On Seeing Things

When is the last time you stretched out on your back under a sky full of clouds?

Your mind literally cannot help but make sense of the seemingly random balloonings or smears or pulled threads of clouds. It is what minds do—create order from patterns that our eye and mind can’t help but look for.

Seeing shapes in billowing clouds or ceiling tiles was once thought to be a kind of madness.

But on looking again at pareidolia, it just may have something to teach us about creativity.

See faces in the clouds? It might be a sign of your creativity

I was reminded of this a few days back (before the near-strike of lightning at the house) when we saw a series of towering “cumulonimbus incus” clouds commonly known as Anvil Clouds of anvil-tops—a name derived from the flattened upper reaches where the air has hit the “cap” of the atmosphere and goes OUT instead of UP.

In the coming weeks, I will try to post some cloud pix, and you can import them and show us the things you see. We can compare notes, and see which one of us is the craziest. I did this to a cloud shot in the first year of blogging (2002) and titled it “The Hand of God reaches down and touches the face of….a poodle.” Guess you had to be there.

About anvil clouds so you can be alert that these things can cause mischief:

A cumulonimbus incus is a mature thunderstorm cloud generating many dangerous elements.

  • Lightning; this storm cloud is capable of producing bursts of cloud to ground lightning.
  • Hail; hailstones may fall from this cloud if it’s a highly unstable environment (which favors a more vigorous storm updraft).
  • Heavy rain; this cloud may drop several inches of rain in a short amount of time. This can cause flash flooding.
  • Strong wind; gale-force winds from a downburst may occur under this cloud.
  • Tornadoes; in severe cases (most commonly with supercells), it can produce tornadoes.

So Where’s The Church?

Rock Hill Church Road was once a state-maintained road with a county road number (714 I think) that is now in VDOT limbo status of not abandoned but not maintained. There are three full time residences on a half mile of single lane gravel road.

That said, it is named for a church that presumably once stood somewhere along this short single-lane path–most likely near Roberson Mill Road, the “main” artery of travel for the community near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

And so, as I do the work of re-placing myself after 20 years embedded by head and heart on Goose Creek, I begin anew to get my bearings and find my relationships within this new and not unpleasant but not familiar dot on the surface of the Third Rock.

We are learning when and where to look for wildlife and enjoying the proximity to town that makes this location more convenient for drop-in masked visitors for a porch sit. I suppose these surroundings are as familiar as we should expect at just a little more than two weeks in place.

But now that we’re mostly out of cardboard, I’m looking around wondering what in the world am I? Why is this road a “church” road is there is not somewhere along here the foundation of that building?

I feel certain somebody knows the answer, and when I find out, I’ll let you know (the tension for you must be terrible not knowing!)

Meanwhile, we are keeping our eyes open. I see on the topo maps a “path” that at some point paralleled the existing road and turned west. At just that point today exists a copse of fairly mature trees between pastures north and south, with within those trees lies a large mass of rocks.

In fact there are two masses of rocks–those larger ones in place long enough to be covered in lichens; and a second pile of apparently newer baseball to grapefruit sized rocks much smaller than those typically culled from a tilled pasture. I can’t explain them.

But there does not seem to be a foundation (old steps etc) that would suggest a building ever stood there. At least now we have explored that spot we see every day on our walk down to the mailbox.

And I’m thinking somebody in the community can at least tell us what denomination the church was, so we can research it that way, if they don’t know exactly where it stood. And when we find out, we will be better “placed” in the time continuum of the current WHERE of our lives. And that life-context is part of what I refer to as my “personal ecology” that extends from MY space and place to be grounded on the globe, in the now and then, and in Earth’s life-systems, starting at home.

New Ground

We walked through our tiny patch of forest (compared to Goose Creek) in the rain–of course, in the Monsoon of June–on our third full day at what I used to refer to as The Other Place. It is now This Place.

We startled twin fawns out of the understory near the spring head. They flushed in different directions, and I wondered how they will reconnect with momma, still nursing as these very young must be. They bleat when tormented by a dog (as we used to experience every time this year during the Tsuga and Gandy years.) But do they call to their siblings and mother when their hiding place is disturbed and they panic and run?

By the time we left, one fawn was already back near its bedding spot. The mother was likely aware of the disturbance, and back with her twins by the time we had returned to the house.

The trill and throb of Cicadas high overhead and in surround-sound will be an aural marker and memory of our move, and we will remember it well in 2037 when they return. He said.

We will lay out a mower path through the recently mown pasture so we can reach the woods as the grasses grow back to knee-height. I am hoping to barter with a neighbor to cut a perimeter swath around the edge of the whole 17 acre pasture for this purpose.

There is not much understory in these woods, the trees sufficiently mature to shade out the brambles and shrubs of more recently disturbed places. But I did not expect to find a flowering plant in those woods to add to my life-list, a botany follower now for a half century and my first observation of this monochrome specimen. This, I declare, is a good omen.

Small round-leaved orchid:

Platanthera orbiculata, the lesser roundleaved orchid is a species of orchid native to forested areas of North America. It is widespread across most of Canada and parts of the United States (Alaska, New England, Appalachian Mountains, Great Lakes Region, Rocky Mountains, Black Hills and northern Cascades).

Platanthera orbiculata is found in moist to mesic shaded locations in forests. Each plant has two large, nearly round leaves that lie close to the ground, plus a vertical flowering stalk bearing a spike of small, white flowers.

wikipedia

On Herd Immunity: or Not

Path of least resistance AND looking at new ways of getting information (mostly for me) out of my “second brain” of Roam Research (“networked tool for thought) and into a place that has at least a weak possibility of finding its way into other minds and unlikely conversation:

So I will, from time to time, post stuff in this fashion. In this instance, all “highlights” are pulled directly from the long article to help me better understand the content. In future, at times, I will add my own commentary. FWIW.

►Most important info here: learn about Rt versus R0 (R Nought) and what they mean with regard to COVID rise and fall.

In Roam, I will further digest such a piece via “progressive summarization” so that I have some level of mastery of the details. But enough, already.

Article:: Dangerous misunderstandings by [[Dr. Felicia Keesing]]

Dangerous misunderstandings | Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

  • Tags:: #roam_highlighter #pandemic #prevention
  • See also graphs by state of Rt Rt: Effective Reproduction Number
    • 📌FBF: this is really worth a look!
  • See also Herd immunity | Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
  • Highlights::
    • def: Rt, the effective reproduction number
    • What does it mean to say that Rt is less than one?
      • It means that if 10 people were infected, they’d infect only 9 others (in the case of Rt = 0.9) or 8 others (in the case of Rt = 0.8). Whenever Rt is less than one, there will be fewer and fewer infected people over time. The further Rt is below one, the faster this decline will happen.
      • Right now in the United States, most states have an estimated Rt of between 0.75 and 0.98. A handful of states have Rt above 1, but even the highest – Minnesota this week – is only at 1.05.
    • In most places, if we kept doing what we’ve been doing for long enough, the disease would slowly, slowly decline, potentially to zero
      • The three important points about this are these:
        1. The decline to zero would take a long time. Months and months. And months.
        1. Along the way, more and more people would be getting infected, and some of them would die. The total number of people infected at any one moment would be declining, but the actual people suffering would keep changing.
        1. As soon as we change what we’re doing about social distancing, hygiene, and quarantining, Rt will change as well, almost certainly by going up.
      • A problem for many of the reopening scenarios is that they assume that there is a threshold density below which students (or workers) returning to campuses (or offices) will be “safe” and above which they won’t be. But at least for now, there isn’t. For now, the less contact infected people have with others, the safer it will be[3]. It’s not a threshold. It’s a continuum.
    • If we want to reach the thresholds of *safe* or *normal*, we will need better solutions
      • For example, we could reopen higher-density settings, including campuses, (fairly) safely if we could test everyone daily, trace their contacts, and quarantine anyone who tests positive. But we can’t [4]. We could reach a threshold of something like normal if we had a safe, effective, and widely available vaccine. But we don’t.
    • As we plan the details of when and how to reopen more spaces and activities going forward, we face two critical issues.
      • How to lower the risks as much as possible
        • This involves
          • finding ways to maximize both hygiene (think masks, hand sanitizer, and extra cleanings) and distancing (think single-occupancy spaces, and socially-distant cafeterias).
          • We must also have a workable plan for what to do when people inevitably become sick. How do we detect infected people quickly, and how do we responsibly and efficiently identify their contacts? For colleges and universities, how do we quarantine sick students?
          • And how do we protect the most vulnerable?
      • Determining what level of risk is acceptable
        • With the tools we currently have, it’s not a question of whether creating lower-density campuses or businesses is safe. It’s a question of whether it’s safe enough. That’s not a scientific question, and it doesn’t have a scientific answer.
      • ❗R t versus R nought ❗
        • The effective reproduction number Rt is different from Ro (R-nought), though they’re related. Ro is the number of cases that would arise if an infected person was in a population in which everyone else was susceptible to infection. In theory at least, it’s an immutable property of a pathogen. In contrast, when some people are immune, through prior exposure or vaccination, or when people take active steps to reduce transmission (like washing hands or social-distancing or wearing masks), we need a different number. That’s Rt. It’s a measure of the number of new cases that are actually arising from each infected person, and it can change based on our behavior.

The Future of Feeding Ourselves

Food for Thought: Can we continue to rely on the decades-old means of growing, harvesting, shipping and buying fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and other products when COVID-19 impedes this complex web of frail links in every segment of the grocery-chain?

This article appeared in the Floyd Press (Floyd, VA) on April 31, 2020.

If you read it there, you probably did NOT go to the resources page, and you should at least give a look for links to planting, gardening and online ordering for local food.

Feeding ourselves through and beyond the current contagion must take on a new priority right away.

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating previously unknown problems we must deal with regarding all aspects of food and eating. It has exacerbated existing deficiencies in the commerce and consumption of food; and it has caused consumers and land-stewards to look again at the agri-business history of broken links in the chain between fertile soil and hungry bellies.

Let’s take a quick look at threats to our food supply, and then consider food choices we can make now that require the fewest food miles, provide the highest nutrition and offer the healthiest means for us to buy and eat local food, and all this, while supporting our farmer-neighbors.

The present and future impacts of COVID-19 on our at-risk food supply are many. In this short space, we can only paint concerns in the “grocery cycle” with a broad brush. What might go wrong?

–Border issues and COVID19 risks brings about a lack of workers to plant and pick

–Timing failures in harvest, shipping, shelving and purchase of perishables

–Lack of healthy truckers to transport food across the continent

–Bottlenecks in supply chain fail to route shipments to areas of greatest need or workers (meatpackers etc.) become infected creating weak links in delivery channels.

–A rigidly-structured food system fails to repurpose product for end-buyers- — from empty cruise ships, universities, restaurants and Disney World to local grocery stores where demand is high.

–Food protectionism suspends exports and prevents imports

And looking at the consequences of just this short and partial list of issues, the likely outcomes include:

–Massive Food waste. Fresh vegetables being turned into mulch. Millions of gallons of milk being dumped. Slaughterhouses idled by sick workers.

–Maldistribution of available food not reaching the most needy and at-risk

— And soon to come: Much reduced variety for non-local and out of season fruits and vegetables, and…

–Worsening shortages and a significant increase in food prices

In the midst of these concerns and increasing agri-biz dysfunction, a revolution is rapidly unfolding in the local-foods landscape. Online orders have increased enormously, nationwide, in the past two months.

Access to locally-grown and available meats, cheese, fruits and vegetables has become a digital priority. With the requirements for social distancing, plans are being made by individual providers to take online orders and provide for safe exchange in the US, including Floyd county.

The existing social and natural resources in rural SWVA put us in good position to take immediate action in this time of urgent need to move ourselves back towards food sovereignty and security.

The season for The Floyd Victory Garden has arrived. And our local farmers and gardeners can help both nourish and educate us in this community effort to feed ourselves. What can we do now?

— Use the Floyd Market Guide to find local vendors, many of whom have online ordering. Support our Food Champions and join them working the soil.

— Learn how you can shop safely with social distancing at our Farmers Market, opening May 2.

— Find out what the needs are for donations to local food banks such as Plenty! where volunteer services are complicated by COVID19.

— Ramp up your backyard garden with extra rows for surplus to give to neighbors. Ask for help and information for tending larger and more productive gardens and orchards. Let’s do it now!

You can view and/or download helpful information on these food-centric actions and more at this link: https://www.are.na/fred-first/food-beyond-the-pandemic