Saturday, October 31, 2015

Painting! Auroras!

Ok, I finally set up Pandora on my computer again, this means I can sit for hours in my little basement hole and do thing...

Like paint.

I used to paint a lot, but there are many stories involving squirrels and moments of mania involved in that.

Bad decisions.

Life goes on I guess...

Anyway I decided to blast out a quick picture today, I hope you like it...
In case your wondering the angle of the auroras is a little exaggerated, but alas....

Still needs a signature.

Oh, and the stars are actually representative of the stars visible looking north on September 19th from about 47 degrees north latitude at about 10:25 PM.

You can go into Stellarium and check it...

"Halloween Skies to Include Dead Comet Flyby"

"The large space rock that will zip past Earth this Halloween is most likely a dead comet that, fittingly, bears an eerie resemblance to a skull."

Source and more info:
https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/2015/10/30/halloween-skies-to-include-dead-comet-flyby

poopy weather, its photo edit day...

I have oodles of photos I have not touched yet.  I have hundreds, ok, maybe thousands of pictures that I have not yet taken the time to even look at.

Today is the day this starts.  I am going to rip through a few dozen quilt photos just to get those out of the way and then start ripping through the piles of older photos.  I am guessing there will be blog posts as a result.  But quilt photos first.

Egads....

Sunday, October 25, 2015

More about Hurricane Patricia

I have been thinking about the explosive nature of Hurricane Patricia and what this means in a context of the most powerful storms in history.  There is a little bit of blur when it comes to defining what the most powerful storm actually was.  Some of this has to do with the way that storms are classified and differences in storm wind measurement methods, but lest break it down.

Hurricane Patricia had maximum winds of 200 mph.  This is an obscenely huge number and it beats out the previous record held by Gilbert at 190 mph quite handily.  These winds are 1 minute sustained wind speeds.

There are other storms, notably the Labor Day hurricane that came close, and if we had the technology to look at what the storm was doing before it laid waste to the Florida Keys there is a possibility that it was comparable if not stronger, but we cannot extrapolate that data from what we have.

In the Western Pacific the strongest storm is generally listed as Super-Typhoon Tip in 1979.  Tip has maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, but this was also a 10 minutes sustained wind speed, which is a much different measurement than the 1 minute sustained winds of Patricia.  The normal conversion factor from 10 minute to 1 minute sustained winds is an increase of 14%, although I am guessing there should be some fudge factor in there, so lets add 20%.  This would give a 1 minute conversion of 192 mph.  This is a ridiculous speed, but still less than the 200 of Patricia.

Tip did have a much lower central pressure, and was also not observed (because of technical limitations) as closely as Patricia was.

Another factor that has to be taken into account, although Tip may not have been, at its peak, as intense as Patricia was Tip was HUGE.  This is a HUGE with all caps huge.  At its peak Tip was 1380 miles across!  This is near the size of the United States west of the Mississippi river from Mexico to Canada.

So even if Tip was not as intense in its core the total energy across that immense expanse was orders of magnitude greater.

Oh well, my two cents.

Homelessness, Part 2

Another installment in my adventures in being homeless.

How does this happen to a person?

Well, it was a collaboration of poor planning, bad luck, and chasing a dream.

In December of last year, an Ophthalmologist confirmed something which I've known for 20 years, that my vision was going to eventually change from two eyes to one with the onset of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a broad definition for when the eye has increasing pressure and presses against the ocular nerve, which damages the persons vision.  It's slow and permanent. I have what's known as "angle-closure" type, and the surgery would require me to 'not work' for about 6 weeks, and besides being an elective type of surgery, it's not covered by most of my previous companies insurance until it becomes 'too bad to work'.

The options I've considered upon finding out that my vision was failing weren't simple. Pay about $25,000 for surgery, with up to two months down-time, mostly out of pocket, which I simply couldn't afford. I could move to a state where Marijuana is legal, and reduce the swelling of my right eye by smoking the 'red-eye' varieties of CBD, "pain killing", Sativa Indica variety, and that would increase blood flow and circulation to my blocked tubules.

Of course, this means that I couldn't work at normal jobs, anymore without some serious paperwork from doctors, and no matter what, I couldn't drive a commercial vehicle any more because of our Nations Department of Transportation rules.  This means a severe change in careers, the 5th serious shift in my short 20 years of working for gainful employment.

I had a seriously difficult decision to make.

I decided to put up my home for sale, pack up my belongings, and move 2,000 miles from the midwest to Washington state, and try smoking weed, again, to see if there were any immediate effects.  My fears were validated within arriving in July.  I toked my first toke of weed in a decade, homeless in my pickup, and within a day, the rainbow halo in my vision began to disappear. The black-and-white vision began to give way to colors again, and my constant throbbing headache completely went away.  For the first time in nearly 5 years, I slept more than 3 hours.

I was simply thrilled that I found a solution, and it was simple as smoking a weed that grows in the wild...  A WEED...  A nuisance plant! A plant which the government spends BILLIONS in our current legal system to deter, prevent, prosecute, incarcerate, and further enslave our population with probation officers, counselors, enforcement agencies, and task forces.

I smoked this drug for one month, and not once did the thought occur to me to rape, steal from, shoot, or murder anyone. It gave me relief from a headache and helped me see, besides helping me slow my consumption of tobacco, and helping me eat more foods, as I've always been bordering on being underweight.

Then I started applying for jobs... "Drug Testing" was always common among every job I applied for...  Every single job which paid $10 per hour, meant I would also have to submit to drug testing, and wouldn't allow me to smoke it, even with a doctors order.  I was heartbroken.

I stopped smoking pot, and went another month looking for jobs until I resorted to my previous profession of driving semi over the road...  Again, I was met by companies who preferred to treat me like a number, as disposable and mechanical as a cog in a machine.  If I squeeked in the slightest, I'd be tossed aside to starve until I seen it THEIR way.

What frustration...  So, I began to look for local jobs in the Seattle area, driving semi.  I found one which didn't work me very hard, and would allow me to retrain for a better paying career.  The trade off was simple.

Live in a vehicle (which I haven't bought yet), work 50 hours per week, (so I could make the overtime and minimize the time spent outdoors), and save my paychecks to be able to purchase some land.

So far, I've spent 3 weeks in 40-60 degree weather.  It get's cold at night.  I wear 3 hooded sweatshirts, 3 pairs of pants, besides my "midwestern snow gear", which consist of snomobiling pants, jacket, ski-mask and buckskin gloves.  I sleep in industrial parks inside of empty (and damaged) semi trailers, as well as keeping my items in there during the day while I scavenge for foods and work.

I can usually get away with 'grazing' at local shopping centers like WalMart, where I don't actually buy anything.  I'll walk through the fruits and veggies section, eating a few grapes, then an apple, drive a few carrots and celery stalks into my face before getting to the milk section, and down a pint sized carton in a few gulps.  When I get to the chips and crackers, the milk carton goes into the back behind the single-sized bag which I choose.  It takes a few moments for me to eat them as quickly, especially if I'm already half full from the previous sections, but I eat so quickly that I normally have to count my fingers after I'm done, just to make sure they are still there.  Then I walk to the bathroom and take a 'bird bath', which, for the uneducated, means taking a handful of paper towels from the dispenser, wetting them and using hand soap, and vigorously scrubbing each part of the body, usually the major smelly parts like assholes, armpits, crotch and teeth, never in that order.  I follow it up with wetting what little hair I have, and using hand soap, scrubbing my scalp raw, and finishing with the hand-dryer to return to my normal clean state.

At least the corporate giant is good for something, right?

Most of my free time is spent in this way. Walking to the giant, immersed in crowds of unaware people, then returning to my 'walking sleeping bag', to sleep two sets of three hours.  Get up, go to work, do it all over again.

Shit...  Is this the cost of pursuing a dream of a stable life?  I don't want to be rich, famous or good looking. I just want to farm food for myself and stay the hell away from everyone else. That seems entirely too much to ask, as I am expected to support my community with taxes, votes, and interaction.  We're no longer nomads.  We're collectively unhappy, no matter the technical advances we've made with medicine, finance, science, and social development.   We crave to go faster on long flat paved surfaces. We crave independence, security, and instant gratification.  We want it all, now.

We Want Your Soul.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Halloween Asteroid

I'm not generally worried about things like the Halloween Asteroid, because I find them completely beyond my control.

I find them terribly interesting, however, especially since this one is traveling so VERY fast, at nearly 22 miles per second.  This asteroid was discovered just a few weeks ago.  This means, in the pinball galaxy in which we live, we could have similar or faster traveling objects that we just won't know about.

Imagine if we discovered something larger, faster, and aimed directly for us?  Would any local government disclose something like this, if we knew one was barreling down upon us?  What kinds of chaos would ensue? Would we immediately devolve into looting, riots, rapes and murders? Would people find religion or at very least, come to terms with the end of their specific existence?

Let's say something larger, faster, and most destructive was slated to hit someplace like Wyoming, and effectively END everything on the North American continent, and with what wasn't hit with ash, fallout, and sonic blasts, triggered massive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions worldwide.

It would certainly seem like "Revelations" in the Bible.  Fire, Brimstone and such.

Of course, if anything could survive, it would be the insects.

I rather like insects, arthropods, spiders and similar exoskeleton creatures, most which haven't had any advancements in evolution in millions of years because they've learned to harmonize, weaponize, and otherwise survive no matter what their environment does around them.  They're so unlike humans, who need paved, flat roads, monstrous mansions, biological engineering, deforestation, and vast raping and pillaging of natural and unnatural resources.

I like ants because they colonize...  They perform specific functions for their survival. They hardly quarrel, even with other types of ants. One ant may not kill you, but their strength is in sheer numbers alone. We've all heard about the ants abilities to carry many times their own weight, and to be able to travel far distances.

Spiders especially fascinate me with their ability to create homes using their abdomen and thorax, while using the same as a weapon, to build webs, trap prey, and help distribute offspring.

I think I like scorpions the most because they favor the most inhospitable environments.  They can survive weeks and months without water in the most hot, arid areas. When it get's too chilly, they simply hibernate.  Their weapons are a pointed tail and powerful forceps.

What does man have to protect themselves?  A brain.  We have rather fragile skin and bones, we generally don't carry our weight, in either literal or figurative means. We can hardly agree on which 5 toppings to put on our pizza to make 10 people happy. We're complex enough without attempting to communicate with each other, and attempting further feats usually require a unified common goal.

But here is an ethical question:  Do humans deserve to survive?

We've been able to send men to the moon and our refined electronic arms to other planets.  Could we really 'nuke' an asteroid?  If so, why aren't we 'testing' our abilities on this new nearby visitor?

I'm looking forward to the fast moving projectile. I sincerely hope it has more like it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Strongest Eastern Pacific/Atlantic Hurricane Ever!

Individual weather events cannot be blamed on climate change which will only alter the odds of such events occurring, however.....

Damn!

Right now we have warm offshore waters from El Nino helping to perk things up as well.

000
WTPZ45 KNHC 230834
TCDEP5

HURRICANE PATRICIA DISCUSSION NUMBER  14
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL       EP202015
400 AM CDT FRI OCT 23 2015

Data from three center fixes by the Hurricane Hunters indicate
that the intensity, based on a blend of 700 mb-flight level and
SFMR-observed surface winds, is near 175 kt.  This makes Patricia
the strongest hurricane on record in the National Hurricane Center's
area of responsibility (AOR) which includes the Atlantic and the
eastern North Pacific basins.  The minimum central pressure
estimated from the aircraft data, 880 mb, is the lowest ever for
our AOR.  It seems incredible that even more strengthening could
occur before landfall later today, but recent microwave imagery
shows hints of a concentric eyewall developing.  If the trend
toward an eyewall replacement continues, it would cause the
intensity to at least level off later today.  The official forecast
shows only a little more strengthening before landfall.  Given the
very mountainous terrain that Patricia should encounter after
landfall, the cyclone should weaken even faster over land than
predicted by the normal inland decay rate.

Recent center fixes show that the hurricane is gradually turning
toward the right, and the initial motion estimate is 340/10 kt.  The
track forecast scenario remains about the same.  Patricia should
continue to move around the western periphery of a mid-level
anticyclone today and turn north-northeastward ahead of a trough to
the northwest tonight and Saturday.  The official track forecast is
somewhat slower than the latest model consensus and lies between
the GFS and ECMWF solutions.

The global models continue to depict the development of a cyclone
near the Texas coast over the weekend.  Based on the predicted
upper-level winds, this system should be non-tropical in nature.
However this cyclone is expected to draw significant amounts of
moisture from Patricia's remnants, and could result in locally
heavy rainfall over portions of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico
coastal area within the next few days.  Refer to statements from
local National Weather Service forecast offices for details.

We would like to acknowledge deeply the Air Force Hurricane Hunters
for their observations establishing Patricia as a record-breaking
hurricane.  Clearly, without their data, we would never have known
just how strong a tropical cyclone it was.

KEY MESSAGES:

1.  Confidence is high that Patricia will make landfall in the
hurricane warning area along the coast of Mexico as an extremely
dangerous category 5 hurricane this afternoon or evening.
Preparations to protect life and property in the hurricane warning
area should have been completed, or rushed to completion, as
tropical storm conditions are beginning to affect the area.
Residents in low-lying areas near the coast in the hurricane warning
area should evacuate immediately, since the storm surge could be
catastrophic near and to the east of where the center makes
landfall.

2.  In addition to the coastal impacts, very heavy rainfall is
likely to cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides in the
Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero continuing
into Saturday.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT  23/0900Z 17.0N 105.5W  175 KT 200 MPH
 12H  23/1800Z 18.8N 105.4W  180 KT 205 MPH
 24H  24/0600Z 21.7N 104.2W   60 KT  70 MPH...INLAND
 36H  24/1800Z 24.5N 102.5W   20 KT  25 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
 48H  25/0600Z...DISSIPATED

$$ 
Forecaster Pasch

I will be keeping an eye on this one today.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Great Gatsby, why I hate this book

I am finally in the process of reading The Great Gatsby and the one thing I cannot get out of my head is a young Fred Savage asking "Is this a kissing book?"

Well although there is an abundance of useless romance aspects in the book the book is mostly about the excesses and tribulations of being rich in America.

The thing about this that I feel is that it explains to me why I hate rich people.

Why try to live happy lives when you can either buy happiness or sedate unhappiness away with booze?  I almost feel that is one of the lessons of the book.  Sedate, inebriate, buy, buy buy.  America of 1922 was much like America of today only with flappers instead of Iphones, and people when on excursions instead of online.

People got out and enjoyed themselves, but they seemed to have little if any self-control.  Tom seems like a traditional right-wing douche, he complains about women being able to get out and meet people and have flighty relationships while at the same time running around on his wife.

Gatsby is a fake, and he is good at it.  But is this really any different than all of the people of today trying to pretend they are right by leveraging everything that they may have in the future to have a fancy car today?

I hate the Great Gatsby, but the style, not the words, but the concept.

I feel it exemplifies what is wrong with America and tries to make it out that being a lie and good at it is just as good, or often better than being truthful about who you are.

No.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lightsabers? What the hell?

There are a few things about lightsabers that simply don't make any damn sense.

Since the new Star Wars film is coming out soon I decided that I would start bringing up some issues that have been bugging me.

Lightsabers....

If the Lightsaber is using light why does it only extend a limited distance?

If the Lightsaber is using light why does it seem to have heft?

If the Lightsaber is using light why does one Lightsaber interfere with another?

If the Lightsaber is so effective at deflecting, well, everything, why don't they make shields with that technology.

What is the Lightsaber using as a power source?  When you destroy the handle why in't there a small atomic explosion?

Why, if you have a light source with that much power does no one have eye protection?

If the Lightsaber is using light what happens if you swing at a mirror?

It seems when the Lightsaber is powered on that it has more mass than when it is powered off, where does this mass come from?

Ok, enough for now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus?

This is one of those things that has always bugged me, although if you look at it with the properly skewed point of view it may work.

Men are from Mars:

Therefore men are:

Cold
Lifeless
Salty

Women are from Venus:

Therefore women are:

Turbulent
Overheated
Barren

I am pretty sure this is not what the original author was trying to get at.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Zen and the art of Squirrel - October

I have never been able to get a hang of October.  I know what it is, and I know it is just anther month in a long string of months that makes up the year, but I have never really been able to get a grip on October.

October is the month of restless sleep as my body tries miserably to make the transition from summer to winter.  Daylight savings has not expired yet and I am still used to staying up until about five hours before the sun comes up and sleeping in until about an hour or so after the sun rises.  In the summer this means going to be about eleven in the evening and waking up at about 6:30 in the morning.  On a weekend when I have nothing to do maybe I would stay up a little later and get up a little later, but once October comes this is a disaster.

Five hours before the sun comes up is about two thirty in the morning.  An hour after sunrise is like nine in the morning.  I have to turn my headlights on to go to work at seven thirty, but there isn’t snow on the ground yet.

I can’t justify the change.  The trees are all bare and the world around me is lifeless and dead, but the weather is still clinging on to the last bits of life until it expires in that first real snow.

Of course the first real snow is also coming later and later every year as the climate gradually warms.  If you are further south you do not see the changes that much, but up here in the hinterlands it is a lot more obvious.

We have actually warmed considerably, we still have enough variation so that we get the growing season ending cold snaps, but the first real snow is lucky to get here before thanksgiving these days.

Thanksgiving used to be when we would go out and chop a hole in the ice in the backyard to see if it was think enough to go skating on, it generally was.  The last several years we have been lucky to have any ice at all.

This does not make the squirrel very happy.

 The snow insulates the ground, it forms a blanket to keep the real bitter cold from penetrating deep into the soil.  It keeps the hard frost fro reaching the septic systems and the lairs of the little woodlands creatures.

The snow also forms a protective cover for travel.  The voles and the shrews dig along the top of the ground making little tunnels under the snow.  If the snow is deep enough they are perfectly safe down there, but if the snow is thin they are exposed and they are easy prey for foxes, cats, owls and the like.

Not that I have anything against foxes and owls, but cats can get their own food, in the dish, in the pantry.

October is a weird transition month, we are losing a couple of minutes of daylight a day while at the same time the weather is supposedly getting about half a degree cooler a day.  Except as of late, this month we had an 84 degree day about a week ago, and today it was 68 degrees.  This is Minnesota, this is not right.

By the end of the month we should be looking at our first real snowfall.  By November we should be on the lookout for the first real storm that drops enough snow and wind to snarl up traffic and tell people if they waited to long to get a good set of tires.

November comes with the storms, we are supposed to get some nasty Nor-Easters that bring bone-chilling winds off the lake and half a foot of driving snow.  I am supposed to head down to the piers and watch the boats, which will still be finishing off the shipping season, venture out into the lake and into the waves that will be tossing spray up over their bows and down the length of the hull.

I get the feeling that this will not happen this year.

Certainly not in October.

I don’t understand October, I just don’t get it.

I have on several occasions in the past nearly taken the month of October off from sleeping.  I just could not adjust.  I had too much on my mind, and the transition was hitting me hard.

Once there is a layer of snow I will be able to sleep like a rock.

But not yet.

I don’t like October.


I just don’t get it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Pursuit

Dreaming a peaceful slumber, and seeing the most entertaining fantasy my dura-matter can conjure, and then trying to remember it after waking, as I sit on the toilet to a strange hotel room, it seems several worlds, solar systems, universes away, and makes me wonder just how something so strange could possibly be true, if only in my imagination.

I am in a globular room, with no points or corners of definition, nor shadows or sources of light, seemingly weightless and effortlessly hanging in the void of white space, with no zenith nor azimuth, no clothing, nor nudity, for I am simply consciousness, traveling while remaining still. Is this my id? Is this my ego? Am I in Nirvana of an inner space, and have I found the peace for which I've desired? Slowly, the white space dims and fades into spots and shades of gray, seemingly evaporating like mist and clouds around me.  I begin to descend, not 'fall' towards the earth below, somehow seeing both up and down, left and right, behind and forward, in every direction, and there is both great depth perception, yet only one point of view, and that is from my awareness in the area for which I'm arriving unto.

As my being slowly descends towards the rock formations, the high mountain plateaus and jagged canyons, my being travels faster, faster, faster towards an unknown point in the horizon, passing over rocks, dirt, scrub brush and passing over roads, freeways, intersecting points of vacant pavement, quickly passed only to meet more house-less streets.  The names, passing too quickly to recognize, and everything is passing faster and faster in a crescendo of images of a land in which I've never been.

All at once, I stop, with the same all encompassing vision, in a field of wheat, on the rise of a small hill, able to see every mountain range which surrounds me. A lonely field crow swoops down next to me, and looks into me, and seems to rest inside of me. As the crow takes flight, so do I, following the flight of this lonely bird, swooping, diving, climbing high and riding the air currents, just inches behind it's tail feathers, as I'm it's companion for the moment...  And as if I tire of him, at once, I break away to search for my own kind...

My bubble of being speeds up again...  As fast as sound, as fast as light, faster, faster, however not being afraid of any impact into any of the land below.  Once more,I climb high, higher into the cloudless sky to observe the ground below.  Somehow, I can see a lonely tree, with the most beautiful red leaves, with rolling branches creating a canopy draping towards the ground.

Being the only color in this entire dream, this red tree interests me.  I quickly move my being bubble down and circle such a magnificent tree...  Oak? No. Maple? Not quite?  I don't recognize this tree... I know EVERY tree and DON'T RECOGNIZE THIS TREE!  There are no trees like this tree... and this tree seems sad, angry almost, at odds with the Earth in which it's planted. It clearly doesn't belong rooted in such foul, rocky and barren soil, and from it's roots which tangle from the ground, it seems like the tree has tried several times to walk, like a mythical Chtulu, away from it's dirt.  Vines from itself choke out it's own limbs, running like veins from top to bottom, and returning to the branches.

The crow from before swoops into the tree as a wind catches it's leaves, which are all firmly affixed, where it finds it's perch to peck away at a familiar hole in the crotch of a limb. After a few moments of a hard "peck peck peck" the crow cries out in agony from not finding it's intended treat. "Peck peck peck", "Caw Caw Caw", "Peck Peck Peck", "Caw Caw CAW!!!"

I awaken...  I wake up quickly and clearly to the smell of my rented sheets, on my rented bed, in it's rented room.  The smell of ten thousand travelers before me makes my room stink of hope and fear, much like smelling a wonderful restaurants dumpster.

I wonder what Freud would have to say about such a weird dream?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Why was the sexual revolution of the 1970s bad for todays economy?

Most of the general ideas about the sexual revolution of the late sixties to the early eighties were very progressive, and won a hard fought battle for gender equality in the workplace.  That's not what this post is about.

First, let me say I have always thought that anyone who performs the function of the job, no matter what gender, race, sexual orientation or religion of that specific 'drone' happens to be, should be paid accordingly to their skill and the jobs functions.  Next, I want to make it clear, before getting the dander up on any feminists or sexist males, neither sex is superior to the other. The point I'm trying to make is over equality. This post is about the problems with having one gender having a sexual revolution while leaving the counterpart in the archaic ages.

Most of my experience has found that when women entered the workplace to help financially provide for their families, instead, their families suffered because men's roles didn't adapt accordingly.

Women have been traditionally the 'home-maker' and the Men, "bread-winner".

Many times in the past two decades, the female counterpart has been the backbone of our countries while men go off to fight in wars.  When the few men return, the women have kindly, and most quietly returned to the home-maker roles for the men to re-enter the workplace.

In the 70's, combined with the anger from previous wars, equal rights for every race to the standards of Caucasians,  women demanded equal pay, with every reason.  The subsequent effect was for women to enter the workplace.  However, in doing so, they burned their bras, and started applying for jobs traditionally held by men.

When these mothers joined the workforce, it led to more 'latchkey kids', those who would go to the institution of schools at a time where schools have also faced an issue of under funding, over population, and trying to integrate students into a system which would benefit everyone.

Instead, our population in the United States had dozens of unattended children from every home, and we were pacified with MTV, Rock and Rap, Video Games, Personal Computers, Skateboards, and declining importance in the role of the family.  Divorce rates skyrocketed, mostly over financial issues, as well as the average median income for the family, despite the dual income. Tuition rates went up, while skilled trades began to falter in the 90's.

Most of these divorced and broken families produced children who grew into adults, and emulated their parents, finding divorce acceptable. It became the standard for mothers to receive child support and custody of the children, also creating a system of dependency, and increasing the amounts of latchkey kids. The areas worst hit were also low income areas.

The issue was that it wasn't socially acceptable for the parenting responsibilities to be shared equally between parents, grinding fathers into the dirt with child support rather than giving them equal parenting responsibilities.  Fathers were (and still are) considered the 'bread-winners' rather than an equal part of the parental equation, while women accept both roles and are praised for doing both roles, even if they aren't actually performing both or either roles.

What has also made the whole dynamic worse is that the media has evolved into using our sex and genders to sell everything except sex itself.  We are constantly bombarded with images which play upon our insecurities and libido. If I had sex one tenth as often as the media would have me believe over products which I purchase, I'd be having 5 new sexual partners every day.

Men need the same sexual revolution. I'm not exactly sure how simple this solution is, however.

How does a society recognize the importance of having a father to be seen as anything more than a paycheck?  How can that work ethic be seen through a child support payment? At what point could men change the opinions of each other?

Another point which the sexual revolution has left men by the wayside is that it became more accepted for lesbian relationships, where gay male sexual relationships are still somewhat frowned upon in most social settings, at very least in predominant christian communities.

"Gay sex is wrong...  Except two chicks... That's pretty 'alright'."

I'd like to blame the issue upon our collective desire to cleave to religion.  People need faith in each other, and in themselves to progress our society, instead of some omnipotent being for their success and failures. We need accountability for ourselves and our actions.

How often does one hear the term "deadbeat dad"?  Why isn't there an equally derogatory term for mothers who deprive their child the benefit of their father beyond a paycheck?  Why do courts award primary custody and large lump sums to mothers in the form of monthly supplementary payments while limiting the parental time?  Are they saying that the father is an inappropriate 'home-maker', and if so, why wouldn't the reverse be true, that a woman is an inappropriate 'bread-winner'?  This, of course, is insulting to both genders, and favors women...  This is NOT "gender equality".

In closing, please examine your own families dynamic?  Were your parents 'good parents', when both genders were in the workplace? Was your father anything more than a paycheck to support his family? 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Zen and the Art of Squirrel - Travel

Travel is a good thing.  New places, new views, new things that I have never seen before.

I relax a lot when I travel from place to place.  I wish I could get out of town more than I do, and someday I really hope to up my total amount of travel up.  I have not been on an airplane in something like eight or nine years.

I did get to visit a few places when I was going to school.  I went to Michigan, Missouri, and Arizona to go visit some mines.  I went a few places that were mostly for roller derby travel, but largely that was not travel for travels sake.  I would get to look out the window at the places as I drove past, but for the most part there was no time to stop and enjoy a sunset.

I like enjoying a good sunset, or sunrise, although generally not on the same continuous drive, something that I have done on multiple occasions.

I want to go someplace where I can stop and smell the flowers.  Or maybe walk around and look to take some pictures of animals on the wild.  Look at some interesting roc formations.  Although I am ostensibly a hard rock guy, there is something poetic about sedimentary structures.

In the relatively near future I am going to try to make sure that I spend more time out in the wilds of the world.  Just myself and a camera, and either a notebook or a laptop, depending on how light I am traveling.

I would not mind taking a nice long summer road trip.  Drive a few hundred miles a day, depending on availability of funds and what there is to look at.

If you have a car that gets good gas mileage you can go a long way for a very small amount of money.  When you realize that at thirty miles per gallon you can go three thousand miles for two hundred and fifty bucks plus food, you suddenly wonder why you are sitting in one place when there are mountains only fifteen hours away.

I want to see Glacier National Park before it is a misnomer.  I love wandering around in Yellowstone.  I would like to camp in the Tetons.  I have never climbed any of the Cascades.  I have never seen the Olympic forest. 

I have yet to experience a hurricane or an earthquake.  I have never hiked up an active volcano, or even watched an eruption from a distance.

There are a lot of animals that I want to shoot pictures of in the wild.  I have shot pictures of the majestic moose and skittering squirrel, but there is nothing wrong with getting a few more shots.  But how about a big-horn sheep?  Maybe a grizzly or a polar bear. 

I have never seen a seal or a whale in the wild.

I do not currently have an underwater camera, but there is nothing that says I cannot get a waterproof housing in short order and get myself out in the water for some adventures if I end up somewhere near a reef.

I have never been outside of North America, and this is a shame.  I wish you could still take long trips across the ocean by boat as I sleep extremely well when I am on the water, especially when you can feel the boat rocking back and forth.  Those modern cruise liners where you are basically in a floating mall do not appeal to me.  A small boat churning through waves and tipping twenty degrees to each side on a good weather day, that appeals to me.

If you have never had to think as to whether or not you were going to sink you have not lived.

The desert South West has a lot of beautiful vistas.  I studied geology in school and I love to be someplace where I can actually look at the rocks and ponder what was going on to allow the assemblage of materials that I see in front of me.

The middle of the country is largely flat, but it also has a tendency to be a lot greener. 

I have yet to visit New England, although I have made quick trips through parts of the Mid-Atlantic States.  I really have no interest in ever going to New York City.  There are simply far too many people for me to feel comfortable.  I don’t even like going to malls, even a mall outside of the insane Christmas season is too full of people for my taste.

Beaches are often too populated for me, at least in tourist areas.  If it was a beach where I could walk for a while with my head down looking at the sand without risking running into someone I would be fine with it, but a beach full of people is not appealing.

I was hoping to go camping this weekend, unfortunately the plans fell through.  I still may end up going, or maybe just go some place near by where I can sleep in a tent and call it camping.

My standards of what it takes to define travel have changed over the years.

Soon, very soon I will venture out again.

Maybe some day I will turn this whole mess into a book and go on a book tour leaving days in between signings for adventure.

Maybe someday I will put together my coffee-table book of dive-bars and road kill.

Maybe I will accomplish none of it.

Tomorrow is another day, and the weekend awaits.




Zen and the Art of Squirrel - Art

Squirrels are very artistic, they look at their environment and they create these beautiful nests in the trees out of sticks and twigs up in he branches.  On the first look it may look like an uncoordinated mess of sticks jammed together into a mass, but when you look closer you will realize that there is an art to it.

I like art, and I like how I feel when I make art.

If you think about it, even this composition is a form of art.  Everything that comes from your mind and gets expressed to try to make others feel better, or possibly disturbed, or change minds, can be art.

Art is a state of mind I think.

Art can be in the form of words, it could be paints, it could be a stack of rocks, it could be sound.  It could just be the sound of fingers drumming on a table in a rhythm.

Fidgeting could be art too.

I write, sometimes more quantity than quality, some of my writing is more along the lines of science.  I like to spitball ideas.  In the recent past I did a lot more with painting, now I do a lot more with photography.

I was putting photo albums online for people to peruse and I decided that photo captions were boring, especially when I was doing a series of photos that were ostensibly of the same general subjects, like twenty views of the nebula in Orion, or 35 views of a band on stage.  I could have captioned every image but you can only say “bass player” so many times before it gets dull.

I started writing stories with a few lines after every image, sort of a bonus for those who were there to look at the pictures.  Sometimes there would be a whole elaborate story wound between the pictures.

The art of making art also calms the squirrel.  I do end up starting a lot of projects and not finishing all of them, but it is the process as well that makes art.

Sometimes the process is fun too.

As if we need the reminder, depression hurts.  I know this and I am sure that you know it too.  You get this strange body pain that you can’t seem to nail down, and it turns out that the pain I just that you are down.

Art helps to bring the spirits up, while at the same time settling the squirrel down. You can be manic and attack a canvas, but when the initial blast is finished you stop, breathe and you look at what you have done.  You have to concentrate for more than a few seconds to determine where the next brush stroke belongs.


Theoretically art speaks for itself, and so I am going to cut this one short.  I will let the art speak, for when the art speaks I don’t have to.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Homelessness

For the past 6 months, and for the third time in my life, I am homeless.

I'm not the average homeless guy, however.  How many homeless travel with a brand new phone, 2 netbook laptops, 45 TB of data, and a Class A drivers licence with all the endorsements like Tanker, Doubles, Triples, and Hazardous Materials? How many can collate an Excel spreadsheet with more than 50 tables, write in 3 different computer languages, while carrying on a game of Minecraft thanks to a borrowed Wireless Fidelity connection?

"I'm NOT stealing my neighbors WiFi!  Their WiFi is trespassing into my computer!!"

It takes a different breed of human to do what I've done.  I would say I'm a victim of circumstances, but the reality is that I've caused my own circumstances.

I've been a traveler on this big blue watery rock for as long as I've gained a hard fought freedom from the parental units.  Several times upon this journey, I have given up my freedom for the most undeserving reasons.

I've learned so many things by simply being without shelter.  I've learned some interesting social skills, and tend to notice all the spectrum of human existence.

I've made the choice, in July, to sell my home to pursue a dream and adventure. I want to learn more about people, while walking the thinnest line of accepted behavior.  I want to see and push the boundaries of what people consider "normal", while still continuing to exist in the most healthy life possible.

I started by collecting literal 'low hanging fruit' in the urban settings, with trees that blocked my path, as well as frequenting larger restaurants to watch the gluttony in action.  On average, I noticed that people would throw away one third of the meal which they ordered, which they purchased at an inflated price, using a plastic card, which, most likely, charged them interest and a minimal transaction fee.  I'd usually order some coffee (which I'm convinced I'm mostly comprised of by now), and clean off their plates of fries, fruits, and the occasional parts of steak or chicken left behind.

I watched people sit in traffic jams, walking miles past them, even on the interstate, while they sat in air conditioning, texting, smoking, and trying to calm restrained children.

I watched a business update their computers, and simply throw (literally) a dual core Dell outside onto the back of the businesses pavement.  A computer that must have cost the company $800 less than 5 years prior.

We live in a 'throw-away' generation.  We have disposable jobs, disposable electronics, disposable income, and disposable relationships.  "The Upgrade Generation."

"Do you want to Super-Size that?", "Are you interested in an Extended Warranty?", "Catch that cheater!"

Fifty years ago, it was very common to find a trade and work it until it killed you. You did nothing else but get up every morning, commute an average of 6 miles to that job, work 10 to 12 hours, and returned home.  For twenty-five to thirty years, with the occasional vacation, a pension which generally wasn't enough to justify the devotion, and maybe a gold pocket watch as a token of appreciation.

In our current generation, we don't have 'careers'.  We work at 'jobs', instead, for an average of 7-10 years, with 2 or 3 major career changes in a persons life. Likewise, I don't need to give the statistics over divorce rates, because it's always apparent.

I've chosen a lonely life.  The life of a nomad is the life for me. I actually prefer to rescue clothing, electronics and food from the garbage. I prefer putting to use the vast amounts of waste our generation would otherwise fill into a ground-condom to protect us from ourselves.  "Fucking ourselves" seems to be a little too literal.

Mostly, is see articles in the news and watch it on strangers televisions how we have a homeless crisis. I don't entirely agree. I think that we have an issue with our systems of mental health, education, infrastructure, our legal system, and the way we govern ourselves into our monetary structure.  We are actually nomadic breed of beings, and meant to scavenge, forage, and earn our meals through traveling vast expanses of land, using our intelligence to hunt and gather.  I highly doubt our evolution was meant to compound interest rates, pay property tax, or threaten our very survival with nuclear annihilation....  Unless...  Maybe that's actually our purpose?

Our nomadic nature has been long forgotten, spare those we consider the dredges of our society; the undesired, the unwanted, the square pegs which won't fit into the round holes.  We reserve disgust for those who don't choose to conform to the norms of society. We reduce those hopeless and homeless to resorting to charity, criminal activity, and depravity to justify their existence, ignoring the thousands of thousands of years of evolutionary programming before us, in which we salvage, scavenge, and forage for our existence, and have the gall to call them 'unrefined', when they actually have more survival skills than your average Beverly Hills trophy wife.

The point has been made that we're all the cause and effect of entropy, made to hasten the eventual cooling and atomic energy release into this universe. The slowly building crescendo of madness which we call 'humanity'.

I know nothing so savage, so gross, so utterly grotesque, brutal and senseless as humans, especially in reference to "Mans inhumanity to man".  I recently watched a video, which I refuse to share, of an owner carelessly letting a beautiful mongrel of a dog chase an explosive firework to have the dogs mouth blown to pieces, and in the comments it simply said: "HOW INHUMANE!"  Actually, that's a VERY human thing to do. Senseless violence without care to their surroundings in the name of adventure and 'fun'.  Columbus Day simply celebrates this fact.  A traveler from Spain landed on the coast of a foreign land with 50 men and went on a killing spree for gold and the precursor to slavery, second, only, to Genghis Khan. Were these nomads on boats called 'homeless'?  What about the nomads which they slaughtered, enslaved, or otherwise perverted?

"Homelessness", much like "Freedom" in my experience, is entirely a state of mind and title given to those who've become enslaved, themselves...  Trapped by the intricate and elaborate faulty mental threads of stability, security, ownership and communal belonging for the sake of perpetuating and justifying their existence in the most comfortable, yet gross fashion, without the slightest notion of entropy, the eventual death of everything we do, everyone we know, and the energy of life, itself, for those momentary glimpses of an emotion we relate to as 'happiness' and 'meaning'.

XsynfulX - Introduction

I'm never sure what to make of the world which surrounds me.

At times, I feel that this is one grand designed and orchestrated chaos, and from my perspective, I'm unable to see anything more than a part of a part of the most minuscule parts of the most biggest picture, with every strange occurrence which happens to me on a nearly daily basis. I'd like to identify with Atheism, because I think none of the religions happen to have it down correctly, but the further I stumble down my path in life, I seem to have dozens of 'near misses' (an oxymoron, for sure) on a daily basis.

Let's say that my life is more than unique.

At the age of 4, I began asking some of the most detrimental questions to my existence...

"Why?...  But...  Why?"

This leads to that, because of them and it wasn't because of this. If you have an effect, than it has a cause, and every effect has new causes. Cause and effect, effect has cause. Causality doesn't need to have correlation, and correlation doesn't lead to causality.

When I started to think about what I was told, in having to do with religion, it lead me to ask crucial points about our existence, and "Adam and Eve" didn't add up. "You mean that they were incestuous? They both had 'God' for a father?" ...*silence from the biological sponsor units*

Upon gaining further wisdom and entering elementary education, I received similar resistance.  While being able to read and write before entering first grade, I failed every English and Writing class because I would question sentence structure.  "Why do I need to assemble nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs in YOUR way for them to make sense to people?"  It wasn't that my writing was unreadable, as much as it was uncomfortable for them to read "I am, not, because I am."

As my cells developed inside of the cells of cells called the education system, I further absconded and isolated my mind, egress-ion far inside of music, the words of the heart and soul, far frustrated with having my mind force-ably crammed like a square peg into a round hole. I would sit for hours, alone, playing drums by ear with 70's and 80's rock tunes on the classic vinyl headphones which could drown out a D-8 Cat, as well as my mistake rim shots and lost rhythm.

Why?

Through many, many odd coincidences, which I may write about at a later time, I started to realize that besides any creator who thought this up wasn't worth worshiping, that I would eventually have a finished product which may be visible in some form, to someone, somewhere, who may or may not care, and it would be the final puzzle piece to "The Big Picture".

What I hope to gain and give via this blog is simply that...  Parts to a bigger picture which we can assemble together.

-C

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Zen an the Art of Squirrel - waves

The squirrel does not always have to be in control, although sometimes it does seem that the squirrel being the master is the most prevalent condition in life, this is not a requirement.  Part of the way of the squirrel is also to tame the squirrel.

The squirrel does not have to be the master, the squirrel can be tamed.

When you look a life it has cycles and sometimes it feels like it is an ocean where it goes up and down, and who understands any of that.

In reality, we all can understand enough of it and as we look further and further back from the waveform of the squirrel going up and down and we will notice something.  If you get far enough back it all flattens out.  The peaks and valleys all start to look as if they are just noise in the pattern of life.

Such is the nature of taking a wider look at things, from far enough back even mountains are just a little bit of noise on the edge of the Earth.

Of course when you are at the bottom of the waveform the peaks look like they are very far above you, but even then you can remember the last peak, and you have to remember that the next peak won’t be that far off.

Now we just have to see what we can do about the magnitude of the waves.  For centuries humans have been trying to see what they can do about the watery forms of waves.  We started with natural harbors and being at the whims of the waves everywhere else.  We built better ships; we even learned to sail against the winds and better ways to navigate so we could avoid getting lost at sea.

We learned how to build harbors with walls to keep the waves away so we could have a shelter in places where a shelter was not natural formed.

We discovered that when we made our pier walls with a cycled pattern such as sheet piling the waves would not reflect as efficiently and therefore be less problematic after a few reflections.

I discovered a lot about this during the summer.  I bought a small sailboat and went out exploring on the water.  When I was in open water away from any flat surfaces waves were not much of a concern, I had a lot of time to prepare for them and they did not cause me a lot of stress when it was time to deal with them.  When I was near reflective objects that had a non-flat surface they were also not much of a problem as they waves would be reflected slightly out of phase and be diminished.

One time I decided to venture out of the harbor for a little jaunt to the lake, this involved a short passage through some piers that were of the variety with smooth sides.  This would not have been an issue with the prevailing weather of the day since it was a day with light winds and calm waves, unfortunately in this world I do occasionally have to deal with the after-effects of other humans as well.

As is frequently the case when you are in a small boat I had to deal with the after-effects of some idiot in a big boat who did not understand that he was not the only person on the water.  This moron came cruising between the piers at speed leaving a large wake behind his boat that reflected back and forth between the piers for about twenty minutes after he had passed.  A fourteen foot sailboat pounds back and forth really hard when it is being tossed back and forth by three foot waves that are hitting it from multiple quarters at the same time. 

I thought that the mast was going to snap off, or the mount was going to rip out of the deck.  I was afraid that I was going to crack something in the hull as I was tossed during a hellish twenty minute passage of the piers.  Under normal circumstances the distance I had to travel would have taken all of maybe three minutes, but the nature of the water made it impossible to make any headway.

I survived, as you can probably determine from my ability to write this now.  But I was annoyed.

But the point I am trying to make here is that just like the waves in water there are ways to calm the waves in your mental state.  You have to tame the squirrel, in order to tame the squirrel you have to understand the squirrel.

The squirrel is going to go up, it is going to go down, if will find something on the ground, and then it will look for something in a tree.  As soon as it finds something in the tree it will see something on the ground that is also interesting.

But if you tame the squirrel maybe it will find that it can sit in one place, at one level and find what it needs.

Of course, if you know anything about squirrels, sitting in one lace to long is not good for long term survival of the species, for there are predators and they move partially to avoid these risks, but if you stop for a moment and think about it if you smooth the cycles the squirrel gets to do a few things that will allow it to survive better.

On the ground the squirrel is not safe, for that is where the greatest number of predators are.  This is the ground state, this is the low state.

Up in the trees so very high there is food, but there is also the greatest distance to fall, this is no good either.  Although if the squirrel could stay up there forever life would be a grand thing, that is simply not feasible.

You need to back up and look at a broader scale, the distance between the tops and the bottoms get less pronounced and if you back up far enough you suddenly notice that there is a bird feeder on the porch.

The realization that there is a feeder is the introduction of knowledge. Knowledge and learning allows you to suddenly go to the feeder and get sustenance instead of the constant jump from the ground to the treetops.

When you discover that the lowest lows can be avoided by diving into knowledge you gain survivability.  When you discover that the highest highs can be avoided by diving towards knowledge you have again trained the squirrel.

The waves are smaller, you have trained the squirrel.

When the waves run into a flat wall they reflect as big as they started.  When you learn to use a variated wall the waves reflect back with interference, the interference of knowledge.  The waves are smaller on the return, the ride is smoother.

The squirrel has been trained.





Asteroid 2015 TB145 going to hit the Earth?

No.

Well not this time around at least.  The thing is pretty large, but not as large as the miss distance.  2015 TB145 is about a quarter mile across, ~(460 meters), but it also has a miss distance of 1.3 LD, for those of you who are not good at these conversions that is around 325,000 miles.  That means that not only will it not hit he Earth, it will be outside the orbit of the moon as well, even under the most ideal approach it would still miss the moon by over 50,000 miles.

No matter what some clueless blog site may say, no threat to Earth, although who knows what the future may hold, and I am sure that there are a few significant rocks that we have yet to clear out of our path.

As of this passage this is not one of them and with a period of 3.08 yeas it will be 37 years before the orbits line up again.


Auroras and stars! The Grand Marais and Gunflint Lake trip.

Took me a little bit of time to get these through the process and up on here...

But September 19th I ended up at Gunflint Lake with Mike Creger...  Sadly getting manual focus is rather difficult and I was not doing the best job I had ever pulled off, alas...
There are a lot of stars in the sky....




It wasn't the best aurora show I had ever seen, but it was pretty good, not the crazy naked eye stuff, but still motion and bright enough to see with the naked eye...  Over all, acceptable.

Grad school?

After looking at the situation with the current economy and the minor depression in the industries I am most qualified for I have decided that I may just go for it and try for grad school.  Worst case scenario I get some great experience in the process.

Since I get to specialize further in grad school that I would be able to in regular college I am going to be narrowing down my interests in Climate Change research and looking for something specifically in that area.  I am very curious about the effects of iso-static rebound on sea-levels as a result of both ice loss and also sea-shore inundation, but that may be a little too narrow of a goal, although when you think about it the loss of ice on Greenland is going to add a lot of water volume and also as Greenland starts rebounding as the weight of ice is removed it will remove volume from the basin resulting in a double whammy of sea-level rise.

Add this to the same effect being seen in Antarctica and also that shallow sea-shore area will begin to sink as the water levels rise and you will start to see the whole nature of the problem.

Of course, there are a lot of variables that come up in this, you have to think about it on a holistic level.  You have to take into consideration the change in where the mass of water ends up (increasing the amount of water around the center of the Earth could slow the Earth's rotation slightly, and alter the timing and magnitude of tides.

I guess there are enough variables in this area to make a thesis out of it.  And lots of modeling that could be done to look at how various variables effect outcomes.

I may have to look at the effects of melting ice on rotation rates later today, that may be an interesting place to start, and gives me an excuse to use Excel, something I am always looking for.

Hmmmm, so many things to consider.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

You just know the other shoe is going to drop.

I live in Northern Minnesota.  I have seen snow in October, one Halloween we got three feet, and what a fun weekend that was.
Right now the weather is on the other side of that extreme.  It is 84 degrees at the airport, even hotter, near 90 in a few spots in Northern Minnesota.  This is the 11th of October, all the leaves are coming off the trees and this would be a nice day in late July.

Almost tempted to go to the beach.

But seriously, we already broke the all time record high temperature for the day by five degrees, the other shoe is going to drop and we will have white stuff coming down from the sky soon.  Two more weeks to get the ski trails finished up would be nice though.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Oh dear, flash photography...

I have never been a fan of using a flash, however, in some situations it is a good thing to be able to get the flash in there, just to fill up the frame with light.

Well today we switch to using a flash, mainly because I have to go shoot some pictures of quilts, we will see how this experiment goes....

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Life on Pluto?

Lets talk about life on Pluto...

Look at this picture I an gently stealing from spaceweather.com


The interpretation of the blue haze around Pluto is tholins, you can look up more here Miller Urey_experiment, this could result in a rain of potential biologic gunk.  I refer to this as potential biologic junk because it is pieces and bit, and certainly not critters falling from the sky. The nature of the surface of Pluto would be very hostile to life existing, something about ambient temperatures in the local of absolute zero.

However, Pluto is for the most part a slushball in space.  To get things even better we have orbiting around a common center with its moon Charon.  This is enough to induce something akin to plate tectonics, with plate tectonics, material on the surface could eventually be delivered towards the core where it would be protected from the radiation of the sun, and also possibly warmer and with enough fluid to allow it to interact.

This could allow a very basic form of life to evolve.  The standards of what is life in this case are basic, replication, and usage of energy sources such as chemical reactions to sustain a cycle.  The most similar life on Earth would be anaerobic bacteria around volcanic vents in the ocean, but the standards of what is life can be simplified greatly when you are looking for the base forms.  

There will not likely be any little green men on Pluto, I would say the odds of Marvin the Martian popping up somewhere very close to zero.  I would put the odds of finding something akin to extremely basic extremophile bacterial forms somewhere in the 50/50 range.  I would personally say that when you are looking for life in the solar system the places to look would be Mars, Europa, and Pluto as first choices for exploration.  They are the wettest, and although they may not have anything crawling around on the surface, once you get down into the bodies you may find they have all kinds of interesting things.

If you found life on Pluto, the rest of the Kuiper belt would be a far more interesting place for exploration.  The odds of getting a lander on Pluto capable of actually doing this kind of exploration in my life time are very slim, but we could possibly, in my life time take a look at Mars and Europa.  I am curious, I will always be curious, I want to know more.

Are we alone?  I say no, absolutely not.  Maybe if we just looked a little harder and more carefully we would discover just how teeming with life the universe actually is.

Let's talk about feelings

I don't understand emotions. I have them but I don't know what they are or what to do with them most of the time. They are usually illogical and it is hard to justify them. For example sometimes I feel sad but I am not sure why. Then I run through a list of things that happened recently and try to see which of them make me feel sad. Once I figure out which thought or event corresponds to "sadness" I have to try to figure out why I feel sad about that. More often than not, even if I do come up with a reason that this event made me sad, I cannot figure out a rational reason why that event really should make me sad. I have gotten a good system over the years for dealing with romantic partners where I am able to say things like "It makes me feel sad when you do X. I am not sure why it does, it doesn't make sense, but it does. Do you think we can try to do Y instead?" I really only date people who I can have those conversations with because otherwise things get bad.

Sometimes I have emotions that involve other people that I either express inappropriately or not at all. Some of the emotions are probably better not to share. I have definitely scared people off by coming on too strong with new friendship happiness.

Sometimes I don't even know what emotion I am experience let alone what it corresponds with. For example last night I felt a warm swirling sensation in my upper stomach/ lower chest region which was accompanied by a stronger heart beat. I asked my partner but understandably he was not able to identify the emotion by my physiological symptoms. I woke up in the middle of the night on the verge of vomiting so maybe it was just gastrointestinal distress. The difference between emotions and a stomachache can be hard to identify....

Other people's emotions are also mysterious. I can understand some social cues and I can usually tell if someone is really happy or sad or angry but not always. I am the worst at hints. I am completely oblivious to things unless people come right out and say them. The worst breakup I ever had was not a romantic relationship but a friendship. I had a girl who used to be my best friend email me a huge list of every single thing I had done wrong in the four years. Apparently there were times when I made fun of her and shouldn't have and times she needed me and I wasn't there. The laundry list was quite detailed. What I didn't understand was why didn't she tell me the first or maybe second time I did something that she had a problem with? Why hold it in and write an entire list 4 years later? I had a romantic breakup go a similar way but it didn't hurt as much as that. I had another friendship almost end that way but we actually talked through it.

Basically those experiences made me really paranoid. I have no idea at all when I have made a mistake socially and I worry a lot about it. I also worry that people have their own little lists of things I have done wrong that might explode out at any moment. After socializing I try to run through the interaction and think about where things might have been wrong. I wish people would just tell me when I cross a line.

To anyone who is reading this: I don't take hints. If I did something wrong just tell me and we can maybe fix it before I do it 100 more times. Please don't write me a list 4 years later of why you hate me now. Also don't just complain to everyone else about it... this is a big part of why Minnesota is so hard for me...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Thinking of more travel

I have a passport.  I finally have a car that is not leaking power steering fluid all over where ever I may roam.  I want to get out and stretch my legs a little more.

Sadly I have a roller derby bout this weekend.

That and I have to go and photograph some quilts.

But after this I have a break, a nice long break.  I want to get out of town, take pictures, acquire some stories.  I want to travel.

Travel comes with travails, tis the nature of the beast.

I was thinking today of going up into Canada a little bit, just a short venture as it is almost winter.  But I want to see the land one last time before winter sets upon us.

We will see if anyone comes with.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Loner in Evolutionary Biology

The Question
"What purpose in the field of evolutionary biology does the loner serve?"

TL;DR
They have adopted a viable survival strategy and manage to get laid. That's pretty much all there is to evolution.

The Basics of Evolution

First let's talk about how evolution works.
From Wikipedia: "Evolution is change in the heritable traits of biological populations over successive generations"

Traits are passed down from generation to generation via genes. Over time organisms that have helpful traits survive and reproduce and organisms with really bad genes die before they can reproduce. All that it takes for a gene to get passed on is for an organism to survive long enough to reproduce. Not everything that gets passed down is adaptive. If something is neutral or just not bad enough to stop you from reproducing then it can continue to get passed down.

One thing that makes evolution weird is sexual selection. Take the peacock's beautiful giant tail. The tail honestly just makes it easier for predators to hunt them down. They are brightly colored and unwieldy. But they get laid. Because of that peacocks with bigger more ridiculous tails get to have baby peacocks with even more elaborate tails.

Evolution of Cooperation
Make no mistake. Cooperation is costly. It involves giving up some of your resources for others. Most animals only cooperate with other individuals in their family groups because that is a good way to ensure your genes are passed down. The more closely related two individuals are, the more genes they share, the more they get out of cooperation.

Humans are one of the rare animals that cooperate with unrelated individuals. This behavior is explained and modeled using an application of game theory. Game theory is basically a system of mathematical models that explain optimum strategies for decision making. It weighs costs and benefits to individuals who choose a certain strategy and comes up with optimum scenarios and equilibrium states for various scenarios. Read more about it; it is fascinating.

For the evolution of cooperation game theory originally named two groups of individuals: cooperators and defectors.

Cooperators pool and share their resources. Doing so created more resources for everyone but it does involve some cost.

Defectors do not share their resources but they take advantage of the resources created by the cooperators.

In order for the cooperative strategy to be stable there cannot be more defectors than cooperators. Defectors are also usually punished by cooperators to encourage cooperation.

A real life example is vampire bats. Vampire bats drink blood from large mammals such as cows. The way they feed means that each individual does not have a successful hunt every night. If the bats don't eat at least every few days then they die. In order to keep going vampire bats who have a successful hunt share their blood by regurgitating into the mouths of bats that did not have a successful hunt that night. The system works in a "Today you, tomorrow me" way. In this system there are some defectors, individuals who refuse to share their hunt. The next time those individuals don't have a successful hunt no one will share with them. In this way they are punished for defecting and they are fed the next night if they don't have a successful hunt again.

The Loner
The loner is a more recent addition to the models used to study the evolution of cooperation. The loner chooses not to play the game at all. The loner neither cooperates with others nor do they reap the benefits of cooperation. Basically they go get their own resources. The loner strategy is a safe strategy in that they don't depend on others but the potential payoffs are less because they don't have access to the pooled resources.

A Warning about Evolutionary Psychology

Beware evolutionary psychology. At the end of the day human beings are individual organisms with their own goals who have developed survival strategies that work to their benefit. At a more basic level humans are just collections of genes that have managed to get passed down either because they are helpful or at least not so harmful that they prevent people from reproducing. Be wary of untestable hypotheses. Evolutionary Psychology is full of them.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Roller Derby, the fastest dying sport in America.

Roller Derby Exploded in 2008-2009 with the release of 'Whip It' and new leagues popping up all over the place.  The rules were short and easy to understand, skaters skated fast, there were big hits, leagues were popping up all over the place.

Then WFTDA and USARS got involved.

They started trying to organize things, WFTDA decided to start working on "improving" the rule set.  There was a new addendum to the rule set coming out every few months.  The game became harder to explain, eventually people quit trying.

Leagues were having their first bouts to, as an example, a crowd of 1500 people.

The general rule of how the crowds work is that every bout gets about 80% of the previous bout until you are down to only the die-hards, who still don't know what the fuck is going on.

Even more destructive than WFTDA popping out a new rule set every six months then came sites like Zebra Huddle to help interpret the rules.

Now things went straight down the toilet.

There has never been a larger group of self-important douche bags than the people on Zebra Huddle.

The new system was this, Derby would be played, refs would goon Zebra Huddle to see how they could manipulate the rules for the advantage of the skaters.  This new strategy would be used against Gotham in the championship game.  Wftda would change the rules to adapt to it.

Now we have 30 second penalties and no minors.  Getting rid of minors did gt rid of a lot of ticky-tacky stuff, but the other changes to the rule sets have not compensated fully.  Now all of the ticky-tacky annoying stuff is largely legal and has been accepted into gameplay.  Great, you can now hit someone square in the back, but as long as they don't fall down lose position, or go out of bounds, it is totally legal.

Anyway, I quit giving a shit about derby a while ago.  I didn't want to renew my insurance last year and I am certainly not letting them renew my shit this year.  Speaking of insurance, these policies that they make us buy, that don't really cover anything, I don't even have a card for, and wouldn't know how to make a claim on if I wanted to because I never got a declarations form (which should be a requirement of selling someone an insurance policy).  Where does the money go?  Is this just yet another thing lining the pockets of the three people who actually have paid positions with the WFTDA?

Oh, by the way, killing Derbbynewsnetwork, which was by far the best place to go for scores and an occasional game summary, was the last nail in the coffin.

I don't know who is going to the D1 or D2 tourneys this year.

I don't care.

The final tourney is a 2.5 hour drive from my house and I have relatives living nearby I could stay with who have a keg-a-rator.

I could give a flying fuck less.

By my count I have two games left this season after which I can say fuck it and burn my gear.

I don't think I am going to miss it.



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Evolutionary Biology, thoughts on the loner.

What purpose in the field of evolutionary biology does the loner serve?

If human society can be seen not as a group on individual organisms, but as one massive organism where all of the parts work together towards one goal, the loner seems to be outside of that goal.  The loner slinks around on the outside of the world, avoiding human contact and shunning interaction.

It would seem that the loner does not belong in the system, as if the loner is the appendix of the human organism.

Perhaps the loner is the appendix of the human organism.  In an earlier time the loner served the purpose of being the scout on the outside of the main body of society.  If there was an external threat the loner was the most edgeward of the members of the society and was there to raise the alarm so the rest of the rank and file could then group to defend the society.

Since then the advancements of society has replaced the scouts with other means of early warning, and the scout is no longer as necessary.

But perhaps, as all things has a tendency to do, the purpose of the loner can evolve as well.

In the society of today perhaps the loner has the advantage of being able to look at the ways that society works, or fails to work, from a different viewpoint.  We can watch from the edge how things are proceeding on the interior and raise the alarm when all things start to go askew.

Perhaps it is in the fields of science where this is most evident as massive groups work together building a consensus, but it takes the loners on the fringe to occasionally keep things in check.

I think we should have a discussion on this, it is only the beginning of a theory, and I am a geologist not a social scientist or a biologist.  Thankfully my co-blogger is a biologist (Meagan, where are you), perhaps she can add more to this thought.