Thursday, February 28, 2019

Writer or biologist?

Had a delightful dinner meeting with English faculty and English majors last night.  In an environment when college advisement seems more and more oriented toward the monetary and other material possibilities of particular college majors, it was wonderful to be among students who have developed a love for reading and writing for its own sake.  Who realize that all realms of knowledge are inter-connected on some level.  We do not have to succumb to an either/or world.  I was trained initially in biology and math, but also loved to read and write.  In my teaching career, I have wandered among several subjects at the high school level - sciences, math, history, Spanish, English, art, and more - but have gravitated more and more toward English (literature and writing) while maintaining a science perspective on most things.  While I tell people I have a "natural history" blog, I do not feel constrained by subject boundaries.  I am driven by curiosity and the urge to connect with the real world in as many ways as I can.  I can sit and watch a frog for hours.  I can look at frost for hours.  It's especially fascinating to watch frost forming before my eyes, and likewise to watch it sublimating.  Most people are aware of clouds "moving in," but where do they originate?  I am still excited by the first time I became aware of clouds "forming" right before my eyes, and then disappearing as they encountered drier air.
Our students don't have to choose between writing and biology, between business and history, and so on.  They can remain committed to learning about anything that moves them.  They will get smarter and wiser, and their so-called careers will materialize out of that. If they're lucky and/or wise, they won't ever have to choose between learning and living.
A big Thank You to Moon's, a restaurant somewhere in Quincy, for hosting this event.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Fall Colors, No Commercial Motive

 Found a beautiful Dogwood leaf on the pavement at FRC and got out my phone/camera.  This was a couple of days ago.  This morning I saw 9 Wild Turkeys within 15 feet of the path I was on.  They didn't panic, so I stopped and carefully reached for my phone.  Discovered that I had left it at home.  Oh, well.  When I got home, this photo I took a couple of Falls ago got my attention and the Dogwood leaf lingered in my mind.  During that special Fall the Cascara Sagrada, a buckthorn, was bearing many colors of leaf simultaneously, and slight winds were dropping the full range on the ground.  I gathered up six of them and placed them on a large sheet of white paper for this photo.  These can be mistaken for Dogwood when they display this range of colors.  This year, the same tree has only produced shades of orange and brown.  No reds.  And they all turned at once, so there are no remaining greens.  I'm still hoping to see an Orange Peel Fungus soon, but with no rain in the forecast, maybe they'll skip this year.

But, I like shadows!

 I think this quote from Whitman was meant to be uplifting, but it bothered me.  Maybe it's a lingering memory of playing with shadow puppets as a child, but I've always enjoyed exploring the dark side of things.  Thus, ...
 There we were, at the corner of Main and Pizza Factory, "Me and my Shadow."
 I imagined a visitor from outer space.
Wall hanging....

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Daylight Shifting Time

This Crab Spider image from my photo archive has nothing to do with the topic in today's title.  I just love spiders.  The message, not yet completed, has to do with the fact that it is impossible to "save" time.  We label time, then we run our lives by the labels we choose, some complying readily while others resist.  When we shift the points in our daily rotational cycle what we call sunrise and sunset, we do not save any time.  What is the real meaning of Noon?  Isn't it the time we've labelled as the Sun reaching its zenith on any given day? 

The real reasons for arguing about Daylight Savings are economic.  The idea first occurred to an entomologist over a hundred years ago who thought it might be a good way to have more daylight available after work to observe and collect insects.  I empathize with that idea.  With that said, I should have posted a photo of an insect rather than an arachnid. By World War I, financiers and warmongers (same?) persuaded the Power that Be of advantages to them of adopting Daylight Savings Time.  Bad idea. If we kept our labelling of daily time to correspond to a natural cycle, we still have the option of deciding when to open and close schools and businesses, times for public travel stops, etc.  Some people have more trouble adjusting (getting up? being on time?) than others with or without DST.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Last Flower?

We hiked the Jamison Mine Trail up past Grass Lake on Sunday and got part way uup Mt. Washington.  A casual walk, over some pretty rocky terrain, we enjoyed walking through groves of huge confers and occasional meadows lined by smaller broadleaf trees.  I'll posting tree photos and notes shortly, but wanted to start by posting this photo of Paintbrush, the only flower we saw on the 6-mile venture.  I don't call it an adventure because we knew where we were going.  Backlit by a low sun, it literally glowed from a basically brown ground cover.  Many flowers of many different species will bloom here next spring, but for some reason on this day of cold wind and the ground covered with the yellow leaves of Cottonwood, Maple, Alder, and Willow, a single blooming flower gave me the feeling of a "last of its kind," like seeing the last Passenger Pigeon or the last Dodo.  A sad feeling, really, yet happy to see it. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Little Stem Cell Research

Interpret this any way you wish - was I researching little stem cells (actually, they're all little), or doing a little research on stem cells.  Maybe both.  I just knew I didn't want to take cliched photo of a pumpkin.

Blooming Asters, a bug magnet for Fall.

To me, every flower-pollinator relationship is a wonder.  I got this photo in a nick of time just after my presence disturbed a nearby dog.