The view from our back door this afternoon.
A headline in my daily Space.com news feed caught my attention today. It reads thusly, ‘The full moon may influence sleep and menstrual cycles, scientists say.’
Fancy that! Looks like what people have been saying about their sleep patterns and women have been saying about their menstrual cycles, for eons, can now be added to the roster of SCIENCE FACT
I could go about the irony of ‘science’ ignoring ‘folklore’ to the detriment of those same folk, until ‘science’ gets off it’s monolithical arse and admits it might’ve got it wrong, but those of you who know me know that I would never gloat like that! Suffice to say I had a good chortle.
(in all honesty it’s not all ‘science’ practitioners, and since a good many scientists have moved on from that delightfully Victorian/patriarchal-centric view of the world, ‘science’ has the process of reforming itself well in hand)
The interesting thing the article revealed, which in itself is another ‘duh’ moment, is that the effects of ‘moon-sleeping, and moon-menstruating’ (I just invented those terms) wane with the introduction of, and prolonged exposure to, artificial light.
I’m not knocking artificial light though. If it wasn’t for artificial light my writing binges would not go well, and I’d be one very cranky writer let me tell you!
It’s cold enough to snow.
There’s enough moisture in the air to snow.
The forecast is for snow.
I look out my window and the Winter tree is covered in … raindrops.
I’m sure I have some pictures from the Snows-of-Winter’s-Past (2017, I think) around here somewhere to console myself with …
On Sunday the 8th March, 2020, I started a list of dates and numbers. The first number was 106,369. Every day thereafter I recorded another number, as well as the difference between the new number and the previous day’s number.
On the 1st of June 2020, the number was 6,274,136. An increase 101,688 from the previous day’s tally.
(I never recorded a third set of numbers. That would’ve broken me long before my meltdown at Winter solstice)
Even back in March the numbers were already out of control. The everyday public didn’t know that, but those of us who were following the science realised that something was amiss.
It wasn’t until Wednesday the 19th August 2020 that I managed to rein in my impulse to record a daily number. Thereafter I only noted them every week or so.
The last time was on Thursday 7th January 2021 – 87,753,382. By that time numbers were meaningless.
Like most humans who are alive on the planet in this Age, I was brought up to believe, (also reinforced by every societal structure around me) that taking action, any action, was tantamount to being in control. (humans aren’t very good at being without ‘control’, being power-less – we tend to make all sorts of ill-considered decisions)
I no longer wanted to use an action, my own personal version of the numbers game, to ease my psyche through a global catastrophe (another one – as if we didn’t have enough, even before the 8th March) that I was powerless to stop anyway.
What started out as a ritual, became a habit that, at the end, I came to resent. I didn’t want to look up the numbers. I didn’t want to remind myself of how our species abysmally mutated individualism had failed, yet again, to avert another fiasco of our own making. (honestly, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we make it to the year 2050 without the cost being reckoned not in hundreds of millions, but billions, of lives)
The numbers are still out there, expanding almost exponentially, and I am in here, making sure, as best I can, that the very uncertain near future, doesn’t blindside me …
However, you know what they say about last words being famous. I suppose we shall see what tomorrow brings.
As for those three bits of paper with numbers all over them? I feel a Funeral Pyre coming on.
In honour of today being ‘Science Fiction Day’, (although for some of you it’s already the 3rd – my, how the year has flown! – someone, somewhere, decided that Isaac Asimov’s Birth Day, 2nd January, ought to be the date for it) I offer up the following thoughts …
… there are a gazillion Science Fiction stories (and a not inconsiderable number of Fantasy stories too) out there, and a good many of them have at their core the premise that there is, or was, an alien species that seeded ‘life’ throughout the universe.
The science of the day tells us that there probably isn’t any ‘life as we know it’ anywhere else, only us. I don’t know if that’s true or not … but what if … it was?
What if we, homo-sapiens were to be the seed species of the universe.
What if we didn’t extinguish our Selves over the next couple of centuries.
What if we managed to get through our adolescents-picking-at-pimples-and-poking-each-other-with-sharp-sticks stage, and actually grew up?
Look at what we’ve achieved, in spite of the ridiculous amount of stick-poking that has gone on for an embarrassingly high tally of millennia. (excluding the on-going invention of more and more sophisticated ways of poking sticks at each other … I know that a lot of life-affirming/saving tech came out of that ‘stick-poking’ research, but who’s to say we wouldn’t’ve got there anyway?)
What if we outgrew our self-obsessed selfishness, our soul-sucking greed, our terrors that sink so easily into genocide, until the urge to create finally subsumes the urge to destroy. Not for just a few ‘enlightened’ beings here and there, but for the entire species.
What wonders would we see?
I think it’s in our nature to quest. To find what’s over the next hill, the next mountain, the next solar system, the next galaxy.
And what if we didn’t find anyone else?
What would that grown-up version of our species, our Selves, do?
Check out the Hubble telescope website for more glorious images.
The thing with calculating odds, (which is basically what the article on ‘is there life elsewhere’, is doing) is that it’s a bit like playing the pokies or selecting lottery numbers. A certain kind of ‘logic’ tells us that if the odds are 10,000 to 1, then if we play 10,001 times then we’ll win, but the reality is that the odds are re-set at 50/50 every time. You will either win, or you will lose. There either is, or there isn’t, other sophont life in the universe
This leads me to two conclusions … 1 – if you don’t play (participate) you most certainly won’t ‘win’ … and 2 – humans will always try and ‘game’ the system so the odds ‘will ever be in their favour’, and that other humans will always try to take advantage of them.
On Winter Solstice Eve (20th December) I had a meltdown.
It had rained all morning, a deluge, heavy enough to swamp the driveway and footpath in front of our cottage. The gutters overflowed and cascaded a wall of water in front of my eyes as I peered out through the front window, trying to pierce the gloom.
A task I had been putting off, for months really, came back to haunt my vision. I needed to cut a drainage gutter across the driveway to divert the stormwater away from the front yard, and now, yet again, my procrastination was laid bare.
Not to Self: Don’t put off yard/cottage maintenance stuff, because you might have to do it in a deluge.
I decided to wait until the rain at least eased off, and turned away to do other things, when I suddenly started crying, for no apparent (at that moment) reason. Not the sort of crying where your eyes leak a little, no these were deep sobs that felt as though they might crack my ribs on their way out of my body.
I’ve had quite a few crying jags over the past year, (who among us hasn’t?) but this one laid me low.
Incoherent words of grief and rage spewed forth from my mouth and mingled with my tears, and I couldn’t stop.
I quite literally couldn’t stop. Every time I drew a breath in more sobs and roars of pain came back out.
I dragged myself into the bathroom, (the only room in the house without windows) hoping the darkness would help me find some anchor to stem the tide.
Didn’t work. I was going to have to ride this tsunami to its end.
Letting go, is never an easy thing to do for us humans. We’re conditioned from cradle to grave, to strive for control, of everything, over everything. Our bodies, our families/friends, our environment, and we equate taking action, any action, with control. Needless to say, we don’t succeed all that often. A conclusion that is almost always obscured by all that action-ing we’re so busy doing.
Anyway, I stopped actioning and returned to the window and the pouring rain, and fully released the wave.
Nothing lasts forever, (although it was beginning to feel like it) not even rib-cracking emotional meltdowns, and at last I could draw a breath and release it without sobbing.
And then, as though someone turned off a tap, the heavy rain stopped … and it started to snow. Big fat splats of snow that very quickly covered the draining stormwater in a scum of ice, then layers of snow.
Those who know me know that snow is my thing … it lasted through Winter Solstice day, through Christmas and Boxing Day, and only finished melting the day before yesterday.
It was the most perfect timing of any snowfall, ever.
Over the last few months I noticed my hearing had suffered a bit of a drop-off. Either because my hearing aids are nearing the end of their life, or I’m losing a few more increments of my organic hearing ability after three-score-years-and-two of wear-n-tear.
I took myself off to my local Costco Hearing center (where I got the last pair of hearing aids) and had a hearing test. Turns out my hearing loss was a combination of the two above-mentioned possibilities.
So, now I am getting new hearing aids, and a new phone, because my trusty old iPhone5 is as much of a dinosaur as my old computer was, and won’t support all the high-falutin’ tech that my new ‘hearables’ require to function.
Luckily our cell-phone contract ran out a little while ago and we were in the process of looking around for a new best-and-cheapest option anyway. Here in Canada, it’s possible to have the cost of a new phone, (or most of it at least) incorporated into a monthly-fee service plan … which is a good thing because with all the money we’ve put out of late this wouldn’t been possible otherwise. New phones are obscenely expensive. (one of the reasons why we upgrade only when absolutely necessary)
The audiologist said something that’s stuck with me though.
She noted that even when I could hear something clearly, being in an environment that is filled with complex (human generated) sound is not exactly my cuppa tea. (I may have paraphrased that a little)
I remember when I was a child growing up in a very unsafe environment, I needed to be hyper-aware of my environment at all times, all of my senses on full alert, if I was to keep myself safe. (there wasn’t anybody else around, certainly no other adults who weren’t in compromised situations themselves … which also explains why I don’t feel overly comfortable with locked doors, or anything that restricts my movement … I mean, I get a bit twitchy if I can’t even get my rings off my fingers when I want to)
It’s no surprise that there’s a part of my psyche that considers loud background noise to be, at worst downright dangerous, and an intrusive annoyance at best.
I don’t mind loud natural noises, the ones that aren’t ridiculously loud that is. (an Aussie summer filled with deafening cicadas is not to high on my list, or exploding volcanoes, etc)
Human noise is drenched, not only in sound, but the energy behind the reasons for making those sounds. An energy that is unpredictable and yet so easily manipulated.
Definitely not my cuppa tea.
I watched ‘Greenland’ the other night. It’s an ‘end-of-the-world-by-asteroid’ disaster film, starring Gerard Butler being all Gerard Butler-ish. It was a fun romp through every ‘disaster film’ trope/meme, with some above average CGI effects thrown in for good measure. I was entertained.
Some time later I was describing the movie to Mrs Widds which, even later still, triggered a bit of an epiphany.
Yes, my friends, I epiphed! … and what I epiphed about was this …
In all of these sorts of movies we see what I like to call the ‘noble sacrifice’. It’s where the, almost always, curmudgeonly elder, usually a disaffected parent of one of the estranged lead couple, dies. (who incidentally almost always have a child, who sports a vulnerability of some sort – in the case of ‘Greenland’ the kid is a diabetic)
The curmudgeonly elder who has survived for their requisite three-score-and-ten (or thereabouts) years quite well, thank you very much, must sacrifice themselves in order to save one or more of the primary characters, after one or more of the primary characters, (or their self-absorbed teenager) has put themselves in mortal danger by doing something breathtakingly stupid.
The curmudgeonly elder has to be sacrificed so the ‘young-un’s’ can live, presumably breed, (usually shown in epilogue, mid, or end-credits scenes – I’m looking at you ‘Minority Report’) and ensure the continuation of the species.
Another perfect example of the curmudgeonly elder dying in order for the brood to survive is the curmudgeonly grandma in ‘Dante’s Peak’, who literally throws herself into an acidified lake to save her precocious grandchildren (another disaster film staple) who came looking for her, along with the lead characters who came looking for precocious grandchildren. (now that I think about it, that movie had another curmudgeonly elder, the senior volcanologist, who died sacrificially too)
Side note: – just because you’ve got a healthy ‘breeding pair’ doesn’t mean that’s necessarily a good thing. Just look at the intro to the movie ‘Idiocracy’ to see a prime example of how that can turn out.
This may have been necessary in a pre-technological/industrial world, when all the ‘rebuilding of a society’, by necessity, would have to have been accomplished by hand.
Young folks = lots of strong hands, and backs (and afore mentioned ability to self-replicate at an alarming rate) … old folks = a waste of scarce resources.
However, in our wonderful and terrifying modern era, it t’ain’t necessarily so.
What we have now is KNOWLEDGE. (and the technological know-how to render those strong backs obsolete)
Unless all life on Earth is reduced to the odd random microbe, (in which case, all bets are off) the most precious resource to be preserved is knowledge. Not the kind of ‘knowledge’ curated by the archiving of every tweet ever thumbed across the digital universe, but the myriad knowledge of how to construct a living breathing society/ culture.
Knowledge is one thing, but then you’ve got to know what to do with it, and that knowledge, folks, resides within the life experience of … you guessed it … The Curmudgeonly Elder.
How apropos in this Entertainment Age, where Youth is eternally sought after, that the sacrificial lamb is actually mutton.
There are so many tangents this wee bit of an epiph could head off into. but this is after all, a wee little epiph, so I’m just going to stop here and leave the rest to your imagination.
For this last week I’ve been telling myself I have nothing to blog about … which is why I haven’t posted anything since the ‘eyelash’ incident.
Much has happened though … I finished the latest round of renovations to our trailer and back into storage it went on Saturday.
I have come to terms with my new computer taking several more steps to do just about anything than I grew accustomed to with Windows 7. I’ve hunted-and-gathered programs to replace the ones Microsoft deemed unnecessary in the new millennium, including an acceptable analogue desktop clock.
All the Autumnal leaves have fallen from the Autumn Tree, and she’s settling her Winter Tree mantle across her shoulders.
Even though infection rates are soaring in our province (as they are across Canada) as one would expect as Winter draws close, at least three Covid-19 vaccine trials have produced some favourable preliminary results.
Mrs Widds and I are both healthy. (apart from the usual ailments the living of many decades invariably produce)
I accomplish the day-to-day tasks running a household requires with a minimum of moaning and groaning. I appreciate the results, not necessarily the doing of them.
All-in-all, life is … OK, so I’m just going to call this in-between time, the days between the end of Autumn and the beginning of Winter, the Season of Blah.