Basket hummingbird nests

Another set of baskets, tiny ones, woven from pampas grass.

pampasgrass

They’re rough, but entertaining to make. Who knows, maybe I’ll find nooks in trees and tuck them away for hummingbirds to find. They take about 10 minutes to make.

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Take a half-inch wide six-foot long blade of pampas grass:

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Strip it into three bands, one rib down the middle and two wings:20200411_142546

Break off three seven-to-eight inch strips. Take the tail of the remaining ribbed band and set the other three strips on top arranging them into a star. You always need an odd number of ribs, here we’ll have seven, which means the tail of the remaining ribbed strip will then be wound around the others to start to form the bottom.20200411_142745

Keep winding until the strip becomes too narrow and weak to use. Wrap it as best you can around the ribs, tucking in where you can. Then take one of the wing bands and begin weaving it following the same pattern, over under, over under. Having an odd number of ribs allows the pattern to never duplicate.20200411_143022

Begin to bend the ribs as you wind. You’ll exhaust the first band and end up using the second until it’s depleted. As you near the end of that strand, wrap it around and tuck it in as you can to self-seal the basket from unwinding.20200411_143736

Then bend over the ribs and tuck them into the wrappings.

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As we walk around the neighborhood, various pampas grass mounds, massive, knife sharp things cast off their decaying stalks and blades. I pick a blade, one per walk, and weave as I go.

There are a few good videos on youtube that illustrate this technique. And there are other materials that work too: https://anonymole.com/2018/09/23/baskets-are-easy-and-fun/

It’s silly stupid shit like this that lets my mind blend into white noise. When I’m working with my hands, my brain seems to turn off. Of course, once I get into it and the rhythm of the motions, the whirling starts back up and I’m once again drifting over deserts, seas and forests, or meandering down ancient cities, or forgotten ruins.

[Here’s a two blade basket:]

Apocalyptic Scenario 7.b

Surrounding the Arctic Ocean, the continental shelf harbors thousands of gigatons of of methane in the form of methane hydrate, fire-ice. This substance, methane gas surrounded by water ice, forms when microbes eat organic sediment and release methane (like in the bowels of a bovine) which gets trapped by high water pressure and low temperature.

Were just five of these gigatons of methane to be released into the atmosphere the concentration would double methane’s current contribution of 25% of global warming.

Fifty gigatons would wreak an environmental catastrophe. Five hundred, released in a continuous stream around the Arctic would induce another PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum).

Deep beneath the East Siberian Sea stretching across the straight into the Beaufort Sea and around to the Barents Sea the earth is shifting. Tectonic forces have been pulling apart the crust, magma is seeping upward, and now the once frozen methane hydrates are thawing. Swelling. Bubbling to the surface.

Vents along the Siberian coast crack open and haphazard lightening strikes have ignited the plumes of methane. Volcanoes of flame burn hundreds of meters into the sky. What doesn’t burn, drifts high into the atmosphere where it traps the reflective solar energy. The Arctic has become a tepid bath. Greenland’s ice cap and its hundreds of glaciers steam and melt. Measurements along the Eastern Seaboard measure an inch a month sea level rise.

Life is about to experience Sauna Earth.

Bring your beer and spruce brushes because we’re gonna get sweaty.

Science writing: To the point

If you’re going to write about science — get to the damn point. All I need is the highlights, the topics, the bullet points. And if there are pertinent details, make them brief and absent of flourish.

So many of the literary news outlets publish narrative science articles that I’m afraid it’s become an art. A pointless and irritating art.

Take this one for instance (don’t go here, don’t give them the courtesy):

7,800 words in that frickin’ thing. I don’t have the time or patience to burn thirty minutes slogging through some “writer’s” portrayal of science dudes’ childhoods: “When he was 11, his mother bought him a subscription to a medical encyclopedia series.” Fuck-me-Alex.

Get to the point and get out. It’s science — just the pertinent facts, ma’am. All the actual data required to deliver the concepts of brain tissue reanimation could have been provided in a tenth the words. But no, the writer had to turn it into a biography.

And this happens time and time again. 10,000 word diatribes about artificial intelligence and machine learning, or meandering missives on Neanderthal DNA in modern Homo Sapiens. It seems that every sexy scientific topic begs a “story.” Sorry, I don’t want window dressing on my low earth orbit launch technologies, or thermal depolymerization of ocean plastic…

I just want the concise, to-the-point facts about the advances or failures of the science and technology. Spare me backstories, please. If you have to, write a sweeping expose’ on some social or historical topic or event — leave the science for the fact writers.

 

Built in obsolescence

DNA and the mechanisms of aging have been selectively engineered to maximize population growth and the saturation of an ecosystem by any and all species.

We are born, grow, procreate, raise offspring and die.

DNA depends on this cycle. If there were no natural selection of dominant (maximum ecosystem exploitation) species, then at some point, such a non-optimized species would most likely experience a calamitous shock, unable to adapt, move or cope, the result would be extinction.

Natural selection expects you to die. In fact, extending our age well past the viable range of procreation and raising offspring is counter-productive — as far as DNA is concerned. Old, you’re just a waste of resources.

We were designed (not really, but the end result might be thought of in this way) to die by age 50. By twenty-five, you would have produced offspring and would now be in the throes of raising them. By fifty, your done. In most cultures, by fifty, you’re already a grandparent having already passed on any wisdom to your children and potentially your grandchildren.

It’s like Logan’s Run but Carousel happens at 50. Your little red jewel glows until 49.364 and then — wink — out it goes. DNA is pretty much Logan’s run, but without the big bang at the end marking your “Ascension.”

Oh, sure, some will argue that elders impart existential experience and advocacy for the species. But this is just bollocks. The fact remains that throughout human existence this fifty-year maximum (on average) was pretty much the standard. Only in the last few hundred years have we breached this lifespan threshold.

And sure, there have been long-lived sages of old who wrote stuff down on tablets, scrolls, papyrus and whatnot. Information that has been tumbling along, building like a snowball to provide us the incredible advances we enjoy today.

But DNA does care about that stuff. It’s Eat-Pray-Love, but for all organisms.

Eat. Grow. Fuck. Die. That’s DNA for ya.

 

 

The Day the Earth Died

I don’t often share such articles, but this one sticks out as critically important. It regards the KT moment, the end-of-days for Dino the Dinosaur. And what you’ll find is that it appears that a paleontologist has found evidence of the exact moment of the Chicxulub asteroid impact.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/04/08/the-day-the-dinosaurs-died

— The KT event continues to attract the interest of scientists in no small part because the ashen print it left on the planet is an existential reminder. “We wouldn’t be here talking on the phone if that meteorite hadn’t fallen,”

— The Tanis site, in short, did not span the first day of the impact: it probably recorded the first hour or so.