Sentient beings need a brain, right? A nervous system to tell the body what to do in the world. It’s what we know. It’s all we know. But there’s a single-cell slime mold, sans any nervous system, that learns, passes knowledge to other molds, and repairs itself within minutes. No one knows even how to categorize this organism.
It’s been around for millions of years, but we have no idea what it is. Is it an animal? Is it a fungus? It’s capable of memory and adapts its behavior. It solves problems of moving around a labyrinth.
“The blob can navigate without eyes, limbs or wings. When researchers sliced up the organism and sprinkled them in a maze, the blob consolidated into its original form.” And get this: “After introducing the experiment to a new blob and allowing it to merge with another, the new super blob show incredible smarts. ‘Somehow during the merging process, the naive cells learned a behavior for a situation that they themselves had never experienced.'”
Crows taught to fear a particular human will give birth to baby crows that have never seen that human or know anything about it, but know to fear it. What do we know?
It’s ten below outside heading toward 20 below. If you’ve not felt that kind of cold, it’s dry; it’s really really dry. Body lotion vanishes like mist in Phoenix. Static electricity loves this kind of dry!
I have to roll up the trash bins so I put on my green puffy down jacket and a wool hat, making sure my headphone cord is on the inside so it doesn’t get caught on anything like the trash bin handles. It’s ten below and that generally means crystal clear. Not a drop of water in that air. There’s a delicate moon, just a sliver, running from 2 to 8 on a clock tip to tip. “You could hang a bucket on that moon,” my grandma Lucia once said about a similar moon at a different time.
It’s beautiful, but it’s also stupid-cold out there so I head back inside. I stop in the entryway and close to door behind me to keep the cold out. I pull off my puffy down jacket. The cord sticks to it and then peels off.
A pack of tiny firecrackers goes off in each ear. Electricity dances between the ear buds and ears. Each feels like one of those electricity balls that makes kids’ hair stand on end when they put their hand on it, but without the glass ball. It hurts! My shirt billows toward the jacket and hangs there for a second . I’m pregnant with static electricity; Marylin Monroe on the sidewalk grate. I shake the sparks from my shirt and throw my crackling hat on the jacket, watching as all around me the energy slowly snaps itself out.
I’ve had more painful shocks from static electricity, but this went on like a fireworks grand finale. I wonder if it’s going to give me any superpowers.
If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see stars and satellites, a line of satellites. This was just about an hour ago. It was a steady stream of satellites – left to right – for at least a couple of minutes. What you see in the image probably replaced itself every 5 seconds or so. It was freaky. First thought: Aliens. This is it. I need to gather the family and head out into the woods. Then I thought of Elon Musk. Oh, yeah, Elon Musk is bringing 5G to all corners of the globe. I mean, I hope that’s what I saw. Because if it was aliens, they’re here, and I’ve just not got the news nor been lasered, probed or assimilated. I don’t think.
Either way, it was a rather unsettling sight to behold stepping out of my garage. Will this become commonplace, or did I just happen to be at a spot where the sun, which had recently set, was angled exactly and lit them perfectly? Weird. Welcome to the future, indeed. That being said, I’ve always wanted to be sucked up in one of those below-flying-saucer light beams, the blue ones. That’s got to be pretty cool. I mean, provided what was on the other end didn’t eat me.
I love trees. I’m surrounded by them and that is by design. I cannot be happy unless I spend enough time out in nature – among trees in particular, lakes, the like. This is true of most people. In fact, study after study shows that spending time in green places, rural areas, parks and so on makes you happier. It also makes you healthier and smarter and better looking. I made up the last one, but it still might be true.
In fact, I am blessed with a home that is surrounded by trees. It’s a little oasis and I can only really see a neighbor in one direction – everyone else is behind the trees. The trees range from spindly little invasives to great, towering oaks. I am in awe of the latter. I can sit and take in a tree as I would a lake or the firmament. The complexity of a single tree is beyond our ken, yet we take them so very for granted. It’s just a tree. Bullsticks. They are majestic, powerful and certainly sentient in their own arboreal awareness.
But they drop so many fuggin sticks!! Every morning there are more on my yard; in a week, the yard will be filled with sticks and after a windy day? Forget about it. Sticks everywhere! So I bend and stoop and rake and carry throw and bundle and burn and chop and cut and and kick and curse and bitch at sticks day in and day out. Always. Everywhere. Sticks.
Now multiply that by two as we have a family cabin surrounded by a battalion of trees. I spent the weekend there picking up sticks only to come home to more sticks from Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Ignoring the sticks and instead walking the dog I had to look up on the trail as if I looked down, just more sticks. Big sticks, little sticks, twigs, logs, bends, elbows, branches, all jutting out in all three dimensions, some straight and narrow, others like webs or giant insects with legs and antennae tangling themselves with all the other branching, clinging sticks.
I’m a big Harry Nilsson fan! Love the guy! Great songwriter with one of the great voices of the era. I’ve been a fan since the 1970s (pre internet but post dinosaurs) and when the Internet came around, of course, googled him and listened to anything I’d not seen. Pandora, Spotify, internet itself.
Okay, so how on earth did I just come across two Nilsson albums I HAVE NEVER SEEN? One of them, Knillson, is possibly his greatest album ever. Schmilsson is genius, but this one… Where the hell has that been?! Or, how can a guy who’d spend many afternoons flipping through albums in record stores never, ever come across either album?
Look we got a pandemic, fires, hurricanes, Trump, death, destruction, republicans, and so this doesn’t really float to the top of important topics, but I can’t understand how I missed two albums from one of my musical heroes. Help?
The other is Pandemonium Shadow Show. Also a blast, but not quite Knnillssonnn or Schmillsson.
Okay, so the dubstep show. That was trippy. And I wasn’t even tripping. I had no idea that happened. Picture these young folk with an array of colorful, brightly lit baubles and bangles, hula hoops and hats, glowballs and whatnot, much of which they swung around in slow sometimes erratic orbits in an otherwise mostly dark room.
They wore big furry bear hats, and sometimes that was about it. They wore footy pajamas with hoods. They even wore beaded masks. I’m not sure what that was all about but it was rather disconcerting mostly because it must be complicated to breathe, let alone drink. And they had gloves with lighted fingertips that they wiggled around in front of other dubsteppers faces like some crazed magician.
The deejays pounded out music with their fists in the air. I couldn’t tell exactly what else they were doing up there. A lot of dancing and then stopping to work on something on a table in front of them. But the music pounded the people and the people jumped up and down ecstatically. The ones toward the back, the really trippy ones, mostly just spun around in circles – often well-lit as well.
But it was cool! Kind of Build-A-Bear meets Cabaret Voltaire cool, but cool like that! I wanna go again – and be almost the oldest guy there. There was an elderly gentleman in a straw hat with a handful of glow stick bracelets on each wrist. He rocked back and forth in the middle of the crowd. I was proud.
I’m busy, or whatever, but this might be the coolest film I’ve ever seen. Sita Sings the Blues. It’s beautiful, quite funny and visually stunning. I actually got up during the intermission and got a bourbon and peed and when I got back it was just ending. Monty Python meet Vishnu, with some of the best music I’ve heard in years.