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May 16, 2014


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My office recently relocated to DC ranch.

In half a century of hiking the desert, I have never seen a Gila Monster in the wild.

Recently, a FedEx driver showed me a video on her phone of a Gila monster in an entryway near the office.

I guess Gila Monsters have been living in pricier areas than where I hiked.

P.S. They are building 5000+ square foot homes in DC ranch as fast as they can. It also looks like one of the CC &R's is that the family car MUST be a current year Range Rover.

Snake removal is free, but have a heart attack and the ambulance ride is not; thanks for nothing you rich bastards.

By the way, living in the non-city, 12 miles outside of Show Low, we have a different relationship with our serpents.

Timber rattlers, quite rare, are relocated by a gopher hole and given a hearty "go get um!".

Gopher and bull snakes, one was on the back stairs yesterday, are greeted and asked to stay visiting as long as they wish.

Seems like if you keep snakes out of politics, they can be pretty good neighbors.

I've seen two Gila Monsters. One was in the Superstitions, an ugly beast. The other, and the first, was off the Summit Trail on Camelback and it was a red and cream beauty. Strangely, the AiResearch test facility in San Tan use to keep a pet Gila Monster (don't get too upset about the endangered species stuff, this was in the 1960s) and had a roadrunner that hung around for handouts too. I've seen rattlers up on Camelback too, usually after someone behind me points them out. If you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone.

Jon I have held off on the snake blog waiting for some comment from Satan and his thoughts on the subject. Never once was there a snake that survived my mothers hoe. I even thought about not commenting as I have come to the conclusion that as long as the planet earths dumbest inhabitants, humans, are here, the earth is fucked.

In about 53 while with my buddy Wayne Hancock hunting desert tortoises in a wash around Peoria and 12 Street to sell to my Sunnyslope neighbors, I was struck by a female non rattling rattlesnake in the side of my combat boot. Penetration to my flesh was not made, However Hancock turned around and shot the snake that was attached to my boot. Scary!
I have never known a snake that cared to associate with a human.
(I have since learned of an exception. A friend of mine spent the summer with one on his porch. Read “Some of the Dead are Still Breathing”)
Regarding the Sonoran desert I must repeat I still think Teddy’s approval of Roosevelt dam was a huge mistake. But then I am still mad at the queen of Spain for her rape of South, Central and North America. That said nothing has changed those with a desire for 5000 foot square homes keep coming. And they keep killing those that existed here centuries before Mother Nature gave them a thought. Being wealthy I believe makes many stupid and wasteful. But then I got a lot of Scottish frugality in my bones. So today I put out food for the birds, the rabbits and the coyotes outside my 300 square foot abode:
Following is a comment Charles Bowden made in an interview. Initially he is talking about very smart Ravens. And I think that eventually those folks in Troon and others will become the feast of scavengers.
Bowden: You know their bodies can’t really break down the tissue and so it rots a little. We turn on the oven. It’s the same reason. They’re very friendly. They live in a hierarchy. I once was at a desert water hole sixty miles from anywhere (Christ, they’re coming in to roost now) and they spent a week living about twenty-five yards from me disassembling a coyote. Every day they’d show up at the water hole at the same time, and they’d all line up like penguins to drink in this pecking order, and then they’d go back to the coyote. After a while, you know, we were just like neighbors. I got to observe them up close. It’s not a full-time job being a vulture. It’s not like they work all day. They spend a lot of time playing with each other and shooting the shit. Then I had the same experience with rattlesnakes.

Speaking of depraved Humans
1) Former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari figured Mexico's drug cartels net $30 billion a year, more than the U.S. bailout of Mexico. In 1995, Salinas fled the country under suspicion of ties to the drug cartels.
Carlos Salinas is another one of those wealthy that needs a big house in a gated community.

For more about victims of the I can never have enough.


This is the most dangerous time of year for snakes. They’re just coming out of hibernation and they are slow. For some unfortunate reason they like to lay out in the middle of a trail or road to allow the sun to warm them up. We have several dangerous snakes here in the southwest, the Rattler, Coral and Red Racer (or Side Winder, or is it the other way around?). Interestingly, harmless snakes look like and imitate venomous snakes to keep predators away. Because I can never remember the rules to tell them apart, I think it’s best to stay away from all of them. That said, I have always been curious about the symbolism of the snake, Caduceus, as medicinal and other good things.

One time my nephew caught a harmless wild snake and put it up my niece’s pant leg to hold while in the truck ride home. She was terrified but found the experience very interesting.

Regarding that very graphic picture from Bowden’s article; if I was not told that the person was stabbed so many times, I would say the Ravens got to his eyes. They go for the soft flesh first and, if anything remains after the coyotes and vultures, they usually wait for the body to decompose (for digestive reasons) before they scavenge on it.

Suzzane, Red Racers are not poisonous but Coral snakes are. However you have to try hard to get bit by a Coral snake as they are very small. You almost got to stick your finger in their face. Snakes like humans enjoy a good bask in the sun. Unfortunately they lay on warm highway pavement rather than around the pool.
I take it it was your nieces first time?

Nature red in tooth and claw....and that includes us. It's too bad we can't communicate with our mute lessers since I imagine their fear of humans is fairly intense. Unfortunately, they just can't get into a RV and relocate. If they did, we'd eventually engineer a land swap with the US Forest Service and take that habitat away, too. This reminds me how the mayor of Sierra Vista once complained about environmentalists trying to keep the San Pedro River flowing above ground. They loved other species more than their own! It's hard to imagine a more anti-human claque than the growth-at-any-cost business and political class. If nature is disenchanted with us, we more than repay its unhappiness with our oblivious greed. Loving nature the way we do means watching the Discovery Channel on a 60-inch flat-screen TV. Or building a McMansion far away from other people. And if a forest or brush fire threatens it, making sure city-dwellers are on the hook for saving it. That's welfare for the "producers". If you're poor, however, you do us all a favor and die.

A civilization this vile will not endure. I don't mean that in a moralistic way, although that's the emotional temperature of my protest. Rather, there's so little consciousness here that it can't even save itself. Hence, the wholesale denial of climate science. It can't be true! It would spoil the orgy God told us to have!

I've heard some people refer to human beings as a garbage species. Sounds a little harsh, no? But you look at Arizona and realize there's more than a little truth in that. The problem is that we're all guilty, not just the Living Large Republicans. You can't simply command, as the growth claque reminds us, that the gate be closed after we conveniently arrived. Nope. We're all responsible, even killjoys like us. And when it finally does end, no one will care if you were right or wrong. No one will filter the Internet to see if there were Jeremiahs among the Fat, Dumb, and Happy. If some survive, they'll go about trying to reconstruct the fantasy where humans are not contingent beings. It's our fate as a species.

Bravo Soleri
Now I await comment from an Ubanist, Petro

cal, "I take it it was your nieces first time?" With snakes? Ya, I think it was her last too. She is a lesbian.

soleri, "Rather, there's so little consciousness here that it can't even save itself." We think we are invincible like teenagers and Gods. Something needs to happen to thin the crop.

I recently read an article by the BBC about the Sinaloa cartel. The part I found most interesting was this: “The blood flowed when, several years ago, the trafficking of crystal meth began to overtake that of the "noble" drugs marijuana and cocaine, he says. . . . They give them a rifle, they give them drugs and those people turn crazy, they don't think about tomorrow. People are sick - the ones who kill and the ones who send them to kill."

Suzanne "soleri, "Rather, there's so little consciousness here that it can't even save itself." We think we are invincible like teenagers and Gods. Something needs to happen to thin the crop."
God has promised them a land of Milk and Honey (forever) or until they get to Heaven. And they are afraid to look back (least they become a pillar of salt) at the havoc they have racked.

Suzanne I am awaiting some research on the BBC Cartel article as I previously read some comment on it by others in the trade.

Suzanne It's not fair to blame a humans life choices on a harmless snake.

Well, cal, I'm not an "urbanist" by any measure. I gaze upon our cities with a great deal of guilt precisely because I am most comfortable around glass and concrete. It's a complex issue for me, since I grew up in a heavily wooded area adjacent to our property in NJ, which I loved equally as well (lots of wildlife and fruit & nut-bearing trees, not to mention the meditations of just sitting in the "woods," as they're called where I come from.)

But I'm also a child of the futuristic '50's and '60's, when we were inevitably going to explode into space and live a life of swish-doors luxury. So I have a bit of preemptive nostalgia for the oil-fueled semi-utopia that was the twentieth century. Especially so, for it is soon to die, and maybe even within my aged life-span. It need not be said that the whole project was misguided, but I'll say it anyway.

Anyway, I wholly endorse soleri's recent comment. It's funny, because I was thinking of Tennyson's admonition today, and soleri opened his comment with "Nature red in tooth and claw....and that includes us." I was thinking that this astute observation is most certainly tainted by a projection of the observer (Tennyson, and ourselves.) I think the dance of harmony in nature is under-appreciated by predators like ourselves. :)

Petro, let the guilt fly away. As you said, you grew up around fruits and nuts. You were being groomed to live and die in AZ.

I'm going to go out on a limb and ASSUME that a snake thread is just about the same as an "open forum".

Therefore, based on experiences being experienced by many family and friends,
I have a prediction: If our generation and the leftovers of the previous generation do not embrace EUTHANASIA, we are in for a world of HURT. There are not enough bodies and money to provide care for the poor souls who need to leave this planet, and now. If you are in pain, in control of none of your functions, angry, or any other dozen medical problems, you really do need to leave. We need a light rail to Oregon with a helium gas chamber to welcome us and send us home.

Ruben, I agree.

is there a light rail stop in AJ ?

A glimmer of hope:


Sorry for another outage:


This is a good book review:

I agree with you. But I have a question: What was Willo before there were houses there?

Willo was farmland. But more important, it was a mile from the city center.

The problem on display in north Scottsdale and Yarnell and all over Arizona is runaway sprawl.

The built environment being rammed into the wilderness. No respect for the singular beauty and majesty of the place. So the costs mount, not merely aesthetic but in removing varmints, fighting fires, dealing with expensive infrastructure and a fight for water resources.

Nadia and Jon
and before it was farmland?


If you're headed to "all cities and too many humans are bad," that's beyond the goal of this column.

Again: Willo was contiguous to the old town and close to its center: scalable, compact, local and sustainable, built slowly. Built for walking, streetcars and oasis shade. Much of it built before air conditioning. It is not the equivalent, in another era, of the north Snottsdale abortion.

The alluvial flatlands of the Salt River Valley had been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. They are also far less hospitable to saguaros.

So, if you want to preserve the most beautiful parts of the desert and the most saguaros, you would want compact, dense cities, less car dependence, and growth boundaries. And, sure, taxes to pay for quality density and deter population growth.

But the point of this column was 1) The destruction of this priceless part of the desert that had co-existed with Phoenix as a large city before the leapfrog north Snottsdale land plays, and 2) The hypocrisy of the majority of residents who vote against gub'ment and taxes — and yet want free government snake removal from their designer pools.

Beyond that, I suggest Clifford Simak's science-fiction novel "City." A friend turned me onto it.

Jon - are you so young that you don't realize ALL metro areas develop like this? My neighborhood, on Chicago's west-side, was prairie in the 40s & 50s. Today, it is a nest of urban blight; BTW, we had streetcars on Division St. then. I lived on the line and they were noisy and cold. Westsiders celebrated when the CTA buses came on line. Those buses are still running.

Portland didn't. And the others don't soothe my heart when seeing the unconscionable damage done to one of God's singular creations.

When all else fails, cite 'Portland'. Is that ALL you've got?

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