Monday, August 27, 2012

Invocation to the Squirrel Muses

Invocation to the Squirrel Muses
Lay out several nuts (acorns or hickory or walnuts, etc.) in your writing space.  Then speak out-loud:
Welcome Fellow Squirrels into my space!
Let’s play, My Squirrel Friends!

Planting ideas, chasing words, jumping from topic to topic, inventing new wonders of
Flicking our tails in constant motion, we “chee” at the world, while we
Build nests out of words,
Create snug homes for
Ideas, phrases, sentences,
High in the trees of thought.

Let’s play, My Squirrel Friends!
Who wants some nuts?
Chase you up the tree of words!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Squirrels: My Writing Muse

Whenever I am blocked in my writing, I watch squirrels.  I see them bouncing from tree to tree or chasing each other. At other times, one squirrel will dig up a nut that another had just buried.  Once I witnessed a lone squirrel sneaking up on a curbside vendor to steal a nut-bar from her truck. Before the hapless vendor could react, this crafty squirrel leapt off the countertop and scampered off with its prize.
            Squirrels inspire me with their activity. Rarely staying still in one place, they leap from one tree branch, grab another limb, and then jump to the ground. This reminds me of my free writing, when I jump from topic to topic. Working with my squirrel muses, I seldom know where they will take me in my writing or where I will finally end up.
            Another thing that squirrels do is to bury nuts and forget them. Some of these nuts grow into oak trees, while other nuts are dug up for food by different squirrels. In several forms, these buried nuts provide food for the squirrels.  Like the squirrels, I stash writing topics in a notebook. Sometimes, I add scraps of information to flesh out the topics. At other times, I mull over one topic until it emerges as a full grown essay. Like burying nuts, my habit of stashing topics and bits of information provide me with food for thought.
            The inventiveness of squirrels is legendary. They foil the most determined attempts by ardent bird watchers to keep the squirrels from raiding birdfeeders. When I am stuck in my writing, I ask myself, “What if I was a squirrel…” I usually find an off-the-wall answer to my writing issue. In these ways, squirrels guide me in my writing.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ethics for Magical People: Copying (2 of 2)

The third factor to consider is the degree and type of plagiarism.  Our Lady of the Lake College (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), in their paper “Penalties for Plagiarism”, state that the “severity of penalty matches the severity of the plagiarism.”  The college lists punishments that the faculty could employ ranging from the lowering the student’s grade on the paper to failing him on the course.  Added to those are the college’s punishments, which range from official warnings to expulsion.  The college considers the least offense to be improperly documenting a quote, with the most egregious being, of course, purchasing a paper.

On the other hand, Rutgers University (New Jersey) has a zero tolerance policy concerning copying and pasting.  In their policy handouts, the university states “Plagiarism is a university offense.”  In fact, Rutgers considers all form of plagiarism to be the same -- from sloppy citations to purchasing papers.  The least punishment that the University will consider for plagiarism is entering the offense on the student’s record.

Two key pieces of information in deciding Phillip’s punishment is his admission that he neither bother to learn the University’s policy on plagiarism nor the Library’s guidelines on citing sources.  Another is that although he copied and pasted parts of a particular chapter, Phillip did put the source in the reference section of his paper.  These facts point to a careless and sloppy student. 

But Mathews points out how cunning students can be.  Phillip could be feigning ignorance since he did not expect to be caught.  In discussing a local cheating scandal at a high school, Mathews cites a study that claims that eighty percent of college students admitted to cheating in high school.  Also Mathews points out the pervasive idea, which lurks in the general culture, that cheating should be celebrated or at least winked at.

In Phillip’s case, he has already received a failing grade from his teacher.  Moreover the professor referred his cheating to the Discipline Committee, which does indicate the seriousness of Phillip’s offense.  Since Phillip is ignorant of university policies, as part of his punishment, I would recommend that he write a paper on them, and demonstrate the proper methods of citing.  He would do this during his week of suspension from the University.

This punishment would deal directly with Phillip and his claim of carelessness.  It would also alert his friends to the seriousness of copying others’ work without giving them proper credit.  It would put his friends on notice that professors do check their submissions, and report any offense to the Discipline Committee.  The University’s stance that plagiarism is a serious crime would also be upheld.  This suspension and paper submission would satisfy both punishing Phillip and keeping the University’s spotless reputation intact.

Works Used:
Bora, Chandramita, “Consequences of Plagiarism – Penalties for Plagiarism”, Plagiarism:, 12 October 2011,, .

Chobharkar, Pankaj, “Avoiding Plagiarism”, Plagiarism:, 30 September 2011,, .

----, “Guidelines for Dealing with Plagiarism”, Interdisciplinary Studies Program, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Wayne State University, 21 April 2004,, .

Mathews, Jay, “Class Struggle – Jay Mathews on Education”, blog, “The Washington Post”,, 2012, .

Moonwriter, ed., “Policy on Plagiarism”, “Appendix E”, “The Grey School of Wizardry General Handbook of Official Policies and Parameters”, January 2010, downloaded PDF.

Nakate, Shashank, “Plagiarism Consequences in College”, Plagiarism:, 9 September 2011,, .

----, “OLOLC Plagiarism Policies”, Our Lady of the Lake College, 7 October 2010, , .
----, “Penalties for Plagiarism”, Our Lady of the Lake College, 7 October 2010,, .

-----, “Plagiarism Policy”, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, 23 July 2007,, .

Rajeev, Loveleena, “Different Types of Plagiarism”, Plagiarism:, 18 July 2012,, .

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ethics for Magical People: Copying (1 of 2)

I will be posting a series on ethics since they do govern how we approach nature.  These are various case studies.

In the case study of Phillip copying paragraphs from a book without directly citing the source, several factors must be considered before the University can mete out the proper punishment.  The first factor is to consider is why punishment for plagiarism is important.  For many literate people, plagiarism is considered to be stealing as well as intellectual dishonesty. To me, plagiarism is not merely a theft of words but also of the author’s time and labor.  For the reader, it brings on a creeping doubt to the veracity of the writing.  And for the plagiarist, it stifles his ability to find his own unique voice.  Because of plagiarism, the fabric of disseminating and receiving knowledge is rent beyond repair since no one can trust the written words or ideas of another.

At colleges and universities, the deans and faculty expect their students to produce original work.  Furthermore, they want each student to demonstrate that she does understand the various class materials.  In contrast, plagiarism diminishes the reputation of the whole university since the work of every student reflects the values of that particular university.  Moreover, copying another person’s work penalizes the students who struggled to write it. 

The second factor to consider is that of the writing skill of the student, who is caught plagiarizing.  Education columnist Jay Mathews of “The Washington Post” notes in his blog that many students have poor writing skills.  He stresses how ill prepared high school students are for completing writing assignments in college.  Because of this, they are tempted to purchase a paper or copy and paste from other people’s essays.

Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan), in their materials on plagiarism, discusses how students develop into good writers.  First, they “patch write” which resembles “cutting and pasting”.  This transitional phase of writing helps the beginner to find her voice by copying the style of more experienced writers.  A step to detect whether a student deliberately copied or “patch wrote” is to have him explain an obscure point in his paper.  A student who has problems with citation will be able to answer the professor’s probing questions.  Matthews gives an example of a literature professor who asked a student, whom she suspected of plagiarism, about his paper on Faulkner.  When he could not identify who Faulkner was, she reported to her university that he had bought his paper from a “term-paper mill”.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ANOMALOCARIS: Dynamic Balance

Copyright: Paleogirl at
The terror of the Cambrian Seas (500 million years ago), Anomalocaris cruised the warm coastal waters hunting for Trilobites.  Finding one, this super-predator grabbed her prey with her two appendages, and wiggled the exoskeleton of her victim up and down until it split open.  Then, She ate the exposed innards of the unfortunate Trilobite.  Sometimes, Anomalocaris would take a bite out of her prey with her sharp circular mouth parts.
            Growing to the size of a person, Anomalocaris resembled a shrimp with her segmented body.  To swim long distances, She moved the flaps of her body simultaneously up and down.  This action gave Her, the ability of a fish in swimming.  Because Anomalocaris could cruise and hover, She became the apex predator of her time.
            In searching the sea floor for tasty Trilobites, Anomalocaris used her two compound eyes on the top of stalks.  The most notable feature of Anomalocaris was her eyes, which were as complex as a modern Dragonfly.  As the first known apex predator, She proved that eyes developed before joined legs, since vision was more important in the early oceans.
            Anomalocaris personified the “arms race” known as the Predator-Prey dynamic, which keeps a dynamic balance.  With her advanced eyes, She could hunt her prey.  Meanwhile to avoid being eaten by Anomalocaris, Trilobites learned to roll up in a ball.
            The Predator-Prey dynamic became a path to balanced growth.  To avoid being eaten, the prey created new strategies for defense.  Then the predator devised new offensive strategies for hunting.  Balance was maintained as each changed themselves to outwit the other, shapeshifting and growing in the process.  When we need to grow but still keep our balance, we can look to Anomalocaris and Trilobites.  Each shows us what we need to do in their dance of dynamic balance as predator and prey.
To purchase Paleogirl's plush trilobite toys and other prehistoric animalsPaleogirl at or at her Esty-store:  Plush Extinct Invertebrates and More

Monday, August 13, 2012

Trilobite Family: Diversity (2 of 2)

Copyright: Paleogirl on deviantArt
However, the most important role of Trilobites for scientists is in estimating the ages of other fossils.  Because They lived throughout in the entire Paleozoic Era, Trilobites are often found with other fossils of this Era.  Since Trilobites evolved into being an extremely diverse Class of animals, their fossils can be used to pin-point the particular time periods of the other fossils.
            Being diverse was the key to the longevity of Trilobites as a species.  During the Cambrian Period (600 mya), four Orders of Trilobites came into being.  During the Cambrian Mass Extinction Event (500 mya), one Order did go extinct.  However during the Ordovician Period (450 mya), two new Orders emerged, who colonized the new coral reefs.  Only one Order of Trilobites survived the Devonian Extinction Event (350 mya).  This meant that the Class of Trilobita (Trilobites) was bottlenecked into the Proetida Order who lived in both deep and shallow waters.  These small Trilobites had unusually large eyes and spines on either side of their heads.  When life was pushed to the brink of extinction during the Permian Great Dying (about 250 mya), this final group of Trilobites died out.
            This great diversity enabled Trilobites to exist for over 300 million years, longer than many other species.  Paleontologists could find these animals in every marine environment in every shape and size.  But as Trilobites lost their ability to adapt and to become more diverse, They declined in numbers and eventually went extinct.
            From Trilobites, we learn that the key to survival is to be adaptable and diverse.  Moreover, the most important aspect to staying strong is embracing diversity.  When Trilobites ceased to adapt, They died out.  When we refuse accept diversity, we should remember the final fate of Trilobites.  Let Trilobites show you how to adapt successfully.
To purchase Paleogirl's plush trilobite toys and other prehistoric animalsPaleogirl at or at her Esty-store:  Plush Extinct Invertebrates and More

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Trilobites: Diversity (1 of 2)

Besides Dinosaurs, Trilobites are also a famous and well-studied species from prehistory.  Unlike Dinosaurs, who are two distinct groupings of animals artificially placed in one Superorder, Trilobites occur naturally as Class of Marine Arthropods.  This Class of ancient sea animals consists of 10 Orders, 150 families, 5000 genera, and 20,000 (and counting) discovered species.  Found worldwide, They differed according to the particular water depth, temperature and geography of the world’s oceans where They lived.
            All Trilobites have the same basic body plan, which consists of a head (cephalon), a body (thorax), and a tail (pygidium).  These marine animals received their name which means “three lobed” from their three side to side lobes – left (pleural), central (axial), and right.  Beyond this standard body, many Trilobites developed unique features such as sharp spines or horseshoe-shaped heads.
            This diversity in adaptation enabled Trilobites to be one of the longest surviving species in the world.  Believed to have emerged about 700 million years ago (mya) during the Pre-Cambrian Eon, Trilobites came into their own about 500 mya during the Cambrian Life Explosion.  Living through the entire Paleozoic Era (about 300 million years in duration), They became extinct during the Great Dying of the Permian Period (about 250 mya).
            Besides being noted for their longevity, Trilobites were also one of the first animals on earth to possess eyes.  Their eyes were made of calcite crystals laid out in rows of 100 to 15,000 lenses.  Using their eyes, Trilobites could sense movement, which helped Them to hunt as well as to hide from Predators.  Once early animals developed eyes, the predator-prey dynamic took hold.
            Since They were so common and widespread in the Paleozoic Era, Trilobites are studied in great detail by paleontologists to understand the processes of early evolution.  In fact, They were the first extinct animals to be studied by early scientists.  Since the fossils of Trilobites were readily found in Burgess-Shale type deposits, paleontologists could trace the beginning of complex life systems by examining the developments of Trilobites.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Tarot and Dragons: Imperial Dragon Oracle: Second Round(2 of 2)

Position Four: West (the Element of Water)
“Obstacles or challenges I need to be aware of.”
I drew the “Lunar Dragon (18)”, which is “The Moon (XVIII)” of the Tarot.  In this card, a single dragon is holding a moon while sitting between two obelisks.  There is a lunar eclipse but the sun’s corona still shines through since the shadow shows where the light is.  Baggott explains that the energy of this card derives itself from the “shadow self”.  He emphasizes that for the “whole” to exist, the “ying” must be acknowledged as well as the “yang”. 

The “Lunar Dragon (18)” sits opposite “Temperance (14)”.  It tells me that My Dragon Guide wants me to accept the “shadow self” of my disability and my grief over being injured.  Like the tides, my disability has an ebb and flow to it.  As the moon governs the tides, my brain governs my rhythms of resting and working.  By going to the source and not fighting these rhythms, I can complete my classes with relative ease.

Position Five: Center (The Element of the Spirit)
“The potential future if lessons are learned and obstacles are overcome.”

The final card of the spread was “The Seeker (0)”, which is “The Fool (0)” in the Tarot.  Once I accept my shadow self (which includes my disability), I can have a new future of “limitless possibilities”.  My future at the Grey School will be amzing and illuminating.  Baggott writes, “If we choose to align our current energy to this magnificent being, it will take us on a wonderful adventure.”  This also subtly reminds me that I need to include My Dragon Guide in my studies as well.

“The Seeker (0)” shows a green dragon flying triumphantly over the mountains, with the full moon  guiding the way.  Green is the mixing of two primary colors, thereby symbolizing the union of two divergent forces. (Though for my reading, purple would have been more appropriate.)  This symbolizes the unification which follows “Love (6)” and “Temperance (14)”.  This will happen once I listen to the Dragons and follow their guidance.

The subtle energies of the cards were balanced.  “Fertility (3)” is governed by Venus, who rules love, is paired with “Love (6)”.  The energy of Earth is doubled by “Fertility (3)”, while the energy of water is doubled by “Lunar Dragon (19)”.  Meanwhile “Temperance (14)”, which is governed by the Fire Sign of Sagittarius, sits in the position of Air.  “Love (4)”, which is governed by the Air Sign of Gemini, sits in the position of Fire.  These cards point to the balancing of the energies to allow the Spirit to come through.
This reading made me feel hopeful.  With the insight of accepting my disability instead of fighting it, I can achieve much in my studies at the Grey School of Wizardry.  Most importantly, I feel the love of the Dragons coming through in this reading.  The Great Mother Dragon and Peesey gently reminded me of their presence in my life.  They wanted me to know that I can rely on Them for help.

What came out of the reading that I will remember is the love that the Dragons have for me.  They want me to succeed, and to come into my own as a magickal person.  I feel enveloped by the wings of Great Mother Dragon as She holds me.  To show my love for Her and My Guide, I shall continue with  my studies.

Works Used:
Baggott, Andy and Peter Pracownik, “Imperial Dragon Oracle”, U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford (CT), 2009.

Bartlett, Sarah, “Tarot Bible”, Sterling: New York, 2006.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Tarot and Dragons: Imperial Dragon Oracle Second Reading (1 of 2)

After choosing the “Imperial Dragon Oracle” by Andy Baggott and Peter Pracownik, I used their “Cardinal Spread” to ask about my future studies at the Grey School of Wizardry.  Because of my traumatic brain injury, I was afraid that I will not graduate.  I thought that I will reach a point where the classes will become too complex for me.  Therefore, I was nervous about this reading since I thought the cards would confirm my fears.

My Dragon Guide (Peesey) told me not to worry, because I could always ask Him for help.  Furthermore, He would relay the wise counsel from Great Mother Dragon to me.  With his reassurance that the Dragons would guide me in my studies, I dealt the cards.

Question:  How will I do in my studies at the Grey School of Wizardry?

“The Cardinal Spread”
Position One: North (The Element of Earth)
“Where does the root of the issue lie?”
The card that I drew was “Fertility (3)”, which is “The Emperor (III) in the Tarot.  According to Baggott, the source of energy for this card is “Mother nature”.  He adds that this card’s messages are to “follow your natural instincts”, and to “align with the energies of the land.”

What struck me about this card is that it is the only one in the deck that features a human.  In this card, a dragon is enveloping a woman with her wings.  What I see is Great Mother Dragon holding me in her love.  The root of the issue for me is to trust the Dragons, and to know that I am not alone in my studies.  Moreover, I need to keep in contact with My Guide and Great Mother Dragon. I am reminded that the Great Mother Dragon works through Peesey, My Dragon Guide, to help me further.

Position Two: East (The Element of Air)
“Who is my guide in this issue?”
I drew the card of “Temperance (14)”, which is “Temperance (XIV) in the Tarot.  This card depicts a red and a blue dragon pouring water into a pool in the moonlight.  According to Baggott, the two dragons represent the “ying” and “yang” of life.  Since the keyword of this card is “unification”, it follows that the card’s meaning is the “reconciliation of apparent opposites.”

For me to succeed in my studies, My Dragon Guide and I need to pool our resources.  We are opposites in many ways – He is eager and full of energy, while I am more sedate.  By complementing our diverse natures, we can move forward together as a team.  As a member of this team, I can look forward to graduation from the Grey School.

The other subtext of this card is to unify my two selves – the pre-injury and post-injury me, so that I can succeed in my studies.  Being mindful of this, I need to stop fighting myself, and to channel this energy into learning.  By accepting both the “ying” and “yang” parts of myself, I can progress through the various Levels at the Grey School.

Position Three: South (The Element of Fire)
“What do I need to learn from this issue?”

The card that I drew was “Love (6)”, which is “The Lovers (VI)” of the Tarot.  The root meaning of this card is “acceptance”, which suggests to me to accept my brain injury, work with it, and not fight it.  Until now I have been forcing my injured brain work the way it did when it was healthy. By accepting my brain as it is, I can live with the ebb and flow of my life that my brain dictates.  After learning this cycle of rest and activity of my brain, I can apply what I learned to how I finish my classes at the Grey School of Wizardry in the future.

The two dragons of “Temperance (14)” are now joined as one.  By accepting the love of My Guide and Great Mother Dragon, I learn to love myself as I am.  In this manner, I unite my two halves into one being.  

Saturday, August 04, 2012

HYNERPETON: Transitions

Discovered in Pennsylvania (USA), Hynerpeton altered people’s notions of how Tetrapods (early land animals) lived on the land.  This proto-amphibian lived both in the water and on dry land.  Hynerpeton spent most of his time in water, but did come on the land for periods at a time.  In the Devonian Period (360 million years ago), Hynerpeton spent much of the time lurking in the watery reeds of inland wetlands waiting for his prey. 
Hynerpeton had a fin-shaped tail but also robust legs with eight toes on each.  Moreover, Hynerpeton had a primitive kidney, which is a sign of a permanent transition to life on land.  In his case, He was metamorphosing from a Tetrapod to being an Amphibian.
            Because of his eight toes, scientists believe that Hynerpeton was not a direct ancestor of modern land animals.  The five-toed body type is what many land animals adopted as the most effective way to navigate on land.  Although Hynerpeton was only a cousin, He still can show how the shift from living in the sea to on the land happened.
            Since Hynerpeton is a transitional animal, He can teach us about the process of change.  Hynerpeton understands that we may not see the end result, but that we should still “muddle through”.  He knows that one of his descendants will reach the end of the journey that He started.  To Hynerpeton, the process is as important as the beginning and the ending.  To those who get discouraged, He urges them to continue on.  When you get stuck, ask Hynerpeton to remind you why you went on this journey.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Save The Manatee Club

Manatees are one of the animals that I receive much wisdom from. This is the Save the Manatee Club's site. They are selling calendars for 2013 full of manatee pictures. The proceeds go to manatee conservation.  

From the Website:

"In April, a manatee named Rita and her calf, Georgie, were released at Paradise Island in the Bahamas. They are wearing tracking gear, which will allow researchers to follow their movements. Learn more about Rita and Georgie and discover how the project will help manatees in the Bahamas. "
We recently received the sad news that Dana, one of the longtime adoptees in Save the Manatee Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee program, had died on July 14th after suffering injuries from a boat strike that occurred in the St. Johns River. Dana was rescued in early May near Palatka, Florida, by staff from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Jacksonville Zoo, Sea to Shore Alliance, and Palatka Police and Fire Departments. She was transported for medical treatment at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, where zoo staff discovered that she was also near-term pregnant. A week later, Dana had her calf, but unfortunately, the calf did not survive and was stillborn.
 Adopt a real manatee and help protect an endangered species at the same time. Funds from the Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee program go toward efforts to help protect manatees and their habitat.

Unlike other animal adoption programs, the manatees in our adoption programs are real, living manatees with known histories. You even have the opportunity of seeing your adopted manatee at one of three locations in Florida.