Searching for contentment

This is what fascinates me most in existence:
the peculiar necessity of imagining what is, in fact, real.
– Philip Gourevitch
epigraph to Blindsight by Peter Watts >

Reading:
Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life

How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

Entangled Life by Merlin SheldrakeWonderfully narrated by the author

An absolutely extraordinary book. It has changed the way I view our world.

Nature is an event that never stops. As William Bateson, who coined the word genetics, observed, "We commonly think of animals and plants as matter, but they are really systems through which matter is continually passing."

Sheldrake concludes his book nicely:

Fungi might make mushrooms, but first they must unmake something else. Now that this book is made, I can hand it over to fungi to unmake. I’ll dampen a copy and seed it with Pleurotus mycelium. When it has eaten its way through the words and pages and endpapers and sprouted oyster mushrooms from the covers, I’ll eat them.

Photo of an oyster mushroom unmaking the author's book
Image from author's website⩘ 

There are times when it seems the challenges we are causing—the destruction of our ecosystems, the rampant overuse of harmful synthetic chemicals, our careless acceleration of climate change—are too great to be solved. Then I come across a book like this and find my trust in the ingenuity and goodness of people restored. Perhaps it's too late, but maybe, just maybe there are enough passionate people like those described in Entangled Life to bring life back into balance.

Random House Audio, 2020, Downpour⩘ 
Author's website: merlinsheldrake.com⩘ 
An eye-opening, topic-related film: Fantastic Fungi⩘ 
A few other topic-related websites:
Ecovative Design⩘ 
Paul Stamets' website⩘  and his mushroom and mycelium-focused company: Fungi Perfecti⩘ 

More recent reading >

Living in the Rockies

Because of social distancing, we've been taking our daily walks on our own property. When we moved here 20 years ago, we made a series of wood chip pathways the wander around the property so that we could enjoy our property and leave most of the wild plants and flowers undisturbed. Little did we know how valuable those pathways would become this year.

We walk about an hour a day, winding up and down and around a dozen circuits. Normally, when I look out over the property, I mostly see the Ponderosa pines and the wild grasses. But, of course, these walks give us a golden opportunity to really see what is happening as springtime progresses. One thing that has simply amazed me is the wondrous beauty and sheer quantity of small and tiny wildflowers blooming everywhere, nestled down amongst the wild grasses!

A couple notes: The day after I posted these, there were several new types of flowers blooming, including the beautiful Blue Flax, and now it's raining, so I'm guessing there will be even more tomorrow. What a gift! Also, there was a fair bit of a breeze blowing when I took these. I did my best to take the photos as the flowers were waving gently to and fro past my lens, but please forgive that some are a little our of focus. I want to remember this spring, so I think they're worth posting anyway.

From the top: Prairie Mouse-Ear, Whiskbroom Parsley, Low Penstemon, Sprawling Daisy, and Woodsorrel.

Prairie Mouse-Ear
Whiskbroom Parsley
Low Penstemon
Sprawling Daisy
Woodsorrel

Higher res versions of these photos >
More recent photos >

Woodworking: Windtraveler lamp

The Windtraveler shoji lamp

Dedicated to my good friend Thomas Hey'l
who has inspired me to look at design more deeply
and to take even more care about precision.

More about this project >
More woodworking >

Ham radio: Reflections of an amateur⩘ 

My HT: Kenwood TH-D74A

Although I'm still relatively new to the universe of amateur radio, I've already enjoyed enough interesting learning experiences as well as stubbed my toes enough times to have gained a few insights that I think are worth sharing.

I'm writing these notes as my way to keep track of what I'm learning (and also just for fun, as I love writing as much as learning). Basically, this is a collection of info I wish I had found online when I was browsing for insights: AmateurRadioNotes.com⩘ .

Playing with Pi-Star⩘ 
More amateur radio⩘ 

Perspective

Sharks kill an average of 10 people per year. People kill around 100,000,000 sharks per year 1. People also kill approximately 425,000 people per year, topped only by mosquitoes, which kill about 725,000 people per year 2.

And we worry about sharks?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

People walk at an average pace of about 2.5 miles per hour.
Trail winding up Cow Creek valley by Toshen
Meanwhile, light travels about 186,000 miles per second, or about 11,160,000 miles per hour. It would take light about 0.13 seconds to travel around the Earth,
Blue Marble, 2012. Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring
1.3 seconds to travel the 238,900 miles from the moon to the Earth,
Big end-of-year moon by Toshen
8.3 minutes to travel the 93,000,000 miles from the sun to Earth, and 1.3 hours to travel the 890,000,000 miles from the sun to Saturn. To get a glimpse of an idea of just how far away Saturn is, see If the Moon were only 1 pixel⩘  by Josh Worth.
Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
At the scale of the solar system, the Earth is a spec of dust. 1,300,000 Earths could fit within our sun.
Sun, from the video Fiery Looping Rain on the Sun. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO
Our sun, as big as it is, is just a tiny twinkle of light in a suburb of the Milky Way galaxy. Its light takes 28,000 years to travel to the center of the Milky Way.
The Milky Way in Yosemite by bgwashburn is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
One light year is just short of six trillion miles (5,878,625,000,000). The Milky Way has a diameter of about 100,000 light-years, and contains as many as 400 billion stars, which together create a smidgen of light in our local group of galaxies.
The Milky Way: VL test PSP8 by gjdonatiello is licensed under CC CC0 1.0 (cropped) The light of the Milky Way takes about 2,300,000 years to travel just to the nearby Andromeda galaxy. Isn't it amazing that by using our inherent art of visualization, we can be there, instantly, in this moment.
Andromeda. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The observable universe is estimated to contain as many as two trillion galaxies. To get more perspective on this eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) Hubble image, see the short video: Hubble Legacy Field Zoom-Out⩘ . Make sure to read the notes, too.
To get a glimpse of an idea of just how big the observable universe is, see Neal Agarwal's fun website, The Size of Space⩘ .
Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF). Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team
And we worry about anything?

By the way, because of the Earth's spin, if you're standing still at the equator, you're actually moving at about 1,667 km/hour (1,037 miles/hour). The Earth is orbiting our sun at approximately 30 km/sec (67,108 miles/hour). Our sun is orbiting the center of our Milky Way Galaxy at approximately 250 km/sec (560,000 miles/hour). And our galaxy is moving through our universe at approximately 600 km/sec (1,340,000 miles/hour). Don't blink!

All distances and times are approximate.

Image credits:

  1. Hiking trail in Cow Creek valley⩘  by Toshen, CC by NCSA⩘ 
  2. Blue Marble, 2012, Earth image⩘  by NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring
  3. Full moon image⩘  by Toshen, CC by NCSA⩘ 
  4. Saturn⩘  by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
  5. Sun, from the video Fiery Looping Rain on the Sun⩘  by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO
  6. The Milky Way in Yosemite⩘  by bgwashburn⩘  is licensed under CC BY 2.0⩘  (cropped)
  7. Milky Way in Summer: VL test PSP8⩘  by gjdonatiello⩘  is licensed under CC CC0 1.0⩘  (cropped)
  8. Andromeda⩘  by NASA/JPL-Caltech
  9. Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF)⩘ : NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team