The earth lays aslumber as
Mother Nature pulls her white coverlet
Across the browning fields.
Though nearer now, to Sun’s burning
Than in those blooming days
The globe averts her visage now,
Shying for the Dreamtime,
A time of garnering warmth and
Exhilarating in the chill.
A standing still time.
A time for recollecting
And of foretelling.
The time of offering friendship and
Of Wishing well.
Welcome to another Friday Feature. Today we have Glynda Shaw, who has written several rather interesting books. We have both a Q&A and a short bio at the end. Glynda, welcome to Mindflight! How do you get inspired to write? I think the thing that most inspires me to write is in reexamining my past […]
From my downhill paddock field I bray
“It’s breakfast time and bless this day!”
While plotting to elude the door
We three mew greetings on
The second Sunday, May.
I who from the snow came in,
One January Eve.
I who watch from the sidelines,
Yet in my way I care.
And I who reached to you
Through steel cage bars, aggrieved
When at first you went away,
But now you’ll never leave!
And you won’t be forgetting us, We girls mismatched,
Of forest, field and games of catch.
Those joyous wanderings we have with you.
We chickens and
Turkey too, join in,
Adding to the Maytime din!
For each cup of exotic chow,
For every feed of grain,
For every thatch of grass or clover pulled,
We wish your heart with peace be full.
For you the bright sunshine remains,
Your sight be filled with smiling muzzles,
Watching eyes and paws outstretched.
A joyous bark, A yowl and loud hee-Haw!
Marks this, your special Mother’s Day.
Written by Glynda Shaw, illustrated by Rohvannyn Shaw.
Our local grocery store overwaters their produce and items are likely to arrive home wet. I eat radishes as a low-calorie snack on my morning break and was often discomfited by the tendancy for the folliage with which radishes generally arrive, to become rotten in the fridge. I’d been in the habit recently of pulling off the leafy stuff and composting it then washing the radishes.
More recently though I got wondering about the edible potential of radish greens. Neither the donkey nor the chickens will eat them but I found that when steamed, these leaves and stems make a tasty addition to any tossed vegetable medley.
The radishes still could languish forgotten in a bag, behind stuff, in the fridge so one day I dropped the newly-separated radishes into a jar of dill pickel juice. After several days the little globes pick up a pleasantly soured taste. With repeated usage, the pickle brine becomes dilute so with every three or four radish bunches I pour off maybe a half cup of juice and replace it with vinigar. My radishes don’t go bad any longer and we’re eating what used to go back into the soil. I think that’s a definition of win-win!
I’ve had comparatively little to say about the upcoming election because most of what I’d have to say has been already said by countless folks. There is a concern I have however that I’ve not heard otherwise uttered. The closer we’ve come to the election, we’ve heard increasingly more damning things about Donald Trump, first, his various business dealings then his disrespect of women and other groups, his indiscretions on camera and among a male grouping, now his invasion of a womens’ locker room at a Miss Teen Pageant, his sexualizing of a ten-year-old girl and his putting his hand up the dress of a First Class seat mate on a commercial airliner. While I have absolutely no problem believing all of this I continue to have the question Why? Not why did he do it but why weren’t we told a long time ago, like when there was some practical possibility of doing something about it?
There appears to be some fund of Donald’s past misdeeds, the custody of which appears to belong to an individuals or individuals, who are feeding information to the general public in a precalculated and quite cynical fashion. It’s pretty plain to me that someone quite high in the Democratic Hierarchy has become quite frightened that Mr. Trump will actually be elected and though at first, conventional political mud slinging appeared to be sufficient to squelch him, now something other than mud might be required. For some reason however, these lurid episodes from Donald’s past and present are a little too hot to handle comfortably, perhaps a bit too much like liable? For the holder thereof to release, and feel quite comfortable about it. What is to be brought out next? Baby cannibalism? Drugs in the Trump Tower water cooler? Incest? Lobotomization of female staff (and likely quite a few of the male supporters too) and why are we required to wait? What is the big secret that’s being saved for last?
I being totally blind, don’t get the visual signs from Mr. Trump, his evidently predatory stalking of Senator Clinton all over the stage during debates, his evidently intrusive holding and kissing of his daughter en camera and doubtless, lots of other things. Also being blind as well as being not unskilled at reading people, I am a counselor and a social worker; I perhaps more than most people, hear a certain little boy hurtfulness in Donald, a sort of sense that he feels picked on and would like to have friends if only he knew how to make them. While I’ll never vote for him, nor do I approve of much of what he says or how he acts, I can’t truly hate Donald Trump. I guess in my innermost caretaker self, I’d like to give him a big chocolate chip cookie and maybe a tall glass of Scots whiskey! (Yeah, I know he’d probably sell it at an inflated price then make fun of me! Don’t bother.)
I’ve supported Hilary to one degree or another because I rather admired how she appeared to keep her dignity during the Billygate with Monica and all that. Also she’s a woman and as a feminist I would like to see a woman president before I die. In saying this however I am aware of the inherent hypocrisy in assuming because someone is female, she is entitled to my vote. Feminism is supposed to stand for the rights of all people and of course it generally doesn’t anymore than any of the other isms. As someone who loves our country deeply in spite of our history since Watergate to the present era of robot bombing (under a liberal administration) I’ve entertained a perhaps forlorn hope. The hope that a woman, a mother and grandmother will bring a different perspective to the bloodstained arena of world politics. I can’t honestly say that Hilary brings that motherly, goddess-like wisdom to the table and that anything she offers will depart from what we have now. Yes I know she fought for children and minorities since way back when but in the era during which she began and built her career, standing up for minorities was becoming the passport to future success in the same way that today, politicians wishing to secure future tenure, find it expedient to support gay and trans causes. Hilary gained a lot more from her stands than she risked, which is not to say that the causes themselves were inappropriate or wrong. Still when Hilary Clinton’s supporters trumpet about her record working with minorities and children, my response is “What else should she have been doing?”
There is no significant doubt in my mind that both of our leading contenders for President this year are crooked as a dog’s hind leg and by this I mean no disrespect to dogs. They use their anatomies pretty well for self protection but dogs in most cases harbor a certain loyalty to those people who keep and feed them. One wonders whether this can be said for either Hilary or Donald. Again like in the last several elections; we are asked to decide not who would be the best for the job but rather which one do we think will do the least damage. It’s sad. I’m making myself depressed. The subject is easily tiring. But oh yes, what will be the next Big Surprise and from which vault will it be drawn?
Originally posted on May 29, 2014 at 1:35 AM
About a week ago I heard a feature of NPR in which a restaurateur discussed his holistic approach to serving organic food. Tomatoes were popular on his menu and since tomatoes require a good deal of nitrogen to grow, he co-planted legumes with his tomatoes in the dedicated restaurant garden, in order to maintain the nitrogen balance of the soil. He said that if he were to serve tomatoes, he needed to serve legumes in the same meal to ensure that wastage didn’t occur. A similar practice was observed among the Natives of the American Southwest, who co-planted corn, beans and squash which formed the basis of their diet. This arrangement balanced soil nitrogen, conserved water and provided a “Complementary” food diet, making the major nutrients available.
I wondered how many people today and in this nation, think about using something because it occurs as a byproduct, or “coproduct” of something already in use. I’ve tried to do this sort of thing for many years. For instance when I make beer I try to get my egg-layers to eat the non-alcoholic, high-protein mash. When I’ve made Gluten from wheat, I’ve tried to find ways to use the starch and fiber which are left over from the sticky protein extraction process.
Villages, then towns, finally cities developed largely because farmers were sufficiently successful in tilling the fields to make it possible for some people to leave the farm and take up crafts. Since it was easier for everybody to go to one place to find most of the crafters in the area, communities tended to develop. We’re still doing that sort of thing today with our industrial parks and our Silicon Valleys etc. When people moved away from the natural interactivity of the ancient farm however, production processes became more and more isolated in the sense that individual processes operated more or less in isolation and did not necessarily feed back into the overall ecology which keeps the planet alive.
While a tree cut down on a farm might be burned for winter fuel and the ashes put into the soil to grow perhaps corn or cabbages, a tree cut down and hauled to the city to make a table for instance, might yield it’s best heart and sap wood to the artisan while bark, branches and shavings might molder in a pile or if burned, might never again reach the soil. These processes have progressed to the point that a modern farm may send away all of it’s produce to a foreign country and be fertilized with ammonia generated from petroleum or natural gas. The land is merely a stopping place for material streams to touch down and interact for a time.
The problem with this is that “Balance” is virtually impossible when there is no real concept or practice of “Residency” keeping materials at the point of origin to whatever extent is possible. Ideally the restaurant should not only be located by a garden/farm but should water the garden with dish water and provide composting toilets for patrons.
In order to take advantage of distributed energy such as sun and wind and to slow the loss of vital minerals, I think we must think in terms where possible, of small businesses/factories/shops which either recycle their own scraps, either making a secondary product or exchanging with neighboring businesses. An example of the first option is a business in Western Washington, near Mount Vernon, where cow manure is anaerobically fermented to yield methane gas for fuel and liquid effluent for agricultural fertilizer. Some cellulose residue is left over from the process and this is dried and pressed into biodegradable planting pots. If an alcohol operation can’t suitably process it’s grain residue then a feed producer or bakery might be enlisted. Carbon dioxide given off by the fermentation process can feed a green house. Even a coal-burning power plant, generating millions of kilowatt hours of waste heat per year, might heat an algae pond or evaporate seawater.
No these ideas aren’t new nor are they simple but if we wear cotton, do we find a use for cotton seed oil? If we use wood for fuel do we see to it that the ash returns to the soil—somewhere? If we grow a lawn do we even consider feeding the grass clippings to chickens, cows, anything? Obviously we won’t always know what else is produced along with something we’re used to consuming or which things are consumed to make that thing we use but we can find out and even in so doing, we become more aware of how the system which supports us all works and become more sensitive to the complexities upon which we depend.
Originally posted on May 23, 2014 at 8:40 PM
Yesterday I was thinking about Madeleine L’Engle’s incredible children’s novel “A Wrinkle in Time” and how it has passed into the realm of moral and social commentary since I read it in November 1963, and as we original readers grew toward Seniority. The book has many things to offer and is still worth rereading but the engrossing nugget of the story, this Tessering Thing, this leaping through space without benefit of spaceship or matter transmitter; this concept that resolved me to take physics in college, long after I ceased believing in my ability to Tesser, seems to have been largely neglected.
In reading reviews of Wrinkle online and descriptions of the Tessering process, it seems that nobody (at least nobody I’ve found) has thought much about how tessering really works on a practical level. I don’t mean exactly how it can be made practical for you and me, but how do we think the three W. Ladies and Dr. Murray made it work.
Tesser of course comes from the term Tesseract which in geometry means an hypercube, which can be represented by placing eight cubes at the corners of a larger, imaginary cube. It’s what a cube is supposed to look like in four dimensions. Don’t worry about that so much though, how do we use the concept of four dimensions, (or as Ms. L’engle described it, five dimensions) to travel from one planet to another? When we first read the book, my friend and I mined the text, reading the book over and over for clues. What was that blue liquid Mrs. (Dr.) Murray was processing in her home lab the afternoon Meg Brought Calvin home for dinner? What was the significance of Mr. (Dr.) Murray grabbing Meg’s wrist as he Tessered them off that frightening planet of Camazotz? (A planet in fact, which reminds one more and more of contemporary America.) Why did Dr. Murray (father) tell Calvin while Megt was trying to unthaw on Aunt Beast’s Planet that the scientific team that developed Tessering on earth wondered if the process might simply cause one to disintegrate? I know I spent hour upon hour trying to get my head around being able to transport off a planet, possibly through structures, to some other place entirely.
Whether ESP was having a renaissance at around the time I read Wrinkle or I just happened to stumble upon the concept at the time, I somehow got hold of the idea that tessering had something to do with the mind. Nobody seemed to have any little pocket devices or any essoteric elements about them when it happened. I thought perhaps there was more than one way to make it happen but perhaps if two minds could connect in a particular way, perhaps this mind-melding might also somehow warp time and space and cause a physical body (like mine) to shift to some distant place and since nobody knew how large these effects might turn out to be, perhaps one could leap between star systems through Tessering. Of course this gave no hint how a person might aim for a given destination unless one could visualize the destination as one tessered. Also why could Dr. (Mr.) Murray tesser all by himself, though he missed Mars and wound up on the C. Planet?
Only twice have I found references to tessering that suggested the mind might be involved. In the Wrinkle in Time movie the Tesseract appears to be some sort of universal phenomenon/structure? Into which people can somehow tap, sort of like an interstelar tramline I guess. Well that’s fine too though the original question remains how does one tap in? With the mind? With some sort of conditioning? With some sort of technology we don’t get to see? I think I’d have been happier with Wrinkle as a book had Ms. L’engle given us a hint. (It has to do with some mental techniques a psychophysicist taught us, Guys). This concept, via a drug worked well enough in The House on the Strand by Daphne Dumaurier, for time travel. Perhaps though, is she had directed us toward PSI or extrasensory phenomena, I might not have developed a fascination with physics.
About a year after I read wrinkle I was told by a Responsible Adult, a woman in her mid-20s, that if four people sat around a metal card table, with one on the north, one on the south, two on the west, leaving the east open; and if everyone places her/his fingertips on the table and thought the same thing at the same time, the table would raise off the floor. Does this really work? I can talk about mechanical forces, the enrgy needed to lift a table compared to the amount of energy produced by four brains and it seems like a marginal possibility, but has anyone tried it? Perhaps I shouldn’t have stopped believing in a personal ability to tesser. Who knows?
Originally posted on May 7, 2014 at 12:25 PM
Recently Rockville, MD gun shop owner Andy Raymond felt forced to remove Smart Guns from his stock of personal weapons. In doing so he responded to numerous death threats and even threatened action from the National Rifle Association. Earlier this year a Los Angeles gun store made a similar decision for identical reasons. A Smart Gun as defined here, is a firearm, in this case a pistol; which has an electronic lock which won’t allow the weapon to be fired unless it is within ten inches of a watch band worn on the owner’s wrist.
Thugs will be unlikely to respond to blog entries but the NRA should take note. Though I’ve never been a member of the NRA, I’ve generally supported them, not that I’ve agreed in all cases with their campaigns and other actions but the opposition is typically so asinine that one feels that maintaining the status quo is about all that can be managed. Gun control can be compared only to the abortion controversy for acrimony and steadfast resistance to compromise. With the smart gun however, there is some glimmer of hope for some meeting of minds between persons who demand the right to armed self defense (like myself) and those who have a sincere concern about the dangers of firearms being dropped, lost, or snatched by assailants (such as I). The crux of the controversy for the NRA appears to be a New Jersey law which states that three years after smart guns are marketed anywhere in the U.S. all hand guns in New Jersey must contain a similar locking feature. This flies in the face of everyone being able to choose her or his mode of hand-held fire power.
While I don’t take kindly to persons telling me what mode of tools, transport, clothing or food I must adopt, it is true we do live with restrictions of one kind or another in all of these areas. Sure the smart gun can be seen as a slight curtailment of a person’s ability to choose, it can also be seen as a stipulation on the part of gun non-enthusiasts that personal firearms may be appropriate in some situations. I wouldn’t support a smart gun requirement for all firearms, not even all handguns, merely those who are sold for concealed carry. We already have laws requiring gun locks, which rather fly in the face of armed preparedness. Since by nature, the personal self-defense handgun needs to be available and ready for action it would stand to reason that some extraordinary precautions are in order when such a weapon is being carried or kept in a bedside nightstand.
Smart guns are a largely unexplored area of technology. A revolver can be supplied with a small unit, fastened to the barrel, which projects a solenoid-driven peg into the groove between the revolver’s chambers, making the weapon unable to be cocked or fired, unless a signal is sensed from a wristband or bracelet. This is a fairly cheap and easy approach. With automatic weapons, other sorts of safety locks can be introduced into the gun without compromising the operation or effectiveness of the gun. Future models could be designed to sense via a laser or infra-red range finder so the gun won’t fire unless a target is within a certain distance, say 100 feet. This would eliminate wild shots or hitting persons outside the target area. Self defense weapons should be used for taking out assailants who are directly threatening the gun user, not for chasing fleeing assailants or for long distance hits.
The attitude of gun extremists that there should be no restrictions of any kind on firearms, can I think be shown as untenable to most people. Should we be walking around with recoilless rifles? How about a howitzer? Bombardment mortars anyone? Yes it is difficult to draw the lines when emotions on both sides are so high but most of us accept that there are limits. We don’t typically use semi trucks for personal transport and most of us get sanctioned if we eat human flesh so though the basic right to keep and bear arms is appropriate (and is protected for “the people” in the Second Amendment) we should be able to have some restrictions without inviting death threats. Perhaps the New Jersey Legislature could be prevailed upon to slightly modify the previously-mentioned restrictions in the interest of making smart guns more popular nationwide (probably not but the point could be made). It’s also worth mentioning that New Jersey is a state in which it’s not all that easy to have a hand gun in the first place, if you want it for self defense. I do think it is wrong and nonproductive in any case to treat the smart gun as a make or break issue for gun rights generally in the same way that hand gun bans are put forward as reasonable “since you can still have rifles or shotguns.” If we can’t agree about guns, let’s at least be open to some degree of interchange and compromise. It would be the smart thing to do about guns.
Originally posted on August 24, 2013 at 12:25 AM
I’m offering this idea to Junior High Math instructors, Academic program designers or anyone else who may aspire to influence the course of Middle School Aged learning progress. I think there are many students who start out in Grade school, very interested in science but don’t carry through with the interest to the college level. I also think there is a very good, or perhaps bad; reason for this. If you ask a cross section of folks what should a person do if she or he is good in Math, a frequent response will be “Go into science.” The problem is, until one reaches 11th Grade or so in high school, science as generally taught, has very little to do with math.
Science in Grade school and Junior High, is full of fascinating facts, fun experiments and a fair amount of “gee whiz” value. Arithmetic and Mathematics however tend to be fairly dry, unappetizing subjects, satisfying perhaps for those who do it well but fairly deadly for many of the same kids who eat up the science experiments with a spoon, (well, hopefully not in a literal sense.) This tends to set up what we might call an Expectation Gap wherein one starts reading the qualitative science books around third or fourth grade then in high school and college, we can run up against the “Here also be Maths!” disillusionment.
We certainly don’t want to make elementary science less interesting and though many have tried, it’s difficult to make Math quite as yummy as say, Art Class. I think though that the real problem stems from the division of Math and Science early on and the solution may lay in bringing the two subjects together much earlier than is customarily done.
There is a fascinating genre of learning which speaks to both math and science which is simply the realm of Formulae (Formulas) Formulae are in general algebra at an understandable level and convey a great deal of power to those who learn to use them.
Customarily we teach arithmetic then we get into algebra with it’s integers and variables and exponents, it’s Xs and Ys with very little attention given to what we use this stuff for in the long run. Yes there are story problems in grade school arithmetic books and much fewer of them in algebra texts. Still algebra is all around us. We talk about Length and height and weight all the time (L H and W) and every half bright kid knows that H2O = water. Let’s design a course in Formulae pure and simple and let it serve as a pre-algebra course.
One needn’t be a propulsion expert to calculate the areas of rectangles and circles. Anyone who can do multiplication can also calculate the volume of solids such as cylinders, cones and even pyramids.
Simple demos with hollow shapes and graduated cylinders of water could help classes see that their numbers are correct or at least close. Elementary Trig could be done with a board, and angle measure and a measuring tape. How big a board do you need to cover this side of the slanted roof. Clubhouse builders would love it! Starting with cooking recipes we could move fairly directly into calculating how much oxygen you need to combine with two grams of hydrogen to get 18 grams of water. (Basically look at the formula and have a look at the Periodic Table.) Before Course’s end we could be able to calculate things like how much kerosene do you need to burn to heat a tubful of water from whatever the cold tap gives us to a temperature we wouldn’t mind using for a bath. Lots of cool, hands-on stuff here and nothing all that expensive. Kids love knowing how to do things, what things are made of, how to mix things together and come up with exciting new things. Let’s get formulaic and take the myth out of science and the snore out of math!