Down

I had to take down my dome yesterday. It had been collapsing more and more the past few weeks. Finally, I had to take it apart because it was getting dangerous to the neighbors.

Here’s an old picture with a crimson clematis. I have used it as a trellis for several years.

Dome with clematis


This year, one clematis was covered with dozens of huge blossoms. After a large rainstorm, the weight was too much and the dome started collapsing.

Although domes are aesthetic, they can have a problem: if one part fails, the rest has stress that leads to progressively more severe destruction.

It was only a matter of time until the dome collapsed. I wanted to ignore the warning signs and now I have a pile of broken wood behind my house.

I didn’t ever plan to take it apart. Now I’ve got to make sure my tetanus vaccination is up-to-date. The wood has dozens of nails that can’t be removed. I’ll have plenty of opportunities to get cut as I break it down.

Although I titled this “Down,” that is only in contrast with the movie “Up” written by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson and Tom McCarthy.

I’m leery of watching Disney movies. The studio is quite heavy-handed with movie scores. The studio uses the music to push the audience to feel the best mood for a lucrative box office.

“Up” had a scene with the characters Carl Fredericksen and Russell talking about Russell’s dad and ice cream. It was very emotional, but in a subtle and poignant way. It immediately struck me how, in those scenes, my feelings were genuinely tender. There was no orchestral music swelling in the background.

No one demanded that I have the correct feeling. Just the situation, dialog and facial expressions carried the mood. I think this is a sign of excellence by the directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson and the team that put the movie together.

I could be really sad about the dome being gone. After all, it was really a source of pride. However, I don’t have any Hollywood “true story” tragedy music playing in the background. I can feel whatever I choose and I choose to be glad that I had it while I did.

The world is big, but it isn’t so big that we can’t hurt it

A green thought bubble
I’m binding my poetry into books. I’ve got two books so far of 300 poems. My books of the next 300 will be done soon. I’m working all day tomorrow, so it’ll have to wait until I get home. I love my velobind machine.

I had forgotten that back in 2011, when I would write a poem, I might write a one page meditation about the poem.

Reading them again is like meeting myself a second time. Some feelings are the same, some are less familiar.

One quote I found:

“The world is big, but it isn’t so big that we can’t hurt it.”

All of the shouting about climate change misses the point. We’re hurting our planet. The exact mechanism doesn’t really matter.

Animals are suffering. Plants are suffering. The oceans are suffering. The land is suffering. The air is suffering. People are suffering.

The planet is suffering and we’re to blame.

A Great War: Scorched Earth

The first phase of a great war has begun: Scorched earth.

The jungle has been filled with unfriendly foes. Our allies started the first round. Everything in sight near the base’s borders has been killed.

The round up of the enemies has taken its awful toll on the jungle closest to the base.

No one has returned (yet). It’s a race between the foes and friends to see who will seed combatants first. I may have to invest in some mercenary reinforcements and plant interlopers where death is currently holding our vain hope.

A second front of the scorched earth campaign took down vines covering the foliage unchallenged. They had been hiding horrific mines planted with the help of enemy canine patrols. They were attacked with two or three salvos. Nothing but remnants have been left behind.

The second phase of the war has already started: Decimation.

Correspondence

A green thought bubble
A friend of mine accused me of being old school today.

Lately I’ve been sending friends U.S. Mail letters.

I think that getting a piece of paper in the mail is appreciated a little more than a missive in e-mail. It’s got some substance that you can decide to save in a scrap book when it comes from someone special. I treasure the letters I got from my grandmother.

When you read the letter, you’re seeing more than merely the traces of my fingers on a keyboard tidied up by a spell checker. You can see that there is a real human that you are communicating with.

What’s more romantic? Getting an email from your date thanking you for a nice evening or a physical card expressing gratitude in a flowing cursive script?

I’m not real enamored with “internet time.” The passage of time gives some perspective. I’m less likely to go on a circuitous rant about the current political dispute if I take 10 minutes writing in ink. I’m not going to hit “send” with some half-baked whining that I’ll regret 10 seconds later.

Time has great power. I don’t take enough of it. When I write a letter, you know that it’s something from the heart.

Vulnerable

Thought bubble
In the book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other,” Sherry Turkle said “With some exceptions, when we make ourselves vulnerable we expect to be nurtured.” (p. 235) She’s referring Erik Erikson and the expectations coming from basic trust. That’s something that’s completely counter to the way that the Internet often works. For the most part, any time you put yourself out there, you’re at risk of being attacked or ridiculed rather than built up and comforted.

One place for this risk comes from places that encourage intimacy. It’s not always easy to trust people to begin with. Letting your guard down out there in the social media dystopia isn’t always safe. If one makes comments that might be too hard to share in person, it can still end up hurting.

One reason for this is that anonymity allows people to be more negative and exhibit the dark tetrad personality traits when, in person, they wouldn’t act out. To them, the idea that people have feelings or that they are afraid of being humiliated is alien. Often, the enemy only feels good by getting some lolz.

Sometimes you can find a community of like-minded people where you can be safe. This reflects Sherry’s comment “Communities are places where one feels safe enough to take the good and the bad.” (p. 238) I’ve found some, like deviantART, are different than most social media. One reason is that to belong there, you have to put in some work. You can’t just repost an inane meme and belong. A member of dA is a creator. A pretender just looks around and is lurking.

Every time you get in front of a computer screen and post something on Twitter or Facebook, it’s possible to misstep and be misunderstood catastrophically.

Dreaming

Lightning bolts striking To The Right Right To The Left left. Two images Layered making this 30 sec, 250 ISO – f5.6 – 90mm. (C) 2011 James Bo Insogna


Last night, I had some really realistic dreams. While thinking about dreams from the past, it seems that, depending on a person’s strengths and experiences, a dream might contain different symbols.

For example, an effect of experience: I was really successful at taking tests when I was in school. A consequence of that is that I never have dreams about an unexpected test coming up or the anxiety of getting there late.

An effect of strengths: Often my dreams include text. While I can recognize the words on the page, if I look away and look back again, the words have all changed. I can’t remember the message. Apparently my brain’s system that recognizes words and letters is closer to my core than the semantic part that understands them.

One feature of my sleep is that I often have “hypnogogic hallucinations:” I start dreaming before I’m actually asleep. Past experiences have usually been the face of a single person that appears and then vanishes. Recently, the images include two people instead of one. I wonder what that change signifies?

Last night, my dreams were hyper-realistic. Everything was really detailed and pretty mundane. Nothing was bizarre or mixed up. For example, I saw a rain shower in the distance. I could see the edges of where the rain was falling and the dark clouds that were above them. In the dream, I was picking up some papers because the approaching storm could scatter them. They looked like real pieces of papers and as I piled them together, they didn’t do something strange such as transforming into a bird or a monster.

One aspect of last night’s dream was anxiety about a tornado coming. In the past I’ve had real tornadoes coming near me. Eventually, I had one pass directly over where I was hiding and I never had a tornado dream again. I didn’t see one last night, but I was worried that one might come.

Original image: To The Right Right To The Left left. By Bo Insogna, TheLightningMan.com [Image license]

Hint of a disease prevention treatment

A green thought bubbleI was reading a science news website and found “Global research team cracks bacteria transmission codes to combat drug-resistant strains.” I did some research related to the article and found “Exploiting Quorum Sensing To Confuse Bacterial Pathogens.”

The quorum sensing paper describes a novel way to prevent bacterial disease. It reports that many bacteria grow innocuously until they reach a certain population (quorum). After there are enough, they signal each other to activate. It is only until that activation that the bacteria cause harm.

The idea is: if you could block the signal that causes the activation, you could prevent diseases.

The most clever aspect of this style of treatment is that it doesn’t kill the bacteria. It would give the bacteria no evolutionary advantage to develop resistance to the new drug.

The way resistance normally develops, as I understand it, is that a conventional antibiotic kills bacteria. If a bacteria has a mutation that makes it less likely to be killed, the mutation gives the resistant bacteria an advantage and become more common. This leads, for example, to VRSA and MRSA.

By stopping the bacteria without killing them, there’s no advantage to resist the drug.

LaSarre, B., & Federle, M. J. (2013). Exploiting Quorum Sensing To Confuse Bacterial Pathogens. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews : MMBR, 77(1), 73-111. doi:10.1128/MMBR.00046-12