Archive for the ‘Environment’ category

GiGi’s Amazing “Okay, so…” Post

April 21, 2018

❤Now that’s writing! https://wp.me/p2R0vm-iHN

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Fog: Mysteriously Scientific

November 18, 2014

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~Fog by Felicia Lujan. The digital composite includes 4 images, 10 layers, 2 masks and 1 screen.~

The Fog
by Mary Meixner

Seurat would have gone forth
on such a night
walking the mist-hung streets
dour silence
wrapping his world
in thin recessions
immediate
frames of form.
How he would chew this vapor
like a food
tasting distinctions
when all cats are grey
already in his hand, the touch
veiling in layered chalk
this passing woman
as a monument.
Each windowed structure lost
in a broad stroke
that makes perfection
of the mood of home
cubic, irradiated,
finding more truth
the more that it obscures.
_______________________

A couple of weeks ago on my drive into work, the fog was thick. I wanted to stop and take a photograph, but I didn’t. Fog rarely visits Santa Fe, but when it does, it is beautiful and eerie and magical and mysterious all at once. I started wondering what people thought about fog centuries ago when they didn’t understand what it was. I started wondering things like… What is fog exactly? What causes fog? Why does the smoke-like cloak evoke such contradictory feelings in me? Tonight I explored historic and contemporary research about the science of fog. I can’t possibly cover everything in one night. In the coming weeks, I would like to learn more about fog.

The earliest scientific account of fog I could find was published in an 1889 volume of Science. The article was titled Fogs, and the piece wasn’t very scientific in my opinion. That year in January, there was an anniversary meeting of the Royal Meteorological Society. The president of the society, Dr. W. Marcet delivered a keynote address about fog which was laced with “interesting lantern-slides.” Apparently, the address declared that “fogs and clouds are one in the same thing.” The article goes on to say “a cloud is a fog when entered into; and a fog seen from a distance, suspended in the air, becomes a cloud.” Isn’t that so scientific? No…not really.

While I didn’t get much from the article in that volume, a few months later, a very interesting piece was published in Letters to the Editor. On May 24, 1889, H.A. Hazen (love how that surname is perfect for a study of fog) sent a letter to Science. It opens… “A great deal of discussion has recently taken place on the properties of fog and its causes.” This letter delivered some concrete facts about the composition and causes of fog. He or maybe she calls theory “entirely inadequate” and noted percent, degrees, height, and weight measurements. Hazen says “fog, it is admitted, is simply cloud composed of water-dust or solid minute spheres of water from 1/7000 to 1/1000 of an inch in diameter.”

So how did Hazen conclude the letter written from Washington, D.C.? I was curious as I read on. Hazen concluded by outlining the circumstances surrounding the formation of fog.

“The cause of fog is briefly as follows: 1. It is essential that there be no wind. I do not mean that the wind does not blow the fog right after it is formed, but there must be little or none while it is forming. 2. The sky must be clear. We often notice a cloudless sky after a fog is dissipated. On weather-maps, “fog” is entered as “fair,” for, through not a particle of sky is visible, yet it is almost a certainty that the sky is clear. 3. The air must be saturated, or nearly so. It is very surprising how rarely the last condition occurs at inland stations. A relative humidity of 95 per cent has been noted in the air, in which rain is falling, and had been falling continuously for seventeen hours. This condition almost always can occur only to the south, south-east, or north-east of a storm. At nightfall, whenever these conditions combine, there is a rapid radiation from the earth to the sky, which speedily supersaturates the overlying air; and after that, radiation from the upper surface of the fog continues the process, and extends the fog upward until the action ceases with the rising of the sun.”

The letter was a very interesting read. Will you notice any of the things Hazen pointed out next time you encounter fog? I will. I find pleasure in the fact that one thought or maybe a few thoughts can spur my mind into a foggy haze! Hazen seemed to take some of the first concrete steps to define fog scientifically.

What about what can’t be defined scientifically like the emotions and feelings associated with fog? How do writers and artists use things like fog as a tool to evoke a feeling in the reader? I have a little bit more research to do and then you will see a part two with a focus on my interest in the mystery of fog.

Sources:

The Fog [Poem] by Mary Meixner
Art Journal, Vol.25, No.1, Pg.25 (Autumn 1965)

Fogs
Science, Vol.13, No.315, Pg.116-117 (February 1889)

Fog
Science, Vol.13, No.330, Pg.429-430 (May 1889)

Lil Tyke Fishing Derby

June 14, 2014

This morning we met Meghan and her husband Andrew (the water expert) at the Santa Fe River. The vital vein in Santa Fe was stocked with 500 fish for a lil tyke fishing derby. We took lil man out for a bit before his first flag football game of the day. It was his first time fishing, but he made sure I knew he was going to “catch and release.” I love my considerate, Earth loving son. I think he needs lessons from the expert fisherman~ my brother, Thomas. We saw a grip of people we knew near the river. It was a nice morning. Glad to show my love for our precious river.

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Honored by the Indigenous

May 1, 2014

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Today I had a pleasant surprise from my beautiful cousin, Jessica. She is a very special woman and is the moderator of the Sacred Garden Doula blog. This afternoon she sent me a text message to tell me that Tewa Woman United was using a photograph I took on their Facebook page. I was honored to learn that this group of “indigenous woman united in heart, mind and spirit” used my image of a very special moment in time.

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I took one of the most beautiful photos I have ever taken last year at the Gathering for Mother Earth in Pojoaque. I grew up in the Pojoaque Valley. Participating in the gathering was an extremely spiritual and touching experience for me. I wrote about it in The Spirit of Place. In this piece I explained how I felt that day. I was definitely moved in so many ways.

It really is an honor to have my photo selected by Tewa Women United. They obviously agreed that it captured the spirit of place. 

Death by Curare: A Love of Blowguns

April 24, 2014

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~“Blowing Poison in the Amazon” a digital rendering by Felicia Lujan~

For some time I have been fascinated with blowguns. These low tech tools or weapons used mostly by indigenous peoples in the rainforest are also referred to as blowpipes or blow tubes. A blowgun is traditionally made of a long tube of organic material such as bamboo. The tube is used to fire poisoned darts or other projectiles by blowing air by mouth into the tube.

I first became intrigued with the blowgun when one of my all time favorite fantasy films was released in 1985. I was a ten year old girl with a wild imagination. In Legend, a poisoned blowdart was used by the evil goblins to kill a unicorn in a dark fairy tale which I favor. I now own that movie and still watch it often. The blowgun made such an impression on me that I authored a poem titled “Blowdart” in February of 2013.

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~The talking book and player on the chair in my office.~

For the last few days, I have been listening to a talking book while I work. This book along with a book my son and I read on poison dart frogs, made me want to research further into the history and use of the blowgun. After listening to my talking book, and doing some research, I am more fascinated by not only blowguns, but by medicine men.

Listening to Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice has been so interesting. The book was read and written by Mark J. Plotkin, Ph.D. Dr. Plotkin is a famous ethnobotanist who searches “for new medicines in the Amazon Rainforest and said “everytime a shaman dies, it is as if a library burned down.” This is a very sad realization. There is so much oral history to be lost with death.

Dr. Plotkin spent an amazing amount of time studying the shamans of the northeast Amazon and his book is indeed mind blowing. There is something about actually listening to him tell the story. I could hear his love and enthusiasm for the Amazon, nature and research in his voice. I was particularly struck by his interest in the indigenous use of blowguns.

The indigenous peoples of the Amazon, South and Central America, and South East Asia utilize blowguns as do the Native Americans of North America. These people have used both round projectiles as well as handmade darts for ammunition. I tend to favor those cultures which lace the tips of their darts with poison. This is done to cause paralysis and death.

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~A Poison Dart Frog~

The type of toxins used on tipped darts to cause paralysis and death vary from culture to culture. Indigenous peoples use curare, a plant based extract or the frothy secretions of toxic frogs to tip darts. Native Americans have been known to extract toxins from the Golden Poppy. The amount of poison used, and the level of penetration seem to play key roles in the life or death of the receiver.

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~The Golden Poppy~

On September 17, 1864, London’s Illustrated Times published a short piece titled “The Woorali Arrow Poison.” This historic news article says “from the fact that this poison, introduced into the system by the blood vessels, causes paralysis and death in the course of a few minutes, it has been erroneously inferred that death by curare is perfectly free from pain of any kind.” Dr. Claude Bernard’s experiments with curare showed that “one limb after another becomes gradually paralyzed…” He assumed death by curare was not painless as an animal retains intellect during the course of paralysis, which “gradually extended to the respiratory organs” causing suffocation.

On September 16, 1993, the Indiana Gazette ran an article on Dr. Plotkin by Nita Lelyveld, a writer with the Associated Press. He is truly an amazing man. The article was titled “Scientist Learns Healing Secrets from Rain Forest’s Medicine Men.” In this piece, there is a photo of the handsome scientist discussing “blow gun poisons with an En-Yeh-Pah Indian in central Venezuela.” What a great image! It was awesome to read this story. I’m in love with this ethnobotonist. Again, Dr. Plotkin’s professional passion was evident.

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~The handsome ethnobotanist discussing “blow gun poisons with an En-Yeh-Pah Indian in central Venezuela.” ***Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press~

At the time of that article and the release of his book (1993), Dr. Plotkin was working with Conservation International. He is still on a conservation mission. That is commendable. Today he is president of the Amazon Conservation Team. His team is working with indigenous peoples in order to protect our magical rainforests. He is a very special man with a love of poisoned darts, blowguns, and medicinal cures.

When I first became intrigued with the blowgun, I was just a girl. I had and still have a wild imagination. As a young girl I could never understand the importance of conservation and preservation. If it were not for experts like Dr. Plotkin and the late Dr. Bernard, people like me would never learn about some things. I can only imagine what it is like to be a scientist studying in the rainforest. It must be an empowering, humbling and fulfilling experience.

I am not a scientist, but I am a writer. Through writing I can mentally experience those things I may never be able to do. Through writing, I can spread Dr. Plotkin’s message. Through writing, I can shoot a blowgun. Through writing, I can extract toxins and make curare. Through writing, I can become a poisoned dart. Through writing, I can administer death by curare.

Recycling Cat

March 22, 2014

“We live in a disposable society. It’s easier to throw things out than to fix them. We even give it a name – we call it recycling.”
~~~Neil LaBute

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My cat loves when it’s time to recycle. He doesn’t know what to do with himself as I sort through things…lookin’ all inquisitive n such! I still need to buy some uniform large bins, but I haven’t seen any I really like. Today as I sorted through things I realized two things.

First, I realized that many people don’t recycle because it’s not easy to do if you do it yourself. The stuff accumulated can make a small hill in a short amount of time! It’s just something else on a long list of things to do. Still, if you care about the future of this planet, it’s harder not to do things to make it a better place to live.

Second, I realized that we always have about 4x more plastic than anything else in the recycling. We also consume a grip of protein, stuff from Whole Foods, sugar free Torani syrup, carbonated water, oatmeal, coffee, and sauces! Wowza! It’s interesting to look through things and have a visual representation of daily habits.

If you aren’t recycling, you should. It’s important to do. I have grown accustomed to the looks my family and friends give me when I throw something in my purse and say “it can be recycled!” You should care. It will make you feel good. If my cat can do it, so can you! 🙂

Santa Fe Joins the Plastic Bag Ban

March 3, 2014

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My Sunday afternoon groceries neatly tucked away in my reusable, washable blue bags!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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~~~
~
I am very proud to live in a city that is making an effort to save our planet. This week, Santa Fe joined a slow but steady push to curb the use of plastic shopping bags. Like I said, the effort is there. The intentions are indeed good. Unfortunately, the whole thing needs a bit more thinking through.

The stores are offering no plastic now, but still offer paper bags at 10 cents each. Sounds like a good deal ha? It would be if there were more people who actually recycled the paper. Most will just toss the paper into the trash, needlessly killing off our trees. It would have been better to insist on reusable bags. One step at a time I guess?

A recent commentary out of Washington by Joshua Keating, confirms that “nearly 100 U.S. cities” have joined this ban. He said it was recently reported in the New York Times that “California may soon become the first U.S. state to impose a blanket plastic bag ban.”

Keating called Bangladesh “dramatic” for becoming “the first country to ban polythene bags in 2002,” because they were “clogging drainage pipes” and causing floods. Apparently China has reduced the use of plastic by close to 50% by charging for bags. Keating said in Rwanda, a resident can be fined $150 for being seen on the streets with a plastic bag!

The ban here in the City Different is good. When I was using plastic bags, I was recycling them. There are so many people who still don’t care. I love my planet. I love our planet. When I was young and uneducated, I admit I didn’t care! It makes me sad. I wish I would have cared more in retrospect.

I can’t claim ignorance anymore, so I am proud to live in a city…slowly going green.


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