Questions and Chaos

Life in the 21st Century

Why Mars?

Thursday, July 15, 2021

When we have such a beautiful earth!

I don’t understand why the world’s billionaires are obsessed with going to Mars. Mars is a desolate planet with no breathable atmosphere, -80°F temperatures and nothing to sustain human life.

We live on a planet that freely provides precisely the air we need to breathe, water and food to sustain our bodies. This planet has billions of living organisms, many of which we still know nothing about. These organisms may support our physical health in ways we don’t yet understand. But throw this away and let’s go to Mars.

Why would someone use their money to escape earth instead of making it healthy for humans and all life.

Why, why, why would anyone abandon this beautiful earth for a completely lifeless planet?

Until it’s Gone

Friday, July 9, 2021

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,”

Joni Mitchell sand this song on the radio in 1970.

My websites have languished abandoned for years now. i gave up on them and was busy exhausting myself for rent money. Then, once in a while, I would notice they had disappeared due to some technical glitch on the server and I would feel panic. Panic, like my favorite pet hasn’t come home. I was surprised at myself. Why would I care so much about something I had ignored for years? I would frantically research what needed to be done and feel such relief when my webites were back in their proper place. It is strange that not until something is gone do we wake up and realize that it matters to us.

I want to make a point of giving more thought and attention to what matters to me, the people, the hobbies and the interests. Give them some extra attention. Let’s care about the things we value before they’re gone …. and before we are gone. I want to do my best every day, so I never hear myself saying the words, “I wish I had”, when it’s too late.

Rippling of the River

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Who hears the rippling of rivers will not utterly despair of anything.

Henry David Thoreau

Corpse Flower – Amorphophallus titanum

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Somewhere in the  tropical rain forests of Sumatra, plants like this are growing, blooming, pollinating, creating seeds, feeding birds and growing again. This plant grows for seven to ten years before  blooming.  A plant in the New York Botanical garden took forty years to finally bloom. These photographs are from the second day of blooming at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton, Alberta. This particular plant, which staff have named Putrella, has bloomed in 2013, 2015 and  again in 2017. The Muttart has been able to create the conditions for  growing and blooming a complex, equatorial  plant in North America’s most northern city. That is quite an accomplishment.

It is called “Corpse Flower” in its native surroundings because of the putrid smell that disperses when the spathe opens. Its scientific Latin name, Amorphophallus titanum, means “giant misshapen penis”.   The plant produces the largest flowering structure and one of the  worst odors in the plant kingdom. The smell mimics that of  something dead and decomposing. This smell attracts the beetles that are necessary to pollinate the plant and produce seeds.

The actual flowers are contained inside the round bottom part just above the ground. The spike in the middle is called the spadix and the petal like collar around it is the spathe. The bloom only lasts about thirty six hours. These photos were taken on the second day when the spathe is already closing and the scent is no longer perceptible to humans.

Amorphophallus titanum has an interesting life cycle. It grows from an underground bulb like structure called a corm. The corm of Putrella weighs over 200 pounds. The corm produces a pointed sprout that develops into either a leaf or the flower. The leaf can be over six feet tall. To the untrained eye it looks like a tree but its structure is that of a single compound leaf.

The leaf grows for a year, storing energy in the corm, then dies back. Year after year the sprout will produce another leaf until there is enough stored nutrition to produce a flower. How does a plant “know” that it has enough energy to produce a flower?  Imagine the intricate biochemistry and DNA activation that must take place to make this spectacular flower grow instead of a leaf. Imagine a six foot caterpillar   turning itself into a butterfly and also turning itself back again.

The bloom usually opens at night. At this time the plant also heats up to 98°F. The increased temperature helps to spread the smell as far as possible to attract insects.  Both male and female flowers grow in the same inflorescence.  The female flowers open the first night, then close, and the male flowers open the second night.  This prevents the plant from self pollinating. In the two days the flower structure is open it must attract enough insects to carry pollen to and from another flower somewhere in the jungle.

Once the female flowers are pollinated, they grow into many red berries. These berries are poisonous for humans but loved by birds. The birds then poop the seeds all over the jungle and the cycle begins again.

This isn’t virtual reality crafted by a computer. There’s just a seed in the dirt with sunshine and rain.  The  drama continues unabated for millennia.

 

Breathing the Sky

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My attempt to write a poem about breathing the sky was an epic fail.

I was trying to show the connection between the sky and the wind and our own breath.  Because we use different words to name them, we see them as separate entities existing in different places. But what is the sky? It is the atmosphere as we experience it visually, extending far above us. What are wind and storms? They are the atmosphere as we feel and hear it in motion. What are we breathing?  The atmosphere. Day and night we are unconsciously breathing this same ocean of air from the moment of birth until death.

The first two lines of my poem were:

We breathe the sky
twenty times a minute

My writers’ group was sure this was inaccurate. “We don’t breathe nearly that fast.”  I had found the information with a quick Google search.  It seemed to me that this fact was simple to measure and extensive research wasn’t necessary.  On the other hand, I  wasn’t willing to justify my information with, “Well, I googled it.”  I  expect sound evidence for any fact and “I googled it” wouldn’t  convince me to accept the credibility of someone else’s fact.   The scientist in me expects verifiable facts and evidence. So, the next morning when I woke up I set my timer for one minute and counted my breath. The result was sixteen breaths in one minute. I stand by my number. Twenty breaths per minute seem like a reasonable average while going about one’s day.

Then there was the ending:

warm breezes
blow my skirt
caressed by the sky

A group of men automatically assumed this was a skirt blown upwards. On second reading I understand how that might be assumed. The words “rustled my skirt” might have created a more accurate image. What I was attempting to convey was that moment on a hot summer day when a breeze gently waves the skirt around your legs. I wanted to convey how it made me think of being caressed by the atmosphere. That same atmosphere that is indistinguishable from the blue sky.

I see more work is necessary for composing words to deliver my thoughts on the page.

True and False

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

bohr-quote

“The opposite of a fact is a falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.” 

–Niels Bohr 

From The Lightness of Being by Frank Wilczek

Question

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Heisenberg Quote

Asking the right question is frequently more than half way to the solution of the problem.

–Werner Heisenberg

I Like Living

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

 

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” —Agatha Christie

Tree

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tree

Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky.

–Kahil Gibran

Light in the Dark

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

moon

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.
— Walt Whitman

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