Category Archives: Science

Your Water Break at the Halfway Mark

I’m not going to candycoat it. We’ve had it with this virus. It’s maddening, with no end in sight — a marathon with an invisible finish line. If you randomly approached strangers and asked, “What are you talking about?”, 85% of the time they’d reply, “COVID.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m a planner. These days we can’t plan a thing more than two weeks out…never know what’s around the corner! Reports come in, rules change, doors open and close. I’m kicking myself for not taking a river cruise, going to Scotland, Nova Scotia or Scandinavia, or trying Cuba before it was shut off (again) or surf camp, tennis camp, renting a lake house with friends. Yeah, it’s hard to schedule trips with people, everyone’s so busy, but I could have gone alone! It’s fun to travel alone. All that observing.

When will church start? The Olympics! Choir? Chorus? Contradancing? Canoodling? When will live concerts and sports and Broadway return? Hotels, movie theaters and the next Westworld? Will I lose my job? Will I get a job? Will I get a job requiring hazmat gear or cooties-soaked mass transit? It’s just painful.

On one hand the virus is not a face-melting pox…but then we’d know who has it, which is the problem. To bright-side it isn’t impossible, but it’s a stretch. “At least…” we’re not in a nuclear war; it’s not the Holocaust; it’s not 9/11; it’s not a global Katrina. Yet any way you slice it, COVID-19 sucks. Because we can control little beyond following protocols around masks, distancing, OCD-caliber handwashing, and donating money or time, we just have to suck it up.

We’re increasingly vigilant towards our mental well-being. Resilient human nature has us generally bouncing back, but striving to be upbeat is now more of a repeating calendar task (“no end date”). We have to work at it. A New Hampshire friend quit watching the news. Unapologetic, she says, “I find that going inside is the answer.” Meditating, sending love, enjoying your sheets, picturing a freer future, and resting—knowing that there are many people worldwide without such luxuries. I’ve never slept so much in my life. Dreams are like a free vacation. Occasionally a peculiar or disturbing dream, true, but well it didn’t actually happen, now did it? Didn’t cost a dime or expose you to microvarmints.

For meditation, I highly recommend the (free!) Insight Timer app. Thousands of guided meditations. Choose a topic, or just nature sounds/music and set the timer with various gongs and bells. Great good fun. It displays how many people are currently meditating; numbers have gone way up. Some gems are Canadian Jennifer Piercy (try Yoga Nidra for Sleep), or the young Jonny John Liu, whose name enchants and whose accent lulls in Self-Transformation Through Self-Acceptance. Just download Insight Timer and click on the Search magnifier at bottom. Off you go! I fall asleep before they’re over. Shh.

When spiraling downwards, I try self-talk, summoning pleasant thoughts. Like: this mess involves the entire planet. So the top medical smarties worldwide are working on solutions ‘round the clock. Vaccines! Treatments! Virus-killing UVC light-spraying robots on subways! Maybe this horror will end sooner than we think. Just maybe we are in fact, as one scientific predictor put it, halfway there. Envision what you’ll do when it’s over!

To make handwashing less of a bore: the virus’s fatty membrane holding it together is destroyed by soap. You’re not just rinsing virus down the drain; it literally falls apart. Don’t fret, I missed one! Just lather up, remember your nails and rings. You’re making it impossible for it to replicate. For the (required!) 20 seconds, you know to sing Happy Birthday twice. I sing it
to different people, dead or alive, real or fictional, as I launder my paws. To amuse self. Mental well-being.

I feel your pain, Dear Reader. Keep steady on your mount on this long and crazy journey. If you fall off, just get back on your pony and keep slashing through. I’ll water you both when you pass my station, so you can keep going. The way you act and process thoughts will determine our collective outcome. Think of solutions and wish hard. I miss you. Good day.

 

 

If You Listen to One (calming!) How-to on COVID Precautions….

…this is the one. Dr. David Price of Weill Cornell. If you’ve been putting it off, watch now.

I dare you to stop watching before it’s over. The Q&A very good at end.

https://vimeo.com/399733860

 

Night Blooming Cereus 1

Here we go, people. This little beauty was concealed behind my desk. Let the show begin!

An astonishing feat of nature, the NBC blooms for one night a year. The bloom grows right out of the leaf. The fragrance is astonishing, and lingers long after the bloom has faded. People throw parties for her splendour. As it should be.  Stay tuned!

There’s Just Something About a Spool

From slender filaments to giant cables, spools get the job done right. The big daddy on the left appeared down the road a piece. It made my day.

My sister-in-law, an extremely talented fiber artist, has dozens of spools. I An Artist's Spools are best.have a lowly 30. If you’ve never wound a bobbin on a sewing machine before, you’re missing out. If mankind wound more bobbins, there’d be less misery and lower crime rates.

This place, El Taller (“The Studio”), in Lawrence, MA is a cool coffee shop with books and…spools. They write in your coffee. What’s better than that?

Bienvenudo, baby.

Spools stools

Go here!

Open wide and say Ahhhhhhhhhhh

Photo by Thomas O'Brien

Photo by Thomas O’Brien

Got yer meteor shower info right here.  Park your lawn chair (paper toweling?) after 11 pm (pref. after midnight) or right before dawn.

Maybe you’ll see a fireball.  As luck would have it, the Perseid meteor shower is the “Fireball Champion.” Jupiter, Venus, and the Moon will show up together just as the meteor shower reaches its peak. A dim Mars and bright Jupiter will be visible right before the sun rises, above the eastern horizon.

Best viewing spot? Rural America, of course!

Black Flies, Lemonade, Hope, Mayo, and More Mayo

mayo

Wicker and mayo. Bon ete!

It’s time. Fishing. Golf. Swimming holes. Mayonnaise.

Black flies comin’. But mercifully along with rain.  It’s been so dry the liquid manure spread over the Land baked, stank, and dried up into individual molecules blowing into our cars, homes, and nostrils. While the recent re-wetting served to reconstitute (read: re-aromatize) this fertilizer, at least it is no longer visible as a wind-borne dust. Not good for tourism (You can’t be 20…on Manure Dust Mountain. Ride our Dust Chute!)

Another month, another holiday.  As complements to Mother’s and Father’s Days, I have repeatedly proposed both Maiden Aunts Day and Perpetual Bachelor’s Day (Crack open a PBR…on PBD!) So far no takers, including those behind the Hallmark and Mayan calendars but, as always, I remain hopeful. The month of May also means American Idol is over so we can stop Talking like Aussie Keith Urban—every bit as addictive as talking like a pirate on Talk Like A pirate Day (Arrrrrrrr, avast, me hearties: a Thursday this year!) The difference is Idol spans many months and causes more permanent damage in friendships.

I can’t decide if the live voting that goes with TV shows these days is fun or saddening (How are the judges doing? Are they moronic? What about their hair? Yes or no?) Between that and young computer hackers sending viruses with creepy names and Trojan horses that “drop” malicious “payloads,” we oldsters are at a total loss. Maybe psychiatrists can tell us why these kids are so bloody angry. We know why we’re so bloody baffled. The world has become odd in our lifetime. Things are just…boggling. Tech confusion! Voter fraud! Bio-terrorism! Climate havoc! Calf implants! Oceans full of garbage! Economic pandemonium! Geez, it makes you long for a kilt and a good old-fashioned plague.  With some Crusades thrown in. Wait—maybe things weren’t so great in the past. But at least we know all about them; our new horrors we don’t understand yet. If youth is wasted on the young, history is wasted on the living. We don’t learn Jack from history, seems like. We just keep piling new horrors on the old.

In a world teetering on the brink of disaster, it is more pressing than ever to think on happy things. In this unimportant column, after some head shaking at the neo-Biblical mayhem of modern tymes, we strive for laffs, lemonade from lemons, and lerv.  People want good news, like how the re-opening of the Barnard General Store has proven the existence of a benevolent God, or when NPR news informs us that the honey bees’ Spontaneous Hive Collapse (a.k.a. “Colony Collapse Disorder” or “May Disease”) suddenly dropped by 50% this year. That means more bees generating warmth in the hive, giving them the energy they require to fly (they need to be warm to fly—don’t you?), so that they can pollinate the crops that feed this crazy planet.

Let’s hope all the flora—including trees flowering madly this year due to a legit winter without last year’s weirdly hot spring—will provide our busy fuzzy friends with the pollen and nectar they so richly deserve. Worth considering from the NPR report:  a woman suggested that humans (1) plant flowers and (2) be less fussy and let some weeds grow, as bees like ‘em. Thanks, NPR lady! Givin’ us advice we dig, makin’ our lives better. Less weeding = one item crossed off the To Do list = another perfect day in paradise. And thanks, European Union, for passing legislation (for two years, anyway) banning pesticides that might be behind the bees’ demise. Good work, EU.

Scientists are talking of bringing the dinosaurs back from extinction.  While they’re an old horror we know something about, we also know they’ll just walk all over the hives and everything else, breaking stuff, setting off nukes, and who knows what with their giant feet and pea-brains.  But maybe we’ll domesticate them (humanely!) as forms of mass transit (pterodactyl plane; brontosaurus bus; sea monster water taxi) or (lovingly!) make them walk (lumber?) on giant treadmills connected to power generators. I remain hopeful. As, I am certain, do you.  Good holiday, extra mayo, and good day.

Kick Off Black History Month with This

mcnairThis FABULOUS StoryCorps tale by the brother of Challenger astronaut Ronald E. McNair, the second African American to enter space, is uplifting on too many levels to name.  It’s great, and short (like BHM iteself).

Black History Month’s 85th theme is “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.”

Here’s what’s scheduled at the Smithsonian and here’s (ironically) the best list of DC events I found. A brief slideshow includes a shot of Harriet Tubman at [a lot] years old.

Happy Orthodox Christmas

You’ll LERV it.

This year, give yourself the gift of sinus health.

Neti potters can go that route.  Me, I’m blasting my way there with the NeilMed Sinus Rinse kit. You shoot it up one nostril and it blows out the other. What’s more fun than that?

But if they have Starbucks there, I’m not really interested

Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

When life on Earth has gotten to be too much, it’s time to head to another planet.

Catch you on Kepler-22b. I’ll be in a booth in the back.

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