Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hero Rats aka Rats Helping People: APOPO

Blossom, HeroRAT (adoptable)
Most of us do not consider rats to be heroes but pests.  However, to one group of people, they sniff out land mines and TB.  APOPO, a registered Belgian NGO works in Africa to save lives in multiple ways through African giant pouched rats.

Here is what they do: from their website:

Training HeroRATs

Learn how we transform African giant pouched rats into life-saving heroes.

Mine action

Discover APOPO's solution to the global landmine problem.

Tuberculosis detection

Find out how our rats are helping to increase TB case detection rates for our partner hospitals.

Read more at their website and consider adopting a HeroRAT!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Listen to the Trees: Tulip Poplar

Later, the ancient huge Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera, Magnolia Family) informed me that She was the Monarch of the Forest.  Standing tall, scraping the sky, She told me that She saw the original railroad being laid down in the 1850s.  The Tulip Poplar, most decidedly a She, wanted me to know that.  As the Reigning Empress, She ordered me to stand tall and stretch to the sky, while keeping my balance.  Because I balked at this, the nearby trees told me to hush and listen to Tulip Poplar.  After that, I was with Monarch Tulip Poplar for a long time, just standing still.  From Her, I learned to be quiet and still. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Listening to Trees: American Basswoods

In listening to various trees, I discovered that every species is so dissimilar from the others that the word “tree” is too general to describe these beings.  The Basswoods acted as a community while the Tulip Poplar stood tall by Herself.  Meanwhile the local Scarlet Oaks did not regard Themselves as Kings of the Forest, but preferred to play with everyone instead.

The American Basswoods (Tilia americana, Linden Family) live near the railroad tracks behind my condo building.  They all wanted to speak to me but only the Younger Brother was in a place where I could safely go.  The Basswoods asked me to greet all of them, which I complied by touching their leaves.  (The Basswood Community, for some reason, felt male, both separately and together.) Standing together, these trees formed a shady bower with their curved trunks and branches.  While I stood in the bower that the trees formed, I could hear music.  The Basswoods were singing, in various harmonies, the pop music of Barry Manilow (American, 1943 - ).  The choral singing of these trees reminded me that I could be an individual within a unified whole, since the Basswoods, Themselves, were a community who relied on each other.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Periodic Cicada: The Nexus of Time

In the eastern half of North America, Periodical Cicadas from Brood X invade the countryside every 13 and 17 years. Crawling up from the ground, They emerge at once, in May and June, leaving behind their exoskeletons. For a brief month, Male Periodical Cicadas fill the air with a deafening sound, advertising for a mate. These large Insects spend their brief adult lives with only one thing on their minds – mating. When a Female Periodical Cicada is ready, She will “click” to the Males, “Here I Am!” After mating, She lays her eggs in trees. When They hatch, the Offspring will move underground for another 13 to 17 years.

Living longer than any other Insects, Periodical Cicadas emerge as a single Brood. Each Brood is spaced 13 or 17 years between emergences. This long period prevents Predators from timing their activities to eat the Cicadas. The prime numbers of 13 and 17 insure that nothing can adapt to the Brood Cycle.

Called Periodical Cicadas (Magicicada)), these Insects differ from their cousins Locusts. Unlike Locusts, Periodical Cicadas do not jump. They seem like Locusts because of their larger broods that overwhelm predators by their sheer numbers. After spending many years developing underground, They come up for only two months. Then, the Adults mate and die. Then years go by before another mass emergence.

Besides Periodical Cicadas’ size and numbers, what also makes Them outstanding is their song. Male Periodical Cicadas makes the loudest sound in the Insect World. By vibrating the ribbed plate in a pair of amplifying cavities at the base of his abdomen, Male Periodical Cicada can make his sound heard for long distances. A whole chorus of these whirring sounds resembles a deafening roar of hundreds of kazoos played at once.

Many people have heard Periodical Cicadas, and have not realized it. The sound tracks of many science fiction movies that feature UFOs use the Cicadas’ droning to signal the sound of the alien space ships. Think space aliens, and you associate Periodical Cicadas with them.

The lesson of Periodical Cicadas is living at the nexus of time. For Periodical Cicadas, time merges into one Brood. When They emerge in the present, Periodical Cicadas encourage people to remember the past. Also, They prompt people to think about what the future will bring. In the present, their numbers simply overwhelm people. Periodical Cicadas bend time into a prism of past, present, and future in one moment.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Some articles on Early Man and Prehistoric Life - links

At, they are starting a new series on what makes us human. 

Two articles that are there now are:
"Groups and Gossip Drove the Evolution of Human Nature" by Eric Michael Johnson: evolution:groups and gossip 

From the article:
"Christopher Boehm has been studying the interplay between the desires of an individual and that of the larger group for more than 40 years. Currently the director of the Jane Goodall Research Center and professor of anthropology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California, he has conducted fieldwork with both human and nonhuman primates and has published more than 60 scholarly articles and books on the problem of altruism. In his newest book, Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame, Boehm synthesizes this research to address the question of why, out of all the social primates, are humans so altruistic?"

"Who Mastered Fire" by L.V. Anderson: invented fire? 

 From the article:
"There’s one problem with Wrangham’s elegant hypothesis: It’s hardly the scientific consensus. In fact, since 2009, when Wrangham explained his theory in the book Catching Fire, several archaeologists have come forward with their own, wildly divergent opinions about what is arguably the oldest intellectual property debate in the world. Who really mastered fire, in the sense of being able to create it, control it, and cook with it regularly? Was it Homo erectus, Neanderthals, or modern humans?"



 For the lighter side of life:
"How to Dinosaur-Proof Your Home" by Bob Strauss:     Dinosaur Proof Home

From the article:
"Let's face it, too many people are lax when it comes to dinosaur security. How many times have you forgotten to lock the windows at night, only to wake up to find a teenaged Coelophysis trying to swallow the Cheerios box? That hole on your screen door you keep meaning to fix--how many Microraptors have to flutter through before you hoist up your overalls and get the job done? Grab your toolboxes, boys and girls, because you're about to get a crash course in dinosaur-proofing your home."

For those are interested in Prehistoric Life:
"The 10 Most Essential Dinosaur Books" by Bob Strauss:  Essential Dinosaur Books

From the article:
"Tons of dinosaur books are written for kids, but if you want the most reliable information it's best to consult literature aimed at science-minded teenagers and adults. Here's a list of the 10 most essential, and scientifically accurate, books about dinosaurs and prehistoric life."

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Searching for the Trees of the Oghams

yew tree

Since I live in an urban area in the Southeastern United States, many of the trees from the Oghams are foreign to me.  To find out if any of these trees lived near me, I used a field guide to look up the taxonomic names of the local trees to discover if  they were the same species.  For the remainder, I followed the advice of Caitlin Matthews, in her book “The Celtic Wisdom Tarot”, to look for a native tree that had similar qualities to a tree of the Oghams.  I had reasonable success with that but did find that substitution could be a problem.  For example, Muin, the “Vine” of the Ogham generally is associated with grapes, but the major vine where I live is kudzu. 
However, I did find some similar species that did make a connection:
Beith: European Birch: River Birch
Fern: Alder: Smooth Alder
Saille: Osier Willow: Weeping Willow
Nion: Ash: Green Ash
Uath: Hawthorn: Cockspur
Dair: English Oak: White Oak
Tinne: Holly: Holly
Ceirt: Crab Apple: Crab apple
Gort: English Ivy: English Ivy
Ailm: Silver Fir: Balsam Fir
Eadhadh: Aspen: Bigtooth Aspen
Eamhancholl: Witchhazel: Witchhazel

To acquaint myself with the “foreign” trees of the Oghams, I read about their natural history on the Internet.  In addition, I used “The Meaning of Trees” by Fred Hageneder, which features “magical” photos of various trees with their spiritual properties.  Looking at the photo of “Yew”, I could feel the ancient wisdom of yew as the tree of endings.  I also used my collection of books about the trees of the Oghams, and compared each author’s experiences to gain an essence of each tree.  Moreover, two authors, each, featured guided meditations of the trees, which I used in conjunction with various tree photos.  Using a form of Yantra meditation, I then introduced myself to each of the trees. 
Works Used:
Hageneder, Fred, “The Meaning of Trees,” Chronicle Books: San Francisco, 2005.
Hidalgo, Sharlyn, “The Healing Power of Trees,” Llewellyn: Woodbury MN, 2010.
Hopman, Ellen Evert, “A Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine,” Destiny: Rochester VT, 2008.
Matthews, Caitlin, “The Celtic Wisdom Tarot,” Destiny: Rochester VT, 1999.