Archive for August, 2007

An Itchy Niche

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Maybe sex for Homo sapiens is considered a casual past time, but that is not what finding a niche is what biologists refer to when they point out that niches will always be filled by some animal. True, copulation is required for all the animals on earth that have evolved with male and female, but it is evolutionists who explain that because of reproduction, species change within each niche. We know humans thought on this for thousands of years since recorded words tell us so. Controversy became more heated after Darwin, and others, directed our attention to how life develops from a single fertilized cell to this amazingly complex body we each call our own. Our technical inventions store past musings of learned, intelligent (?) writers and are available to all who search. So what about a niche?

Indeed, a niche is a place where life develops in the only way it can. That is if it adapts to the niche to begin with. An organism must have food before it can think of reproducing. Scratch the word think. That is not really important in the equation. There must be enough safety within a niche to allow the offspring to survive after they emerge, however they emerge and, from whatever animal. The niche must also provide food to sustain the offspring so it can continue to reproduce. In the context of the niche the fittest survive. Because they adapted to the environment. The biology sort of takes care of itself.

There are also niches within each society of animals. That is where humans misconstrue survival of the fittest. I keep looking for a niche where I best develop – skills and satisfaction. Trouble is, I find one and go on to add another. I like the fit of the niche but my day only can accommodate a limited number. Sooner or later I leave a niche behind. That’s O.K. Einstein came up with an equation showing that motion depends on time. So it all evens out. It’s not a case of my time is your time. My time is limited. So I choose the niches where I can give my all.

O Come to the Fair

Monday, August 27th, 2007

In researching her book “Eastern Life: Past and Present,” Harriet Martineau, found American women obsessed with religion. Women have changed since 1870, especially their obsessions. I watched humanity pass by the non profit booth I tended on a Saturday night at a county fair. I saw a lot of people. I saw a lot of skin on the people. I noticed some clothes, Mostly lack of them.

There were short shorts, sleeveless shirts, very colorful, very tight. I doubt votive candles, prayer books, or sermons crossed the minds of the wide age range of the women appearing in various states of undress. There was lots of communion, though. Homo sapiens are social critters and come to a compete with tomatoes, potatoes, or livestock. Or to enjoy bucking horses, popular music, greasy pastries, and rich ice cream. Or to scream on twirling mechanical rides. When they get a real belly hunger, they choose foot long corn dogs, barbecued pigs, and buttered corn on the cob.

Now what is the obsession? The latest clothing, short and tight? The richest food, thick and sweet? The fastest rides, high and wide? It was just too much.

At midnight I picked my teeth, tugged at my muscle shirt, straightened my shorts, retrieved my horse and buggy from the dusty east forty, and drove home.

History Stamp

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

Every once in a while an email comes across the cosmos to attract me in wondrous ways. This morning one such missile brought forth strange musings. How are historians going to ferret out the intrigues of politics and business without handwritten letters? Of course as many lies and misinformation can be handwritten as can be typed but when letter writing was the major method of communication there was checking and cross checking among many acquaintances.

This is notable in David McCullough’s JOHN ADAMS and Joseph Ellis’s AMERICAN SPHINX, of Thomas Jefferson and many legends of the Clark family. Books available in public libraries. Sometimes as a reader I had to choose which version I could believe when contradictions occurred in hand written letters from several sources.

But my point is that hand written letters are almost nonexistent these days. While that may leave a big gap for historians, I expect the variations in personal diaries and news reports will put the historic spin in hard bound publications sooner or later. And world events will verify or deny their significance.

From a different point of reference, one of my favorite hobbies suffers sorely. Stamp collecting. Personal letters use official stamps from the United States Post Office to pay for the privilege of being carried hither and yon. When folks tightened their belts years ago and stopped sending cards of holiday greetings, canceled stamps seemed to disappear. At least I find them more difficult to acquire. Whenever I travel, I send myself letters and cards with current stamps but that is only a drop in the bucket.

Canceled stamps are the most economical ones to collect. They also have the least monetary value in a collection. But they can be purchased hundreds to a bag for a few dollars. I have done so. I’m not investing for a windfall return. I just love collecting little things. My mother saved her three cent stamps in the 1940’s. Three cents was enough to tell Aunt Myrtle about new born nieces. Three cents was sufficient for personal news until some political entity decided it was about time we should pay the actual cost for the privilege.

We can only complain that the price of a stamp keeps rising, despite the claim that the liberty bell for forty one cents is the last increase. Businesses have been hit with ridiculous requirement of the thickness of the bill determining cost of mailing. Bulk mailers still send millions of pieces of junk to US mail boxes for as little as five cents. The weight is tough on mail carriers but does nothing to raise their salaries. We just have to complain loudly to the correct person. Head of the US postal department.


Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Cleaning up after a coyote tore through a garbage sack is no picnic. A disgusting mess of soft drink cartons and snack food containers. Garbage is not always messy – just depends on what constitutes the leftovers. That is what garbage is after all. I like to clean up the bits of leftover peas or corn or ham after a filling dinner. Should those few tablespoonfuls be considered garbage? I do not like to think so. Health care folks warn that over eating puts an extra burden on the digestive system and ultimately the heart. But should one think of the eater as the garbage can? Maybe that is the correct description.

So to prevent the manufacture of my fat cells I will refrain from becoming a garbage can?

OK so I should stop cleaning up leftovers at the table.

Truly, cleaning up ravaged garbage outdoors has some essence of romance. Imagine the ecstasy of nature’s critters licking candy wrappers and sugary soft drink boxes. I know at least one coyote comes through my Refuge on a regular basis because I see the footprints in the sand and the scat along the trail. This was its land long before it became human domain.

A raccoon may have been responsible for the overturned can. The can is a small one set out by a hand washing station by portable toilets but paper towels do not beckon sniffers. Snack refuse had more scent than innocent paper towels wiped by human hands. Can we blame wild critters for not resisting a sweet treat? – raccoons, mink, skunk or weasels? I thought perhaps they would climb inside the can and ravage the food stuff while there, not tip it over and strew the wrappers around. I blame a wily rangy coyote for the tipping. How am I to know? I just clean up.

And like *Frederick S. Perls, M.D, Ph.D, says: “Don’t push the river, just let it flow.”

* In and Out the Garbage Pail, 1969, a fun book with drawings and not a page number in sight!