Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday Summary

I read this week -- and I find it somewhat hard to believe -- that only 7% of the world has the climate and the tree species to enjoy the kind of autumn foliage that I have been gazing at the past few days. The article said only the northern US and southern Canada enjoys these days of glorious red-orange-gold above our heads. Surely part of Europe does also and so on around the world and then there's the southern hemisphere, South America, Australia and New Zealand, maybe they don't have the oaks and maples and beeches and so on. True or false, it's been a magnificent week and I haven't had my camera but I'm going to take it today and snap a few pictures.

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Don't you sometimes wonder what kind of people become judges? A judge this week refused to dismiss a suit that named a four-year old little girl who was riding her bike on training wheels on a sidewalk in New York and unfortunately ran into an elderly woman with a walker who fell and broke her hip. In fact a little boy who was riding beside her was also sued and his lawyer didn't ask for dismissal. Both mothers were present and are also names, which seems appropriate enough though still petty and money-grubbing of the plaintiff. Maybe the children shouldn't have been riding there but is every accident a reason to go to court? It is not against the law for children to ride trikes, bikes, scooters, or skateboards on the sidewalks in NYC.

Talking about little people and also New Zealand as above, filming of The Hobbit was in question because of an actors' union's demands for representation. Defenders of "Wellywood" [named for Wellington] marched in the streets protesting. Finally the legislature passed a ruling that local actors could work as independent contractors and did not have to join the union. So, hurray! Bilbo Baggins will fight Schmog, the dragon, in the same landscape where his nephew, Frodo, saved Middle Earth. Lord of the Rings is one of my all time favorite movies and books and I love The Hobbit too, almost as much as Winnie the Pooh. [That is true but I added it for the rhyme.]

Middle Earth is fictional but our real earth continues to reveal more and more of its wonders and wealth and leaves scientists and thinkers with new questions. Primate bones found in Libya have raised the question of just where life actually started, calling into question the presently accepted idea of central Africa being the original Garden of Eden. A bit less profound but interesting: in India a finding of much amber has revealed many previously unknown species of insects as well as bit of unknown plants embalmed in the hardened resins.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Middle of the night

Billiant light penetrates through closed, sleeping eyes and then a cymbal crash of thunder assaults the ears. Awake! A necessary primitive fight-or-flight startle. But we're safely in a house, warm under the covers. Maybe we get up to let the cat in or close the windows, maybe we lie awake listening to continued storm noises, or maybe we fall back asleep quickly and easily. I have for years slept through storms and sometimes am astonished at the puddles or even the damaged trees, the ferocity that I have missed.

Other times, like last night, some unexpected internal lightening and thunder -- not a nightmare [or at least not a remembered one or even remnants of one] -- startled me awake. Not drowsily awake as happens when I've had sufficient sleep and am restless but relaxed. Rather a clear headed awakeness. I could have got up and read a book. But I felt something was asking to e considered although no big outstanding questions needed resolution, expect possibly writing a story that has been waiting to be written for a few years. I think the time has come to write it and determined -- between 12:55 and approximately 4:00 while I was awake -- to do just that.

I also puzzled, without resolution or additional insight about Jane Hirschfield's poem "Button". It had been discussed in a class in which one member who has done more research than I mentioned that she is a practitioner of zen meditation. I had found the first part of the poem clearly a zen state of mind, an ease with the is-ness of circumstance and condition. Her expression was serene and beautiful. But the last six lines took a turn, brought in hope -- which is desire, which is the root of all human unhappiness and the thing that the meditation is meant to banish. It seemed to be banished in the earlier part of the poem. Often I feel when I read poetry that I am following the writer's logic, that something may surprise me [I LIKE those surprises] but the surprising mental turns made sense, the poem becomes a revelation. So I lay in the dark, letting the bedside clock radio play for an hour, interweaving Brahms and Mendelsohn with my wide awake, questioning mental state.

It's axiomatic that older people often sleep badly. Most complain about it and worry about their wakefulness in the wee hours. My state of mind did not fit into that cliche. I was not bothered about being awake for I knew I could spend the day doing what I needed to do with out sleep. I felt, perhaps in a somewhat zen way, that it was okay, it was, for some reason necessary for me to be so wide awake and consumed with literary pondering. This seems to be a part of who I am at this stage -- I think those hours were a little like the hours when one might listen to an all night storm splashing against the windows and a wind howling around the corners of the house. Tomorrow, because today was busy with other things, I will begin writing that story. There was a thought whether it would be part of a novel, a bigger story. That remains to be seen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Touching My Father's Soul, Jamling Tenzin Norgay

Although more Sherpas have climbed Everest than people of other nationalities, this is only the second book written from a Sherpa's point of view -- a very, very different view than that of others who have climbed Everest. Everyone seems to know that Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Everest. That is half the truth. Hillary was accompanied, as an equal member of a two-man team, by Tenzing Norgay. Jamling is Tenzing's son and the only other book written by a Sherpa who climbed Everest is Tenzing's autobiography.

Traveling is a magnificent thing. I have some of Everest inside my head. I flew over it four times, I trekked to Thengboche monastery some 20 miles from Everest base camp and spent two days there with Everest and her sisters in view. I could not imagine the effort such a climb would take nor, really, what the point is. But for Jamling the point was, as the title says, touching his father's soul. This is a profoundly personal, very religious book that shows the Sherpa people, as I found them to be, highly professional, gentle, kind, admirable -- also superstitious. Jamling was recruited [partly, one assumes, for publicity purposes] to be a part of the IMAX expedition when they shot the movie shown in IMAX theatres in the late 1990s. The expedition was on the mountain during the tragic 1996 climbing season when record numbers of climbers died - 10 died in the days before the IMAX team climbed and more died later in the season. Many articles and books have been written about the three day of storm when so many died and others were seriously injured, when some people [mostly Sherpas] were magnificently heroic, and when others were callous, others simply beyond their physical capacity to help anyone including themselves. I read a good many of the articles at the time.

Jamling is a remarkable man. The book reads so smoothly it's clear to me he had excellent editorial help. It never becomes sensational, it tells his father's story parallel to his own and it shows us Sherpa family life, morals and religious respect for the mountains which is combined with superstitions as well, an animism blended with Buddhism which is practiced by the lamas as well as the climbing Sherpas.

I have had the book for possibly five years and did not read it fearing it would be awkwardly written and maybe new age-y. It is neither. Jamling is a man I am happy to "know" through his work -- no, more than happy -- grateful to know -- as I was grateful to know the Sherpas on the treks I did -- they thoughtfully sited our tents in the meadow below Thengboche [where we went to watch a two-day festival] so that our first site in the morning was the sun rising on Everest. Jamling shows us how to live mindfully with love for family, respect toward his colleagues and connection to the physical world that is rare and beautiful.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Summary

This is new news such as I rarely include but this looks pretty amazing. The newest bridge in the US, and now the longest concrete span in the Western Hemisphere, is over the Colorado River, and 900 feet above it, just south of the Hoover Dam -- a spectacular setting for the bridge: mountains, river, dam, lake -- wow!

From the new to the old: on average worldwide, one large ship is sunk every three days. Many of these are old ships from which most usable metal has been removed for resale but the ships still contain many pollutants. Of course, some of the sinkings are ships actively carrying cargo, but by no means are those the majority. Seems a human logical failure to think "out of sight, out of mind."

An ancient user of ships, Cleopatra, needs some rethinking in the minds of most of us who see a vision of Elizabeth Taylor when the name pops up. The real Cleo was not even Egyptian but Greek, and from the coins with her likeness, she wasn't a beauty although she was supposed to have been very witty and unusually wise [or maybe astute is the word] when it came to ruling her country. She even learned to speak Egyptian which none of her Ptolomy predecessors who ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great conquored it had bothered to speak the local language.

Not too far away from Egypt, but in the present, a peculiar sport is played in Yemen: camel jumping. 1,2, 3, maybe 4 camels are made to lie down side by side and then a broad jumper takes off to see how many camels he can leap over. The sport is generations old, played only by men, of course -- in fact women are rarely allowed to even watch.

But back to the US and a bit of history: In 1539 Hernando de Soto on his swing through the South introduced pigs to the continent. Of course a few managed to get free before they became bar-b-cue for the explorers. Today 38 states have problems with feral pigs, some 4 million of the estimated 8 million roaming woods and marshes, are in Texas where they are hunted both from the air and on ground. They do approximately $800 million in property damage a year. This of course has nothing to do with the many millions of domestic pigs grown for food on huge and tiny farms.

Finally a pre-Halloween story from the recent news. A woman in Costa Mesa, CA allowed a homeless woman to sleep in her car. The homeless woman died but the car owner did not report it to the police and continued to drive the car for some 3 or 4 months leaving the corpse in the passenger's' seat under a blanket -- creating a very foul smell and mummifying as time went by. The body was discovered when the woman left the car parked blocking another's driveway and the police were called about the car. People do the damnedest things!

Friday, October 22, 2010


Pure Land Mountain -- see side bar -- is a blog I've been reading regularly for a couple or three years. When Bob Bradley, an American living in Japan, has a lyrical moment his descriptions are better than a great deal of the poetry I find on the blogs of working/publishing poets. I recommend the current post. I envy his facility for description, not too long, not too short, always with an extra layer of meaning.

The photo? Just because I like it and don't like to publish "naked" words.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Even as autumn settles on us, hearty flowers remain, beautiful and cheering. Besides this wonderful patch, I see a very abundant rose garden, hearty old fashioned roses -- some manage to last until Thanksgiving. These flowers can easily be a metaphor for those of us who are in an autumn of life. I see many hearty, active people older than I and I enjoy being in there company.

I have a correspondent who writes that she knows she should walk walk, should lose weight, but inertia has trapped her. Inertia is our enemy. The older we get, the more we have to truly fight inertia, the mutters that the weather is not good enough to go for a walk, the thought,why not have another cookie? It is difficult for those of us with a high threshold for pain to empathize with those who are bothered by every twinge -- we just ignore those twinges. Inertia really is the enemy. The older we become the more we must care, the oftener we have to chant the mantra, "Use it or lose it." That grows truer and truer as the years add up. I don't advocate taking up marathon running in ones 60s; but taking up one of the gentler forms of yoga -- yes! or tai chi -- both exercise the mind as they exercise the body. And about the mind we REALLY mus remember "use it or lose it". I think about these things very, very often. I plan to keep on walking beside the ocean as the weather gets colder -- I have warm clothing. I have ended up near to the ocean at this point in my life and continue to want to know it in all seasons, all temperaments. It was very different today than yesterday, like a person with a touch of the manic/depressive in his personality, calm and lapping yesterday,roiled and slapping today. My legs tell me they are glad I'm using them. My eyes and ears are still full of today's Ocean Voice.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Aging World

Yesterday's NYTimes Magazine had an article about the aging of the world. The article was heavy on statistics from an economist's point of view. For instance, in the US at present there are as many people over 65 as there are people under 28. A similar balance between you and old [the article said "old" not me] is rapidly happening in China and has happened in Europe. The author seems to think this is a bad thing in terms of a work force. He attributes it to lower birth rates once women become educated and longer life now that most the industrialized world shares the same medical knowledge which is helping people live longer. Call me blind or badly educated, but I cannot see that as a problem. It surely calls for rethinking how we live, a new balance of how we view both young and older people. The article seems to be saying that productivity is the purpose of life, industrial productivity, GNP as if making more stuff -- all kinds of stuff -- were a positive good. He doesn't seem to imagine that perhaps a redefinition of just what is needed for a good life might need some rethinking in light of what we are doing to our environment through industrialization.

The author is Ted C. Fishman who has written a book called “Shock of Gray: The Aging of the World’s Population and How It Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival and Nation Against Nation,” The article is adapted from that book which will be published later this month. Why, I wonder, do certain thinkers always couch their considerations as a war, an either/or situation? Maybe it's the publisher who suggested that jaw dropping subtitle, they want to sell books. I find the title entirely appalling, I find such a mind-set appalling. The very best thing about the article, finally, was that it was illustrated with many, many head shots of seniors, none of whom looked dangerous to me [although, of course, they're my contemporaries].

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Somethiing Else Saturday

Busy week and I didn't make notes about the curious things I discovered. So Something Else Saturday, this week. Yesterday I saw a documentary called Fuel, by Josh Tickell. It is a new [2010] film about, as you can guess from the photos, biofeuls. First he made an overlong case about oil as a nonrenewable fuel that will be used up by the middle of century. Various familiar facts that everyone except the oil companies and the US government seem to know. Then he made a very good case for why the US government [unlike the governments of Germany and the Scandinavian countries] can't seem to understand the problems facing us: very early in Bush II's tenure, with much assistance from Cheney, secret meetings were held with the heads all the major oil companies. When a Congressional committee raised questions they were not even allowed to go into an official record and it was arranged that the oil company heads who testified to Congress never had to do so under oath, so when asked if any oil problem was on the horizon they could all say "no," although every single one understood that we would have to invade Iraq to get at a continuing supply. So we had the horrors of the Bush years which still make me almost too angry and ashamed of this country to talk or write coherently.
So, on to diesel fuel -- a lot of information about it that I only partly knew. Biodeisel fuel was beginning to be widely accepted in the US when, a few years ago, a sudden wide-spread fear mongering media campaign hit the American airwaves and newspapers, saying it wasn't really safe, it would use up corn and soybeans needed for people, etc., etc. I expected the film to show that this campaign was masterminded by oil company PR teams -- it didn't. I tend to believe, for lack of solid enough evidence and fear of law suits the film makers can't afford. Probably better to show the film and let people reach their own conclusions about that. I'm not conspiracy seeker, but after the hookwinking of the American people about WMD and Saddam Hussein being the devil incarnate [a title I would give to Dick Cheney], how can we not blame the oil companies.

It's an over-long, rather harranging film but it has many facts about biodeisel people need to know. Even Richard Branson is behind biodeisel and has already prove that he can fly airplanes on it [with much less atomospheric pollution] The DVD is for sale, just Google it: Fuel by Josh Tickell. It's worth the price.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Long Term, Long Distance Friendships

In 1989 Australian playwright, Sandra Shotlander, who I had met ten years earlier, visited me in New York City with her friend Roy Newell. We had a very good visit. Over the years Sandra and I have kept in touch, usually with an update about Roy from her. Now, 22 years after that first meeting, Roy was cruising New England and Nova Scotia and stopping at Newport, Rhode Island for the day [yesterday]. Although I've been visiting this area for over twenty years and have lived on Cape Cod for a year and a half now, I had never been to Newport. But I've read and heard much about the fabulous mansions that were summer homes of the rich at the turn of the last century. When I mentioned my hesitation about showing an Australian around a town I'd never seen myself, my Boston-bred friend, Jan Sisson, offered very kindly and generously to change her work schedule and drive me there. xGI/AAAAAAAADm0/Vf2J8gaoj_Y/s1600/PICT0002.JPG"> If I had written out a work order to the Weather Gods for what kind of day I wanted, I could not have specified a better one. The sky was cloudless, the trees are turning [but not very brightly this year] and the temperature was perfect. We had a little panic about how to find Roy but, being fairly clever women, if I say so myself -- and Jan the most clever about the matter of finding the dock area -- we found him waiting on a bench. And we immediately recognized each other -- white hair doesn't necessarily make all that much difference

We had a leisurely walking tour of the older part of town with many historic houses with placards as in the photo, mostly giving the late 1700s and early 1800s as their date, most were kept in excellent condition, some even were private residences. What a charming town this must have been even before the oligarchs descended on the town We had a break for a very fine seafood lunch and then drove around to see the incredible variety of jaw-droppingly huge summer "cottage" -- well cottage might apply to the gate houses or the garden's homes off to one side or the stables. Roy had seen many of the grand eminences from the bay when his ship arrived early in the morning. It's quite a town, I think I'll go back again although I am not greatly interested in ostentatious furnishings.

I always say that Australians are the most traveling people on earth [the Japanese are definitely close runners up]. I have met Australians in almost every place I've traveled. But it's a treat to spend a day with one who I know so well in a second hand sort of way. I've just emailed Sandra a photo of us and I keep on promising myself that one of these days I'll get to Australia.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Inner Happiness

For some time neuroradiologists at U. of Wisconsin have been engaged in studies of Tibetan monks who are well trained meditators. Matthieu Richard, a Frenchman who became a Buddhist monk early in his life, has been deeply involved in those ongoing MRI studies and has written several books, one called simply Happiness. . This article explains far better than I can why Richard is called "The happiest man in the world." Be sure to read down through the article and notice what he says about sadness. Many people think in terms of opposites, but many opposites disappear for these Buddhist mediators.

In fact I was involved in a conversation Friday evening about forgiveness [it began with a coupe of Jewish people talking about the Holocaust]. I pointed out that the Dalai Lama has continually spoken of harboring no hatred, but feeling compassion, toward the Chinese who have murdered and tortured millions of Tibetans and are systematically destroying the Tibetan culture. I have always felt very uncomfortable with the unforgiving attitude of many Jews toward anything or anyone who is German. The people in the discussion included a psychologist and a minister and it ended before we got deep into feelings. The final agreement seemed to be that forgiveness only comes through maturity. Meditation may be a royal road to emotional maturity.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Freedom of Speech

I don't usually write about politics but reading The NYTimes this morning these articles on facing pages gave me pause for some time. On the left we see China breaking up a dinner to honor the Nobel peace prize winner, Liu Xiaobo who has been in jail in China for most of the past year for his writings telling about China as he sees it. China is quite unhappy about that Nobel -- and it was obviously given to draw attention to Liu and to the lack of freedom of speech in China. Thank you, Sweden for trying to be the conscience of the world.

Opposite on the first National News page is this article about the public rantings of Fred W. Phelps [if you click the photo you can read the placards he and his followers took to the family funeral of a soldier who had died in Iraq. The question whether the First Amendment allows supposedly religious groups [he preaches at a Baptist church] to harass those they dislike even at an event as solemn as a funeral is being brought before a judge.

Another huge spread in the paper today is about a blogger/commentator who calls herself a "racist bigot" against Muslims. She is advocating against the so-called mosque near the World Trade Center. I say "so-called" because the space will serve as a mosque but is not a free standing structure but part of a larger multi-use building. I cannot understand why the NYTimes is giving this disgusting woman so much space. Is it, like most other newspapers in the country, turning scandal monger? Or is there simply not much news today -- which is generally a good thing? Actually there are several others stories, global, national and local, any of which might deserve a deeper look. Some mornings reading the newspaper is a painful exercise.

Other news from Oslo -- the Nobel Prize for Literature went to Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian novelist I have been reading for many years -- it's well deserved. I recommend his books to those who don't know his work.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Summary

The first aerial photograph taken in the USA was on October 13, 1860, a view of Boston from a hot air balloon by photographer James Wallace Black. He knew Nadar, in Paris, had done such photos and had to take developing chemicals aloft with him because the plates had to be treated immediately, so Black did the same. This photo is the oldest aerial photo now in the world. Soon afterward aerial photography was used for reconnaissance in the Civil War.

America's greatest waste of energy may be in the family garbage can. The food thrown out accounts for millions or billions of calories [units of energy --yes, not of fat or sugar] The additional waste of energy from food thrown out includes the energy to grow, transport, sell and cook that food. Think about it, consider more soups made from left overs, other ways to use up what you buy. By the way in an unofficial survey, several people asked to define "calorie" couldn't. So is there any point in listing the calories on menus? Don't most people thing bigger is better so that the new sandwich introduced by Burger King with over 2250 calories must be the best. Right?

The top selling drugs in the US today are antipsychotics, $14.6 Billion a year. They are taken by small children all the way through to geriatric people. These drugs also produce the largest number of law suits. We can say we are a mad nation, however you want to use mad.

In the USA there are 3 million drivers over 85. Their accident rate is 16% higher than other adult drivers. However, those under 25 have an accident rate compared to those over 25 of 188%, and these accidents more often kill people. Grampa may be an irritation on the road, but junior is a serious menace.

Zebras have not been domesticated although people have tried off and on. They are much more skittish than horses or donkeys and have an unpredictable and nasty temper. When they bite they hang on and don't let go. I for one think it's sad they are so untameable, can't you see John Wayne riding a zebra?

We know computers don't really have minds of their own even if sometimes it seems they do. They follow commands. For the British edition of Jonathan Franzen's new novel Freedom, the the computer was accidentally told to print an earlier draft, not the finished one. Several thousand copies had to be destroyed and the publication date had to be pushed back. Reviews suggest it's worth getting the final copy.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Playing the piano, not well but fairly fast

I began piano lessons when I was 6, didn't practice. No more lessons until I was 9 and promised to practice. Began playing the piano for Sunday School when I was 12, played for the high school chorus. About a ten year hiatus. Got a piano when married, at about age 30, soon was taking daughters to piano lessons. Soon they didn't want to practice and teacher said, "stop wasting my time." Okay, said I, "will you teach me? I'll practice." He heard me play and said, "We start with the C major scale." I practiced and I learned something about music for a change instead of just acquiring dexterity.

My mother told me playing the piano would make me popular in school. It wasn't true. Playing the piano introduced me to classical music, that was multiples better than being popular. I am not a good pianist; I now know how bad I am. But I love playing the piano and try to play regularly. I have always been shy of being overheard by lots of other people in apartment buildings. Some may simply be annoyed, some may know how badly I play. However, it gives me so much pleasure that I do it -- but try not to play too loudly, which is fairly easy since I most enjoy Mozart and Schubert and others who wrote not too difficult sonatas.

Today I was chugging along through a Mozart theme and variations, counting semi-aloud [which makes me feel a little like Glen Gould -- oh! I'm a dreamer!] but getting into some of the speedier variations which was fun. There was a knock on the door. A young woman, who was visiting in the apartment across the hall gushed about what a wonderful pianist I am. I demurred of course. But she believed it. She doesn't know classical music but she knows the notes were raining down rapidly and nothing was very disenate, in fact there was a pretty tune running through it.

It's time for me to stop being shy about playing the piano and being overheard. Time to just enjoy it. I keep telling myself that but I'd really love to be living in a stand alone house where I could play with the doors and windows closed and never think about being heard. It's silly to have reached this august age and still feel any kind of shyness. But, gez! Those variations ought to rip along, in places, twice as fast as I can play them and I've heard recordings in which they do. I do love the piano though. And I won't stop.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Learning - that's what it's all about

I am a lazy poetry reader. If I am not grabbed by something in a poem, or if I get into it and get lost in the maze of thoughts or images, I give up. I don't work to figure out what's going on. I miss a lot of very fine poetry this way. To correct this I am taking a course called "Four Contemporary Poets" this semester at the Academy for Lifelong Learning, the same organization where I'm teaching again my writing course, "Writing with the Whole Brain." The poets we are studying, 3 sessions each, are Stanley Kunitz [easy for me to understand and read and much loved by myself and the entire class] who was the first poet. As of today we are reading and talking about Mark Doty who I'd read a bit but not been drawn to. Then will come Jane Hirshfield, who I have not read, and then Richard Wilbur who has been beyond my abilities or tolerance for hard work.

We are reading selections from the book in the picture, Fire on Fire. The three or four poems we discussed today were a revelation to me. I read them and understood parts of them but didn't really try to get more than was on the surface. But much, as in all good poetry, is in layers from the surface to considerable depth. I find an appreciation of beauty, whether a young whale or a marsh or even cheap jewelry that is wonderfully expressed. He is not a "nature" poet and yet he is because he is aware of the world around him and how it can teach him and, as in "The Visitation" where he watches a whale, correct his faulty personal intellectual and emotional compass.

As I listen to people in the class finding meanings I hadn't bothered looking for, I admire poetry more and more. I have never thought I could write poetry although occasionally I write things that look like poetry on the page, and I know that, indeed, I will never write poetry. That's okay. I don't aspire to be a poet. But I do aspire to understand more than I have in the past. This class is a very positive step in that direction. It's the "old dog/new tricks" thing. Yes, yes, we can learn much, we simply must want to and then find the venue for learning.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mystery Solved

Serendipity envelopes me like a bright sunny day every so often. I was taking the above photograph on the beach yesterday having come upon another of the mysteries of nature that I wrote about a couple of days ago. Three women were strolling by and one said to me, "Oh, you're photographing the egg casings. I love to do that too." I didn't even have to admit my ignorance as one of her friends asked, "What are they from?" "Welks," she said, "You know, those big spiral shells we see all the time."
I thanked her for telling me that they were from welks and that I, too, love photographing them, they are so graceful. I am enlightened and also have some of that warm, happy feeling I get when serendipity enters my life like this.

Those who like to make patterns and find reasons for things have been known to say that these coincidences [kind the cars that pull out of a handy parking space just as I arrive, and other such events] are due to being in sync with the world or due to good karma or a blessing one somehow deserves. I don't really believe any of that although it would be comfortable to do so ... and yet not so comfortable for a person of my practical attitude. I like noticing the happenings and don't feel a need for an explanation.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saturday Summary #20

Twenty! Gee whiz! I think it's time to stop numbering, I'm beginning to feel repetitious although it's not.

First, sad and ironic: The tycoon who recently bought the Segway company [see picture above]-- the people moving invention -- was riding the rough terrain version on his estate in Yorkshire, England when he drove off a cliff and fell into a river and drown. Sometimes wearing a hard hat doesn't help.

More people moving: an ideal city, planned to be a mile square, is under construction in the desert near Abu Dhabi. So far only 3-1/2 acres are complete. It will have underground transportation in the form of programmable individual cars that will take you where you want to go with no further guidance from the rider.

More urban information: Italy has the most expensive electricity in the EU. More than 700 municipalities have erected alternate power systems [solar and wind] and are now making more power than they need. It seems that even their venerable and often beautiful cities, economics have trumped local "heritage preservation" -- something that is slowing the erection of wind turbines where I live on Cape Cod.

As for little creatures: We know about the upsurge in bedbug infestations, at least in the NYC area. In rural Maryland it is stink bugs that are causing problems. They eat the leaves and fruit in orchards. They are appropriately named and not only operate somewhat like skunks emitting a nasty scent when irritated, but smell more pungently if killed. They sometimes wander out of those orchards into lawns and even into houses. I do remember a few from my growing up years on an Indiana farm and I think I'd know their smell anywhere.

Slightly more cuddly creatures, coyotes,can now be found in 49 of the 50 states. DNA tests of coyotes who have only made their way to the Eastern seaboard in the last 30 or 40 years, show that they have interbred with wolves, presumably wandering through Canada on their way east. They are somewhat larger than Western coyotes, their coloring is more varied -- brown, gray, mixed -- and they not only hunt the usual small animals like gophers, mice, shrews, rabbits [and urban legend says house cats] but will hunt as a group and kill deer which western coyotes don't do. I am a bit jealous that most people I know claim to have seen a wild coyote but I never have.