Tuesday, January 24, 2006

so its been awhile! i was waiting to post something about christmas in sipascancha and ollanta--but, i hadn't heard from anyone. ouch. this being after a few emails and a phone message. double ouch. but as i knew deep down there was an explanation--they wrote and told me they've been busy with the opening of their market selling their artesania. so a cd is enroute full of fotos of everyone on the day they celebrated! now i head out to the mailbox thinking it just may be there....

so life's been pretty fantastic these days. there was the trip to astoria with my...let's see..........boyfriend. there i said it! well it was a great trip. being with steve comes easy to me. there is no need for anything specific to necessarily happen....i simply enjoy being with him soooo much. like just letting it all soak in. and of course i LOVE astoria. so yeah, what a great combination!! we visited all my best friends up there, ate lots of seafood. yum. and got to witness-firsthand-steve's complete and utter excitement upon discovering the "malternative", a local used record store. that was very cool!! i went for a run in fort stevens one morning, and just missed a downpour! steve, percy and i went to the maritime museum. there was a short movie about the columbia river--it's history, fishing, shipping, current management. cool little flick. one striking part was about the columbia river bar pilots. they know the bar like the back of their hand and steer each ship over it. unbelievable transfers occur from the pilot boat to the ship and back. the two vessels have to meet, and all while the sea is moving up and down-- neither boat still--and then the bar pilot climbs first up to the ship and then down to the pilot boat once he's gotten the ship over the bar down this free swinging rope ladder. yikes. seriously though a bar pilot recently died there. ended up in the river. anyway i'll just say it made a huge impression on me. and finally, on sunday we all went for a walk to the beach near the south jetty. i'll say it again i love astoria! and being with steve for 5 whole days made it even better.

so then back to work. its going ok. other than an evaluation i received...lets just say i disagree with some of their comments and wonder where in the hell they get their information. i have a feeling i know, and thats what bugs me...one day i was quite low about it all. thinking i will never fit in to how they do things around here. after that petty eval, i found myself longing for working in sipascancha where there is no thought of anything like that...its really such fluff here and just one example of the many ways we spend money/resources/energy simply because we have it to spare.

but i am not going anywhere! why? ummmm.....

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

This amazes me.

Why I'm Happy I Evolved
Published: January 1, 2006

IF chimpanzees observed New Year's Day, they would have much to reflect on. In 2005, they joined humans, chickens and mosquitoes, as well as less famous occupants of the planet, on an exclusive but growing list: organisms whose complete genomes have been sequenced.
What would they make of this news, I wonder? Perhaps they would resent the genetic evidence that they are related to us. Or perhaps they would, as I do, revel in being part of the immensity of nature and a product of evolution, the same process that gave rise to dinosaurs, bread molds and myriad organisms too wacky to invent.
Organisms like the sea slug Elysia chlorotica. This animal not only looks like a leaf, but it also acts like one, making energy from the sun. Its secret? When it eats algae, it extracts the chloroplasts, the tiny entities that plants and algae use to manufacture energy from sunlight, and shunts them into special cells beneath its skin. The chloroplasts continue to function; the slug thus becomes able to live on a diet composed only of sunbeams.
Still more fabulous is the bacterium Brocadia anammoxidans. It blithely makes a substance that to most organisms is a lethal poison - namely, hydrazine. That's rocket fuel.
And then there's the wasp Cotesia congregata. She injects her eggs into the bodies of caterpillars. As she does so, she also injects a virus that disables the caterpillar's immune system and prevents it from attacking the eggs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat the caterpillar alive.
It's hard not to have an insatiable interest in organisms like these, to be enthralled by the strangeness, the complexity, the breathtaking variety of nature.
Just think: the Indus River dolphin doesn't sleep as you or I do, or indeed as most mammals, for several hours at once. Instead, it takes microsleeps, naps that last for a few seconds, like a driver dozing at the wheel.
Or consider this: a few days after its conception, a pig embryo has become a filament that is about a yard long.
Or: the single-celled parasite that causes malaria is descended from algae. We know this because it carries within itself the remnants of a chloroplast.
It's not that I have a fetish for obscure facts. It's that small facts add up to big pictures. For although Mother Nature's infinite variety seems incomprehensible at first, it is not. The forces of nature are not random; often, they are strongly predictable.
For example, if you were to discover a new species and you told me that the male is much bigger than the female, I would tell you what the mating system is likely to be: males fight each other for access to females. Or if you discover that the male's testicles make up a large part of his weight, I can tell you that the females in his species consort with several males at a time.
Suppose you find that a particular bacterium lives exclusively in the gullets of leeches and helps them digest blood. Then I can tell you how that bacterium's genome is likely to differ from those of its free-living cousins; among other changes, the genome will be smaller, and it will have lost sets of genes that are helpful for living free but useless for living inside another being.
Because a cell is a kind of factory that produces proteins, and because proteins can have a variety of components, some of which are cheaper to synthesize than others, you might expect that proteins that are mass produced are made from cheaper components than proteins that are constructed only occasionally. And you'd be right.
The patterns are everywhere. Mammals that feed on ants and termites have typically evolved long, thin noses and long, sticky tongues. A virus that is generally passed from mother to child will tend to make its host less sick than one that readily jumps from one host to another via a cough or a sneeze.
When I was in school, I learned none of this. Biology was a subject that seemed as exciting as a clump of cotton wool. It was a dreary exercise in the memorization and regurgitation of apparently unconnected facts. Only later did I learn about evolution and how it transforms biology from that mass of cotton wool into a magnificent tapestry, a tapestry we can contemplate and begin to understand.
Some people want to think of humans as the product of a special creation, separate from other living things. I am not among them; I am glad it is not so. I am proud to be part of the riot of nature, to know that the same forces that produced me also produced bees, giant ferns and microbes that live at the bottom of the sea.
For me, the knowledge that we evolved is a source of solace and hope. I find it a relief that plagues and cancers and wasp larvae that eat caterpillars alive are the result of the impartial - and comprehensible - forces of evolution rather than the caprices of a deity.
More than that, I find that in viewing ourselves as one species out of hundreds of millions, we become more remarkable, not less so. No other animal that I have heard of can live so peaceably in such close quarters with so many individuals that are unrelated. No other animal routinely bothers to help the sick and the dying, or tries to save those hurt in an earthquake or flood.
Which is not to say that we are all we might wish to be. But in putting ourselves into our place in nature, in comparing ourselves with other species, we have a real hope of reaching a better understanding, and appreciation, of ourselves.
Olivia Judson is an evolutionary biologist at Imperial College in London.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

dos mil seis.

what is it about this time of year--not so much the names of the months or the particular holidays, but more so about how symbolically everything dies off, goes dormant, awaiting the coming rains and warmth where everything has a chance to start over again. today, 2006, january 1, i'm thinking about what this year may bring. looking back, and more importantly, thinking forward.

sharon wrote me recently about looking into my 'heart of hearts' and visualizing what i truly wanted. and then giving it to the universe...for that, or... for something better to manifest in my life. this season, in the quiet times i've been thinking about i truly want. i start getting ready to visualize myself in asia on a beach, living in some grass hut somewhere, volunteering with the tsumani recovery effort...at some point my mind sort of trails off...the very next thing, i realize i haven't really given it the attention it truly requires, i mean we're creating a life here!! then i think, well, if i can't really go with this, then does THAT mean something?? like its maybe not the thing my heart of hearts wants. when i look back, albeit with rose colored glasses, i KNOW the things that have meant the most to be were those things i was totally committed to, whether it be people, or what i was doing. its like i'm the sort of person requiring a larger point to all this fluff.

i was just searching for something i had read a long time ago about committment....and then i found nelson mandela's speech too. very interesting, because both ring true in me at this moment, about the contrast of a seemingly simple visualization of what i want to see manifest in my life vs putting your money where your mouth is and BEING it.

Our Greatest Fear

Nelson Mandela, 1994 Inaugural Speech

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Until One Is Committed

Until one is committed

There is hesitancy, the chance to draw back,
Always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation),
There is one elementary truth,
The ignorance of which kills countless ideas
And splendid plans:
That the moment one definitely commits oneself,
Then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one
That would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision
Raising in one's favor all manner
Of unforeseen incidents and meetings
And material assistance,
Which no man could have dreamt
Would have come his way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

YIKES!!! theres unknown power lying in me...in all of us...just to point it in the right direction! and be it. long enough to really see it in one's minds' eyes, without anything that pulls us away from a conscious creation we are entitled to ask of the universe.