Archive for February, 2007

070216 – Friday – winter blogging

Friday, February 16th, 2007

I go in bursts on this blog. A few days without posts and then a big burst. I have to fit the time in when I can now and if I’m actually going to write some of my own stuff (rather than just posting snippets from significant news stories), I have to allow even more time.

Today, I’ve got nine news articles stacked up to blog on. I scan for them using RSS Bandit & at odd moments during the day and whenever I see one I want to post, I drop a link to it on my desktop and then when I’m ready to blog, I’ve got a stack ready to go.

It’s been busy here at the nursery. It’s still wintry here. I’m not sure I’ve seen a sunny day since I’ve been back. I shot a picture about an hour ago east up the Woods Creek Valley towards the North Cascades Mountains and Stevens Pass to give you the flavor of things here.

East towards Stevens Pass and the North Cascades

Yesterday, we had our first semi-truck of the season deliver here. It’s a procedure we’ve been through many times now. I go down and meet the trucker and drive him up here and show him the layout and how we want him to pull in and position his truck. Then I drop him off and we go out to block the road while he maneuvers the big rig into the nursery. With the trees, we take them off with the big tractor one bucket full at a time and drop them into the parking lot and then, if there are plants in pots in the back of the truck (and there generally are), we have him pull his rig down to the other end of the nursery through the utility gate and we unload them there near the potting shed. When we unload potted stuff, we bring it down on a wooden ramp from the truck in wheel barrows and carts. Sometimes, it can take most of the day to unload a truck and other times, like yesterday, we can get it done around lunch time. It goes quicker if it is mostly trees. Here are a bunch of photos from truck-day. Just place your cursor on top of them and they should explain themselves and to see them bigger, double click them.

Here comes the truck Jesus, Dino and Alfredo ready to work! Jesus, Sharon and Dino discussing what goes where

Alfredo and Edilia unloading the tractor bucket Your author’s got the cushy job driving the tractor Jesus and Dino loading the tractor with spiral cut Alberta Spruces

Alfredo by the growing collection of stock in the parking lot Alfredo pulling a cart back to the truck at the potting shed Dino and Jesus unloading pots down the ramp

We’ve got another truck in next week. Customers are already coming around and things will be getting very busy soon. Sharon closed the gate at 3 PM today and came in and told me that this is probably the last time we’ll close it this early on a Friday until November. It’s exciting and I like it. The days are intense as you juggle 10 things at once all day long and try not to let anything fall through the cracks. Customers and nature all swirling around you and you feel blessed – remembering how it was when you lived in a cubicle and the corporation held your chain and you hoped they wouldn’t yank it <smile>.

Cheers from the Snohomish, my friends.

Memo: Stop teaching evolution

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

– The second most powerful member of the Texas House, Warren Chisum, is pushing an anti-enviromental agenda and making wild claims that teaching evolution is equivalent to indoctrinating students in an ancient Jewish sect’s beliefs. And he refers to a web site, , which, in addition to being anti-evolutionary, believes that the Earth doesn’t move, but that everything goes around it. Jeez, and to think I used to be worried about Kansas.

– I put this one under Politics – The Wrong Way and The Perfect Storm. I put it under the latter category because it is just such immense ignorance as this in our political leaders which delays us from acting in our own best interests. Truly, as long as we elect people like this to represent us, what do we expect?


By ROBERT T. GARRETT / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – The second most powerful member of the Texas House has circulated a Georgia lawmaker’s call for a broad assault on teaching of evolution.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, used House operations Tuesday to deliver a memo from Georgia state Rep. Ben Bridges.

The memo assails what it calls “the evolution monopoly in the schools.”

Mr. Bridges’ memo claims that teaching evolution amounts to indoctrinating students in an ancient Jewish sect’s beliefs.

Indisputable evidence long hidden but now available to everyone  demonstrates conclusively that so-called ‘secular evolution science’ is the Big Bang, 15-billion-year, alternate ‘creation scenario’ of the Pharisee Religion,” writes Mr. Bridges, a Republican from Cleveland, Ga. He has argued against teaching of evolution in Georgia schools for several years.

He then refers to a Web site,, that contains a model bill for state Legislatures to pass to attack instruction on evolution as an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

Mr. Bridges also supplies a link to a document that describes scientists Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein as “Kabbalists” and laments “Hollywood’s unrelenting role in flooding the movie theaters with explicit or implicit endorsement of evolutionism.”


Warming Threatens Double-Trouble in Peru

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

PASTORURI GLACIER, Peru (AP) — Peru’s “White Mountain Range” may soon have to change its name.

The ice atop Cordillera Blanca, the largest glacier chain in the tropics, is melting fast because of rising temperatures, and peaks are turning brown. The trend is highlighting fears of global warming and, scientists say, is endangering future water supplies to the arid coast where most Peruvians live.

Glaciologists consider the health of the world’s glaciers an indicator of global warming and they warn that what is happening in the Andes signals trouble ahead.

“To me it’s the rate of ice loss that’s a real concern,” because when melting accelerates, the ice cannot replenish itself, said Lonnie Thompson, a leading glacier expert at Ohio State University.

Thompson, a geologist monitoring glacier retreat on the Andes, Himalayas and Kilimanjaro, said tropical glaciers are melting all over the world because of rising temperatures “and where we have the data to prove it, the rate of ice loss is actually accelerating.”

Quelccaya in southern Peru, the world’s largest tropical ice cap, is retreating at about 200 feet a year, up from 20 feet a year in the 1960s, Thompson said.

Melting is also visible in the other Andean countries – Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.


Siesta Sense: Midday Napping Associated With Reduced Risk Of Heart-related Death

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Science Daily Among Greek adults, taking regular midday naps is associated with reduced risk of death from heart disease over a six-year period, especially among working men, according to a report in the February 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Some evidence suggests that in countries where siestas are common, rates of death from heart disease tend to be lower. However, the few studies that have assessed the potential relationship have not controlled for other factors that may influence heart disease risk, such as physical activity and age, according to background information in the article.

Androniki Naska, Ph.D., University of Athens Medical School, Greece, and colleagues studied 23,681 Greek men and women ages 20 to 86 who did not have a history of heart disease or any other severe condition when they enrolled in the study between 1994 and 1999. At the beginning of the study, participants were asked if they took midday naps, and if so, how often and for how long at a time. They also reported their level of physical activity and dietary habits over the previous year.


Choosing between Profits or People

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

In the speech Bill Moyers gave recently entitled Life on the Plantation, he quoted Teddy Roosevelt from 100 years ago. Roosevelt was talking then about the collision between those who think our societies should be about maximizing profit for their personal gain and those who think that they should be about the people who comprise them. Roosevelt said, “Our democracy is now put to a vital test, for the conflict is between human rights on the one side and on the other special privilege asserted as a property right. The parting of the ways has come“.

Now, in Moyers’ speech he was decrying the increasing subjugation of the news media to big business and the damage this does to democratic institutions. But, this is not a new phenomenon. Here as quote from 1880 in which a journalist of that day was complaining about the interference of big money in how the news is reported, “The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth… We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes“, by John Swinton from speech given while working for the New York Sun. (Thx for this quote goes to Kevin at

In the February 11th, 2007 edition of the New York Times appeared an article entitled, “Troubles Grow for a University Built on Profits“. The article discusses how the University of Phoenix has been great at generating profits but its reputation for academic excellence is fading. Consider also how not too many years ago, corporate America swept up the medical world and now most of the doctors and hospitals around are part and parcel of corporate entities which we refer to as the Healthcare Industry. Most people, and physicians as well, would tell you today that the quality of medical care has suffered as a result.

All of these themes; the subversion of the news, the dumbing down of education and the profitization of medicine are all aspects of the same thing. And that single thing is the dividing of the ways Roosevelt mentioned; the battle between those who think the rest of us were born to be pawns in their games of profit and those of us who think that this world should be about maximizing the quality of life for all of us. And these are just three examples. Look around – examples abound.

Corporations are, in many cases, becoming stronger than national governments. It is important to realize that a corporation is a for profit entity without a heart. Regardless of what its PR may say, when push comes to shove, profit is what really matters. Corporations and industries cannot help but see countries, their resources and their peoples as pieces on the chessboard. And they will move and manipulate them in which ever way maximizes their profits.

Some national governments have implemented a mix of Socialism and Capitalism in which Socialism has the upper hand but it only uses its ability to trump and limit Capitalism when Capitalism’s drive for profit begins to degrade and imbalance the society.

Other countries, and the US is a good example, let Capitalism run largely uncontrolled. Yes, at some points in the past when the imbalance got badly out of control and corporations were threatening to gain control of everything through monopolies, the federal government broke industries up. Think about the railroad barons of the 19th century and of Standard Oil and AT&T. But in the US, the trump card is rarely played other than to guarantee that the government retains dominance over the corporations. It is not generally played to improve the lot of the people.

Now, the sad part is that Capitalism, as the US practices it, puts a Capitalistic entity on the world stage that is extremely competitive and very much like a junkyard dog. Whereas, the Capitalistic dogs loosed by those countries who keep their Capitalism subservient to their Socialistic goals, are less competitive and less vicious – more like pets.

What is sad is that nine times out of 10, when the junkyard Capitalistic dog meets the mellower pets of the more Socialistic countries, it dominates them and wealth and power flow from their systems to its system and raw Capitalism thereby advances in its subversion of the idea that societies should be for their peoples. And it advances its philosophy that societies should be considered as sandboxes in which corporations get to play for profits.

It is a classic weakest-link-in-the-chain problem. So long as one country allows its corporate dogs to run loose unmuzzeled, they will terrorize and weaken those other countries who’ve chosen to spend their resources on improving the lot of their people rather than trying to dominate the world. Unless all the countries get together and agree to limit the power of corporations for the good of humanity together, those societies dedicated to the quality of life of their people will always potentially be at the mercy of those who’ve already been captured by the siren songs of wealth promised by unfettered Capitalism.

POLL: Only 13 Percent Of Congressional Republicans Believe In Man-Made Global Warming

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

National Journal has released a new “Congressional Insiders Poll,” which surveyed 113 members of Congress — 10 Senate Democrats, 48 House Democrats, 10 Senate Republicans, and 45 House Republicans — about their positions on global warming.

The results were startling. Only 13 percent of congressional Republicans say they believe that human activity is causing global warming, compared to 95 percent of congressional Democrats. Moreover, the number of Republicans who believe in human-induced global warming has actually dropped since April 2006, when the number was 23 percent.

To the original piece:

070211 – Sunday – Cynical – a retraction….

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

I had two people point out to me that I had no idea what sort of editing went into the YouTube piece to create the effect they wanted.   Did they interveiw a hundred people and only keep and play the dumber responses and just let us assume that they were representative of all of the people in the intervierw?   I was too quick to post it and I’m appreciative of those who called me on it.   I’ll try to think it through a bit better next time.

So, the piece I published here early has been taken down.

070211 – Sunday – Lucid Dreaming

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

I’ve been focusing a lot in meditation these last few days on asking for guidance in how I can best us my life and my time here.

Concurrently, over the last few days, I’ve been having what I call circular dreams; dreams that repeat and repeat to the point of being annoying. In this case, though, I had the feeling that there was something I was being offered in these dreams; some thing I was suppose to ‘get’. I mentioned this to Sharon yesterday.

Yesterday’s meditation was again partially focused on asking for guidance and being open to it. Last night, my dreams became a bit clearer.

Lucid dreaming is the act of controlling how your dream unfolds because you’ve realized, in the dream, that you can be an active participant rather than just a passive observer.

I think my circular dreams were offering me an opportunity to do this. They repeated enough times that I began to separate myself from them and become an active participant.

As is usual with many dreams, I’ve lost much of what these dreams were about, upon awaking, but they seem to have been about my trip to New Zealand and about moving between cultures.

The lucid part had to do with how I experienced one of the sequences. I was able to consciously choose to alter my reaction to the sequence. Later, as I was dreaming, I was able to create an entirely new portion of the dream by willing it. All of this, the long sequences and my alterations of them, repeated several times before I drifted into waking.

When I sensed that I was coming into the waking state, I tried to ‘fix’ what was happening in my memory so that I would be able to recall it and describe it later. I was, as you can tell, only partially successful at this.

So, was there a connection between the focus of my meditations and the fact that I had this experience? Impossible to know, but I believe so even though I can’t say what the connection/purpose was.

One final comment which is pretty remote from the main point of this post and it has to do with why we forget dreams.

I think we are capable of thinking/experiencing thoughts in dreams which have no correspondence here in physical reality. As an example, to make this idea clearer, imagine that our physical world exists in black and white and always has and yet can we experience a world of color when we close our eyes and dream. While we’re in the dream, the colors are real but when we open our eyes, they vanish, even from our memories, because they have no counterparts here.

Like everyone else, I’ve often awoke from intense dreaming only to forget everything. And, in addition, I’ve often sat in meditation and drifted into a long line of musing thought only to realize, after I’ve been following this train of thought for some time, that my intention for the meditation was to exist in wordless awareness and that I’ve forgotten what I was doing. Once I ‘remember’ myself and snap out of the chain of thought, it usually vanishes completely. So, here I’ve been sitting up, conscious, aware and following some chain of thought through my mind and a second later, I can remember nothing of what I was thinking even though I was completely lost in the experience of it the moment before.


Saturday, February 10th, 2007

LONDON (AFP)—Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson has launched what he called the world’s biggest prize to inspire innovators to develop a way to remove greenhouse gases from the earth’s atmosphere.

Branson announced the 25-million-dollar Virgin Earth Challenge prize at a joint press conference here with Al Gore, the former US vice president turned global environment campaigner.

The prize will go to the individual or group able to show a commercially viable design resulting in the net removal of man-made atmospheric greenhouse gases each year for at least 10 years, without harmful side-effects.

Branson said: “Could it be possible to find someone on Earth who could devise a way of removing the lethal amount of CO2 from the Earth’s atmosphere?

“How could we get every young, creative, innovative thinker, every inventor and every scientist to put their minds to it?

“The challenge we are laying down to the world’s brightest brains is: to devise a way of removing greenhouse gases at least the equivalent of one billion tonnes of carbon per year, and hopefully much more.


Scientists Discover Parallel Codes In Genes

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

Science Daily Researchers from The Weizmann Institute of Science report the discovery of two new properties of the genetic code. Their work, which appears online in Genome Research, shows that the genetic code — used by organisms as diverse as reef coral, termites, and humans — is nearly optimal for encoding signals of any length in parallel to sequences that code for proteins. In addition, they report that the genetic code is organized so efficiently that when the cellular machinery misses a beat during protein synthesis, the process is promptly halted before energy and resources are wasted.

“Our findings open the possibility that genes can carry additional, currently unknown codes,” explains Dr. Uri Alon, principal investigator on the project. “These findings point at possible selection forces that may have shaped the universal genetic code.”

The genetic code consists of 61 codons–tri-nucleotide sequences of DNA–that encode 20 amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. In addition, three codons signal the cellular machinery to stop protein synthesis after a full-length protein is built.

While the best-known function of genes is to code for proteins, the DNA sequences of genes also harbor signals for folding, organization, regulation, and splicing. These DNA sequences are typically a bit longer: from four to 150 or more nucleotides in length.

Alon and his doctoral student Shalev Itzkovitz compared the real genetic code to alternative, hypothetical genetic codes with equivalent codon-amino acid assignment characteristics. Remarkably, Itzkovitz and Alon showed that the real genetic code was superior to the vast majority of alternative genetic codes in terms of its ability to encode other information in protein-coding genes–such as splice sites, mRNA secondary structure, or regulatory signals.