Press release you can use to announce Successful Spiritual Waiting: the 7 Maxims

My new book, Successful Spiritual Waiting: the 7 Maxims, was published last month, both hardcover and paperback, and already the publicity is popping! It all started with a press release, which I invite you to reprint, or use as a basis for a more in-depth article, and distribute as widely as possible! First, I want to share the link to the press release that was published at PR log on September 7.  It is located here. Again, you are welcome and invited to reprint this release in your own publication or on your website, as well as to contact me for further information.

Next, the press release was picked up by The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington, north of Seattle, and they printed this abbreviated version on September 11 –

In addition, The Daily Herald posted this identical article on their website, with live links to my websites.

Then I received a very thoughtful and considerate email from Michelle Roedell, the Editor of Northwest Prime Time in Seattle. Here is what she said:

Hello,

I recently received an article about a new book by Lee Cuesta.

First of all, congratulations on the new book! Such an accomplishment.

I wanted to let you know right away that Northwest Prime Time doesn’t cover anything related to religion, so this is not a good fit for us.

However, I wish you all the best.

Warm regards,

Michelle Roedell, Editor
Northwest Prime Time

So even though the publicity for Successful Spiritual Waiting: the 7 Maxims was not a good fit for her publication, she took the time to congratulate me, and wish me all the best!

I also received positive comments from a person in a highly placed position in the marketing division at David C. Cook, a major publisher in Colorado Springs, after he read my new book. He wrote this:

“Very nice way of bringing in the correct part of waiting in this chapter. It needs to be said, which Cuesta does, that waiting is NOT sitting on the couch, waiting for God’s call. Rather, it’s that convergence of being diligent in the meantime as God sets up His future purposes for us.  Cuesta brought the thought home of waiting being a discipline, an art and a needed skill to be acquired. His summary of fear of success and action steps is perfect. I like the bullet points Cuesta gave in the final pages, and it helped to coherently bring the maxim together.”

Another reviewer posted this:

“We all want more peace in our lives as well as the knowledge that our lives are in alignment with what we are meant to be doing. Lee Cuesta’s Successful Spiritual Waiting: the 7 Maxims is a must read for anyone searching for lifelong fulfillment. Waiting is a fundamental part of the human experience yet for such a seemingly simple concept, it tends to be one of the more difficult aspects of life for us to implement. Cuesta masterfully unpacks these seven maxims and shows how we can live a successful life by waiting on God.”

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Successful Spiritual Waiting: the 7 Maxims is now LIVE!

I’m excited to post this announcement!  The paperback and hardcover editions of my book, Successful Spiritual Waiting: the 7 Maxims, are now published and available to buy at Amazon!!

Stan Guthrie, former Managing Editor and Columnist for Christianity Today, provided this endorsement for me, and so this is now included on the front cover: Lee Cuesta is “obviously gifted, hard-working, and passionate about communicating through the written word.” 

You can see that my book’s subtitle is “Transformative guidelines that reveal the positive perspective” … of waiting on God, or waiting for the Lord.  I will give you the direct link in a second, but first I have two requests.

First, when you visit the page, I would deeply appreciate it if you purchase one of them!  This will greatly assist my on-page conversion, which one tutorial explains this way:

“Amazon doesn’t just care about how many sales you’re getting but also how many sales you’re getting in proportion to the number of visits your book page is getting. This ratio is your sales conversion. If a large portion of the users who visit your page end up buying your book, then your conversion is good — and the Amazon algorithms look favorably on this.”

So in this way, you are greatly helping my marketing effort, because each sale boosts the book’s ranking higher in the search results, especially during this launch phase.  You will see that the prices are very reasonable and affordable.  Plus you obtain an awesome book!  It’s a win-win!

To discover more about my new book, you can flip back to my previous post (April, 2022), where I included the book description that appears on its Amazon page.  Of course, when you actually go to the Amazon page, you also can utilize the “Look Inside” feature.  For instance, here is my book’s Table of Contents:

Maxim 1
If God doesn’t do it, it won’t get done.
Page 1

Maxim 2
I must make sure I take the order correctly.
Page 23

Maxim 3
The Four P’s are these:
 Persuaded, Power, Perform, Promised.
Page 49

Maxim 4
I and my life are in Perfect Alignment at this moment.
Page 75

Maxim 5
I must recall how I walk across the boards of a pallet
 while carrying a bulky crate.
Page 109

Maxim 6
I must reclaim and implement in my life
this ancient discipline.
Page 153

Maxim 7
I must not fear power, success or leadership.
Page 183

Afterword
Page 225

Contact Information
Page 233

Notes
Page 239

Maxim 7 includes a section about the fear of success.

If you want me to sign it, then have it SHIPPED to me from Amazon; send me an email to let me know you are doing this, and provide me your mailing address.  In the email you can mention if there’s anything special you’d like me to write when I sign it; otherwise I will compose it.  And then I will ship it to you after I autograph it, probably the next day.

Also your purchase enables you to act on my second request, which is this: please post a positive review!!  Right there on the Amazon page, and you will be a Verified Purchaser.  As one blogger wrote:

“Good reviews prove that your book is worth reading and instill trust in your customers. When was the last time you bought a product with no reviews?”

Now that I’ve expressed my two requests, here are the links –

paperback

hardcover

Here also are the Identifiers (just in case you need to enter it in the search bar)––

ISBN 9798845851901 (hardcover)
ISBN 9798433571730 (paperback)

I also created a new Author Page at Amazon. You can view it by clicking on the link here, and from there you can go to the book page.

As soon as the eBook is available, I will post that link as well.

Of course, (I don’t need to mention this) you are welcome to purchase more than one; give it to friends and family members who may be interested; send one to influencers that you’re familiar with, or acquainted with (podcasters, pastors, book sellers, Bible study leaders, librarians,  etc!).

Actually I have a third request: please notify select members of your own network about this publishing event!  You can tell your friends (or contacts) who may be interested in this spiritual approach to waiting and reducing stress; send them the link to this blog post if it’s appropriate, or copy portions of it; etc., etc! (You know, it’s word-of-mouth.)

My next blog post will be the response from one reader of Successful Spiritual Waiting: the 7 Maxims, which is actually a discussion guide that he wrote for the book.

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Book Description: Successful Spiritual Waiting — the 7 Maxims

As I mentioned in my blog post last month, my new book will be published soon through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).  I will let you know immediately when it’s available for sale on Amazon – possibly next month (May 2022). When the paperback is published, the eBook will likewise be available, if you prefer that format. 

My book’s title is Successful Spiritual Waiting: the 7 Maxims, with the subtitle: “Transformative guidelines that reveal the positive perspective.”  It is a very attractive paperback, measuring 5.5 by 8.5 inches, precisely 260 pages in length (252 pages of content and eight pages in the front section).  My book will be listed under the categories Self-help/ Spiritual. So this month, I am posting below the complete Book Description as it will appear on Amazon. One more detail: here is the link to my Amazon author page –

Lee Cuesta Author Page.

Book Description

Such a fresh and unique approach to waiting on and for God has never been published before. Lee Cuesta draws upon 40 years of experience to unpack the deepest, fullest meaning of waiting, along with why and how. With lively and upbeat guidance enabling the reader to implement these principles, he shows that waiting is a positive spiritual practice that delivers success while reducing stress. Cuesta defines “success” as achieving and fulfilling one’s life purpose, and he describes in detail how to succeed in the area of spiritual waiting.  The book is rich with Cuesta’s autobiographical adventures and lessons as he implemented waiting on God, and for God, in his own life.  He’s an ordained minister, and served as a missionary for over 14 years. Due to his own ecclesiastic background, in this book he uses the Bible as his basis, exploring the lives of preeminent spiritual waiters, such as David, Abraham and Noah. But the truths are universal, and Cuesta also quotes from the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita. So followers of all faiths and spiritual traditions likewise will benefit from Cuesta’s insights. He relates the experiences of more recent historical waiters, as well, such as William Carey and Nelson Mandela. Lee Cuesta is the author of two previous books, as well as multiple articles, including two about waiting for God, in both English and Spanish. Throughout his career, he has observed that if the topic of “waiting for God” is written about at all, it is usually with a negative connotation. Other writers bemoan, “Why does God make me wait so long?” This book departs diametrically from that point of view. A maxim is a concise expression of a fundamental moral rule or principle. It is generally any simple and memorable guide for living. Immanuel Kant said that a maxim is a principle of action that one gives to oneself, and Lee Cuesta’s in-depth and compelling explanation of these 7 Maxims reveals the lifestyle of successful spiritual waiters.

Lee Cuesta

P.S. And more good news:  Seven Viking Days, my full-color children’s book, illustrated by Mia Hocking, will soon be available again (also via KDP and for sale on Amazon)!

 

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Afterword

Note: In this blog post, I am reprinting the Afterword from my newest, about-to-be-released book. In fact, I already have uploaded the book to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), and I will soon be reviewing the proof copy — the actual print version of the paperback. This will go live on Amazon in a few months from now, along with the Ebook. One reason I haven’t been posting on this blog recently is that I’ve been busy completing this book — in addition to the episode described in the following “Afterword.” The title of my new book is Successful Spiritual Waiting: the 7 Maxims, with this subtitle: “Transformative guidelines that reveal the positive perspective.”

Afterword

I spent the first week of the year 2022 in the hospital. Eight days. My wife called 911, and when the paramedics arrived, they said they either transport me to the hospital as fast as possible, or I’ll die. Snow covered the ground and roads. I remember seeing it as they pushed my gurney across the front yard. The night’s darkness amplified the flashing emergency lights; two vehicles had responded. Inside the ambulance, I heard the driver say, “I’m goin’ red.”

My oxygen saturation was around 84 percent, according to the pulse/oximeter on my fingertip. At that level, my survival was unlikely without intervention. In the emergency room, the doctors told me that if I refuse intubation and my heart fails, they will not resuscitate. The reason was that reviving the heart is of no value when the lungs aren’t able to function. And the X-ray showed that my lung capacity was approximately 50 percent. The covid test came back positive.
With my consent, they administered a steroid and monoclonal antibodies, which have FDA approval for emergency treatment. I needed the monoclonal antibodies, daily shots of the steroid, plus a medication to prevent blood clotting. In addition, supplemental oxygen was vital in the ICU, in my hospital room, and even after going home. Without these, I would not have survived.
How does this relate to waiting for the Lord? The very first Maxim: “If God doesn’t do it, it won’t get done.” In other words, if we had tried to do it ourselves — i.e., treat my illness — I would be dead now. We had to call 911, and let God take over.
A huge prayer team was mobilized. Thanks to my wife, my daughter, my sister — I don’t know the full extent of all the people involved — a multitude of prayers and directed consciousness were being sustained on my behalf. As a result, my healing and recovery were 100 percent miraculous.
God had to do it. Allow me to reiterate: if we had tried to treat my illness ourselves, I would be dead. If God doesn’t do it, it won’t get done. In a way, I had to go to the hospital in order to generate and mobilize that level of prayer support. I definitely had to go to the hospital to receive the medicine and treatment that I needed to survive. God heals. After my experience, I know that healing is always a viable probability.
This experience has a wider application; namely, any time we try to confront life’s crises by ourselves — i.e., whenever we try to resolve life’s supreme challenges on our own — the result can be devastating and catastrophic. The outcome would have been catastrophic for me if we’d tried to treat my illness without intervention. A catastrophic result is not inevitable in every situation, as it would have been in my case. But the risk is high that the outcome won’t be optimal if I stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that the circumstance requires skills and resources that are external to myself.
Remember how I restated the first Maxim? It won’t happen unless God does it.
This is not to say that I was removed from all responsibility during my healing and recovery. To the contrary, as I wrote in Maxim 5, the waiting process requires work. To regain my health, I had loads of work to do, both in the hospital and afterward: wrestling to hang on; concentrating on my breathing; physical therapy exercises. While in the hospital, I realized I must never permit myself to slip back; I must always keep fighting forward. When there is good progress, I cannot rest; I must capitalize on that strength to move farther ahead.
So God had to do it; otherwise I’d be dead. BUT ALSO I had to contribute my full effort to keep forcing myself forward to survival; never allowing any step back or retreat. My daughter wrote in an email to me, “I too definitely believe that your recovery was miraculous but I also strongly believe that your intentionality and dedication to meditation and mindful breathing is what allowed you to make such an incredible recovery and so quickly.”
During my time in the hospital, I received the realization that my will to survive was not for my sake, but for the sake of my family: for my wife, for my children, and for my grandchildren. I was to survive for them. As if to reinforce this realization, on my first day in the hospital my wife organized and sent to me a blue notebook with photos of these family members, along with notes from them. And I didn’t solicit this; as usual these days, my wife and I are on the same intuitive wavelength.
Following my discharge, my wife and I started meditating together nearly every morning at sunrise, facing east, which in Feng Shui represents health and family life, which I know now are vastly interconnected.
Hearkening back to what I wrote concerning prayer in Maxims 2 and 5, I further realized that in itself — or, by itself — prayer isn’t the power. The power of prayer is that it summons and directs the Universal Power. Prayer is the directing/ focusing/ concentrating of the Infinite Universal Power (God’s power) into a spotlight and a laser. So clearly, they work in tandem. Universal Power is wielded in response to fervent prayer.
In addition, like the ringing of a gong or a bell, this experience appears to toll a permanent death of my vision to go to India. In the hospital, especially after seeing the X-ray they took in the Emergency Room, I sensed very strongly that my lungs are so essential and vital, yet so fragile and finite. At first, this brought me to tears. I juxtapose this with the extreme air pollution and overpopulation of India’s urban areas.
One of the wildlife rescue organizations, which includes elephants, and at which I had hoped to volunteer, is located in the Mathura district adjacent to the city of Agra. Agra is in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, a densely populated state of approximately 241,066,875 people. That’s over 241 million. By contrast, New York State population in 2021 was estimated to be only 19.8 million. California’s 2021 population was over 39 million, which means that Uttar Pradesh has six times more people than California.
This dense population contributes to the transmission of disease, while the air pollution fosters weakened lungs.
I had also planned to spend time in the south of India, such as the states of Karnataka and Kerala, where human-elephant conflict is escalating. This is due in part to the close proximity of the Bannerghatta National Park to Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), the capital and the largest city of the state of Karnataka. And Bengaluru, a city of more than 8 million people, continues to expand closer to the park’s boundary. One of my sources in India stated: “This is perhaps the only national park in the world (Bannerghatta) that has a wild tiger and a wild elephant so close to a metropolitan city.”
In this southern region, the population and pollution are less severe. The air may be cleaner, but there is no opportunity for hands-on interaction with the elephants. So my plan seems to be changing. Perhaps I will be traveling to Sri Lanka and Thailand instead.
In the meantime, I am waiting for the Lord. Although I am still in my “death of a vision” phase, he may resurrect and fulfill my vision supernaturally in a way — and with a destination — that I cannot foresee.
I was discharged from the hospital on Thursday, January 6, 2022, which is Epiphany, or Kings’ Day, which we celebrated while living in Mexico. That is the day to exchange gifts, instead of December 25. This was my greatest Kings’ Day gift.
My post-discharge follow-up appointment with my doctor was at 11 AM on 1-11 (January 11). With that pair of elevens, I knew that my life and I are in perfect alignment.
This experience was like halftime, as in the football game, and now I’m back on the field to play the second half. Now every day is such a source of joy and inexpressible gratitude. New beginnings; better than before.

Lee Cuesta


Copyright © 2022 by Lee Cuesta. All rights reserved.

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Covid culture shock without ever leaving our city

by Lee Cuesta

I have lived and worked on two continents, and in multiple countries. Culture shock is inevitable. I remember a cab driver in London, and even though she was speaking English, I could not understand her! I remember seeing bull fights on the television screens in the Mexico City airport. In Guatemala City, I remember cockroaches on the bus, and slugs on the floor inside the house.

Culture shock is the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes. It’s when the novelty and excitement wear off, and the reality sets in.

We are feeling culture shock, but we didn’t go to a foreign culture; the foreign culture came to us.

In Mexico City, just the simple sound of the truck engines reminded me that I was in a foreign culture — along with all the crazy traffic and the smell of air pollution. Or listening for the truck to arrive in your neighborhood, ringing its bell, which meant it was time to bring out your trash — and give the workers a tip.

Typically, one experiences culture shock when he or she travels to another culture. In our current situation, however, it is reversed: we are experiencing shock because the different culture has come to us. So we are seeing signs of anxiety, stress and confusion — and feeling them ourselves — which are symptoms of culture shock.

This is due, of course, to the rapid social changes that are occurring. The covid culture has arrived, bringing these already familiar circumstances: Weddings and karate classes online. Playgrounds closed with yellow caution tape. Suspicions that elicit action from contact tracers.

Where I live, I feel like I woke up at the masquerade party. Face masks are now mandatory, and so at the home improvement superstore the other day, I saw customers with full facemasks, covering their entire face; one looked like Chewbaca. Great for the shoplifters.

Lines on the floor require social distancing at the check-out counter, but none of this is required for rioters and protesters. However, the rioters have discovered the benefit of wearing masks to conceal their identity. Watching the civil unrest in our own cities, or on TV or mobile devices, we feel like we live now in some sort of Middle Eastern culture.

Today, in our society, multitudes experience culture shock without ever leaving their homes — literally — because their own culture is changing before their eyes. When we do leave our homes, it’s like we’re living in a foreign country. We are feeling culture shock, but we didn’t go to a foreign culture; the foreign culture came to us.

In addition to culture shock, our day-to-day society now exhibits symptoms of future shock. This is the title of a book by Alvin Toffler published in 1970. Future shock is now defined as “physical and psychological disturbance caused by a person’s inability to cope with very rapid social and technological change; any overload of a person’s or an organization’s capacity for adaptation or decision making.”*

Every day we are witnessing the inability to cope with very rapid social and technological change. There is deep personal and social uncertainty, plus an inability to move ahead with future plans. The future is too uncertain.

Future Shock sold millions of copies at a time when society was in churn, amid riots over the Vietnam War, the maturation of the civil rights movement and the growth of centralized mass media. Toffler defined the phenomenon as ‘too much change in too short a period of time.'”**

“Too much change in too short a period of time:” this creates instability in our society. So we worry: when will it be stable again? Yet when our culture does stabilize, it will not be the same culture that we remember. It has changed permanently. It is a foreign culture. And perhaps it is impossible to regain stability. Perhaps instability is the new normal, which provides little hope for escaping these feelings of culture shock.

Footnotes

* https://www.dictionary.com/browse/future-shock
** https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/alvin-toffler-future-shock-author-who-predicted-disconnection-modern-world-n601501

-30-

Copyright © 2020 LCEA. Permission is granted to reprint this article in its entirety, or in part, with the condition that its source (this website) and its author (Lee Cuesta) are both acknowledged.

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Solitude and quietness in a tranquil zone accessible only by kayak

Also:  How to disembark without acting clumsy

Lee Cuesta kayak in Catherine Creek wetlands of Lake Cassidy.

I realize it seems like a cliché to say it was a perfect day of kayaking.  But then I realized that every day kayaking IS a perfect day!  And so that’s how it was on Lake Cassidy today, the second Monday in May.  Lake Cassidy is located in Snohomish County, east of Marysville.

Recreational areas reopened in Washington state as restrictions during the co+ vid controversy (henceforth referred to as co-con) are beginning to loosen.  So first I bought our annual Discover Pass, now available again, which had previously been unavailable online because of the co-con.  When you purchase it online, you’re able to print a temporary pass, and the permanent one is delivered via USPS.

Now, the big, main point of this blog post comes at the end of our outing on Lake Cassidy.  So if you want to skip to the end, feel free.  It has to do with the device I built of PVC, which shows up randomly and occasionally in the photos in this post.  Keep reading if you want the highlights of our outing, which includes an adventure in the marshy wetlands where the lake feeds into Catherine Creek.

Lee Cuesta kayak in Lake Cassidy.

The day was sunny with high clouds.  Temperature was pleasantly warm, not a scorching heat, but rather more of a radiant warmth, perhaps enhanced because I was wearing compression sleeves, primarily as a sunblock.

We saw a very blue Great Blue Heron, flying low over the lake twice.  Not only him, but also the sky appears much more blue, thanks to the co-con restrictions, which, in turn, causes the lakes around here to be more blue.  This heron looked quite large — huge wingspan, of course — with his legs curled up beneath him.  Lake Cassidy also is home to a family of eagles.  While bicycling along the Centennial Trail, we had previously identified their nest, which today was occupied by two juveniles, while their parent was searching for their meal.  (In this not-too-clear photo, the eagles’ nest is visible to the right of center.)

We heard the juveniles calling out to the parent.  First we saw him (or her) soaring above the lake.  But then, oddly, we found him prancing on the ground on the northern shore.  To us, this seemed like unusual behavior.  We kept our distance on the lake, to not disturb him, while I tried to capture this on video.  We speculated that he had just captured his own meal, perhaps a rodent, and was consuming it.  Eventually he took off and soared away to catch the next prey that he would take home to the nest, and his hungry offspring.

There are almost no houses or buildings along the northern or eastern shores because there is essentially no solid shoreline.  Instead, it is very marshy with cattails, lilypads and other water plants.  So mostly there are modest, older houses set far back, with long docks stretching beyond the marshland to the lake.  Thus, Lake Cassidy is not overdeveloped, unlike most of the lakes around here.  Two geese flew low together across the lake; the remainder of their flock was resting on a long front lawn at one of the houses.  And I saw one lonely duck, while my paddling companion was investigating whether there were any frog eggs in the marsh along the shoreline.

Catherine Creek wetlands

Lee Cuesta kayak in Catherine Creek wetlands of Lake Cassidy.

Several birdhouses are mounted on poles along the lake’s southern shore, and they appear to be occupied.  Exploring this southern end of Lake Cassidy is the highlight of this outing.  “Fed by Little Martha Lake, Lake Cassidy drains southward to the Pilchuck River via Catherine Creek.”* My paddling companion was ahead of me, and as I headed through the water-lillies and into the tall bulrushes and coontails, I could no longer see her.  She was completely hidden.  In this wetland area where Lake Cassidy converges to form Catherine Creek, narrow channels meander through the marsh.  I paddled into a wider area among the tall reeds by myself, but soon decided I should find my companion.  It was so much fun exploring this secluded area.  We continued following the creek, noticing a slight current, until we came to a bridge crossing it.  That’s when we agreed to turn around and head back into the lake.  This adventure allowed us to discover perfect solitude and quietness in a tranquil zone with bird sounds and dragonflies, accessible only by kayak.

Lee Cuesta kayak in Catherine Creek wetlands of Lake Cassidy.

In case you were wondering, how does Lake Cassidy compare in size to one of our favorite lakes, Blackmans Lake (that’s right, no apostrophe) in Snohomish?  Well, Lake Cassidy itself is roughly twice as big, and its watershed is approximately five times bigger.  Here are the stats: 

“Blackmans Lake is located within the City of Snohomish, just east of Hwy 9. The area of the lake is 62.9 acres with an average depth of 14 feet. The watershed, or the land area that drains into the lake, covers 510.7 acres and about 50% of that land is developed.”

 “Lake Cassidy is located north of Lake Stevens and three miles east of Marysville. The lake covers 131.0 acres and has an average depth of 11 feet. The watershed, or the land area that drains into the lake, covers 2,649.6 acres and about 18% of the land is developed.”

I never realized before how shallow are some of these glacier-formed lakes.

Lee Cuesta kayak in Lake Cassidy.

How I now disembark

And now for the most important and final event of this outing!  Perhaps by this point you’re wondering how that PVC contraption works, the one you’ve noticed in the photos.  As usual, I paddled hard and fast in order to beach my kayak on the gravel launch area.  I laid my paddle aside, tethered to my kayak with a lanyard.  Then I began to remove my new PVC device from its cargo location.  Once free, I inserted it into the cabin.

The two long arms in the front, which you can see in the photos, extend inside the cabin toward the bow.  Then I take the T-shaped leg and insert it into the top of this piece.  By the way, that T-shaped leg is dual-purpose.  I also used it to push off when launching my kayak at the beginning of the outing.  Then I attach the brace between the cross-arm and the leg, forming a strong triangle structure.  (The purple piece in the photos is not part of it.  It’s only there to support it for the picture, which isn’t needed when it’s inside the kayak.)

At the current age of my current body, and after my legs have been dormant for approximately two hours, I’ve discovered that disembarking from my kayak is the most difficult chore of the outing.  So this PVC apparatus permits me to pull myself up, and then stand with stability.  Slowly (being a Tai Chi master) while holding the device for support, I lift one foot and place it outside the kayak.  Still gripping the device, I lift my other foot out, and I have successfully disembarked using my new device!

At that point, I feel super good about disembarking without being clumsy.  It really worked!  I was elated.  So of course, my new device has a patent pending, and if somebody else tries to sell you one who claims that “one size fits all,” don’t buy it. Each style of kayak is unique, and so my device must be custom built.  Of course, kayak manufacturers could make these for each of their kayak styles.  Licensing agreements are available.  Or, after this co-con is over and relegated to the inglorious section of our global history, I’ll come over to your house and build one for you.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  And to all you Baby Boomers like me:  have fun again!

Lee Cuesta

Footnote:

*https://snohomishcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/62592/cassidy

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Urinalphobia and The New ADD — My Top 2 Pet-Peeves

(Note from Lee Cuesta: I am offering this light-hearted guest post amid this temporary national emergency with the intention that it might bring some humor and levity to your periods of self-isolation and social-distancing. As noted at the end, you have my permission to reprint this in your publication or on your website if you’d like a short, humorous piece for your audience.)

Guest post by Don Delfeen*

My first pet-peeve:

The New ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

People who are starved for attention; i.e., people who believe that nobody pays them enough attention: these people are classified as having Attention Deficit Disorder. They are people who suffer from an attention deficit. So what do they do? They go overboard trying to generate more attention for themselves. This is the new definition for ADD. Some examples:

⦁ well-to-do retirees in muscle cars or hot-rods. Although they want me to smile, nod and acknowledge their fancy wheels, my passive-aggressive nature forces me to look the other way.

⦁ the customer who walks into the home improvement superstore with a large tropical bird, either brightly colorful or pure white, on their shoulder. They are begging the public to admire their bird, and by extension, to notice them as well. They are starved for attention.

⦁ insecure individuals covered with tatoos, or the ones with ultraviolet hair. They are silently screaming, “Look at me!”

⦁ people who sigh heavily, expecting me to acknowledge them for this reason.

⦁ people who laugh because of something they see on their smartphone, expecting me to ask, “What are you laughing about?”

Finally, there are people who ask me “How are you?” solely because they expect that I am going to turn it around and ask how they are, because they have some sickness or ailment or medical procedure they want to tell me about. So I will never reciprocate with that question because I don’t want to know how they are, and I refuse to open the door for them to tell me.

As I just said, my passive-aggressive nature forces me to look the other way and ignore all those are starved for attention, who suffer with the new ADD. When you hear about this new disorder later, remember that you read it here first. Thanks. I need the attention.

#2. Urinalphobia

What’s up with the modern masculine male identity? In the restroom at the home improvement superstore, there are two urinals separated by a wall, which is one of those restroom “partitions.” Nevertheless, if I am already standing at one of the urinals, other men will inevitably go into a stall to use a toilet, even if only to urinate.

Now, there does seem to be an age factor in this characterization. In general, the older gentlemen — around my age — exhibit no inhibition while they walk up beside me and unzip their flies. On the other hand, younger guys — such as Millennials and younger — will never walk up to the urinal beside me.

It is as if they’ve been feminized and domesticated so thoroughly that they don’t even know what a urinal is. Either that, or they are so self-conscious and shy that they cannot comprehend standing next to another man with both their penises exposed. They suffer from urinalphobia, but what are they afraid of?

In the restroom of a local grocery store that is part of a regional supermarket chain, the urinal is one of those old-fashioned styles that goes all the way down into the floor, and there is no partition between them. Now that might feel intimidating to some insecure punk.

Here is the main reason why I find this urinalphobic behavior so annoying. The sit-down toilet in the stalls is an AquaVantage HET (high-efficiency toilet) by ZURN, and it consumes 1.28 GPF (gallons per flush). Plus, using motion detectors, they flush automatically every time. This is very wasteful for eliminating only liquids. So I want to photocopy this statement and post it inside the stalls, which these urinalphobes will clearly see and read as they are standing there pissing:

“If you are facing this note, then you are peeing.
Don’t be a wasteful moron.
Next time, use the urinal, and not this toilet.
This toilet wastes 1.28 gallons every time it flushes, even to simply remove your liquid pee, you moron.
The urinal uses only 0.125 gallon per flush. That’s why it is called The Pint.
So next time you pee, be a man and walk up to the urinal.”

On the other hand, at my current age, I must admit it is kind of nice not to have one or two other younger guys come and go at the urinal beside me while I’m still standing there waiting for my penis to finish its business.

* A three-minute open-mike performance featuring comedian Don Delfeen
can be seen at the leecuestalive channel on YouTube.

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Text & Artwork Copyright © 2020 by Lee Cuesta Enterprises and Associates (LCEA). Permission is granted to reprint this article in its entirety with the condition that its source (this website) and its author (Don Delfeen) are both acknowledged.

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Where are they now?

The next step in my journey brings me to a town called Tualatin, in the state of Oregon, USA. I’ve gone kayaking on the Tualatin River many times. Nearby, in the marshy ground, the partial skeleton of an ancient mastodon was unearthed in 1962.  These bones are now displayed at the Tualatin Public Library.

This mastodon became the inspiration for a beautiful sculpture that is exhibited outdoors.  This work of art was created by renowned sculptor Brian Keith. Many of his sculptures include children or youngsters, participating in a playful or fanciful moment.  The Tualatin sculpture features a boy gazing at the juvenile mastodon. And as I gazed at the boy who was gazing at the mastodon, I wondered if the time is coming when the only reminder we’ll have of elephants will be a statue like this one.  In other words, when this fictitious boy in the sculpture grows up, will his only image and memory of elephants be a statue?

I am especially concerned about the long-term survival of the Asian elephant population, and its subspecies, the Indian elephants, whose numbers have been receding, and are classified as endangered.  Now, I understand that mastodons are related to modern elephants only insofar as they both belong to the order “Proboscidea,” as follows –

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Proboscidea
After this, mastodons belong to the Family “Mammutidae” and the Genus “Mammut,” whereas Asian elephants belong to the FamilyElephantidae” and the Genus Elephas.”  In this way, the Asian elephant is more closely related to the mammoths, who likewise belonged to the FamilyElephantidae.”

But my point is this:  Once upon a time, there used to be mammals of the order “Proboscidea” on the North American continent.  Where are they now?
.

The fact that the Indian elephants face possible extinction was confirmed in a conversation I had with Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS.  I spoke with him while conducting research for my full-length article about Gajraj that I published on my blog in August, 2017, which is available here.  Kartick told me, “So basically, if you look at the whole world, we’ve lost 98 percent of the wild population of the Asian elephants.”  I asked him, “Do you think that it depends upon this generation or the next to prevent their extinction?”

Kartick responded, “Absolutely. It is really this generation or the next that can do something if there is to be hope. Otherwise, in five years, we could have no elephants. Our children and grandchildren might have to be shown elephants on photos and videos and Youtube, and there wouldn’t be any elephants left in the world.  That is not a distant chance; it is a very real possibility if we are not careful.” He added, “It is frightening and it shows how much on the edge we are, and it’s a very fragile system and a very fragile state for this planet and for its denizens.”

I recently watched the Context talk on YouTube by Mr. Avinash Krishnan entitled, “Postcode Elephants,” in which he affirms that the final opportunity for the survival of the Indian elephant population may reside in the Brahmagiri-Niligiri-Eastern Ghats landscape, located in southern India, which includes  Bannerghatta National Park.

For this reason, I will be traveling to southern India this year to conduct firsthand interviews and investigation, probably involving volunteer work.

Although at this time I am not at liberty to divulge the content of the outline for my new book, these themes are central to it:

  • How will the Indian elephants survive and thrive in an increasingly urban landscape (the outskirts of Bangalore in increasing proximity to BNP), and in the face of habitat loss and fragmentation, which leads to human-elephant conflict (including intelligent and strategic crop raiding)?
  • How has the elephant lost its spiritual and sacred status?
  • Since mitigating HEC is elusive, how is it to be achieved?
  • What is being done by groups such as A Rocha, the Elephants and Bees Project, and the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation, in southern India (Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu)?
  • What strategies are successful (such as Beehive Fences; safe migration corridors; etc.)?
  • Why isn’t it possible for elephants to be cared for, treated and trained humanely (target training), like domestic horses are, with love and compassion?

Lee Cuesta

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Chili-Tobacco Elephant Barrier Experiment in Southern India: Ten-Year Update

By Lee Cuesta

Being the last month of 2019, I’d intended this blog post to be a ten-year update about the Chili-Tobacco Barrier (CTB) mechanism in southern India.  This refers to the Elephant Barrier Experiment that was spearheaded by A Rocha India in 2009; hence, my idea for the ten-year update. In fact, an excellent video about this was published on YouTube on June 18, 2009.  It describes the plight of farmers living close to Bannerghatta National Park whose crops are often raided by Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). These are marginal farmers with less than an acre of land for themselves.  Their principal crop is Ragi, or Finger Millet, which also is a delicacy for the elephants. Ragi is a whole grain that is gluten-free and a staple in South India.*

The Barrier Experiment was conducted in the village of Sollepuradoddi, where human-elephant conflict is at a peak.  The barrier consisted of a mixture of chili and tobacco powders in motor oil that was smeared onto a thick rope, which was suspended around the ragi fields.  For this reason, the workers with A Rocha became known as Haggadavaru (the Rope People).  Based on an elephant’s sense of smell, and thus their strong reactions to chili peppers and tobacco as an alternative, natural deterrent, this barrier mechanism was originally tested in Africa.

It proved very successful where it was implemented around Sollepuradoddi. Elephant footprints (pad marks) and dung deposited by nighttime raiders revealed that elephants would not enter fields surrounded by the CTB mechanism, whereas neighboring fields, unprotected, were ransacked, and full of elephant dung and the pad marks.

Mr. Avinash Krishnan told me, “The farmer in the promo video was one of the chief advocates, as the CTB had nearly 90% efficacy in his farm (test-plots).”  Here is what this farmer says: “Before erecting this chili-tobacco barrier, elephants used to enter my crop fields.  After erecting this fence, the elephants still do come, but because of the smell of chili powder and tobacco powder, the elephants have no chance of entering, all because of the smell.  Even though they come close, they just walk alongside the chili fence and go off. They’ve never entered the crop field.”***

So I contacted A Rocha India via email with specific questions concerning the CTB mechanism and its long-term effectiveness.  However, it’s not the type of ten-year update that I expected. The following information was provided by Mr. Avinash Krishnan, currently the Sr. Research Officer at A Rocha and head of all the Science and Conservation programs.  He began his reply to me by stating: “I’m happy to know of your interest in the CTB mechanism that was piloted in Bannerghatta NP to understand its implications of HEC (human-elephant conflict) resolution.”

But then he writes:  “The project was discontinued after 2010, with a last survey done in the mid of 2009, due to the lack of funds to support the farmers of  the area where the pilot tests were conducted.”

You may be wondering why I wanted to write a ten-year update on a project that was discontinued so soon after its inception.  It is because the website, while upholding the barrier experiment as a success, makes no mention of the fact that it was abandoned soon after it was tested.  So the curious inquirer or the serious researcher assumes that the CTB mechanism is still in use.  But this is not the case.

He continues:  “Therefore the long-term efficacy of this barrier system wasn’t assessed systematically and a few farmers discontinued the barriers due to the lack of resourceful for immanence.  (There are) no data on CTB efficacy, as it was discontinued post the initial survey.

“Sollepuradoddi still remains a high conflict zone for elephant raids; however, through A Rocha’s other conflict mitigation initiatives we have been progressing, trying to resolve crop depredations, mainly reducing human deaths due to retaliation.”

I asked him to identify and explain these “other conflict mitigation initiatives,” and he replied:

“Our latest project using technology to mitigate HEC is testing the long-term efficacy of the MATAM (monitoring and trip alert mechanism) early-warning system for human-elephant conflict management in Bannerghatta NP. This is a novel initiative in Bannerghatta and is aimed at improving the existing system of breach detection. Apart from this we have been consistently assisting the forest department  in identifying conflict hotspots for erection of physical barrier systems, such as the railway fence.”

So I asked him, has HEC been mitigated?  In other words, is there greater harmony between humans and elephants?

He wrote: “There cannot be a fool proof mitigation approach to any human-wildlife conflict scenario. Harmony is very subjective, but needs continued engagement and conservation efforts to increase tolerance of people towards wildlife that causes harm to their life, crop and property.

“Our community-based conservation model ‘Bangaloreans for Bannerghatta,’ a citizen outreach initiative, is aimed at curating programs and monthly events to bring in CBC’s to the farmers of the landscape to look at alternative/supplementary livelihood options and also sensitizing them about importance of forests and wildlife through media such as art, natural history and eco awareness.”

HEC is becoming an increasingly potent issue in this region of India, especially as Bengaluru increases its proximity to Bannerghatta NP.  In fact, Krishnan states during a lecture that was recorded and posted on YouTube: “This is perhaps the only national park in the world (Bannerghatta NP) that has a wild tiger and a wild elephant so close to a metropolitan city.  Nowhere else. Nowhere else in the world will you find these two charismatic animals, that are the flagship for conservation, so close to (an urban area; i.e.,) Bangalore. So we are looking at these two species competing with eight million people; … you can imagine the kind of pressures that could exist on this important landscape, an important ecosystem.”

The CTB mechanism “has been implemented in several regions of India (Tamilnadu, Assam, Karnataka and parts of Kerala adjoining elephant habitats), but due to its limited success and long-term involvement of communities for maintenance, it has been mostly discontinued in most of the elephant conflict zones, for other ‘social’ barrier systems. (The) bee-hive fence is the most popular and sustainable method. Its implication for Bannerghatta NP is currently being explored.”  Bee-hive fences as a barrier mechanism will be the topic of a future blog post.

HEC mitigation must recognize the problems and challenges of both the humans and the Asian elephants.  That is why I will be traveling to India in 2020, for my next book: how will these barrier mechanisms contribute to the Indian elephants’ survival . . . or their extinction?  How do they interface with habitat fragmentation? Or migration corridors?

During the test period for the CTB mechanism in 2009, their source for the chili and tobacco powders was “local markets around Bangalore city.”  In order to properly maintain the rope barriers, “the deterrent mixture should be smeared on the ropes at least once a week for great efficacy as understood by our research.”  However, “We do not have any (photographic) content to show elephants near a CTB fence as camera traps where not in development around Bannerghatta NP during the time of testing.”

Have the villagers become autonomous in implementing this mechanism?

“Nope. And can never unless the costs are sustainable for maintenance.”

Therefore, A Rocha India no longer is known as Haggadavaru (the Rope People), but rather “as ‘elephant people’ in a more generic sense.”

So the ten-year update about the CTB mechanism in southern India is that it was discontinued ten years ago.  You’ll want to keep this in mind if you watch any of the videos in various venues online.

Nevertheless, A Rocha India has been “continuing to monitor and manage Asian elephants in this landscape since 2003, using science, education and outreach methods for conservation. The focus now is to expand our work into other elephant landscapes of the country.”  The primary landscape to which Krishnan is referring is called the Brahmagiri-Niligiri-Eastern Ghats landscape, per his YouTube lecture.**  He states: “This is a very important landscape.  And this is probably the only place in India that can ensure the future survival of elephants.”

(Author’s Note: The purpose of this informal blog post is to spark questions and dialogue.  I acknowledge that this post is very informal compared with my full-fledged, crafted and edited articles.  But I felt vindicated when I read this quote from the book entitled Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, likewise published in 2019: “It’s not that edited, formal writing has disappeared online [there are plenty of business and news sites that still write much like we did in print], it’s that it’s now surrounded by a vast sea of unedited, unfiltered words that once might have only been spoken.”)

Footnotes:

https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/benefits-of-ragi-a-wonder-grain-1400676

**https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9gHnwMq3iY

***https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3_dXOMcRqM

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Permission is granted to reprint this article in its entirety, or in part, with the condition that its source (this website) and its author (Lee Cuesta) are both acknowledged.

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Lake Roesiger: Like paddling on both a “river” and lakes in one, single outing

We finally did it!  And this is our last paddling trip for 2019.  It is the last Sunday of October, the perfect autumn day, something we experience almost every year in the Pacific Northwest:  an “Indian summer,” gorgeous summer-like days after the initial rainy autumn storms subside. There is a break in the gloomy weather, and for a week or two, the sunshine and its warmth return. You can depend on it.  Sometimes we go to a solitary beach along the Pacific Ocean.

This year, instead, we finally took our kayaks paddling on Lake Roesiger (pronounced RAW-si-gur).  What a contrast from the last time I was there! It was in January, 2017, and there was thick ice on Lake Roesiger right up to the shoreline and boat ramp, where today we are launching our kayaks. Not the entire lake was frozen over, but the southern section still had thick ice, as you can see in the video that I posted on YouTube.  Here’s the link:

Ice on Lake Roesiger

Today is just the opposite:  60 degrees, clear blue sky; fall colors: red, yellow, orange leaves against the backdrop of mostly evergreens: Douglas firs and cedars.  Because the lake is uniquely configured in three sections, connected by narrower, shallow channels, I am describing today’s outing in terms of “outbound” and “inbound,” rather than merely circling the perimeter of a lake.

OUTBOUND:

The boat launch is secluded; it is actually located on Middle Shore Road, off of S. Lake Roesiger Road, on the eastern side of Lake Roesiger’s southern tip.  This morning, as we launch, the lake is super placid; there is no breeze, and so the lake’s surface provides a bright, clear, colorful reflection. A prominent mountain peak rises in the background, to the north, which I’m not able to identify.  As we approach the northern edge of this southern section, a small house with a bright red metal roof is our landmark to head into the first slender, shallow channel, veering to the west and north.

This outing is like kayaking on both a lake and a river because shallow channels — where it is easy to see the bottom, and the vegetation growing there — connect the three sections of the lake.  We see ducks flying, a bald eagle soaring, and a large flock of geese on somebody’s lawn and sitting on a long fallen log protruding into the water. Nice houses snuggle right up to the lake’s edge; however, the narrower, river-like channels are less densely populated.  In this constricted area, buoys mark the navigable channels and no-wake zones. Also, the lillypads here are dense, even at the end of October; so what would they be like in the summer?

We are the only kayakers on this outbound leg.  Entering the lake’s second section, we encounter a small fishing boat, with two fishermen.  Powered motorcraft are permitted on this lake. The northern part of Lake Roesiger, though, is the largest, and when get out onto this main portion of the northern section, the wind begins to kick up and I wonder two things.  First, what happened to the placid lake with no breeze? And second, are we going to make it safely to the other side? It is a challenge paddling in this wind, and the waves are formidable. I look back to make sure my companion is OK.

We cross all the way to the lake’s northern cove because I couldn’t remember exactly the contour of the lake, and so I don’t know for certain if this is the northernmost segment. There are two coves, to the west and to the north.  Entering this quiet cove, the water is tranquil, with debris such as leaves and fir needles floating on the surface. We can see now that we’ve reached the end of our outbound journey. As we rest here for a few minutes on this still water, we eat some of our protein snack with apple slices.

INBOUND:

Beginning our return trip, I am briefly disoriented at first.  I realize that for some reason, I am paddling due east when I should have headed to my right, or south.  So I wind up almost at the center of the lake. My paddling partner patiently waited for me. While I am out here, though, in the middle of the lake, the darkness of the water stuns me, and I wonder how deep it is.  One website states: “The lake has three distinct areas with the center area being shallow and the northern part of the lake being the deepest, with depths to 115 feet.”

Now I put on my sunglasses, and I feel considerably warmer as we are facing the sun on this inbound leg, headed due south.  We are passed by a couple of speed boats that are going very slowly, causing no wake. I can hear their engines rumbling, and I look back to see them approaching, only crawling.  One man greets us from his house on the shore: “It’s a beautiful day to be on the lake,” he says.

Several families are in their yards along the lake; a couple of guys stand on their deck high above, grilling and laughing.  Low sunlight comes from the south; at one point, we could make out no houses on the shore, only the trees, backlit, almost in silhouette.

Then we notice something very peculiar.  At first, in the distance on the water, I can see something large with a couple of headlights coming slowly toward us. We are nearing one of the narrow channels marked by buoys.  We paddle away from the channel to let it pass. What we are seeing is this: coming in the opposite direction, it is a floating wooden dock with a small outboard motor that’s being controlled by a guy wearing a blue sweatshirt and jeans sitting on a low beach chair with his dog.  He is towing a large flat, gray pontoon party boat with a man and woman coming through this channel in the shallow section of the lake.

We see many fish jumping; earlier it looked like one of the guys in the small fishing boat had one on his line. “The lake holds rainbows, silvers, and spiny rays including bass,” according to the same website cited earlier: Lake Roesiger details

Two women are paddling in separate kayaks on the southern section of Lake Roesiger.  As we beach our kayaks beside the boat ramp, and climb out, one of the speed boats is being pulled onto a trailer.  I realize that, except for the small, fishing boat with two men, the only other boat traffic we encountered has been on this inbound trip; it has been a tranquil, solitary day.

Approximately two miles from south to north, this has been a four to five mile round trip.  We finally did it, after anticipating it for over two years. And this was our last paddling trip for 2019.  Now our kayaks are winterized, one hanging in the garage, and three others under a tarp in the backyard. There they will stay until next spring, and family get-togethers in the summer, when we’ll visit this lake again, and explore Panther Lake for the first time.   As I mentioned earlier, I think Lake Roesiger is really fun because it feels like being both on lakes and a river in the same outing.

Lee  Cuesta

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