A Dream of Summer

A Dream of Summer

(Image credit: Trey Ratcliff, a.k.a. Stuck in Customs @ Flickr)

Driving through land of big sky,
watching nothing gliding by –
grass, wheat, and rye in varied lengths
from freshly mown to navel-high.

We’re on our way and headed West,
adventure badges pinned on-chest –
Seattle, Portland, Oceanside;
for fun, perhaps a little rest.

Then breaking up monotony,
a miracle of trinity –
ramshackle shack, a tree and cloud;
some renegade geometry!

One facet to the sky, my jewel;
one level high the ground unspools;
sight and sound and smells alike –
these little things now make me drool.

For crusted, sandy, shell-strewn edge!
For riding on a jade-foam ledge –
the miles, hotels, tourist traps
all serve to help fulfill my pledge.

As ever turns to salty turf,
my mind looks forward to my birth;
that berth, the earth I find it worth –
still days to go before I surf.


In case you haven’t noticed, I have been tagging my haiku all month long with #NaPoWriMo; this is because April is National Poetry Writing Month, started in 2003 by a poet and publisher named Maureen Thorson, and coincides with National Poetry Month in the U.S. and Canada.

When I found this out early in the month I registered Rob’s Surf Report with napowrimo.net for inclusion in its page of participating sites. Of course, being busy and generally cloudy in the brain, I neglected to go back to that site until yesterday. I found that they post an optional challenge each day, and so I took this one up.

Today’s challenge is to write a ruba’i, which is a Persian form — but remarkably pedestrian in construction; just a quatrain (a four-line stanza for you non-poetic types) with a rhyme scheme of AABA. Stringing multiple ruba’i together (where AABA can commingle with AAAA) makes a ruba’iyat (plural ruba’i,) which is exemplified in Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. It’s child’s play, right?

Dr. Seuss Wooden Nickel
Dr. Seuss Wooden Nickel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wrong. Poets take their craft seriously. Even Dr. Seuss did — you don’t just hack a chunk off a log and sell it as a chair; there’s no value there. You craft it, piece by piece, turning and sanding and fitting the joints with care and precision. You want it to look delicate and intricate while at the same time you desire strength and durability in its function. Importantly, you want each person to see it as fit for whatever purpose springs to mind when they lay eyes on it. You want them to make it theirs and you delight in that purpose previously unconsidered. That’s a work of art.

So this is my ruba’i, and maybe there will be more in the future. I can not see it, for it is formless and void; but with each moment another fraction of it springs into view, and I can only guess at what the next bit will bring.

That’s the adventure.


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Would it Kill Me?

I’m sitting here in my vehicle at lunchtime, nomming on chunk light tuna straight from the pouch, thinking about what people must think when they walk past my car and see me eating plain tuna. Heck, last year I brought the can opener with me and I ate it straight out of the can after draining it out on the ground. I wonder if any of them feel that tuna is inedible without the mayonnaise or other dressing that people normally prepare tuna with, as though it’s akin to eating raw hamburger or something; and I mentally prepare my response to the hypothetical rage onslaught: would it kill you to eat plain tuna?

That’s when I realized the perfect utility of the question. Would it kill you to do X? Like, what’s holding you back?

I have a friend in South Carolina who published a novel and then took a 444-mile journey along one of the oldest trails in the country. Fifteen miles, five hours a day. For a month. Two weeks later, she’s still getting blisters, but she’s got a lot to show for it, inside and out.

I happen to know of a lady who travels the world in a sailboat; one day, she just resigned her job and went after her dream. Most recently she writes about waiting to leave Hawaii for New Zealand after a two and a half month stay.

Sometimes I wonder if it could be so easy for everyone — and sometimes I wonder if I even know what would be better than working a dead-end manufacturing job that grinds the life out of me and all of my co-workers. As in, what is my dream?

Am I even qualified to ask that question?

Would it kill me to try and answer it?

Would it kill me to take a plunge?

I think it’s a heck of a lot easier than people give it credit for to do something they’re reluctant to do, but as Amelia Earhart said “the most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process, is its own reward.”

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Who’s Afraid of Google?

English: Google Logo officially released on Ma...

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past fifteen years, I think you may have heard of Google. The Silicon Valley tech giant that started out with a single page and a few ideas on how to deliver better Internet search results seems to have its hands in everything these days; not just search, email, mapping, and the whole catalog, but also self-driving cars — and as it turns out, flying drones.

Yes. Google means to purchase a drone manufacturer called Titan Aerospace.

But wait – put those worst-case scenarios out of your mind; Google plans to use these drones to provide Internet service, power, and improved real-time aerial mapping — or so they say. But hey, my experience with the company over the past fifteen years and my gut tell me I can trust them more than the United States government with this technology.

This past weekend I was listening to the Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know audio podcast, wherein host Ben Bowlin suggested that a possible future of governance might rest with corporations — not in a shadowy overlord kind of way, but in a future in which we might actually want to live.

Luxembourg: powered by Google.” I thought it a little funny, but it made me wonder whether that wouldn’t be better than the system we have – the one that keeps progressing through ever more sticky pools of stagnant party-driven rhetoric instead of administering policy that benefits the nation and its people in a fair and just manner. Could Google run the federal government?

Should it? Is it possible that a well-meaning mega-
corporation, with its resource and talent pools – not to mention a single style of leadership across the board – could outperform the doddering party politics of today? Fix the federal budget and Social Security? Find a solution to address the size of our military that will satisfy people on both sides of that fence?

Could you imagine that? Creative brainstorming over foreign policy. How to deal with this country’s transgressions or that one’s dangerous pollution levels? Let’s pin a bunch of ideas and talk about it — find a synergistic solution together, something we can realistically do. Domestic policy? Hey, let’s do a round table, I’m buying the protein smoothies!

To be honest, I’m at least a little interested in hearing more about the idea. After all, who’s afraid of Google? I bet they could do a lot to help this country move forward . . . a lot more than our current President, who for all his effort can get nothing done while having to deal with the barrel of moneys that is the Senate.

What do you think? Is there a way to evolve beyond the current system of government? Do corporations seem like the logical way (whether we like it or not?) Would you vote for Google, or do you have some other corporation in mind? (Please, no United States of Wal-Mart!) Let us know in the comments!

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It’s Not Magic: Mushrooms Can Change Our Experience

In case you ever thought a haiku was something I tossed off in a moment after looking at a picture — something I composed and posted in just a few minutes, consider this:

It took me two and a half hours to write today’s haiku. Do you want to know what I learned about mushrooms while writing this haiku? Because they’re fairly amazing.

(Image credit: Didier, a.k.a. didier.bier @ Flickr)

The mushrooms growing on this cone are simply fruit — the outgrowth of a significantly less apparent organism. Like the shadowy few that stand behind the play of world politics, this organism stands in the background and performs the unseen transactions, deals with the silent partners, hides all of the secrets . . .

and the potential of its power, boy, is really what impresses me.

See the little white hairs growing at the base of the mushroom? They call that mycelium. Sometimes it’s visible, and sometimes it’s too small to see; but this is the powerhouse behind the more apparent fungus that is sometimes eaten, sometimes toxic, and often the bane of picky horticulturalists. It turns out that getting rid of mushrooms is just like plucking an apple from a tree, though, because they’re growing from mycelium that suffuses the surrounding earth. And although some find them annoying, very few mushroom varieties are parasitic, in effect feeding from live organisms; most are saprophytic, which means they live on dead or decaying material. They are the forest’s recycling system, transforming old carbon-rich organic material into fresh soil.

And oh, they get extensive. In Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, author and mushroom expert Paul Stamets describes a 2,400-acre site in Oregon that

“had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it. Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in so doing has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever-larger stands of trees.”

There’s a case against deforestation, am I right? Point one, nature does it for us; point two, why not just grow natural plastic and take some of that wood out of the equation?

Oh wait, did you know about the plastic?

It’s no secret that plastic is made from oil and it takes a bajillion years to break down. Everyone knows that’s a problem. Enter bioplastics: technically not plastics, but similar in behavior and function, they are newer materials that could replace plastics across entire industries. They’re environmentally friendly; they’re grown, they’re biodegradable, they’re recyclable, and they’re made from mycelium, those mats of tendrils that transport nutrients from decaying organic matter to their fungal fruit. According to Marc Gunther’s article in The Guardian Can Mushrooms Replace Plastic?

“They can produce packaging, home insulation, fiberboard for furniture, even a surfboard.”

Mushroom surfboards? Sign me up, dude!

So here’s the simple list — the upshot of why making plastics from mushrooms is an awesome idea:

  • The base material is plentiful and inexpensive – crop waste, like corn stalks, are bought from American farmers, giving them additional revenue and saving buckets of ducats over the precious oil used to make traditional plastics. Could this bring down fuel prices as well?
  • Because it’s grown and not drilled, it’s renewable.
  • Because it’s organic it can break down naturally, in effect biodegradable.
  • Because it’s biodegradable, it can help alleviate waste issues — specifically, burgeoning landfills and the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch.

In addition, mycelium can be used to:

  • break down soil contaminants, such as oil and chemical spills, in a process known as mycoremediation;
  • remove contaminants like chemicals, bacteria, and heavy metals from water in a process called mycofiltration;
  • prevent soil erosion due to water runoff, which is another application of mycofiltration;
  • enhance crop yields and forest sustainability — mycoforestry;  and
  • control insect populations — mycopesticides.

I get excited about stuff like this – essentially, we could use the Earth to restore, renew, and rescue the Earth. Everything we need is right here, homegrown. And the following videos also got me excited:

Yes, I’m excited to live in a magical world where every day we move toward improving our symbiotic relationship with it. This is stewardship;

and thus your adventure may continue. Go live it.

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Where the closest ocean is all in my mind


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