Saturday, June 16, 2007

Of West Nile and Adaptations.

Seattle is still happily free of West Nile Virus and enjoys a large and boisterous crow population. Here, the crows are significantly diminished but I imagine the survivors will select for West Nile resistance over a few generations.

Given that they are significant predators of small song birds, the short term impact seems to be a significant growth in song bird numbers who may either be resistant to West Nile or unappealing to mosquito's.

The environs of little Bedford are a robust symphonic splendor of twitterings that would probably thrill old Messiaen if he ever makes it back here.

It also seems to have favored the Chipmunk population as these charming ground squirrels are everywhere filling yards with their hilarious little alarm squeaks. The deer have gone nuts too in some breeding frenzy and this, in turn seems to favor coyote growth.

Eastern Massachusetts is becoming a poster place for what happens when the land is left alone beyond a bit of now hamstrung real estate speculation. Much of it has returned to an open steady state of climax oak forests and this suggests some bit of hope for the newer parts of the nations human clobbered land. The Moose are back and the Catamounts or cougers now seem to be verifiable, if rare, too.

That aside, Massachusetts is loaded with bug pests I never saw out west. Deer Flies hover avid to chew you, ticks drop quietly from white pine saplings to spread a bit of Lymes and I imagine the city probably has a bed bug problem by now.

The winter is still a saving grace. Seattle is clobbered by runaway introduced invasive plants from english ivy to scotch broom to butterfly bush. None of that shit does well here, the winter wrecks it. And Seattlite embrace of fucking bamboo, really giant crabgrass that can cause huge problems is unlikely to be an issue here.

Goddamn I love real winter.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Withering Winter.

In the years away in Seattle, I forgot one of the most stirring simple pleasures, the point where winter rots.

I remember it from earliest childhood. The planet tips toward the sun far enough to cause the fat lobe of arctic air to recede and temps rise from the teens to the low 40's. The air is filled with some hint of the south and the sounds of dripping snow melt from the eaves.

It is a cool time for bird noise too as there are calls from boreal and tundra species who consider this to be their version of Miami.

I have spent much of February obsessively checking NOAA infra red Satellite data watching the continent for signs of this movement while huddled against the cold.

Now it's here and the possibilities of a sleeping year can be examined with some ardor.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Merits of TVlessness.

In addition to despising car use, I avoid TV like a plague as the web makes it even more worthless than it was before.

I'm literally crosseyed from watching it too closely as a toddler in a reversal of the Mimirs well myth regarding Odin. He gave up an eye to drink from the wisdom well. I half wrecked sight to imbibe imbecility.

And it is mildly galling to see how much time my beloved lefty blogosphere devotes to TV drivel from hacks like Billious O'Biley as it is a reactive posture rather than leapfrogging ahead to excite yearning supporters of a progressive future on how to actually build it.

There is so much education to share on sustainability, clearing house options on how to disengage corporate encroachment and how to finish off the flailing, self destructive GOP with real exciting ideas on how to get off the ratrace oil consumer debt treadmill in a way that allows people to thrive and prosper.

If we generate excitement about a better future with resources at hand people will be thrilled with the empowerment. It is what Liddle Hart would call the indirect method.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Knitting the Fabric of Community.

The corporate world needs to see us as little walking profit centers and finds it convenient to herd us into isolating demographic corrals to expedite sales and quarterly earnings.

Naturally this has little to do with our actual world and long standing bent to forming community and some succumb to these pernicious promptings and fall into a stylized cartoonish solipsism.

One direct and essential way to begin a national reclamation is to turn away from these hollow promptings and toward one another.

I got started on this blogging adventure because a wise friend who is also a shrewd investor told me about a visionary market analyst who has proposed the theory of 'Little Brother' as the greatest threat to the lying sloppy content oligopoly such as ABC News.

Google's 'pipeline' business model allows nearly anyone to report news, and so on and based on my preferences, the citizen blogosphere is leaving the Rupert Murdoch model behind.

Why wait for them to figure out charming satirical whimsy wedded to thought provocation when Citizen Boo is already on it?

When I lived in Seattle, I was acquainted with employee number 5 at Amazon. He left and ended up wealthy, but we'd have these conversations about 'Internet ubiquity' based on the number of search engine citations for something.

A slimier version dreamed up by marketing shills is now called 'going viral'. The ubiquity I propose is a more ethical, deliberate and thoughtful thing that intends to unite rather than exploit by 'viral' niche compartmentalization..

I try to be conscientious about serving my constituent readers in several areas of discourse because I see potentially uniting commonalities between progressive political bloggers, anti consumerist initiatives like SF Compact, fans of Avante Garde Jazz and the alt rock night club demi monde.

I readily move in all those spheres and a few more and when I see some mosaic pattern of interrelated community cohere through my modest efforts it lends a sense of purpose to my crackpot life.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Merits of Carlessness.

I have always organized my life around a pre-fossil fuel human scale. I live in cities whenever possible as all other environs in most of America are geared to auto ownership.

I'm currently stuck in a quaint, upscale metro Boston suburb and haven't felt so isolated in decades. What with the exceptionally poor quality of public transportation, I may as well be in the North Pole.

This will improve with the end of winter as I do have a bicycle and am looking for some workable initial living space in town to resume life there.

To me, the advantages of a carless life greatly outweigh the transient inconveniences. For example, there are a suite of expenses from insurance, car loan payments, fuel and repair costs and depreciation that do not impact me at all. Then I also lose stress from attempting to drive around the area's horribly congested roadways.

It might surprise you to know how many friends I have who also opt for no car or minimal use of the things. And yet they all live fairly productive lives and will be well equipped to handle any challenges ahead as the oil era winds down.

There are a growing number of game plans to shift away from oil but none offer the elegance of simply abandoning personal motor vehicles until some significant oil less mode takes hold. The biodeisel option may not work to produce the real quantities of fuel needed to run the planetary vehicle fleet without causing even more catastrophic problems.

The utter configuration of land use patterns, such as vast car dependent suburbs may well be one of the biggest dislocation hazards staring at us if the Oil era tanks.

More efficient public transit infrastructure will eventually salvage environs like the droll little suburb that now houses me but the real remote places will be left in the lurch.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Reading Sign.

Donald Stokes wrote a wonderful guide to reading the living world as if it were a book. "Animal Tracking and Behavior" reconnects a half blinded modern denizen with skills that were once common.

You learn to make sense of subtle deer antler rubs on branches, evidence of porcupine lunches or the more striking bear claw marks on beech trees bears use to demonstrate tallness.

I've had hours of fun hiking around New England green spaces and the regions National Forests applying this learning.

Over time I came to conclude it is really an exercise in honing perception, in seeing that is applicable in nearly every facet of living skillfully.

For example, you land in a new city and wonder about job prospects or housing. Craigslist becomes a wealth of statistical data on both with the number totals posted at the top of main category fields such as "jobs" or "housing".

Having landed a job, you become alert to the nuances of inevitable office politics and begin to fathom the decision basis as well as the employers role in the broader economy sector it belongs to.

As you move toward added learning about the human condition and current affairs you read sign some more and gain a potential to see ahead of the curve and foresee outcomes.

The basic sign reading skill can be further enhanced by developing some capacity to evaluate likelihoods and statistical distribution.

Of course, it is essential to have an urge to seek truth, however dissonant, rather than merely seeking reinforcement of what you want to believe.

We now live in a time where our cognitive capacities are continuously disturbed by imposed media static primarily bent on selling us something.

It reduces our once great human capacities to the level of bored crib bound infants fascinated by the shiny Mylar mobile twisting in the breeze overhead.

An essential precondition to regaining this majestic capability would be to unplug the media drivel stream to the greatest extent practible and resume the far more satisfying and challenging trajectory of maturation and understanding, one of our odd species' primary strengths.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

A Caribbean Style Stew as I Imagine it.

I love aromatic spices and am more fond of pork than I probably should be. These elements meet in a kind of bean stew I make served with rice.

I start with bacon to render out the fat and remove the crisped bacon to set aside. Then a base vegetable blend hits the sizzling bacon fat including fresh ginger slices, an onion, celery and a bell pepper. Once this begins to caramelize, it's time for a blend of clove powder, cumin, cardamom, paprika or pimenton la vera, cinnamon, nutmeg and a minor bit of a cayennish thing.

I have chunks of pork to one side and when the spice blend begins to react to the heat, the pork chunks go in for searing. Once that part is done, I add some canned bean thing, 2 cans. Purists would go with dried beans but canned red, black, pinto or kidney beans work very well.

After a bit of a simmer, I add some green, either spinach, collard or mustard and follow with the more delicate veggies like broccoli. A bit of barbecue sauce, Pickapeppa, or a spoonful of sauce mustard is another phase option.

Fresh garlic, lots, goes in next to last followed by the crisped bacon.

Now the rice is it's own special thing. I like long grain jasmine rice and prepare it with some fat, usually olive oil, butter or chicken fat, lots of turmeric, a bit of salt and maybe saffron.

Then, when it's done, I whisk in fresh chopped cilantro and chopped scallions. An honest cheap red wine works well as a beverage.

It is good poverty food and I hope the US pork industry moves away from its miserable husbandry practices to adopt the free range methods one finds in Spain.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Precarious Vicariousness. Part 2. Cartoon Nation.

I have long pondered this Vicariousness problem. In the prior post, I covered the 'what' of it. And so now I'll try to cover the 'why'.

Once upon a time people had a compass, some inner direction to shape their destinies and navigate life for better or worse. The arrival of generic mass market trappings ushered in a time of shift to the 'radar' or a focus on what 'other's ' think as conformity extended its influence.

David Riesman covered this more skillfully than I can in his masterful work, 'The Lonely Crowd'.

But I'm beginning to wonder if the radar is falling into disrepair to give way to a dismaying abandonment of social development as it was formerly known.

It would appear that we now have an embrace of the vicarious to an extent of entire subcultures descending into little more than stylized cartoons called 'lifestyles' that resemble injection molded personalities entirely crafted of received media imposition with the distinct humanness of many becoming a thing at the margins.

On the broadest level, many women and men have become stylized cartoons of what they assume their roles to be based on cues from TV. And from there, the cartoonishness is further shaped by lifestyle affiliations from Goth to Hip Hop Gangsta to Neo Con, Fundamentalist Christian, White Supremacist and so on.

And many are soaked in a vicarious marinade of moviedom whereby a most telling outcome of 9/11 was how it seemed like a movie. Leisure activity is increasingly given to conspicuous waste at bizarre Theme Parks, wholly artificial simulacra rather than participation in the actual world.

Cues for daily conduct emanate from exhibitionist spectacles of kangaroo court Jerry Springer messes or the oddly named Reality Shows. A numbness sets in to desensitize the hapless from the consequences of many powerful hazards bearing down from eco catastrophe to Orwellian ascendancy of pitiless corporate oligarchy.

And those of us who greet the imposition of manufactured personality often find ourselves wondering what sort of tumult will finally break the spell and will it be survivable?