Apr 30, 2010

"Gridlinked" by Neal Asher

perfect vacation book!
intricate plot, well written, great vocabulary, lots of action, an array of characters human, semi- human, and other.
at least one from each group -- human, android, AI, and Maker -- is insane, and there's a mysterious all-knowing merlinish sort of guy thrown in for good measure!
way more fun than that girl with the tattoo, if you ask me, but you do have to pay attention!

Apr 29, 2010

Fakahatchee Strand swamp walk

11 of us stepped off the shell-white dirt road, one at a time single file, into the cool water. I felt my chinos clinging to my legs and my sneakers fill with the coolness as my foot settled into the muck under the dark water. Eeeeeeewwww I whispered involuntarily. We were nervous, feeling cautiously for footing among roots vines and fallen limbs we could not see. Each of us was required to carry a stick, for balance and for...other things, and had been told to wear well fitting shoes that laced tightly. 

With each step the muck tried to suck a shoe off my foot. This soon came to feel ok if not normal, and I could look around at the astonishing creepy-weird beauty, the silence, the watery jungle, closed in now all around me. We were lost in a wild maze, except for our naturalist/ranger/guide, John. Even our other guide, Bill, said at one point when we seemed to really be lost "you're the only one who knows the way out of here, John!" 

We got lost when John herded us away from a very large 'gator, who looked asleep at first but then started to move silently in our direction. When John said "everyone get behind me quick" we moved as fast as one could in thigh deep water, pants and shoes sodden, over hidden limbs and vines. No one fell! I wonder if I was the only one who thought of Avatar -- a primordial natural world, nothing here of humankind -- Avatar with water, which on Gaia would be blue instead of coffee and tea colored. 

Two people ahead of me discussed the book The Orchid Thief, for indeed we were in that world of orchids, the Florida Everglades, a part of it that is densely tropical due to a few centimeters drop in the land. Epiphytes and bromeliads were everywhere! Our guides were orchid experts and pointed out the occasional rare or hard to see of the orchid plants. 

We saw no blooms, but we did see plants of the famous ghost orchid, and another so rare John said there were only 4 known to exist. This was in April; their bloom time is November and December, not Spring. However, Spring is alligator mating season, another reason we had to be especially cautious. Unusually high water and hormones makes them a bit more troublesome. On the drive out we'd had to stop for a big one in the road. Eventually John got behind it and kicked its tail. "Don't lean out of the truck, they can really jump!" he yelled to us as it ran by the truck heading for the water.

After we parked and got out of the troop transport truck (a story in itself) he and Bill gave us our instructions for gators. Don't get to their side, stay behind or directly in front. If the tail is curled and one shoulder hunched, get out of there fast. If one swims a bee-line toward you, get out fast, don't zig-zag or go to the side. Then they told us some stories of their encounters with alligators, as they encouraged another big guy to leave the road near our water entry point. This world is John's daily workplace, and Bill's home, where they try to monitor and preserve the health and well being of this vast shallow river, which flows about a mile a day. The gators are just a part of it. As for the cobras, pythons, cotton mouths, just keep your eyes open they said. And we did!

Meanwhile, back in the water, we waited among some cyprus trees for the all-clear on the big swimming gator. Still thigh deep in water, we sat on some sodden squishy fallen trees and ate our sandwiches and granola bars. Everyone broke out some lunch, and cookies and chocolate were shared. Eventually we started off again, but we were a bit off the trail. John scouted ahead for trail markers, and perhaps other things. The vegetation became denser, and suddenly, after 5 hours in the swamp, we climbed up into the glare of the sun and the white road again! There were times on the hike when I asked myself why why why I ever thought this would be a good idea, but I think I would do it again, especially in orchid blooming time!

I didn't take my camera, didn't want to risk dropping it or falling in with it! But lots of folks have gone on this walk and here's a glimpse from Youtube by someone who went a bloom time!

Apr 26, 2010

the sea was wet as wet could be

there's still a bit of the old beach left in the town where i grew up.  now there is a broadwalk you can bike or skate all the way to the port everglades entrance! north of the entrance you can watch the world's biggest cruise ships go in and out. (this one is the oasis of the seas, i think it is the world's largest - click picture to enlarge)

Apr 24, 2010

sand in my shoes

sleeping in florida, window open, takes my mind back to my mother's old house. there, nights were restless, palms clacking, trees whisper, water lapping, an animal sound, bird or frog?, sounds just once.
the sounds bring you halfway out of slumber and the tropical air lulls you back under. then finally in the blackest time, all is still -- until the quiet sound of a motor, low wake hitting the seawall, diesel, the smell of coffee and maybe a cigarette and the soft murmur of voices as the first fishing folk head out.
my dreaming mind can follow their path to the end of the canal, out into new river, and then the intracoastal waterway. just one bridge then, which probably won't need to open for them. and into port everglades, tiny as a flea beside the world's largest cruise ships, and on out thru the chop -- watch the coffee! -- thru the churning passage into the atlantic!
then where? to find the turqouise gulfstream? out of sight of land? but now it is a hot dawn and the parrots have shouted me out of bed.

Apr 21, 2010

WTF? (where's the food?)

  a muster of game wardens cops and firefighters were standing round a pickup truck. this can't be good.
just outside of my village. they looked at ease, at times glancing up into the woods.
  usually they don't cluster like this. had to be something big. more than a rabid racoon in the village, or a moose with brain worm wandering through people's gardens.
maybe those damn beavers again, needing relocation to someone who wants their trees cut down and their property flooded.
  this time the mission is a happy one! a bear has been wandering around near the road, it's head stuck in a milk can. oh goody! a chance to use tranquilizers, bolt cutters, all kinds of ingenuity, and do what people really really deep down inside love to do...be helpful and kind and use tools.
  the sleepy bear awoke in the woods, thinking what bears always think in such circumstances. (maybe something like WTF?)

    "It took a state biologist, firefighters and police about 45 minutes to free the bear"

Apr 20, 2010

fang to plunger combat

last weekend Osprey asked me if i had a minute to help her with an instructional video, to teach the awesome game Combat Cards to tinies. she just needed some demo-combat scenes to finish it off. i changed to a hamster and put on my most powerful armor and went to the waffle arena.

yikes! she was a terrifying creature!  don't worry she said, it's just mock combat for illustration.

she knows i stink at Combat Cards, so she was very gentle and only knocked me ass over teakettle a few times LOL.

see her entire video here on youtube

Apr 19, 2010

nature's first green

now comes pale green time
so dreamlike so delicate
promising so much

(click to enlarge and step into picture)

Apr 17, 2010

lucy's shelter

i have an elegant sign for lucy's shelter in the steampunk slums of shanghai in steelhead. (based on portland oregon in the victorian era). she is giving up show biz for now to devote herself to nursing and the poor. thanks to osprey for her sign with a wonderful bell attached, which can be grasped in the teeth and rung even by children on all fours (in case they were raised by wolves). i hope to find more patrons, as many things are needed, a washtub, bedding, and woodstove would be good for starters.

(click pic to enlarge)

Apr 15, 2010

tuesday's sky (click to enlarge)

n'avi blue men cause panic

last month i saw the blue man group perform.
they were bluer than the n'avi, and funnier too.
here is the part that stuck with me:
each of the three blue guys held a flip-chart as big as himself.
each chart had something different on it.
we were told "only read one. and each time we flip the page, only read one."
you could just quickly scan all 3 after each flip. but in the spirit of it, i tried to only read one.
right away i got a familiar feeling in my stomach - PANIC!
i was good for awhile, then i gave in and tried to read them all!
it was soooo revealing!
i never realized how often i get that feeling.!
what am i missing? which movie to watch, which podcast to listen to, which movies to list on netflicks, which event to attend, which Second Life event to attend...which blogs have i not read yet that tell me what other events/gadgets/podcasts/tweets i might not know about!
it's impossible to keep up with all of it, and that underlying state of slight panic can come to feel normal.
thanks for the lesson, blue men!

Apr 14, 2010

i'd give it a B

ratings for animals

this funny story was on the NPR website. i started thinking about some of the animals around here and how i would rate them.
squirrels for example. very good at what they do with bird feeders! way too good in fact. you gasp and laugh, even as you contemplate buying a shotgun. still i wouldn't give them an A. not sure why!
rats are another smart funny well adapted animal! A for them? maybe A minus.
racoons - also clever and cute, but I hate the way they throw themselves under approaching cars at night. give them a C
skunks -- cute, but too arrogant. C
woodchucks - the Ferdinands of New England -- they just want to smell the flowers, and eat them. B minus for boring.
deer? moose? beavers?
beavers get an A. beavers cause no end of trouble, but they are awesome.
fisher cats? hmmmm
coyotes -- A for coyotes. If only for their singing.
spring peepers, spotted salamanders, snakes in the grass -- A, A, A
earwigs -- i can't rate earwigs. i cannot be at all objective about them, having shared living space with them for years and come to understand some of their strengths and weaknesses, hope and fears.
maybe I'll have to get the book. he is waaaaay funnier than I am!

Apr 10, 2010

early spring with daffs and snowflake

brown brown brown green brown
brown yellow brown brown brown green green
white brown brown green yellow

Apr 8, 2010


how startling to realize that the appropriate response to

Apr 7, 2010

florida air

saturday's air was florida air
right here in april new england!
it's like when you see someone walking far off
and you can tell who it is.
who knows how? you just know.

the breeze from the south
sparked flashbacks of luffing sails
i could hear them flap.
reflexively, i duck the boom

when i woke up i knew --
florida air wafting through the window
the morning light of florida between the curtains
the sound tires make when florida cars drive by
that bird...is it the grackle? or maybe the house finch?
sounds exactly the same in florida.

all day my brain flashed holograms
of expected sights
only to be startled when they fit nowhere
my eyes saw only bare trees and crocuses.
suppose i were blind?
which reality would i accept?

Apr 5, 2010


You ask what i believe in?
I believe -- and it's more than believe -- I know for sure!
My knowing is so powerful, it is unshakeable. I suppose I am special, because I always have known. I was born knowing the truth and feeling the importance of it. And I have spent my life training others in this truth.
You must throw this tennis ball.
Again and again.
This is the most important thing there is. Without this, the world as we know it would end and all the joy to come would vanish! This is the only way to bring about a perfect world!
I will bring it back to you over and over for as long as it takes!
Can you feel how true and important this is?
Some have said I believe this because of my upbringing, or my personality, or even, some say, my DNA! Implying that I have no free will and that this is some kind of delusion rather than the imperative true meaning of life, which apparently not everyone can comprehend.
I believe that if you practice long enough and hard enough, finally throwing this ball properly with grace and discipline, you will learn the truth for yourself. Please believe me!
I want nothing more than your total happiness and salvation!
For this, I am prepared to go on returning it to you again and again.
For as long as it takes.

Apr 4, 2010

frogs, birds, 5

it's easter!
bank street is broken out in crocuses*! 
the first few peepers peeped last night. the phoebe is back, and the robins are going wild when dawn is sighted!  
and here are some other amazing sounds from 5.
link one is a review of sorts, link two gives you a listen.

*ok YOU look it up