Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vaux's Swifts

Swifts! What a fascinating bird they are. They take flight at dawn and remain aloft until sunset. They cannot perch. They fly faster than any other bird in a straight, powered flight at a top speed of 105mph. They may fly 500 miles from their nest before returning. From a distance they appear to be swallows to the untrained eye, but are vastly different. They fly higher, faster, at greater distances and their closest relative is the hummingbird. Close up they may look like a Batman version of a bird. Their eyes are large and sunken, protected by a baffle of feathers to the fore, to protect their eyes against being hit by the insects they eat. At night they gather together and cling to vertical surfaces like bats do on cave ceilings.

There are two types of swifts that visit our area, the pacific northwest; the Black Swift and the Vaux's Swift. The Black Swift nests and roosts behind waterfalls, and the Vaux's Swift nests and roosts in upright hollow snags and chimneys. In both these cases the conditions must be just right.

The Black Swift may best describe why these environments are musts for nesting and roosting. The Black Swift is rather rare in our area. A nest has never been found in Washington. What is needed is a waterfall that provides room behind the waterfall, for obvious reasons, a surface that provides enough grip or voids the be able to cling for both birds and nests. The waterfall should face west to catch the sun at sunset. The reason for this is that the adults are on the wing all day catching insects. During this time the young is receiving no food. The waterfall provides the coolness to put the young into torpor, a half-hibernation state. The late sun brings them out of this state to feed when the adults return from the days feeding. Their nests are made of moss and mud, and unlike the Vaux's, there may be several nests to a waterfall.

The Vaux's Swift, on the other hand, may have a gathering of 21,000 birds in a chimney at a time, but there is only ever one nest per chimney. Frank Wagner Elementary School in Monroe, Wa, the place where I was introduced to the swifts this year had around 12,000 birds at it peak. When I got there they had dwindled down to around 2000 birds a night. Sumas Old Custom House is another great spot to watch them. To satisfy the roosting habits of the Vaux's the chimney needs to have a rough surface, (or seams), such as old brick. It needs to not be in use as an active chimney. It cannot have an opening at the bottom such as the tulip chimney in Mt Vernon, but only an entrance at the top.

The gathering begins about an hour before sunset. You begin seeing them at height, few in number at first, then more and more. You will see them start to swirl in a large cloud of birds, then disperse, and swirl again. The closer to sunset you get the larger in number they become, and more and more birds will make practice dives at the chimney, none going in. Again, they will gather, go into a great swirling cloud and suddenly disperse. Suddenly they will be nowhere in sight, and again, they will be. Perhaps 15-20 minutes before sunset on or two will drop into the chimney. At sunset they will make a great swirl like a black dust-devil and the first group will drop in. Ten minutes after sunset the greatest grouping will swirl into what looks like a black tornado, like something out of the Wizard of Oz, and it will look like they are being vacuumed into the void. A truly amazing sight!! Twenty minutes after sunset and the last few stragglers will finally flutter down into the roost.

Inside they cling to the walls and the backs of others, like a great thick build-up of soot. And there they stay until sometime around dawn where they climb back up the walls, and not having the ability to perch, they drop off the edge of the lip, catch the air in their wings, and off they go for a full days flight.

How cool is that?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Occam's Razor

Occam's Razor put simply states: "when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better."

So, the most predominate theory today to explain the impossible knife-edge odds of the cosmological constant being what it is, and for the universe and life to exist as it does, is the Multiverse theory. A multitude of universes exist, all with differing physical laws to cover the gamut of chances that one so finely tuned as ours could exists.

How does this stack up against a theory of God's existence? I really don't see how God is any more complex a theory than an explanation of multiverses where all existences must exist.

First of all, if you have a case such as our universe where it is "so" finely-tuned, with the incredible odds, then bizarre events with much more favorable odds than the cosmological constant should exist as well. Goodness, what events would those be? Dream up just about anything and the odds would be more favorable. How about something like maybe anti-gravity rules the universe every second Tuesday of the month (move over Microsoft), or everything thing starts spinning backwards for no reason at all, or something really simple like atomic bonds no longer bond.

Or God.

The point is which is the simpler explanation? The simpler explanation is not always correct, but it is the course suggested by Occam's Razor. Certainly the route of the scientist is to follow the empirical, I can understand that, and there may seem to be not much empirical about God (I may disagree) but what do we have in hand to show proof of a multiverse? It could be an explanation. That's it. The same could be said of God.

For a multiverse to exist, than it must also be that the timeline of our lives radiate out with every passing moment in all directions, and every choice, breath, and flutter of an atom, creates a new time-line, and a new reality, a new you, a new world, that exists from that moment on along with all other possible moments. Is this some how more acceptable or more likely than God?

It seems to me that in a universe as ours where there is such precision, and order, where there is not otherwise an array of bizarre events that baffle the mind, "God", of some sort, is the better explanation. An intelligent cosmos. If you wish, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Frankly, I think there is evidence for God or some form of an intelligent cosmos. We recognize this evidence when we are awed by the interconnectedness, the order, the odds that all of this presents. (Please, I am in no way speaking of the intelligent design movement [which isn't])

Listen. It has taken the likes of history's greatest minds and scientists to figure out how small portions of the universe works! They ought to be the first to understand that they are the students of a greater mind, or entity if you will. There is a reason why there is beauty and elegance in a working successful equation. Who is this professor above all? I don't quite know, but I think we would do well to listen, and learn the lesson plan, and understand that the structure of the cosmos is a whole lot smarter than us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009



Emmy was the newest. They all had similar interests. At least a connection of interests, somewhere along the way. Kinda like "A" relates to "B" and "E" and "F"; "F" relates to "C" and "B"; "D" relates to "A" and "F"; "B" relates to "D". All very confusing to figure out, but the inter-connections were there and worked in the real world. Kind of a 9 degrees of separation kinda thing.

Emmy knew Taylor, Taylor knew Emmy and Kate, and of course Kate knew everyone but Emmy. Hey, it all worked. They were all friends.

Of course there were rules. Rules of etiquette. Never be overbearing, or make it too long. Don't go too deep. Forget religion, avoid politics...the killer of friends. Keep it light and airy. Don't stir the pot, or trouble the waters.

But then it happened. Someone broke the rules. Ducked below the surface. Discovered there was more underneath than above. It was thought to be Marta who Kate had brought into the group early on. Yes, it was Marta.

This, of course, brought up a disturbance; a disruption in the proper order of things. The cohesion of the group was threatened. A break-up seemed emanate. A crisis was at hand. Accusations flew back and forth. But Kate, diplomatic Kate, managed to calm things a bit. Talk things down. She was trusted. Slowly arguing was quieted and discussion ensued. Logic was the way to deal with this she said. There was only two possible solutions. One, reform Marta. Bring her back to the surface. Two, ban Marta, de-friend her and let her go.

But Emmy, the neophyte, realized a third way. "There is a third way." Emmy said, "What if we dropped below the surface too? Maybe Marta's right. Maybe there is more worth seeing!"

Well this was near blasphemy! Everyone knew what would happen. The cohesion would be torn apart! Friendships would dissolve. Conflicts would reign. "Not if we did it together! As a group! As friends!" said Emmy. They treaded the same waters for a great long time, but eventually, one by one they came around. It would be a new challenge. An adventure. And what was life if not an adventure? And what was adventure without a bit of risk?

Thus, my friends, they grasped each other's hands, gently at first, then with great firmness, and dropped below the surface.

Oh, the places you'll go, the things that you'll see....

1 Friends Request........1 Phonebook Request
1 Friends for life Request.......17 Other Requests

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In the Fields of Abraham

Into the fields of Abraham we ventured forth
Unawares of who we were
Or where we were
Or from whence we had sprung
Ignorant even of our purpose there.

The glory fields of our Father, forgotten!
By His own hand.
Wayward children were we, and yet remain.
Washed upon the shores of a new dream
Pure and innocent and clean.

We had not fallen; we had not scuffed our knee,
We had humbled ourselves to test our legs.
We were to create anew, but knew that not,
So we felt our way, and therein lays our glory.

We felt the summer breeze among the cottonwoods
And watched their glory fill the air
With a wintry scene.
We quenched our thirst from sparkling rivers
And rejoiced in the warmth of the Sun
With other creatures.

Some grew confused in their lack of knowledge
Some rejoiced in its wonderments
Some souls lost their vision
Others did not.

The Sun yet shines, the snows still fall
The mountains are still there to be climbed
And the deserts to be crossed.
Time still remains, the final chapter not yet written.

Linger a while, do not go too quickly,
Though our visit be brief.

It is harvest time in the fields of Abraham.
Gather up the good grains, gather the warm winds,
Nourish yourself.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kicking a finely-tuned can down the road

We live within the context of our own lives. Properly done, this is not a bad thing. It is perhaps the best thing we can do. Perhaps it is what we are meant to do. But there is more.

For there to be life on Earth, there is an infinite number of things that must be just so. If any one of these things, these properties, are altered, we would not be. Say, the dynamo within our planet that sets up a shield that keeps solar radiation at bay, or Jupiter where it is, our helper, collector of the solar systems rocky flying debris, or the properties of water-ice. Finely-tuned. But this is nothing!

For life to exist, the universe must exist. In fact life may not be the point at all. For the universe to exist, the laws of physics must be in place and favorable. There is a thing called the cosmological constant, a number, a formula, that describes an unknown factor that keeps the stars in place. If off in the least, all of what we know, planet, stars, galaxies, the universe itself, would fall in on itself in a instant, and we never would have been. This number is such a knife-edge, the odds of its being just so is an impossible number; one of those "10s to the power of" with thousands of zeros after it. Finely-tuned.

Tis trivial! For the big bang, the birth of the universe, to have happened, take this impossible number and make it seem as an ant crawling on a star. "This" knife-edge number is beyond belief! Something like a trillion zeros. Finely-tuned.

And so what do scientist say? Well, there are some possibilities here. 1) it is all in place by accident. Their conclusion to this is that the numbers are so incredible that to be by accident is just absurd! 2) Design. Their conclusion is rejection because they see no designer. Someone turning all the knobs, I guess. 3)Necessity. Rejection because they see no underlying universal law to make it so. 4)Multiverse. The idea that this is but one of an infinite number of universes, from perhaps an infinite number of big bangs, or not, an thus all possible universes exist, all trying out differing laws of physics, and by chance we are the goof-ball that has the right laws for life to arise. But there must be an infinite variety here to cover every instance of chance, so we exist in other universes as well, living Baazaro lives, doppelgangers if you will. Any possible scenario you can think of exists somewhere in this multi-plexing reality. (Hmm, so God must exist somewhere, and Martha Stewart really is the anti-Christ somewhere)...Most scientist now think this to be the case.

But one of them pointed out that this is just kicking the can down the road, like the idea that life on Earth came from Mars on a fragment of flying rock. But where did life on Mars come from? Thus the idea of multi-verses wilts when one realizes that to make the big bang, the birth-father of all these multiverses, a single set of physical laws must be in place. And likewise, how did this set of laws arise.

Here is my humble, infinitely insignificant, opinion:
A mix of necessity, and God. The first is easy, the second a bit tougher. If it weren't by necessity, it wouldn't be here. The words random and chance simply indicate a situation where all the variables are too complex to understand the development of the result. As mind boggling as this is, the simple fact is, "it", existence, exists. Why God? A personal bias I suppose, but for necessity to happen I feel there must be a basis of logic, reason, and meaning. Meaning runs smack into the God issue. For us "meaning" can only be met and grasped within the context of our own lives. To grasp the grand meaning is probably beyond our capacity; which leads me to our view of God.

To my mind we have on occasion, every now and then, an experience of God. At least many people do; not all. During these events we open a door and find that piece of the sacred within us, and are connected to the experience of the divine "All", our greater Self. It is a stunning experience of spiritual beauty. What we take away from this experience says a lot about us and our context. Many will interpret and misinterpret this experience through the flavors of their lives. In the context of a certain religious faith, perhaps the arts, perhaps science. The point being it is my belief that we do not understand what God is. We view him through the context of our lives; but we are ants looking at a rocket. I think we could do better. Understand more. We must do this by erasing what we think we know, opening up our eyes, and seeing anew. What exactly "is" God. We need to look at what is before us. See what is there for us to see, as best we can, and expand our vision as science has done over the ages; as the universe itself is doing this very moment.

Look how far we have come in science. It seems to me science is now bumping into a barrier. The barrier of its own context. What is on the other side? Necessity? Meaning of some sort? A new form of science where awe is a variable and beauty an attribute? Let us see if we can find a new door to open, and take a peek through.
Perhaps this is all the more true for religion.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Those lost at sea~

Those lost at sea~

The glass falls and in that time when it is falling it has found an uncertain freedom. It floats weightlessly to its destiny turning and tilting this way and that, measured only by the resistance of air. But when it reaches the pavement, its self is shattered, its continuity is no more. It explodes into a thousand pieces, mere remnants of what it once was. It is shattered. Its pieces are shattered. It is no more. It is a violent thing and a thing of great sadness.

I was on the searchlight. The night was as black as it ever could be. There was no surface to the water. No telling the night from the water. I caught her in my light. She floated in space, a black void of no dimensions. Her hair spread out from her like an angel, each strand floating to a different current. She was beautiful, and she was dead.

They had hit an iceberg and sank in twenty minutes. Time enough to make a mayday call and rope together some crab pot floats. There were five of them. The water, of course, was frigid. In another twenty minutes she was the first to die and float away, and her boyfriend shortly thereafter. They made the call at midnight. They had done a foolish thing. They had put the boat on “Iron-Mike” and went below to party, leaving the boat to steer itself. A course unguided is a course foolishly followed.

When the iceberg was struck and the boat sank they could see the lights of the boat still alight, below the berg, below the water. The survivors described it as an eerie ghostly thing. The survival time was rated at about 15 minutes or less unprotected in these waters. She made it to twenty and drifted away. Her boyfriend made it maybe 40 minutes and did the same. After finding and recovering her body it was perhaps another twenty minutes until we found the crab pot raft. “There’s people! I see people!” our engineering chief shouted. I quickly donned a wetsuit and was in the water, helping the first man into the litter that had been lowered over the side. He could not have lasted ten more minutes. He was that close to loss of any strength to hold on. Then the lady, who was in surprisingly good shape despite her heart condition. We got her on board. I thought my task was done. I was climbing back aboard when we realized there was another. A man. The husband of the lady with the heart condition. I quickly made my way back to the raft, really just a thing to hang onto, and retrieved him. He was lightly tied to the rope and unresponsive. We got him aboard and found him without heartbeat or breath. We worked to revive him but were unsuccessful. He was dead. We believe he had been dead less than thirty minutes. Perhaps we were in sight when he passed away. The surviving man said, “Do not believe that dying of exposure is like falling asleep, it is a painful thing. They moaned until they died.” It was 5:30am in the morning, if morning is what you can call 5:30am in Alaska. These people had been in the iceberg laden waters for 5 ½ hours.

The next morning, (when there was light), another 95’ patrol boat from St Petersburg and ours did expanding square searches of the area. They knew all the people, dead and alive involved. St Petersburg is a very small town, a village really. They found the remaining body, a man, and we transferred all to their boat. I will not describe my duties of tending to the bodies during the night. Suffice it to say it is strange to deal with the lifeless.

In Anacortes there is a cache. I only had the coordinates and the name for it. Nothing else. No size, no hint, no text. I went looking for it. It took me to a memorial for those lost at sea. I searched and searched and could not come up with it. It was not by the column, so I searched the nearby statue of a woman holding a baby looking out to sea. Her hair and dress taken by the wind. I search everywhere. Nearby people were watching me. I even reached up the statues dress from below looking for a micro. One old man got up in a huff and walked off. The cache was nowhere to be found. I did not have enough to go on. Only then did I really stop to look at what it was I was searching and the significance of it. It is a wonderfully done work of art. It captures so much. I thought of those searches in my past, of those I found, living and dead, and those loved ones they were connected to. There never were any that we did not find in one state or another… eventually. At least those loved ones had something returned to them. How difficult it must be if that were not so.

Thank God my searches are not so vital these days.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Boundless Horizon

“Light is sweet and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun”
The warmth of day enters fully the heart that has passed through the shadows of winter.
The breath of heaven fills the body that is tested and found to be vital and sound.
No greater love hath a man than he who stands in honesty alone before his God.

So it was that I came to this place. A prairie of some expanse, upon a plateau where I stood alone and unseen by any other human being. This was the treasure of this place. Sure to be missed by others who wander through. Some would avoid the slight strain to get here. Others would come and pass through unseeing, unaware that here was the treasure; not at the place where they were told. But treasures are often not where they are placed. In seeking a treasure one may find truer treasures. The place where Providence has led you. The thingless gem. The unspoken word. The miracle hidden in the everyday.

I had come before and failed. I had come willing to swim the river, but upon seeing the river I was wise enough to know life and death, and there is a difference between the two. I tried again. I followed the paved paths of men and came close, but each way was blocked by fence or canal or dead end. I came a third time by the advice of another and found a way true and clear and full of adventure. I left the path when it was required and made my own way. One that was not the easiest but the clearest to me, and was rewarded by what I was brought to. This place. This wonderful expanse of light and warmth and presence. A presence of being. Alone, yet wrapped into the All. The greater Self of which I am but a grain of wheat in the wind, in an endless boundless field of wheat. Golden sea waves bending this way and that forever to the horizon, at the whim of where the warm winds wish to go.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Time Travellers

There are many mysteries of how we live our lives. Of what medium we swim in. Time and choice are tangled together. What I do here and now affects where it is I go and what I find. One choice will lead me one way, but surely some other choice would bring a different result. What is the nature of it all? Do all these strings of choice exist at once and always? If time exists as a string of multiple realities where each and every choice is made and has its own reality and ever exists, think of how it is. A tangled web of continuous branches crossing and re-crossing perhaps, certainly a complex thing that would boggle our minds, for every moment is a choice and a new path to endless other paths, ever divergent from itself, ever confused, ever existing, ever new, ever lost from true purpose.

But if time and choice are made as a linear thing, where choices are yet made endlessly and at every moment but only one line of choice exists (the one made) then it is a simple thing, a dynamic thing, leading to a true result even if that result simply be the path made. Then time is single dimensional and of a single reality.

Yet the question remains, does the past exist? The place where you and others have traveled? Or has it vanished like mists as if it never existed at all? A false memory? And only the 'now' exists, and only the 'now' ever has? Then time is a solid thing. Unchanging, unchanged. It is not at all dynamic. There are no choices. There is no future.

I think time is linear, a single dynamic reality of endless choices made and followed to where it leads. Where we pointed it. I think the past exists like a residue, an ingredient that flavors the present, and affects where we take the future. I think it is a dynamic world and there are lessons to be learned. It teaches us where to step. Which may be the better chosen path.

The residue of heros and fathers, mothers and sons. Builders and writers, philosophers and teachers. Past loves. All are contributions to the ingredients that make us what we are, and where we are bound. If we forget the ingredients of our lives and our world, the flavor will be lost. Our paths will become tangled and confused.

Life springs from the debris of the fall. Leaves upon the ground. New paths diverge from, but are built upon, the old. My child will make her own choices, but "is" because of other choices made. We are time travellers all. In part responsible for the future, in part a product of the past. There are paths to take and choices to be made. Make them with compassion and understanding, but make them with the hopeful optimism of a child.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dancing with Whirlwinds

How we found an interesting thing and how I danced with the whirlwinds~

We are tiny creatures. Ants upon a landscape. One following the other across stone and earth. Clouds swirl about. Weather is a possibility. We hear rumbles. They sound like thunder, and that they may be. Off to the right is a sloping hill that falls off to a valley below. To the left, the same. We see but rock, earth, ice, and clouds. Ice on the mountain behind us. We are descending one of its flanks. It is called second Burroughs.

There is an anomaly in this Martian-like landscape. It is impossible to tell what it is from this distance. Metallic. It moves in the wind but is caught. Hung up by something. I go off trail and down slope to look at it. The others wait. It is a thing out of place here. It has been on a journey.

We had hiked up to the memorial to do “12 birds on the dome”. I’ve been here many times. I think Jon has been here before too. It is an awesome place. I want to take Jon on up to thirds Burroughs but we are unsure. I’ve been up here before during a lightning storm. We don’t want to get caught in that. We hear rumbles but are unsure if it is the glacier or advancing weather. We decide against. Too bad. Third Burroughs is an extraordinary place. A place worthy of ones ashes. I have been there before when weather was being born. It is the place where Burroughs becomes the trailing edge of Steamboat Prow. The rounded mountain sharpens into a knife edge. Green moist valley to the east, a direct drop to the glacier to the west. Rainier in front. It was here I stood with fog and mists lifting from the green valley and frigid air mass blasting up from the glacier. The point of their meeting was where I stood. Along this knife edge micro tornados were forming, like Whirling Dervishes, lining up, disappearing. And in these micro tornados snow formed and whirled and danced about me like spirits. They would engulf me and freeze me and spin away again. It was quite cold! And exciting. Imagine a dancing line of snow-whirlpools along this ridgeline including me in their happy existence. There was no snow anywhere else. Only here. You must go there someday.

While at Second Burroughs we lingered, enjoy the scenery and heard things on my FRS radio. They were having some sort of fair or something at Fort Lewis, and I was actually picking up conversation on my meek little radio. We were amazed at the tricks of radio reception. So what would be more unlikely than this?

I reached the object and it made me wonder. How did it get here? Than I looked the object over and I was shocked! A smile came over my face and I returned it up the slope to the others.

My E-Mail went something like this: “Dear Fort Lewis Fire Department. I have just returned from Second Burroughs on the North flanks of Mt Rainier. There, just off the ridge on the east slope at about 6000 feet or so we found one of your Mylar balloons with your Fire Department number on it. Evidently you were having an event and it escaped and made it’s way here to catch its string around a rock. Amazingly enough we could also hear your chatter on my little FRS radio. Hope you had a wonderful time.”


Monday, July 20, 2009

Total Eclipse of the Sun

A most lovely place, and beautiful young lass, Druids and a story from the past~

A few years back my oldest brother, my mom, and I took a caching road trip to south central Washington. Quite frankly it was a wonderful experience. One of the peaks of the trip was a cache called the G-Spot in Goldendale. Perhaps you’ve done it. Big yellow flowers were in bloom everywhere on that hill. It was gorgeous. It made my favorites list. Very near the cache is an observatory. I had been there before. We came back that night to visit it and had a great time and was given special tours by the head ranger including his personal library. He took me out into the night and showed me his green laser pointer, and I let him use my infrared night vision binoculars. We hit it off well.

The next day we once again visited Stonehenge, as we have on many road trips since I was a kid. Not long after we were married I took my wife here. She stood there on that rock in a very strong wind in a pink dress. I took a slow shutter-speed photo of her. In the photo her blonde hair flows out from her, the ends blurred out. Her dress is a wonderful blur of color. Her body becomes a flame of pink light. I love that photo. I have no idea where it is.

Here at Stonehenge there is a puzzle cache. I’ve wanted to do it for some time. But being travelers, it is time we don’t have. But these stones bring back thoughts and memories. One is a great respect for Sam Hill. The other is of another memory. It is of a visit here by myself in the 70’s. Here is that story:

How I played the wallflower at a Druid dance~ How the sun did an unexpected thing~ and how there was a voice shouting in the wilderness

I do not recall the year it was, perhaps 1976 maybe 1978, there was to be a total eclipse of the Sun. There upon the once mighty Columbia, sitting high on a hill is a replica of Stonehenge. Nearly as mystical a setting as the original. It was here that the totality was to pass, and here that I knew I must be to view it.

I arrived in the early afternoon on the day before it was to occur. As I wandered about Stonehenge (a place that has always held a fascination for me since childhood) more and more people began arriving. Ah, but these were not ordinary people. They came in odd clothing, white robes mostly, erected small pinnacle shaped tents, kept to themselves, built small fires in front of their tents, performed odd motions about the fires with small objects. They appeared to be praying perhaps. I wasn’t going to ask. I tried to watch without staring, a difficult task. As night came on more and more small fires were lit, then a large fire inside Stonehenge itself. I decided to leave the comfort of my quarters (was it a tent or was I sleeping in the car?) to find out what the activity was. As I approached Stonehenge it was obvious that there were a great many people on hand. I could hardly see from behind them. There was, upon the altar stone many candles aglow, there was some sort of knife, and a skull of a ram, and other things I either could not then identify or recall now. Behind the altar stone was a priest of some kind, but not the type you would see in the pulpit of any church. He waved the knife about and chanted things, though I haven’t a clue what. Then before long everyone held hands in a circle inside the ring of Stonehenge and began singing and dancing back and forth. And what might it be they were singing? “All we are saying is give peace a chance”. I thought of joining in, but the crowd seemed a bit strange and I’m forever playing the wallflower.

The next day as the hour of totality approached the clouds threatened to ruin the show. The crowd that gathered was now a mix. Druids, a professor and his students, locals, others. The Professor had brought a prismatic device that displayed the partially covered sun into a couple dozen small images on a board when it showed from between clouds. Some druids had climbed up upon the henge-stones and began banging drums and symbols. The clouds parted and the sky and landscape began to grow dim, like through a pair of sunglasses. “Through the glass darkly” seemed to apply.

It was at this moment, at the moment just before totality, that the most amazing and unexpected thing occurred. The last of the suns light intensified and began to ripple across the landscape, across the stones of the Henge, across the ground, across us. It was a most incredible thing! Ripples, bands of light and dark, moving in unison over us and the stones. Then they switched off and a sort of night came on, and a cold wind arose to chill us. There above us in a darkened sky was a blazing ring of fire. How odd it looked to see a blazing ring of light where none should be. Below us in the river valley, the streetlights had come on in the small town below. We stood silent and awestruck, even the Druids, for the few minutes it lasted. Then the famous beads appeared signaling the approaching end of totality and the Druids banged their drums and launched fireworks from atop their perch. Things passed quickly now, the light seemed to come back quicker then it had left and everything was returning to normal.

Everyone was dispersing and across to dell, someone in a camper, someone with a bullhorn, called out “This event has been brought to you by God! The maker of Heaven and Earth.” A rather fit ending I thought.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite

Regarding the passing of Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America; somehow his passing brings to mind the last and final pronouncment of the Oracle of Delphi in 361 CE after well over a thousand year of divine prophecy:

"Tell the king, the fair-wrought house has fallen.
No shelter has Apollo, nor sarcred laural leaves;
The fountains now are silent; the voice is stilled."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Vantage

Fear and loathing in Vantage. How worries advance with age.

I’m at the end of a dusty dirt road high above the Columbia River. Rattlesnakes live here. My bike lies next to me. I’m looking for a cache. Half a mile back up a short hill is my car. I’m greatly distressed. I could hear the radiator boiling as I removed my bike. My transmission was making horrid grinding and gnashing sounds just before I reached where I parked. Pangs of despair waft over me.

On the bike ride down I watched for snakes but saw a hummingbird and a coyote. It is lovely country but my mind is elsewhere. I have a family that I am responsible for, a not-so-well paying job. A kid in college. Two more coming up. Two cars that are on their last legs. Things are too close to the edge. I can not afford problems.

I am high above the Columbia. Just over there, on the other side and upriver a bit I once climbed that coulee wall. That was over thirty years ago. I found my way up through the rock and sage and walked across those desert lands north. Ten miles, and ten miles back in a day. There were snake pits that bloomed with cactus flowers. Beautiful. I only saw one snake but worried a bit the whole way. I made my way to an abandoned home in a gulch that I had seen since childhood from the other side of the river. I couldn’t get close. It was engulfed in brush. I was young and single then.

Down there I remember when there was a bridge and the old townsite with a gas station, and a motel, before the dam was built. And before that a ferry ride on a cable ferry. On the east side and just north of the bridge we would stop and find arrowheads out among the river rock.

Once there were other people living here long before this country ever knew a European. They left ideas drawn on the rocks. Had a tool called a slave killer. Long before them there were forests of walnut, maple and gingko. There was a great upwelling of lava that formed this land, and a great flood which shaped it. Now the river runs still. The people are nearly gone. The town drowned. And gone is my youth. Trees turned to stone and dust.

I find the box and want nothing more than to go home. Entropy is not to be underestimated.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Jewel Hidden

How I came across a woman praying in the forest, and what it could possibly mean.~

Deep in the heart of a southwest desert, far from any road, days from any human habitation there is a depression in the sandstone rock. The rock is blonde in color with hints of red. It is part of a vast wilderness of rock just like itself. Most of us would get lost here and die within a week’s time. No one has passed by here for decades. Perhaps centuries. It is an exposed and hidden place. A place sacred.

In the depression of this rock is a jewel hidden from the rest of the world. An element rare and abundant. It is a cupful of water. It teems with little specks of life, insignificant, almost not there unless you look. Each speck going about the business of being itself. Little do they know they exist in holy water.

This rock that holds a handful of water is not unique. There are other places like this, every now and again, throughout this hot and desolate desert. They too hold life in their hands. They too are a salvation waiting to be found. Hidden in a nook or cranny, hidden away and protected from the blazing sun.

I came across a woman praying in the woods. It was along a river in the mountains of Washington. I was looking for a box that had been secreted away. I suspect she was looking for something secreted away as well. I could not decide if her prayers were Buddhist or Muslim, though she her self I believe to be a convert to that mode of prayer. She looked like the woman next door or down the street. Rather plump and reaching middle age. Her gown spoke of her conversion, whatever it might be. It had a bit of a fortune tellers touch. I said hello and nodded as I walked by, and she did likewise. I did not linger not wanting to disturb. I questioned in my mind the legitimacy of her extra-cultural methods, though it certainly wasn’t my place to judge. I knew she was trying. Perhaps she had found. Certainly she had a proper idea. I wanted to question her about her methods and thoughts, but I knew it wasn’t the time or place. I wanted to watch to see what she did, but I knew that would be a vulgar intrusion.

I went on and found my box. When I returned she had left. Religion is a method of Man. Mine is a jewel in the desert. Hers, a prayer said in the forest. We each have our ways.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Chalkstorm Sea


The sea was brilliant blue and freshened by a strong west wind. It kicked spray, as white as linen sheets, above the freeboard. Like wings, they were. Like the breath of angels. The sail buffeted under the strain. Buffeted and popped. Then it would catch the wind a bit cleaner and lean the sloop into the oncoming whitecaps. The sun sparkled a thousand times on the crest of each wave. There were few clouds and what there were looked like disintegrated cotton puffs. The breeze was too brisk for them to hold together. The mouth of the legendary Oronoco lay astern and the island of Aruba lay twenty miles off the starboard beam. And there, with a thousand miles of open sea ahead, there in that boundary between two worlds, there in that paradise that all sailors seek, a time when sun and spray and breeze peaks the senses and gives joy to existence, I saw a sight not often seen. A waterspout materialized before my prow, corkscrewing it’s way toward a sparkling heaven. In any other time, in any other place, I would have turned and ran and done my best to avoid it’s wrath. But this day, this perfect day, I raced on all the more, bearing down on the whirlwind, trying to catch it before this pillar of God disappeared. I laughed! I shouted for joy! I raced on to what would be certain doom to those who cared. But as gently as it came, so it disappeared. Yet I laughed! Yet I shouted for joy! But now I raced only the wind, the spray, and cotton puff clouds. I had ridden the wings of angels, and seen existence delighting as a waterspout.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Life is an adventure

What you won’t find sometimes!

So this is my story of how it came to be that in a blizzard I found a dead person.

It was a long haul up a popular mountain in these parts. I won’t say which mountain for reasons you’ll soon understand. One non-caching friend and myself, out to show him the joys of what it is I do. This was early on in Geocaching. I don’t think he ever went with me again. Two or three thousand feet of up with no views. Near the top it opens up, but on this day it opens up to more than just a view. It opened up to the weather. Bitter cold! Blowing wind and snow! A blizzard. There were two caches here. We’d found one. A big jar snuggled in the rocks. The other was in an area that was very exposed to the weather. Between an open rock field and a sheer rock mountain wall. Our noses and hands were freezing! We looked everywhere. Turn rocks here and there, ran back to the trees to warm our hands and bodies, then out amongst the rocks once again. The snow whip along feeling like sandpaper on our faces, but it was not heavy enough to build up much in the exposed rock field. Not having much luck we spied a crevice on the rock wall. Not terribly likely. It was higher than our heads. Maybe 8’ up. We decided to give it a try. I braced against the rock wall as Mark climbed up on my shoulders and used them as you would a ladder. He succeeded in getting a foothold at the crevice, a break in the rock about 6’ long and a bit of a lip to it.
“See anything?” I yelled up.
“No. Wait a minute.. I think I see it. A box. Under some loose rock. It’s wood.”
“Yes! That must be it! Can you reach it?”
“Mmm, just barely. Umf. Ahh. Got it.”
“Awesome! Toss it down!”
“It’s got a funny lid to it. Plastic.”
He tosses it down. It appears to be a hand-crafted square wood box with laminated pieces and rounded well-made corner joints. But it has this funky thin white snap in plastic lid to it. I pull the lid out of its setting.
“What the.. What the heck?”
“What?” Mark says.
“Its someones STASH!”, I say.
I reach in and pull out a hefty clear plastic bag of white powder and show Mark who is still 8’ above.
“That’s not someone’s stash….. That IS SOMEONE!”
I look at it closer. The off-white powder is quite granular.
We look at each other and burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter! In the middle of a blowing snowstorm we had found someone’s cremated remains! We must have looked like fools. Laughing our heads off, holding up a bag of human remains in the middle of a blizzard.

But this is where Geocaching takes you.

Of coarse we returned the poor fellow traveler to his proper place with all due haste and respect, and shortly after found the correct cache. Life is an adventure.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Halfway To Ika

Halfway to Ika

The world spins. A spinning world, within a spinning world, within a greater world yet.
The Sun exerts, the Moon pulls, and thus the ebb and flow of the tides.

It was on this day I chose, during the ebb of the local seas to make my way to Craft Island, and from there, all the way to Ika Island by means of footfall and staff-probing across barren tidal flats and through brackish sub-channels of various depths, temperatures, and dubious character to plant a cache.

It is the sort of travel I enjoy most. Desolate. God-drenched. I would do it all naked if the world included fewer people. Let the sun bake me, the rains wash me clean, the wind dry my hair. Deserts or endless emptied sea, mountainous crags, abysmal canyon. It is my spiritual alchemy; leAd to goLd.

I saw him once before this day. Spoke to him. Said “Hello”. Wide brimmed sun-hat, lawn chair in hand. It was he who led me to the idea. Gave me the thought. Made me see the possibilities. I climbed up Craft Island, he continued on. I sat and watched. He walked till he was no more than a speck. And there, where “Nowhere” IS, he unfolded his lawn chair. And sat. And read. What an incredible idea! I knew I must myself do the same someday soon. I waited. Hours passed. I could see the tide returning from my higher vantage point. When would he stir and rise? Would he realize what he could not see from lower down, and beat the fast advancing tide? It appeared not. It became evident not! Finally he rose, picked up his chair and began the long walk back. The channels widened and deepened. The day as well began to fade. One more channel to Craft Island. But it had become the sea. He carried his chair, with book high above his head, seawater up to his armpits. I left before he reached my island, but I felt certain he was ok and didn’t want to disturb his aloneness. I saw him again, another time, lawn chair in hand, headed half-way to Ika Island.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

They listen briefly

I rock! I roll!
I set hard against my anchor chain.
The duties I have constrain me.
The tides attempt to persuade me.
I wish to flee. I cannot leave.
Those who pass by need me.
Far off lands know of me. They know my name, and what I do, where I must remain.
Some cannot reach me. Others will come near but never touch me.
I plead with a simple voice, a flash of eye.
They look. They listen briefly and pass by.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Written Word

The Written Word

The written word is a special thing, it creeps across the page like a purposeful worm in search of a final phrase. It stammers and stutters, starts and stalls, lies and reveals hidden secrets. It tells a story where none had been before. Mostly it creates. Images, mostly. But herein is its special gift; the images it creates are not its own -like a painting or sketch- but another’s! It suggests, the reader creates. But of course you knew that. It is like two beings in two differing dimensions. What one does, the other becomes. What one thinks, the other is. So it is with the written word and the reader. Upon this paper, as these words were being scrawled, a yellow and black stripped bee did come and sit upon the right hand upper corner. As I write and you read, you have seen this bee too.

In the Quantum world not much makes sense to us. The rules seem to differ, the impossible occurs. How can a cat be undead, a singular projection appear to scatter, information travel times be instant? How can events be determined by an unattached observer? Yet it seems so. Is it the written word or the reader who creates? Perhaps they are one in the same. Separate, yet they are differing dimensions of one in the same. Together the Creator doth reign.

And thus this written word has crept across this page, and in the seeking has found its final purposeful phrase. Between the ink, the paper, the light that falls upon this page, the writer and reader, letters and letters combined to make a phrase, the yellow stripped bee, the blackbird that I failed to mention, though all can separately be seen, together and more they are an entity, joined with all there is and ever could be, we begin to understand. In differing dimensions of the One in the same, together the Creator forever doth reign.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Listening to the Earth

Listening to the Earth

I stand below and listen. Two ravens catch the updraft, high near the rim of the escarpment, and skirt along it. It is magnificent. The colossal grandeur of the rock, its forms, it shapes, columns and flows; the life way up there experiencing it from that coign of vantage transports me to their perspective… and I am blown away. How do I experience God? For me it is in these moments.

~~~~Henry was a man of curious ways. I have heard of those who can smell colors. Unfathomable to most of us, but true. Henry was one of those. No, he could not smell colors nor see the invisible, but a talent beyond human perspective he did have. He was a Listener. A geologist by trade, or should I say craft, rarely did he, dig, or chip, or collect samples to learn the nature of a place; he only did these things so others could see what he already knew; he “listened” to the Earth.
~~~~Of course we all know that rocks have stories to tell. Past events displayed in how the layers of the Earth lay. The cuts of ancient rivers. The deposits laid down by them or a passing glacier. The layering of volcanic deposits. But Henry just listened. Sat calmly and listened.
~~~~Henry has taken me to places to show… to teach me the forming of a place. I am new to this study. He must point out the most obvious things to me before I see anything of worth. But of less interest to me is the rocks than his gift. I have seen him sit and listen and hear things that I cannot. We have talked about this gift. I have asked him to explain its nature. “It is explaining color to the blind”, he says. All he can tell me is that he hears the moans of the Earth. Its birth pangs. Its sighs. The winds upon it greatest heights. The waters raking its valleys. Its buried dead.
~~~~Me? I can hear the light sigh of the wind in the grasses, the rattle of falling stones, but that is about it. I must look with all my might to see a thing, and listen to wherever I am given. But my gift? It is to know Henry, and all that entails.
Photo by Parkeharrison
Story by EraSeek

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Sower

The Sower

“A creature of clay, a thing of dust.” That is what we
In the year of nineteen hundred and thirty four, when I was 20
years old, I wandered the countyside of eastern Washington, devoid
of hope or purpose. As I walked along on a lonely turn of track a
figure came into view, a man standing on a far hill above the rail
right of way and behind him a plot of paradise, green as the sea
with new wheat amongst the barren hills of scrub and a small shack
or two for his basic needs.
His name was Henry Solks and he appeared as old and barren as the
surrounding hills. I asked him how he survived in such a place and
he told me a tale that has stayed with me to this day.
Henry Solks was a Water Witch and an inventor and in his younger
days had traveled from farm to farm plying his trade of finding
well water and devising new devices for failing farmers for a
miniscule fee until he decided it was his time to become one of
them. He sectioned out a barren plot for himself as a challenge,
for he loved such things and found adventure in mere survival. One
who was close to the earth and exposed to an open sky was chaste ,
for one such could not be but an honest man -honest with himself
and honest with God- to survive.
And so it was that Henry Solks scratched at the earth and found
ways to survive and invented things to help him on his way. His
biggest challenge was water, as he had one small spring and a well
that was filled mostly with hope. Thus he saw this as his challenge
and set about a solution.
Long and hard he worked with no help but the gifts he had been
given. Like an alchemist in his den, he experimented and tried new
things until little by little small successes grew and blossomed,
and a small wisp became a cloud, and the cloud became a storm. And
so it was he had the basis of his success, but no success is
complete until perfected. When the earth is barren one must look to
the sky. When the earth rejects the seed, one must seed the
Henry took me to a shed on the backside of a hill and there, flung
wide the doors set on rusted hinges. There sat the thing of which
he was most proud. A contraption unique beyond anything I had ever
laid eyes on. He called it his “Seeder”. Of its nature I would have
difficulty in describing. A thing of fans and gears and belts but
no wings. An air machine which lifted him far above the ground to
deliver his alchemists mix to the atmosphere above his land, and
thus produce water bearing clouds over a space of several acres for
a period of half a day at a time. Henry Solks, Water Witch and
inventor, was a sower of clouds.
I stayed with Henry Solks for a week’s time and such a person I
have met never before nor since. If I were wise I never would have
left, for rare is it that you have a chance to sit at the feet of
one such as he. I returned years latter in hopes of renewing the
acquaintance, but nothing remained; neither shed nor shop, field
nor wheat. Not spring nor well, nor Henry himself or any memory of
him with the locals, nor knowledge that he had ever existed.
And so it is, my friend, that life is but a short adventure. Its
living need not be deemed great or fame producing, but its worth
depends on the unfolding of the fleeting gifts one is given. They
are gems! They are dewdrops falling from a leaf.

photo by Parkeharrison
story by EraSeek

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What a brave new world!

Here I am, starting a blog. My wife started one and I thought "That's cool, I want one!" From there it everything kinda fell apart. First of all hers had a determined focus. Mine..I just wanted to blog something.
1. Be focused. (I'll work on that)

So I talked to my wife and said "Honey, I have no purpose, no focus!"
She said "Dahh!?!"
"No", I said, "I mean my blog. Just what is it I'm trying to do with this?"
So I describe my inner most needs and desires to her and,.. well we won't go there, but the general idea is that she thinks I want to write a column. Well, I guess that's right. Mostly I just want to write. So this blog shall start with little or no purpose (do what you know best) and hopefully evolve into something useful. Mostly the problem is I want to do some fiction, some journaling, some philosophizing. It's like eating olives and ice cream at the same time. What I'll do first is get a little fiction out of my system, and then move along to more purposeful stuff. The next three posts will be fictionalized geocache pages that I already posted, but that are still on my mind. I want to revisit them, both physically and virtually here. I just like the feel of them and their tinge of oddness.
Hopefully this will all work out.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Edison's Light

Ok so here is my first story. Kinda funky, a little different. A lot of what I have written in here are things I have read by theoretical physicists on the "kinda out there" level of discussion, such as the mathematical trick that converts an electron into an anti-electron (positron); and the idea that all electrons might be the same electron.

Edison’s Light

~~~It seems not so long ago. I had just learned of the fact. It struck me as profound truth, not fact. That’s when I began. Tinkering at first, but mostly just thinking. But more than thinking really. Obsessing I suppose. Yes, obsessing. It was constant. A thing I could not let go. It seemed so powerful - and it was.
~~~Failures came. Failure after failure. But that was no hindrance in the least. I had expected those. What I didn’t expect was how they spurred me on. Obsessed me all the more. I lost friends, family, job, position. This didn’t bother me in the least. One would think it would. It certainly at least should.
~~~I knew where this would carry me, yet I could have cared less. In fact I craved it. It was magnetic. I was drawn like iron to a lodestone. Yes, and much the same in actual fact. Electro-magnetic entanglement. It became a founding principle in my theory of how it would all work. No, I am no scientist, no scholar. I am a professor of nothing. But I am a part of this universe and I knew where its trapdoor lay.
~~~You see it has been proven now that all electrons are the same. No, not just in properties, but they are all the same. The same electron. Thirty years ago in 2010 I had read about this idea and it struck me then. It seemed so true. But I had also read another thing which now I have at last connected, all these years latter. Electrons and anti-electrons. Particles and anti-particles. The universe should be balanced with equal numbers of each. So where are they? The Anti’s? Years ago I read of a mathematical trick that a physicist had done. It was just chalk on chalkboard mind you, but the math worked. There was nothing to give a clue that it existed in reality - whatever that is.
~~~You see if you take an electron and cause it to meet up with an anti-electron, there is a flash of energy and an annihilation of both. Or so we thought. But what these calculations said was that they were the same electron! How so? As the electron moves forward in time and space to meet what we think of as its counterpart, it makes a quantum U-turn, there is a burst of energy, and it travels backwards in time and space. Yes, anti-electrons are electrons with an opposite charge traveling backwards in space/time. It is the same electron!
~~~So, you must see how it is. The fabric of the universe is more than just two dimensional. Of course we should have seen this. The old concept of the doppelganger, only we have met the enemy and they are us! But I wish to see it for myself. And so I go on this journey, light of heart, giddy as a schoolgirl, ready and willing to meet my fate. Damn the torpedoes! I am ready! My time and place are laid out before me. I raise my rod and spread the seas of time!

photo by Parkeharrison
story by EraSeek