do have some steep hills that will positively kick your bunz .  I have “a friend”  to serve as your screaming thigh burning tour guide on these hills.  

by Wallace J. Nichols/Salon

I’m standing on a pier at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, fifty feet above the Atlantic. To the left and right, forward, back, and below, all I can see is ocean. I’m wearing a light blue hat that looks like a bejeweled swim cap, and a heavy black cable snakes down my back like a ponytail. Even though I look like an extra from an Esther Williams movie who wandered into Woody Allen’s Sleeper by mistake, in truth I’m a human lab rat, here to measure my brain’s response to the ocean.

The cap is the nerve center of a mobile electroencephalogram (EEG) unit, invented by Dr. Stephen Sands, biomedical science expert and chief science officer of Sands Research. Steve’s a big, burly, balding guy of the sort that could be mistaken for the local high school science teacher who’s also the football coach, or perhaps the captain of one of the deep-sea fishing boats that call the Outer Banks home. An El Paso (a city on the San Antonio River) resident by way of Long Beach, California, and Houston, Texas, Steve spent years in academia as a professor, using brain imaging to research Alzheimer’s disease. In 1998 he established Neuroscan, which became the largest supplier of EEG equipment and software for use in neurological research. In 2008 Steve founded Sands Research, a company that does neuromarketing, a new field using behavioral and neurophysiological data to track the brain’s response to advertising. “People’s responses to any kind of stimulus, including advertising, include conscious activity—things we can verbalize—and subconscious activity,” he once wrote. “But the subconscious responses can’t be tracked through traditional market research methods.” When groups of neurons are activated in the brain by any kind of stimulus — a picture, a sound, a smell, touch, taste, pain, pleasure, or emotion—a small electrical charge is generated, which indicates that neurological functions such as memory, attention, language processing, and emotion are taking place in the cortex. By scrutinizing where those electrical charges occur in the brain, Steve’s sixty-eight-channel, full-spectrum EEG machine can measure everything from overall engagement to cognition, attention, the level of visual or auditory stimulation, whether the subject’s motor skills are involved, and how well the recognition and memory circuits are being stimulated. “When you combine EEG scans with eyemovement tracking, you get unique, entirely nonverbal data on how someone is processing the media or the real-world environment, moment by moment,” Steve says.

Given current perplexity about the value of promotional efforts, Steve’s data are increasingly sought after. Sands Research does advertising impact studies for some of the largest corporations in the world; it’s perhaps best known for an “Annual Super Bowl Ad Neuro Ranking,” which evaluates viewers’ neurological responses to those $3.8-million-per-thirty-second spots. (Among those that Steve’s team measured were the well known ads that featured people sitting on a beach, backs to the camera as they gazed at white sand and blue water, Corona beers on the table between them, and only the lapping of the sea as a soundtrack. That campaign made the brewer famous, forever associated with tropical ocean leisure.)

In the months prior to my trip to the Outer Banks, I’d been contacted by Sands Research’s director of business development, Brett Fitzgerald. Brett’s an “outside” kind of guy with a history of working with bears in Montana. He’d heard about my work combining water science with neuroscience and contacted me to see if we could do some sort of project together. Before I knew it, he was on a plane to California, and we met along the coast north of my home to talk “brain on ocean.” Not long after, I was on a plane heading to North Carolina.

Today Brett has fitted me with a version of the Sands Research EEG scanning apparatus that can detect human brain activity with the same level of precision as an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). The data from the electrodes in this ornamented swim cap are sampled 256 times per second and, when amplified for analysis, will allow neuroscientists to see in real time which areas of the brain are being stimulated. Typically such data are used to track shoppers’ responses in stores like Walmart as they stop to look at new products on a shelf. In this case, however, the sixty-eight electrodes plugged into the cap on my head are for measuring my every neurological up and down as I plunge into the ocean. It’s the first time equipment like this has been considered for use at (or in) the water, and I’m a little anxious about both the current incompatibility (no pun intended) between the technology and the ocean, but also about what we might learn. So is Brett—the cap and accompanying scanning device aren’t cheap. In the future such a kit will be made waterproof and used underwater, or while someone is surfing. But for today, we’re just hoping that neither the equipment nor I will be the worse for wear after our testing and scheming at the salt-sprayed pier.

It’s only recently that technology has enabled us to delve into the depths of the human brain and into the depths of the ocean. With those advancements our ability to study and understand the human mind has expanded to include a stream of new ideas about perception, emotions, empathy, creativity, health and healing, and our relationship with water. Several years ago I came up with a name for this human–water connection: Blue Mind, a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. It is inspired by water and elements associated with water, from the color blue to the words we use to describe the sensations associated with immersion. It takes advantage of neurological connections formed over millennia, many such brain patterns and preferences being discovered only now, thanks to innovative scientists and cutting-edge technology.

In recent years, the notion of “mindfulness” has edged closer and closer to the mainstream. What was once thought of as a fringe quest for Eastern vacancy has now been recognized as having widespread benefits. Today the search for the sort of focus and awareness that characterizes Blue Mind extends from the classroom to the boardroom to the battlefield, from the doctor’s office to the concert hall to the world’s shorelines. The stress produced in our overwhelmed lives makes that search more urgent.

Water’s amazing influence does not mean that it displaces other concerted efforts to reach a mindful state; rather, it adds to, enhances, and expands. Yet this book is not a field guide to meditation, nor a detailed examination of other means toward a more mindful existence. To use a water-based metaphor, it offers you a compass, a craft, some sails, and a wind chart. In an age when we’re anchored by stress, technology, exile from the natural world, professional suffocation, personal anxiety, and hospital bills, and at a loss for true privacy, casting off is wonderful. Indeed, John Jerome wrote in his book “Blue Rooms” that “the thing about the ritual morning plunge, the entry into water that provides the small existential moment, is its total privacy. Swimming is between me and the water, nothing else. The moment the water encloses me, I am, gratefully, alone.” Open your Blue Mind and the ports of call will become visible.

To properly navigate these depths, over the past several years I’ve brought together an eclectic group of scientists, psychologists, researchers, educators, athletes, explorers, businesspeople, and artists to consider a fundamental question: what happens when our most complex organ—the brain— meets the planet’s largest feature — water?

As a marine biologist as familiar with the water as I am with land, I believe that oceans, lakes, rivers, pools, even fountains can irresistibly affect our minds. Reflexively we know this: there’s a good reason why Corona chose a beach and not, say, a stockyard. And there are logical explanations for our tendency to go to the water’s edge for some of the most significant moments of our lives. But why?

I look out from the pier at the vast Atlantic and imagine all the ways that the sight, sound, and smell of the water are influencing my brain. I take a moment to notice the feelings that are arising. For some, I know, the ocean creates fear and stress; but for me it produces awe and a profound, immersive, and invigorating peace. I take a deep breath and imagine the leap, cables trailing behind me as I plunge into the waves surging around the pier. The EEG readings would reflect both my fear and exhilaration as I hit the water feet first. I imagine Dr. Sands peering at a monitor as data come streaming in.

Water fills the light, the sound, the air — and my mind.

Our (Evolving) Relationship to Water

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.
— W. H. Auden 

There’s something about water that draws and fascinates us. No wonder: it’s the most omnipresent substance on Earth and, along with air, the primary ingredient for supporting life as we know it. For starters, ocean plankton provides more than half of our planet’s oxygen. There are approximately 332.5 million cubic miles of water on Earth—96 percent of it saline. (A cubic mile of water contains more than 1.1 trillion gallons.) Water covers more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface; 95 percent of those waters have yet to be explored.

From one million miles away our planet resembles a small blue marble; from one hundred million miles it’s a tiny, pale blue dot. “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean,” author Arthur C. Clarke once astutely commented.

That simple blue marble metaphor is a powerful reminder that ours is an aqueous planet. “Water is the sine qua non of life and seems to be all over the universe and so it’s reasonable for NASA to use a ‘follow the water’ strategy as a first cut or shorthand in our quest to locate other life in the universe,” Lynn Rothschild, an astrobiologist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, told me. “While it may not be the only solvent for life, it certainly makes a great one since it is abundant, it’s liquid over a broad temperature range, it floats when solid, allowing for ice-covered lakes and moons, and it’s what we use here on Earth.”

Whether searching the universe or roaming here at home humans have always sought to be by or near water. It’s estimated that 80 percent of the world’s population lives within sixty miles of the coastline of an ocean, lake, or river. Over half a billion people owe their livelihoods directly to water, and two-thirds of the global economy is derived from activities that involve water in some form. Approximately a billion people worldwide rely primarily on water-based sources for protein. (It’s very possible that increased consumption of omega-3 oils from eating fish and shellfish played a crucial role in the evolution of the human brain. And, as we’ll discuss later in the book, the seafood market is now global in a manner that could never have been imagined even a few decades ago.) We use water for drinking, cleansing, working, recreating, and traveling. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, each person in the United States uses eighty to one hundred gallons of water every day for what we consider our “basic needs.” In 2010 the General Assembly of the United Nations declared, “Safe and clean drinking water is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life.”

Our innate relationship to water goes far deeper than economics, food, or proximity, however. Our ancient ancestors came out of the water and evolved from swimming to crawling to walking. Human fetuses still have “gill-slit” structures in their early stages of development, and we spend our first nine months of life immersed in the “watery” environment of our mother’s womb. When we’re born, our bodies are approximately 78 percent water. As we age, that number drops to below 60 percent — but the brain continues to be made of 80 percent water. The human body as a whole is almost the same density as water, which allows us to float. In its mineral composition, the water in our cells is comparable to that found in the sea. Science writer Loren Eiseley once described human beings as “a way that water has of going about, beyond the reach of rivers.”

We are inspired by water — hearing it, smelling it in the air, playing in it, walking next to it, painting it, surfing, swimming or fishing in it, writing about it, photographing it, and creating lasting memories along its edge. Indeed, throughout history, you see our deep connection to water described in art, literature, and poetry. “In the water I am beautiful,” admitted Kurt Vonnegut. Water can give us energy, whether it’s hydraulic, hydration, the tonic effect of cold water splashed on the face, or the mental refreshment that comes from the gentle, rhythmic sensation of hearing waves lapping a shore. Immersion in warm water has been used for millennia to restore the body as well as the mind. Water drives many of our decisions — from the seafood we eat, to our most romantic moments, and from where we live, to the sports we enjoy, and the ways we vacation and relax. “Water is something that humanity has cherished since the beginning of history, and it means something different to everyone,” writes archeologist Brian Fagan. We know instinctively that being by water makes us healthier, happier, reduces stress, and brings us peace.

In 1984 Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard University biologist, naturalist, and entomologist, coined the term “biophilia” to describe his hypothesis that humans have “ingrained” in our genes an instinctive bond with nature and the living organisms we share our planet with. He theorized that because we have spent most of our evolutionary history—three million years and 100,000 generations or more — in nature (before we started forming communities or building cities), we have an innate love of natural settings. Like a child depends upon its mother, humans have always depended upon nature for our survival. And just as we intuitively love our mothers, we are linked to nature physically, cognitively, and emotionally.

You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.
— Alan Watts

This preference for our mother nature has a profound aesthetic impact. The late Denis Dutton, a philosopher who focused on the intersection of art and evolution, believed that what we consider “beautiful” is a result of our ingrained linkage to the kind of natural landscape that ensured our survival as a species. During a 2010 TED talk, “A Darwinian Theory of Beauty,” Dutton described findings based on both evolutionary psychology and a 1997 survey of contemporary preference in art. When people were asked to describe a “beautiful” landscape, he observed, the elements were universally the same: open spaces, covered with low grass, interspersed with trees. And if you add water to the scene — either directly in view, or as a distant bluish cast that the eye takes as an indication of water — the desirability of that landscape skyrockets. Dutton theorized that this “universal landscape” contains all the elements needed for human survival: grasses and trees for food (and to attract edible animal life); the ability to see approaching danger (human or animal) before it arrives; trees to climb if you need to escape predators; and the presence of an accessible source of water nearby. In 2010 researchers at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom asked forty adults to rate over one hundred pictures of different natural and urban environments. Respondents gave higher ratings for positive mood, preference, and perceived restorativeness to any picture containing water, whether it was in a natural landscape or an urban setting, as opposed to those photos without water.

Marcus Eriksen, a science educator who once sailed a raft made entirely of plastic bottles from the U.S. Pacific coast to Hawaii, expanded upon Dutton’s hypothesis to include seacoasts, lakeshores, or riverbanks. In the same way the savannah allowed us to see danger a long way off, he theorized, coastal dwellers could see predators or enemies as they came across the water. Better, land-based predators rarely came from the water, and most marine-based predators couldn’t emerge from the water or survive on land. Even better than that: the number of food and material resources provided in or near the water often trumped what could be found on land. The supply of plant-based and animal food sources may vanish in the winter, Eriksen observed, but our ancestors could fish or harvest shellfish year-round. And because the nature of water is to move and flow, instead of having to travel miles to forage, our ancestors could walk along a shore or riverbank and see what water had brought to them or what came to the water’s edge.

While humans were developing an evolutionary preference for a certain type of water-containing landscape, the human brain was also being shaped by environmental demands. Indeed, according to molecular biologist John Medina, the human brain evolved to “solve problems related to surviving in an unstable outdoor environment, and to do so in nearly constant motion.” Imagine that you are one of our distant Homo sapiens ancestors, living in that ideal savannah landscape more than 200,000 years ago. Even if you and your family have inhabited this particular spot for a while, you still must be alert for any significant threats or potential sources of food. Every day brings new conditions—weather, animals, fruits, and other edible plants. Use up some sources of food and you have to look for more, which means constant exploration of your environment to learn more about where you are and what other sources of food and water are available for you and your family. Perhaps you encounter new plants or animals, some of which are edible—some not. You learn from your mistakes what to gather and what to avoid. And while you and your children learn, your brains are being shaped and changed by multiple forces: your individual experiences, your social and cultural interactions, and your physical environment. Should you survive and reproduce, some of that rewiring will be passed on to your descendants in the form of a more complex brain. Additional information for survival will be socially encoded in vivid stories and songs.

A nervous system is the part of an animal that coordinates activity by transmitting signals about what’s happening both inside and outside the body. It’s made up of special types of cells called neurons, and ranges in size and complexity from just a few hundred nerve cells in the simplest worms, to some 20,000 neurons in the California sea hare, Aplysia californica (a very cool mollusk whose large, sometimes gigantic, neurons have made it the darling of neurobiologists for the past fifty years), to as many as 100 billion in humans. We’ll be looking in detail at the human brain and DNA in later chapters, but there’s an important point to be made before we leave our ancestors on the distant savannah: just as the human brain changed and evolved over the millennia, our individual brain changes and evolves from the day we are born until we die. Critical studies starting in the 1970s and 1980s demonstrated that our brains are in a state of constant evolution — neurons growing, connecting, and then dying off. Both the brain’s physical structure and its functional organization are plastic, changing throughout our lives depending on need, attention, sensory input, reinforcement, emotion, and many other factors. The brain’s neuroplasticity (its ability to continually create new neural networks, reshape existing ones, and eliminate networks that are no longer used due to changes in behavior, environment, and neural processes) is what allows us to learn, form memories throughout our lifetimes, recover function after a stroke or loss of sight or hearing, overcome destructive habits and become better versions of ourselves. Neuroplasticity accounts for the fact that, compared to most of us, a disproportionate amount of physical space in a violinist’s brain is devoted to controlling the fingers of his or her fingering hand, and that studying for exams can actually increase the amount of cortical space devoted to a particular subject (more complex functions generally require more brain matter). As we’ll see later, it also accounts for certain negative behaviors, like obsessive-compulsive disorder.

You will hear the term neuroplasticity a lot in this book, because it exemplifies one of the fundamental premises of Blue Mind: the fact that our brains — these magnificent, three-pound masses of tissue that are almost 80 percent water — are shaped, for good or ill, by a multitude of factors that include our perceptions, our emotions, our biology, our culture — and our environment.

You’ll also hear a lot about happiness. While the “pursuit of happiness” has been a focus of humankind since almost before we could put a name to the feeling, from ancient times onward philosophers have argued about the causes and uses of happiness, and composers, writers, and poets have filled our heads with stories of happiness lost and found. In the twenty-first century, however, the pursuit of happiness has become one of the most important means of judging our quality of life. “Happiness is an aspiration of every human being,” write John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, and Jeffrey D. Sachs in the United Nations’ World Happiness Report 2013, which ranks 156 countries by the level of happiness of their citizens. It’s a vital goal: “People who are emotionally happier, who have more satisfying lives, and who live in happier communities, are more likely both now and later to be healthy, productive, and socially connected. These benefits in turn flow more broadly to their families, workplaces, and communities, to the advantage of all.”

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy,” says the Dalai Lama—and with all the many benefits of happiness, who would disagree? As a result, today we are bombarded with books on happiness, studies (and stories) about happiness, and happiness research of every kind. We’ll walk through some of the studies later, and discuss why water provides the most profound shortcut to happiness, but suffice it to say, greater individual happiness has been shown to make our relationships better; help us be more creative, productive, and effective at work (thereby bringing us higher incomes); give us greater self-control and ability to cope; make us more charitable, cooperative, and empathetic; boost our immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems; lower cortisol and heart rate, decrease inflammation, slow disease progression, and increase longevity. Research shows that the amount of happiness we experience spreads outward, affecting not just the people we know but also the friends of their friends as well (or three degrees of the famous six degrees of separation). Happy people demonstrate better cognition and attention, make better decisions, take better care of themselves, and are better friends, colleagues, neighbors, spouses, parents, and citizens. Blue Mind isn’t just about smiling when you’re near the water; it’s about smiling everywhere.

Water and Our Emotions

Some people love the ocean. Some people fear it. I love it, hate it, fear it, respect it, resent it, cherish it, loathe it, and frequently curse it. It brings out the best in me and sometimes the worst.
— Roz Savage 

Beyond our evolutionary linkage to water, humans have deep emotional ties to being in its presence. Water delights us and inspires us (Pablo Neruda: “I need the sea because it teaches me”). It consoles us and intimidates us (Vincent van Gogh: “The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore”). It creates feelings of awe, peace, and joy (The Beach Boys: “Catch a wave, and you’re sitting on top of the world”). But in almost all cases, when humans think of water — or hear water, or see water, or get in water, even taste and smell water — they feel something. These “instinctual and emotional responses . . . occur separately from rational and cognitive responses,” wrote Steven C. Bourassa, a professor of urban planning, in a seminal 1990 article in Environment and Behavior. These emotional responses to our environment arise from the oldest parts of our brain, and in fact can occur before any cognitive response arises. Therefore, to understand our relationship to the environment, we must understand both our cognitive and our emotional interactions with it.

This makes sense to me, as I’ve always been drawn to the stories and science of why we love the water. However, as a doctoral student studying evolutionary biology, wildlife ecology, and environmental economics, when I tried to weave emotion into my dissertation on the relationship between sea turtle ecology and coastal communities, I learned that academia had little room for feelings of any kind. “Keep that fuzzy stuff out of your science, young man,” my advisors counseled. Emotion wasn’t rational. It wasn’t quantifiable. It wasn’t science.

Talk about a “sea change”: today cognitive neuroscientists have begun to understand how our emotions drive virtually every decision we make, from our morning cereal choice, to who we sit next to at a dinner party, to how sight, smell, and sound affect our mood. Today we are at the forefront of a wave of neuroscience that seeks to discover the biological bases of everything, from our political choices to our color preferences. They’re using tools like EEGs, MRIs, and those fMRIs to observe the brain on music, the brain and art, the chemistry of prejudice, love, and meditation, and more. Daily these cutting-edge scientists are discovering why human beings interact with the world in the ways we do. And a few of them are now starting to examine the brain processes that underlie our connection to water. This research is not just to satisfy some intellectual curiosity. The study of our love for water has significant, real-world applications—for health, travel, real estate, creativity, childhood development, urban planning, the treatment of addiction and trauma, conservation, business, politics, religion, architecture, and more. Most of all, it can lead to a deeper understanding of who we are and how our minds and emotions are shaped by our interaction with the most prevalent substance on our planet.


The journey in search of people and scientists who were eager to explore these questions has taken me from the sea turtles’ habitats on the coasts of Baja California, to the halls of the medical schools at Stanford, Harvard, and the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, to surfing and fishing and kayaking camps run for PTSD-afflicted veterans in Texas and California, to lakes and rivers and even swimming pools around the world. And everywhere I went, even on the airplanes connecting these locations, people would share their stories about water. Their eyes sparkled when they described the first time they visited a lake, or ran through a sprinkler in the front yard, caught a turtle or a frog in the creek, held a fishing rod, or walked along a shore with a parent or boyfriend or girlfriend. I came to believe that such stories were critical to science, because they help us make sense of the facts and put them in a context we can understand. It’s time to drop the old notions of separation between emotion and science— for ourselves and our future. Just as rivers join on their way to the ocean, to understand Blue Mind we need to draw together separate streams: analysis and affection; elation and experimentation; head and heart.

The Tohono O’odham (which means “desert people”) are Native Americans who reside primarily in the Sonoran Desert of southeastern Arizona and northwest Mexico. When I was a graduate student at the University of Arizona, I used to take young teens from the Tohono O’odham Nation across the border to the Sea of Cortez (the Gulf of California). Many of them had never seen the ocean before, and most were completely unprepared for the experience, both emotionally and in terms of having the right gear. On one field trip several of the kids didn’t bring swim trunks or shorts—they simply didn’t own any. So we all sat down on the beach next to the tide pools of Puerto Peñasco, I pulled out a knife, and we all cut the legs off our pants, right then and there.

Once in the shallow water we put on masks and snorkels (we’d brought enough for everyone), had a quick lesson on how to breathe through a snorkel, and then set out to have a look around. After a while I asked one young man how it was going. “I can’t see anything,” he said. Turns out he’d been keeping his eyes closed underwater. I told him that he could safely open his eyes even though his head was beneath the surface. He put his face under and started to look around. Suddenly he popped up, pulled off his mask, and started shouting about all the fish. He was laughing and crying at the same time as he shouted, “My planet is beautiful!” Then he slid his mask back over his eyes, put his head back into the water, and didn’t speak again for an hour.

My memory of that day, everything about it, is crystal clear. I don’t know for sure, but I’ll bet it is for him, too. Our love of water had made an indelible stamp on us. His first time in the ocean felt like mine, all over again.

The Beginnings of Blue Mind

In 2011, in San Francisco—a city surrounded by water on three sides—I gathered a group of neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, marine biologists, artists, conservationists, doctors, economists, athletes, urban planners, real estate agents, and chefs to explore the ways our brains, bodies, and psyches are enhanced by water. I had realized that there was a constellation of innovative thinkers who had been trying to put the pieces together regarding the powerful effects of water, but they had mostly been isolated from one another. Since then, the Blue Mind gathering has become an annual conference that taps into a growing quantity of new mind/body/environment research and continues to produce new and startling insights on how humanity interacts with our watery planet. Both the brain and the ocean are deep, complex, and subtle realms — scarcely explored and poorly understood. However, we are on the cusp of an age when both the brain and the ocean are giving up more and more of their secrets to dedicated scientists and explorers. As more researchers from varied disciplines apply their expertise to the relation between water and humanity, the insights from their collaborations are illuminating the biological, neurological, and sociological benefits of humanity’s Blue Mind.

Every year more experts of all kinds are connecting the dots between brain science and our watery world. This isn’t touchy-feely “let’s save the dolphins” conservation: we’re talking prefrontal cortex, amygdala, evolutionary biology, neuroimaging, and neuron functioning that shows exactly why humans seem to value being near, in, on, or under the water. And this new science has real-world implications for education, public policy, health care, coastal planning, travel, real estate, and business — not to mention our happiness and general well-being. But it’s science with a personal face; science practiced by real people, with opinions, biases, breakthroughs, and insights.

At subsequent Blue Mind conferences on the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific, scientists, practitioners, and students have continued to share their research and life’s work, huddling together to discuss, create, and think deeply. We’ve produced documents describing “what we think we know” (facts), “what we want to explore” (hypotheses), and “what we want to share” (teachings). At Blue Mind 2013, held on Block Island, we discussed topics like dopaminergic pathways, microplastics and persistent organic pollutants, auditory cortex physiology, and ocean acidification, but for those of us drawn to the waves, no discussion of water is without joy and celebration. At dawn we sang together, overlooking the sparkling blue Atlantic Ocean, and in the evening we drank wine, those waters now black and sparkling, and listened to former Rhode Island poet laureate Lisa Starr.

“Listen, dear one,” it whispers.
“You only think you have
forgotten the impossible.

“Go now, to that marsh beyond
Fresh Pond and consider how the red
burgeons into crimson;
go see how it’s been preparing forever
for today.”

This is poetry, this is science; this is science, this is poetry. So, too, are oceans and seas, rivers and ponds, swimming pools and hot springs — all of us could use a little more poetry in our lives.

We could use a lot more, too — and, in some cases, a lot less. Too many of us live overwhelmed—suffocated by work, personal conflicts, the intrusion of technology and media. Trying to do everything, we end up stressed about almost anything. We check our voice mail at midnight, our e-mail at dawn, and spend the time in between bouncing from website to website, viral video to viral video. Perpetually exhausted, we make bad decisions at work, at home, on the playing field, and behind the wheel. We get flabby because we decide we don’t have the time to take care of ourselves, a decision ratified by the fact that those “extra” hours are filled with e-mailing, doing reports, attending meetings, updating systems to stay current, repairing what’s broken. We’re constantly trying to quit one habit just to start another. We say the wrong things to people we love, and love the wrong things because expediency and proximity make it easier to embrace what’s passing right in front of us. We make excuses about making excuses, but we still can’t seem to stop the avalanche. All of this has a significant economic cost as “stress and its related comorbid diseases are responsible for a large proportion of disability worldwide.”

It doesn’t have to be that way. The surfers, scientists, veterans, fishers, poets, artists, and children whose stories fill this book know that being in, on, under, or near water makes your life better. They’re waiting for you to get your Blue Mind on too.

Time to dive in.

The Beast


Reason.com

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) has conjured up quite the catchy tune in an effort to dissuade any more immigrants from illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Daily Beast reports that the the CBP commissioned the creation of a song called “La Bestia,” or “The Beast,” which tells a tale of violence and death set to catchy upbeat music. The beast “refers to the notoriously dangerous freight train upon which thousands of migrants ride from Southern Mexico” to the U.S. border.

And it’s a hit, too. People in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador call local radio stations to request the song. It’s currently played by 21 radio stations.

Some of the lyrics translated from Spanish:

“Migrants from everywhere, entrenched along the rail ties. Far away from where they come, further away from where they go. They call her the Beast from the South, this wretched train of death. With the devil in the boiler, whistles, roars, twists and turns.”

This is not the first time CBP has taken a melodic approach to propaganda. In 2004, the agency created a campaign “to spread awareness about the dangers of the Sonoran desert” though which many would-be migrants must pass. The campaign included distributing a CD of five songs to Mexican radio stations.

The agency recently announced plans to launch a new million-dollar campaign to discourage families from sending their children across the border.

Tijuana Border Construction


San Diego Red July 18 article

Bajadock: From photo above, you can see the ramp to bridge at right that “U” turns west to Playas de Tijuana/Scenic Road at the coast.  Have not heard any news from southbound travelers yesterday/Friday.  Hoping this is a no drama event for Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada and Baja visitors/commuters.

May your travels catch many green lights and green flashes.

tjconstjul14

 

Tijuana Construction Delays


Bajadock:  good news appears to be that the right hand lands, just after Tijuana inspection, to the Tijuana Playas/Ensenada Scenic Road, should be clear…we hope.  As normal, prepare for change by the hour.  Any other eye witness accounts appreciated.

Brenda Colon/San Diego Red

TIJUANA.- Thousands of southbound border crossers had to wait more than two hours to cross into Tijuana from San Ysidro yesterday afternoon and evening, after two lanes south of the El Chaparral border crossing were shut down for repairs.

El Chaparral Port of Entry

Yesterday afternoon, Tijuana’s Municipal Government announced that repairs were to take place at the El Chaparral border crossing. The repairs intend to level three drainage manholes that were sticking out and affecting traffic flow.

Most drivers did not receive the announcement, and had to find out first-hand as traffic started to back up on the I-5, 805, and San Ysidro surface streets. Messages, images, and general expressions of anger took over social media profiles of cross-border residents. Reports include drivers arriving in San Ysidro at 9pm and not crossing the border until 11:20 pm. People travelling with young children, disabled people, and elderly adults were especially impacted by the delay.

San Ysidro Port of Entry

Southbound and northbound drivers are delayed. Generally, during the summer, commute wait times are shorter than usual going both directions, especially given that children are out of school. San Diego is a prime daytime destination for Tijuana residents that want to go shopping or spend the day in the city. On a nice summer day, it is no surprise that wait times into San Diego increased, and was compounded by the fact that many lanes are shut down heading northbound as a result of the ongoing construction at the San Ysidro port of entry.

Drivers frustration was compounded by the fact that repairs are now occurring on both sides of the border. Bad news for drivers that cross the border as part of their daily commute, as there appears to be no end in sight for the border crossing repairs. As for the repairs occurring on Tijuana’s side, the municipal authorities say that repairs will take about seven days to complete.

Drivers only resort is to be patient. While many opted to attempt crossing south at Otay, this crossing really is almost a non-option given that there are limited lanes into Mexico resulting in equally long delays.

Sadly, the problem has caused economic loss to both sides of the border. The long wait times affect commercial relations, as people spend less money or avoid spending money altogether as the lines get longer. This is not to mention the impact these border crossing delays have on the environment, due to the air contamination created by thousands of idling cars, and the health of those that sit in lines.

Brenda.Colon@sandiegored.com

 

Wine Diet


winecellar

vinobandito

article researched by Ensenada Gringo staff wine critic, Vino Bandito.  Water shortage?  “Corkscrews are the cure!”, says Vino Bandito.  

 

Wine Folly

Does wine make you fat?

No, but alcohol tricks your brain into making unhealthy decisions. Time to arm yourself with knowledge to drink smarter. By the way, a long term study with over 19,000 women showed drinkers tend to be less obese than non-drinkers as they age.

We digest wine differently than food

Despite the fact that wine has little to no carbs and zero fat, it still has calories! The interesting thing about calories in wine is that we digest them differently than food. Basically our body stops what it’s doing and focuses on alcohol calories first before addressing other calories (fat, carbs, sugar etc). If you drink too much or drink before eating, you put your body to work going through a 3-step process of metabolizing the alcohol before it can use the food.

Why does drinking make you hungry?

Why do we end up eating a whole cheese pizza after a night of drinking? The effects of alcohol on the brain causes a skew in how we regulate calorie intake for 2 reasons:

    • BLOOD SUGAR DROP: Drinking dry wine actually causes your blood sugar to drop. This is because your body focuses on metabolizing the alcohol calories first before food calories. The result is that your brain sees this information a little blindly and responds with ‘uh oh, we need more blood sugar. Go eat something!’

No one has ever drunkenly craved a salad—and there’s a reason. A study conducted by Purdue University found that moderate consumption of alcohol enhances the taste of salt and fat, which is why bacon and scrambled eggs the next morning are so satisfying. Dr. Edward Miller, Wine & Health

    • TRICKS YOUR ‘PRIMITIVE’ BRAIN: Alcohol causes a temporary effect on a part of your brain that causes you to feel hungry, aroused and have to pee at the same time. These activities are controlled in your hypothalamus (high-po-thall-lam-us) which is an early part of the human brain located above the brain stem. It regulates everything from sex drive and body temperature to appetite.

A 2004 study published in the Alcohol Journal led by Princeton University scientists suggest that a brain chemical called galanin [secreted by the hypothalamus] could be behind both fatty food cravings and a thirst for alcohol. “There seems to be a cycle of positive feedback,” Princeton researcher Bartley Hoebel said in a 2004 statement. “Consumption of alcohol produces galanin, and galanin promotes the consumption of alcohol.” Dr. Edward Miller, Wine & Health

How to stay healthy and drink wine

 Eat protein before you drink

Have some quality protein before you drink. Long sustaining energy calories will help curb your craving while you drink.

 Stick to moderate drinking

Unfortunately, a bottle of wine is not a single serving. It’s important to understand your own limits. If you’re 140 pounds or under, you should stick to just one drink and only 2 if you’re over that weight.

 Avoid the drunk diet

If you do get drunk, it seems reasonable to assume that food (e.g. cheesy bread, pizza and apple pie) could help absorb the alcohol in your system. The truth is, there’s nothing to stop or slow the long painstaking process your liver will need to go through to carefully convert every milligram of poisonous acetaldehyde into not-so-bad-for-you acetic acid. Be a friend to your liver and stay up on your fluids by drinking lots of water. Our favorite hangover food is a Pho (pronounced ‘Fuh’) noodle soup, the Vietnamese know what’s up.

Slow Water


Bajadock: CESPE once again promises that the Ensenada water supply will be flowing without interruption this week.  Only 5 more months until our rainy season arrives and last year’s was not very rainy.  It will be an interesting 5 months.  Following article discusses the drought in the southwest U.S.:

by Michael Snyder

When scientists start using phrases such as “the worst drought” and “as bad as you can imagine” to describe what is going on in the western half of the country, you know that things are bad.  Thanks to an epic drought that never seems to end, we are witnessing the beginning of a water crisis that most people never even dreamed was possible in this day and age.

The state of California is getting ready to ban people from watering their lawns and washing their cars, but if this drought persists we will eventually see far more extreme water conservation measures than that.  And the fact that nearly half of all of the produce in America comes out of the state of California means that ultimately this drought is going to deeply affect all of us.  Food prices have already been rising at an alarming rate, and the longer this drought goes on the higher they will go.   Let us hope and pray that this drought is permanently broken at some point, because otherwise we could very well be entering an era of extreme water rationing, gigantic dust storms and crippling food prices.  The following are 20 signs that the epic drought in the western half of the United States is starting to become apocalyptic…

#1 According to the Los Angeles Times, downtown Los Angeles is now the driest that it has been since records began being kept all the way back in 1877.

#2 The California State Water Resources Control Board says that nearly 50 communities are already on the verge of running out of water.

#3 In a desperate attempt to conserve water, the state of California is considering banning watering lawns and washing cars.  Once implemented, violators will be slapped with a $500 fine for each offense.

#4 It has been reported that a new social media phenomenon known as “drought shaming” has begun in California.  People are taking videos and photos of their neighbors wasting water and posting them to Facebook and Twitter.

#5 Climate scientist Tim Barnett says that the water situation in Las Vegas “is as bad as you can imagine“, and he believes that unless the city “can find a way to get more water from somewhere” it will soon be “out of business”.

#6 The water level in Lake Mead has now fallen to the lowest level since 1937, and it continues to drop at a frightening pace.  You can see some incredible photos of what has happened to Lake Mead right here.

#7 Rob Mrowka of the Center for Biological Diversity believes that the city of Las Vegas is going to be forced to downsize because of the lack of water…

The drought is like a slow spreading cancer across the desert. It’s not like a tornado or a tsunami, bang. The effects are playing out over decades. And as the water situation becomes more dire we are going to start having to talk about the removal of people (from Las Vegas).

#8 In some areas of southern Nevada, officials are actually paying people to remove their lawns in a desperate attempt to conserve water.

#9 According to Accuweather, “more than a decade of drought” along the Colorado River has set up an “impending Southwest water shortage” which could ultimately affect tens of millions of people.

#10 Most people don’t realize this, but the once mighty Colorado River has become so depleted that it no longer runs all the way to the ocean.

#11 Lake Powell is less than half full at this point.

#12 It is being projected that the current drought in California will end up costing the state more than 2 billion dollars this year alone.

#13 Farmers in California are allowing nearly half a million acres to lie fallow this year due to the extreme lack of water.

#14 The lack of produce coming from the state of California will ultimately affect food prices in the entire nation.  Just consider the following statistics from a recent Business Insider article

California is one of the U.S.’s biggest food producers — responsible for almost half the country’s produce and nuts and 25% of our milk and cream. Eighty percent of the world’s almonds come from the state, and they take an extraordinary amount of water to produce — 1.1 gallons per almond.

#15 As underground aquifers are being relentlessly drained in California, some areas of the San Joaquin Valley are sinking by 11 inches a year.

#16 It is being projected that the Kansas wheat harvest will be the worst that we have seen since 1989.

#17 The extended drought has created ideal conditions for massive dust storms to form.  You can see video of one female reporter bravely reporting from the middle of a massive dust storm in Phoenix right here.

#18 Things are so dry in California right now that people are actually starting to steal water.  For example, one Mendocino County couple recently had 3,000 gallons of water stolen from them.  It was the second time this year that they had been hit.

#19 At the moment, close to 80 percent of the state of California is experiencing either “extreme” or “exceptional” drought.

#20 National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt says that this is “the worst drought we probably have seen in our lifetime“.

Most people just assume that this drought will be temporary, but experts tell us that there have been “megadroughts” throughout history in the western half of the United States that have lasted for more than 100 years.

If we have entered one of those eras, it is going to fundamentally change life in America.

And the frightening thing is that much of the rest of the world is dealing with water scarcity issues right now as well.  In fact, North America is actually in better shape than much of Africa and Asia.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “25 Shocking Facts About The Earth’s Dwindling Water Resources“.

Without plenty of fresh water, modern civilization is not possible.

And right now, the western United States and much of the rest of the world is starting to come to grips with the fact that we could be facing some very serious water shortages in the years ahead.

So what is the solution?

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