Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dynamics and Dependency: Spouses in Evolution

Beetles are beautiful gems of nature. Not only are their aesthetic characteristics treasures, but their evolutionary relationships with each other speak for an efficiency and organic quality that we can model in our interpersonal relationships.
The idea of a symbiosis so distinct that you can trace the lines through the history of evolution to discover meaningful partners in nature is an exciting prospect. I am interested in relationships as systems, and how they can grow efficiently, parallel.
The idea of growing apart, in human relationships, is common, especially in the post baby boomer generations. Our autonomy and the direction of our time combat the concept of growing old together. The video below is an exciting little expose of the process and system of scientific discovery, and shows a loyalty in nature that we can model. Nature's steadfastness in dynamics and spousal symbiosis lend hope to humans who are caught up by our self realization.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Particularized Moment of Peace

This is one of my favorite true stories. It comes from the book The Moral Lives of Animals by Dale Peterson.

Peace is a suspiciously remote and ethereal concept, one far too abstract to end a book with. But such a peace can, I think, come as the steady accumulation of particularized moments: the moment you looked and wondered but did not take, the moment you feared but did not destroy. Peace of the sort that comes from the wisdom of seeing something you do not fully understand, something that could be dangerous or maybe not, but that you decide in any case to leave alone.
Before she studied elephants, bioacoustician Katy Payne applied her scientific training and observation skills to whales.
One time, while scouting out locations on the northeastern coast of Argentina's Valdes Peninsula to begin new research on the behavior of southern right whales, Payne heard of a place where the ocean depth and currents conveniently drew whales near to shore. Indeed, as soon as she and a friend, Ollie Brazier, launched their small boat at the same spot, they watched a whale drift right past them. They maneuvered into a position where they, too, were drifting in the current, and then they cut the engine.
The giant creature ahead of them turned around and swam their way, disappearing beneath the surface, soon to emerge as a glistening wall rising up alongside the boat, drifting there for about two minutes. The wall was the underside of the chin of a vertical whale. A pair of eyes, located on either side of the chin, were just below the surface and apparently examining the boat. 
The wall slipped back to the horizontal, and the whale once again turned downstream in the current, ahead of the boat, but now he began swimming backward, back in the direction of the boat. Payne and Brazier could recognize the creature's underwater presence by a ruffled flurry on the surface, and then they saw, right beneath the surface, a massive tail waving slowly back and forth. The tail -waving may have been a threat, and certainly that immense and gracefully flexible tail could have raised itself out of the water, covered the boat twice over, and crashed down on it and the people inside. Instead, however, the enormous appendage simply flattened out and reached, as if it were the open palm of a hand, right beneath the boat. 
With his tail thus flattened, the whale lifted the boat entirely clear of the water and held it and the two people in it above the surface for a minute. "He held us steady for a full minute," Payne writes, "two people on a tray six inches above the water's surface."
The whale then lowered them and their craft gently back down. Payne looked into the dark water and saw the giant mammal swim or drift downstream again, once again drawing ahead of the moving boat-and then she saw him once more swim in reverse. She saw the tail wave back and forth, beneath the surface, and then she saw it again reach out flatly, beneath their small boat, and again the vessel and its two astonished occupants were lifted entirely out of the water. After a time, the tail lowered them gently back onto the water. The whale swam or drifted forward in the current, then swam again in reverse. And a third time the vast creature made the same gesturing wave, the same deft reach, the same gentle lifting of vessel and occupants, the same gentle lowering. 
It's hard to know what the whale was thinking or experiencing that day as he surveyed two alien beings in an alien vessel, gently measured their heft and probed their significance before leaving them intact; but it's easy to believe that he had thoughts and a subjective mental experience. And it may be easy enough to conclude that he examined, considered and, with some degree of deliberation, chose not to destroy what he did not entirely understand. That's what I mean by a particularized moment of peace.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chicken Tractors

My friend has an acre of land in South Florida where she seriously grows and grows veggies, herbs, roots and fruits. When I was visiting over the holidays, she was employing a "chicken tractor" to till the land. Essentially, chickens were kept in a portable coop that moves on two wheels, like a wheel barrel, and all day, the chickens do what they do, pecking the ground and making it more fertile for crops.

You can see pictures of her chicken adventures and all of the crazy enviable components of her lifestyle in her blog here.

When I was little, my sisters and I had a pair of chickens we loved very much. Both chickens came to sad demises, but I've always been fond of this normally very average-seeming bird, beyond the typical fondness I have for birds as a species.

We were drinking the other night, and I remembered this silly song from my childhood. It's really hard not to think the things we retain from when we're young hold some exorbitant importance. This is not one of those things.

The chickens had a party in the coop last night
Farmer went out to turn off the light
What he saw was givin' him a terrible fright
There were chickens on the left and chickens on the right
Doin' a crazy little do-si-do
Flappin' their wings and goin' to and fro
Singin' the one and only song the know
And it goes...

Bocki-ticky Bocki-ticky Bock Bock Bock
Bocki-ticky Bocki-ticky Bock Bock Bock
Bocki-ticky Bocki-ticky Bock Bock Bock Bock Bock...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Welcome for the Tourist!

My friend sent me a collection of things from his travels in Southeast Asia.
Below, are two embroidered books called, Welcome for the Tourist! I suppose they are an introduction to things native to the Hmong people. Some of them seem familiar, but certainly not exactly. They still make me feel quite at home. These are some of the least contrived most beautiful versions of life I've ever encountered. And I am grateful to the creation and creators of them, not to mention to the person who knows me well enough to share these things with me, sensing my appreciation in their existence:

Acrocobile; A Deer, Tiger

Leopard, A Dragon; Crested Dinosaurs

Welcome to Luangprabang; My father is picking pineapple,
Going toFitar water, My sisters are sewing; They are working with the cornstone machine

And then there is this guy, and he is beautifully rendered.

For Will's Pub Ladies' Night: Quilting Fractals

What Will Happen:
We will meet at 8pm at Will's Pub to learn a few traditional stitches that lend themselves to the concept of fractals. It's most exciting to see the way fractals are interpreted, in thread, by new minds. Even if you've never threaded a needle, it will be a fun time. A few of the stitches we will concentrate on are: (a)Russian Chain Stitch, (b) Closed Buttonhole Stitch, and (c) Arrowhead Stitch

What You Need:
Thread, Needle (or 2), Scrap Fabric
What You Might Also Want:
Embroidery Scissors, Embroidery Hoop

  • You might want to consider bringing an embroidery hoop, so that your fabric is taut while you are stitching, and you can stitch more evenly. (These are between $2-$5 at JoAnns or Michaels)
  • It's best if the color of your thread contrasts with your fabric, so if you have a dark fabric, choose a light thread color and vice versa.
  • Try to stay away from decorative threads for your first time. They're usually not as strong, and you don't want the thread snapping on you while you're learning!

If enough ladies are interested, I hope that we will stick together and create a quilt based on the concept of a fractal as a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts. "The satellites are approximations of the entire set, but not exact copies"