Today I took the ferry across the bay from Puerto Santa Maria to Cadiz.  Took a bike and rode around the city sea-wall and around the old city center.  It is a great ride around the sea-wall.  It reminds one of the age of some engineering works. For here we have fortifications that have been four hundred years in the making.  I saw forts and castles built three hundred years ago to defend the city from the French, the Brits, and the Dutch, who attacked at different times.

It reminds us that closure of tailings facilities for 100 or even 200 years is but the outcome of the short history of North America, and not something founded in a profound perspective of real long-term history.  Clearly we can build facilities that last four-hundred years.  The people of Cadiz did.

True defense of their small city was a survival issue.  And true that closure of most mine tailings facilities is not anybody’s defense or survival issue.  I accept that social  utility may be the basis of a rejection of a long closure performance period.  But after seeing what I saw today, I cannot accept the reason too often given: we do not know how and cannot do it.




Spain and Mt Polley


I have spent the past few weeks in Rota, Spain with my son and family.  The sun shines on the house patio—most times. Athough some days the mist endures all day and it is cold.   Today the sun overcame the mists by about eleven a.m., and it was fun to sit in the sun and read John Grisham’s book The Last Juror.Sometimes I come inside and work on the computer.  I read what is written on Mt Polley and update an EduMine course that I am writing on Risk Assessment, Decision Making, and Management of Mine Geowaste Facilities.  For the failure of Mt Polley tailings facility is the best possible current example of the failure of risk assessment, decision making, and management of geowaste facilities we know of. Continue Reading »


Today I sat in the sun and finished the 1993 novel by John Le Carre called The Night Manager.  This is the first Le Carre book I have gotten into.  The others that I tried bored me or confused me to the extent that I abandoned them after the first chapter.  But this one gripped me and had me in its thrall all day in the sun.

No possible correlation between the story of British and USA secret intelligence operations and modern-day mining. Or is there?

I leave you to read the book, consider the news, and decide.  Maybe a perfect parable for Mt Polley if we seek  stories of power, corruption, arrogance, incompetence, and plain old human folly.  A good love story too.  It is hard to believe there is a love story buried in Mt Polley.  Although there must be–it will take a good journalist or novel-author to tell the love story that is entwined in the tailings failure.  Maybe when I am eighty I will take a try!



Paella Rota Cadiz


Yesterday we stopped in at the fish market in Rota and bought a variety of fish.   Then to the local Supermarket to buy Paella rice and sauce.   Tonight, my son cooked a fish Paella with the purchases.  Magnificent.

The rice is cooked slowly in a frying pan with lots of the broth.  Then the fish are added.  With a great bottle of wine, the result is perfection.

The grandkids did not like any of it.   They preferred the bread and soup.  Typical.  I only wonder how many years it will take before they slough off the childish aversion to anything new and different and enjoy the multiple tastes of the many countries in which they have, and will, live.


The sun set over the bay looking to Cadiz.  The sun made a bright arc of gold on the sea.  Where today I went with the grandkids to make castles in the sand, throw the ball for the dog, and collect shells and rocks of diverse shape and color.

This is perfection.  Can it be contained, continued, and made eternal?  No.  But to be enjoyed in its present perfection.



Looking forward to 2015.   A picture taken today on the beach that kind of captures this idea.  Then sun got hot and we shed outer layers to keep cool.  Then the wind sprang up and we retreated in-doors to a fire and brandy. Continue Reading »

Happy New Year


The sun is shining on the patio where we sit looking across the bay from Cadiz.  Here is a picture of a wooden ship in the local harbor, Sherry Bay.   All considered it has been a good year.  So to all let me wish a Happy 2015.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 220,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 9 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


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