Saturday, March 12, 2011


            I am not a religious person, but let’s take a minute to send a little positive spiritual energy in Japan’s direction. 


Hokusai's "The Wave"
seems eerily prophetic

            Tim read me Google’s headlines Friday morning. The 8.9 earthquake that moved the entire island of Honshu eight feet to the east led… followed by Charlie Sheen’s latest Facebook rantings and Lindsay Lohan’s most recent court appearance. Gaddafi’s (or Gadhafi, or Qaddafi, depending on which wire service you favor) killing his own people—you know, the ones who love him unconditionally—came in fourth. The front page of my local newspaper revealed the momentous news that this year’s Azalea Queen has been chosen. Are we the most shallow nation on Earth, or what?

            Meanwhile, across the Pacific, skyscrapers swayed like the masts of tall ships. There were more than a dozen aftershocks registering 6.0 or higher on the Richter scale. Most frightening of all, the cooling systems and their back-ups of five nuclear reactors at two power plants failed.

            Predictably, Wall Street fretted about the effects of this devastation on their profit margins. Americans everywhere—myself included—watched the horrifying pictures on the evening news of tsunamis over-washing cities and newly plowed fields with sludge and debris, then tuned in to reruns of “Family Guy” and “Two and a Half Men.” (I didn’t do that. We turned the tube off, as “Jeopardy!” was pre-empted by a stupid college basketball matchup.)

            The final lines of Robert Frost’s poem, “‘Out, Out—‘” sprang to mind:

                                    No more to build on there. And they, since they
                                    Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

            Arrogance and ignorance are dangerous bedfellows. Humans are poster children for both.


Salvadore Dali's melting clocks,
a.k.a. "The Persistence of Memory" 

Attention, oh ye clock-obsessed multitudes! Daylight Savings Time rears its ugly head early Sunday morning, “delaying” sunrise from 6:26 to 7:26. Why? True believers say that it’s not just about energy conservation, which hasn’t ever been proven anyway. They claim that, somehow, magically, darker mornings increase highway safety and decrease crime. Proponents positively glow incandescent about burgeoning economic benefits and increased productivity afforded by more daylight after the ol’ nine-to-five workday. Have you ever heard such bullpucky in your life? What possible difference can shifting the putative hour darkness falls 60 minutes one way or the other make? Do inattentive, intoxicated, or plain stupid drivers suddenly remember they’re not sitting on the couch at home and become alert and aware?  Do criminals opt for the moral high road because Congress messes with the clock? I don’t know about you, but I’ve haven’t noticed much in the way of enhanced economic benefits falling my way for several years now, despite increased productivity (read: longer hours), regardless of what time it is.

Clock time is an artificial construct, like money: all (or most) members of a society agree to accept as sacred these standardizing fictions to make business easier to conduct and regulate. There was quite the flap back in the 18th century when Europe switched from the (arbitrary) Julian calendar to the (equally arbitrary) Georgian one. A universal howl went up that the governments had shortened everyone’s life by 15 days. Jeezey-peezey. China, the world's next superpower, doesn't even believe in time zones. Clocks the entire breadth of the country—all 60-plus degrees of longitude from east to west—are officially set to Beijing time. It’s like Los Angeles accepting the sun rises in the middle of the night because Washington, D.C. says so. Parts of Indiana and all of Arizona thumb their noses at the very notion. It takes the guy in charge of timepieces at Windsor Castle a full 24 hours to change all the clocks there, and even longer when he's required to "fall back."

Sky-Guy (see next section) wonders, now that Daylight Savings takes up two-thirds of the year, if it shouldn't be called the new Standard Time. We could think of other third as Daylight Wasted Time.

Gardeners and others close to the earth know the only time that matters is measured by the cycles of the sun, the moon and the seasons. Period.

(If you read the November 10, 2010 post, “Bringing in the Plants,” I did warn you springing forward makes for a cranky Kathy for a week or so.)


The constellation Orion
and friends

            The Naval Observatory’s “The Sky This Week’s” guy (I just know he’s a guy, all right? I can tell by the way he writes) congratulated all of us who participated in the GLOBE at Night star check that ended March 6. I logged in as Observer number 7,549, and reported sixth magnitude stars from my dark-ish little corner of the world. It is amazing how many tiny pinpricks of celestial brilliance twinkle around ol’ Orion when your eyes get fully accustomed to low light. Billions and billions, as Carl Sagan used to say. Probably could have made seventh magnitude if my neighbor, a sweet elderly lady who lives on her own, didn’t have electric candles blazing from every window all night.

            Next time I’ll take Tim with me and head to the beach. When’s that? At the end of the month, during the dark of the next moon. I’ll pass on details in a week or so when Sky-Guy reveals them. Or you could check out the website linked above for yourself.

And now a public service announcement.

            Apparently, Google’s Blogger site has developed a glitch. It no longer displays the titles of my most recent posts in the “Most Recent Posts” box. This situation is driving Tim up a wall. He’s tried multiple solutions, like having me sign up to follow my own blog. Didn’t work. He ran through all the recommended troubleshooting protocols. No dice. He posted questions to Google forum and Blogger Help. No one home. Google won’t admit there’s a problem. Fellow victims say they’ve gone months without update notices and then, miraculously, they resume. T thinks it may have something to do with Feed-Burner. But then again, maybe not. When he Pings me (sounds painful), though, I’m there.

Where to click to find
posts you may have missed

The most recent “update” Blogger recognizes is “Quiet Please,” from February 16th. We all know there’ve been six posts since then, including this one. What I shall do is edit a note into the end of “Quiet Please” about clicking on “Older Posts,” “Home,” and/or “Newer Posts” at the bottom of each post (below the “Comments” section, which remains as lonely as the Maytag repairman), including a screen shot of the relevant area. For good measure, I’ll stick a copy of the screen shot—see how technologically advanced I’m getting?—here, too.

            Not to belabor the point (too much), clicking on “Older” takes you to posts made before the one you’re looking at; “Newer” gets you to the one made immediately after the post you’re looking at, which Tim recommends as the best option; and “Home” sends you to the most recent posting.

Serenity and Love

            Be that as it may. I am serenely Zen and above the whole foofarah. I would just like you to know I’ll keep writing as long as you keep reading… even though I have to rely on checking the Stats tab about readership, since the vast majority of you insist on refusing to type in comments.

            Sorry. Slipped out of Zen mode there for a second. Ommmmmmm.

            Thanks for dropping by. Ommmmmmm.


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