Plants Are to Humans as Humans Are To…

I just read an article that completely blew my mind. It was pure speculation, yes, but it certainly made me think. Entitled “Is Physical Law an Alien Intelligence?” it discussed how advanced technology, as posited by Arthur C. Clarke, would seem like magic to a less advanced civilization.

It made me think of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain. Of course a 19th century man, if sent back to the time of King Arthur, would seem magical to many. Any time you have advanced knowledge, you’ll be a source of fascination to those who do not.

But the article above takes it even further. What if the technology is so advanced that we can’t see it or conceive of it at all? What if there’s actually intelligent life out there that’s so developed that it manipulates the universe in ways we’ve yet to explain, but have been actively confused by?

As I mulled over this article it made me wonder how beings like that would perceive us. Maybe we’re so primitive that they don’t see us either. I thought about that as I watered my tomato plants.

Do tomato plants know when they’re being watered? Do they know what the source of this water is? Can they distinguish water from my hose from water that comes from the sky? Do they care?

The fact is, I don’t understand tomato plants. I don’t know what makes them tick. I don’t comprehend a living thing that can’t focus outward, or for that matter, focus at all.

But as speculative as that article is, it made me think about how arrogant we humans are, believing that we’re at the top of some pyramid, and that all life must be somehow inferior to our own. It’s just as likely that that’s not the case.

It’s rather unsettling, though, thinking that in the cosmic scheme of things, I could very well be your basic tomato plant. It sure makes me think twice about the tomatoes in my salad.

tomato_plant2

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Coyotes Killing Cats

I know what it’s like to lose a pet. It’s heartbreaking. They are a part of your family, and the loss is felt keenly.

But.

Pets are also your responsibility. If your Pitt Bull is running around loose and bites a someone, that’s on you. If your boa constrictor gets loose and swallows the neighbor’s poodle, that’s on you. If your cat is allowed to roam free and gets killed by a coyote, that’s also on you. That coyote is only doing what coyotes do. (And your cat was probably killing songbirds anyway. It’s a cat.) Keep your cat inside and coyotes won’t be an issue.

I get so frustrated when people complain about coyotes. “Coyotes Killing Cats” is a frequent topic on my local Nextdoor.com page. It’s the coyotes’ territory as much as it is ours. They have every bit as much right to survive as we do. It would be great if they could live far away from people and feed on things that we are not emotionally attached to, but we’ve made it all but impossible for them to do that.

When people’s pets start disappearing, there’s always a call to kill the coyotes. It makes me sick. If you allow your pets to roam free, you need to be willing to live with the consequences.

I can hear the coyotes howling in the park behind my house on many nights. I think it’s a lovely sound. And I never let my dachshund outside from dusk to dawn without supervision, even if our yard is fenced, and I’ve never seen a coyote inside that fence. Because that’s what a responsible pet owner should do.

Coyote

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I Want to Buy Greenland, Too

Do you ever feel like you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole? Well, then we can be roommates. Nice to meet you.

Here’s what’s going on. Trump wants to buy Greenland, a semi-autonomous country, so he has approached Denmark about it.

Um… what part of “semi-autonomous” don’t you understand? Denmark can’t dump Greenland and all its nearly 56,000 residents, just on a whim, any more than we can lose the state of Texas to Mexico in a poker game. Prime Minister Frederiksen said that the idea was absurd, and rightly so.

Because of that, Trump cancelled a trip to Denmark, as he deemed her comments “nasty.” Notice how he never calls men nasty? And have you ever heard the way he talks about other leaders? Absurd is putting it mildly. Nasty is, too. He’s out of control.

This man has no concept of diplomacy. Denmark is an ally. You don’t throw a tantrum and wipe your sticky lollipop hands all over your diaper simply because an ally has pointed out the obvious.

This isn’t the 1800’s. Imperialism is dying a slow, embarrassing death. Land grabs, with no regard to the people living thereon or the taxpayers who would be footing the bill, are a thing of the distant past. The man has lost what few marbles he had left.

And this comment of his reinforces that belief. He says that people shouldn’t talk to America like that, and then made a comment about how Obama let people treat him like that, but Trump wouldn’t do so. He referenced the “fact” that the Philippines wouldn’t allow Obama to land Air Force One. He trotted that little bit of fiction out back in 2017, and it was debunked then, and it’s easily debunked now. If Trump had any grip on reality, he’d have given up on that absurd story when it didn’t work in 2017. But I guess some members of his base will believe anything, and his staff has probably despaired of setting him straight.

Oh. Did you see what I did there? I said “absurd.” I guess that means I’m nasty.

Having said that, I’d like to throw my nasty hat into the ring and say that I wouldn’t mind having a chunk of Greenland myself. Right now it’s mostly one big iceball, but what with climate change, and thanks to Trumps disdain for its inevitability, it may just be that Greenland will become one of the few habitable places on earth, provided you figure out a way to live without food and water.

So yeah, since we’re dreaming, what the heck, sign me up! I’ll bring a bunch of canned goods once the place thaws. I’ll live right next door to one of Trump’s golf courses in Greater Trumplandia. Ooh, and can I please buy the Eiffel Tower, too? It would look wonderful in my back yard, next to my garden gnome and my plastic flamingo…

Greenland Melts Away

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The Best Shower of All

Every year, I mark my calendar for the Perseid Meteor Showers. They arrive on August 12th, like clockwork, and of all the meteor showers we are treated to, this one is usually the most spectacular. And it takes place in the warmest part of the year, which is a handy little side benefit. I think of it as a free show put on by the universe.

What I like to do is go somewhere with very little ambient light. I pack a lawn chair, mosquito repellent, snacks, and sometimes cardboard to block out what light I can’t seem to avoid, and then I sit, preferably with friends, and gaze.

It’s always quite amusing when one of us sees a meteor and the others don’t. This year one of us saw one that was so spectacular it caused him to drop his beer bottle. But there were many gorgeous ones to make up for everyone else’s massive, albeit bemused, disappointment at that moment. In fact, this year I saw some of the largest ones I’ve seen in my life.

Unfortunately the smaller ones were all but impossible to see because the moon was nearly full. Nothing like a giant spotlight in the sky to block out everything else. (Next year the moon will be much more cooperative.)

But I did see something I’ve never seen before. On three separate occasions, the meteors were angled directly toward us. Because of that, instead of seeing them streak across the sky, what I saw was a large bright dot that appeared out of nowhere and was gone just as quickly. That was cool. And it made me wonder what this event looked like from the International Space Station. (Of course, there’s a video for that. You can see it here.)

I love stargazing with friends. Looking at the night sky makes my problems seem so tiny and insignificant. And it also reminds me of the glory of the natural world.

So, if you take (in) only one shower a year, make it the Perseids. It’s the best shower of all. And you don’t even have to add water.

meteor-shower-calendar-en-2019-th

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Little Free Gardens!

Recently I started a Little Free Library, and it’s been so popular that I can barely keep up with it. I’ve also blogged about Chat Benches, which is another community-building idea whose time definitely has come. From here, a friend told me about another fantastic idea: Little Free Gardens.

According to the website, “The goal of the Little Free Garden project is to foster communities committed to growing, sharing and cultivating food in small gardens, placed in residential or public spaces.”

What a brilliant concept. And it’s simple, really. 1) Build a box, perhaps 4 feet by 2 feet and 12 inches deep. 2) Plant vegetables or fruit therein. 3) Place it in your front yard or in an approved public space, so that the produce can be shared by anyone who wants or needs it.

Not only are you helping to feed others, but you are educating them about the value of fresh, high quality, local food, and encouraging gardening. It’s also a great way to meet your neighbors and build community connections.

What’s not to love about this idea? If you don’t have the time or space to plant a little free garden, please consider hopping over to their website and supporting this organization in its good works.

clases_doctoradoe

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Æstivation

Another thing to add to my list entitled Why Haven’t I Ever heard of This Before? Æstivation. The word sounds exotic, but the concept is, if you ask me, brilliant.

Æstivation is kind of like hibernation, only in the hot months, rather than in the winter. According to Wikipedia, many snails do it, as do some insects, tortoises, crocodiles, salamanders, toads and frogs, lung fish, the Australian crab, the African hedgehog, and the Malagasy fat-tailed dwarf lemur. They do this to retain water and conserve their energy.

Man, oh, man, do I wish I were a Malagasy fat-tailed dwarf lemur! I’d love to just be able to sleep through the oppressive heat. The best I seem to be able to manage is a daily torpor. I can’t be bothered. I find it all but impossible to move through air that feels as thick as chocolate pudding. The most I can do is push the seat back in my recliner and do an excellent imitation of someone who has fallen from a great height.

Just another little item for your next trivia contest.

Stay cool, everyone.

Giant Bullfrog in Æstivation

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Steps in the Right Direction

I saw an interesting bit of performance art the other day on the Seattle waterfront. Four people, dressed in black, wearing the masks that Anonymous has made famous, were all silently holding screens that had streaming videos on them. Upon closer inspection, those videos were of slaughterhouses, and they made me squirm.

Members of the group Anonymous for the Voiceless were working the crowd, handing out cards with more information about animal cruelty. I left there feeling horrible that I had just had fish for dinner. I hate animal cruelty. I really do. But am I a vegan? No, I am not.

However, I am proud of the fact that I eat about one tenth the amount of meat that I ate when I was growing up. I do love my veggies, and there are just so many delicious meatless options out there nowadays that meat is not nearly as necessary as it used to seem to me.

I went home and tried watching some of the videos that they mentioned in their literature. Some were too disturbing for me to sit through. Others were a bit too radical for me to take seriously, like the one that said that the domestication of animals was tantamount to slavery. (That one made me look at my rescue dog and ask him if he was happy. He gave me a big old sloppy kiss and went back to chewing his butt.)

Here’s the thing (and yes, there’s always a thing): I agree with most of what these people were trying to say. I just take exception to the way they were saying it.

Implying that anything but perfect behavior is utter failure is nothing but emotional abuse. Because none of us are perfect. None of us.

I may not subscribe to your religion, but that does not mean I’m going to hell. I may not eat what you want me to, but that doesn’t make me incurably evil. Life is not black and white. It’s shades of grey.

I do believe it’s important that we know where our food comes from, and the environmental impact its production causes. I do believe that there are a lot of moral incentives to going vegan.

I just think making me walk away feeling like sh** about myself is not the best way to convert me to your cause. We should all be praised for the positive efforts we make in any and all walks of life. Steps in the right direction are just that: steps in the right direction.

Maybe stop focusing on the ultimate destination and appreciate the well-considered journey. Baby steps are important. Not everyone is going to reach your finish line, but all efforts theretoward are praise-worthy.

anonymous

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