Youngblood Blog

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Fairies, Fantasy & Fabulous Royals—Imaginary Friends in our Comfort Cave

FAIRIES, FANTASY, ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS FODDER for our IWSG COMFORT CAVE
MONTHLY HIDEOUT for INSECURE WRITERS—FANTASY or OTHERWISE

Flights of fancy are more than just soaring imagination—away with the fairies

With Flower Fairies of the Spring, a Victorian classic published 1923 illustrated by Cicely Mary Barker (1895-1973), and read by generations of British children, came a late Art Deco/Bohemian breakaway from traditional, classical portrayal of the Faerie realm. Prior to her designs, C.16th Edmund Spenser classic, The Faerie Queene—reputed to have inspired Shakespeare—was traditional English fare.

Victorian myth and local legend combined to fill a child’s imagination

Bohemian Breakaway from Faerie Queene
The Faerie Queene (1590) epic poem by Edmund Spenser (c. 1552–1599), follows the adventures of a group of medieval knights. The poem, written in deliberately archaic style, draws on history and myth—particularly the legends of Arthur, beloved of Brits.

Each book/canto follows the adventures of a knight representing a desirable virtue—holiness, temperance, chastity, friendship, justice, courtesy—each having that quality in him or herself tested by the plot. The Faerie Queene is allegorical—praising Elizabeth I—Gloriana—Faerie Queene herself, the virgin Belphoebe, and Elizabethan notions of virtue. The poem uses contemporary history and politics to celebrate and criticize the Tudor dynasty, twisting religious controversies and reforms of the time under Mary and Elizabeth. Spenser wrote that one of his intentions was that reading his work should ‘fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle disciple’. Yet somehow it satisfies current hunger in movie audiences for historical realism.

Lavender fairy, courtesy Cicely Mary Barker

In Book 2, the knight Guyon reads an old history of Faerieland, which gives Spenser the opportunity to recount a chronicle of British rulers. In Canto 10*, he tells the story of Leyr/Lyr. The story is similar to that told by C.12th historian Geoffrey of Monmouth. In Spenser’s version, Leyr is looking to retire in his old age. After the love test and division of the realm, he weds Gonorill to the king of Scotland, and Regan to the king of Cambria/Wales. Cordeill/Cordelia is sent dowerless to Aganip of Celtica (France). In a gripping ending, dutiful daughter Cordeill restores Leyr to the crown and later inherits it herself; only to be overthrown by her nephews. In Spenser’s version, Cordeill hangs herself, rather than stabbing or cutting herself—and this is probably source of the method of Cordelia’s murder in Shakespeare’s play.
*Stanzas 27–32 (pp. 332–34)

Classic English Rose, High Queen of Summer

Swinging in her scented bower, Wild Rose Fairy is High Queen of Summer, 1925

I am the queen whom everybody knows:
I am the English Rose;
As light and free as any Jenny Wren,
As dear to Englishmen;

Fold on fold of purest white, lovely pink or red that glows; deep, sweet-scented—what delight—to be Fairy of the Rose


As joyous as a Robin Redbreast’s tune,
I scent the air of June;
My buds are rosy as a baby’s cheek;
I have one word to speak,

One word which is my secret and my song,
’Tis “England, England, England” all day long.
Wild Rose Fairy
Cicely Mary Barker, 1925


Royals Rev up in Fabulous Fantasy Fashion

“England, England” may only rarely be shouted by joyful football fans these days, but we are fortunate in our IWSG underground fantasy writing cave—where all intrepid but insecure introvert writers hole up over the holidays to have instant internet access to inspiring full-frontal videos of beautiful young British Royals flaunting a fashion statement in a kingdom relatively unchanged since the 16th century, while at the same time showing us writers a way to keep the flag flying.

HRH Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex at Sandringham for Christmas

HRH Diana, Princess of Wales, who died over twenty years ago under dramatic circumstances, led the then reluctant British monarchy out of their closeted rule-bound protocol existence, venturing across mine-strewn warfields, embracing young unknown admirers in a royal walkabout. Her sons, Princes Wills and Harry, have taken a lead from her. Both their wives, HRH Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, left, are encouraged to meet the public, and displays of genuine affection have jumped from royal bedchamber into commoner children’s street life. Diana would have loved all this sharing.

It just happens that our vintage Space Cap’n Alex is a movie maestro—with current historical-realism featuring high on his pick list—Mary, Queen of Scots and The Favourite (elderly spinster Queen Anne) shine light into a royal system unchanged for centuries—until now.

It’s an open secret that Prince Charles is happier in his organic garden than in the throne room. HM the Queen shows no sign of faltering, bless her handbag. Young fairytale princesses in phantom gowns have her approval. And always make us feel better.

May angels surround us through 2019.
New Year resolution? May we expect the unexpected.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

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January 2, 2019 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, birds, calendar customs, consciousness, culture, elemental, fantasy, fiction, nature, publishing, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Appearance or Disappearance? Loopholes in the Cetacean Matrix

APPEARANCE OR DISAPPEARANCE? Loopholes in the Cetacean Matrix
Monthly Disappearance Corner for Insecure Writers

My favorite margin edge: barnacles lining a humpback’s mouth as she blows

Birds do it; Bees do it;
Even educated fleas do it.
Let’s do it. Let’s fall in love.
Ella Fitzgerald after Cole Porter

Blowing One’s Horn
THAR SHE BLOWS is a culturally frowned-on expression these days. When Hermann Melville used it in Moby Dick, 1851, he was quoting the phrase by whalers of his day who scoured the northern seas for whale harvest. But Ahab also had revenge in his heart for the white whale he sought who had taken his knee on a previous whale hunt.

World whaling nations

Nowadays those nations who still hunt whales—e.g. Norway, South Korea, Australia, Iceland, Denmark/Greenland, Russia, get no support from world whale trusts, and public outcry to uphold a worldwide whale ban is now deafening. Unapproved or condoned, the whale has the greatest ability of all mammals alive these days to ‘blow’ her horn. Dogs do it, cats do it; even educated rats in spats do it [we’re told]. Probably the most famous human to do it—to blow his horn—was trumpet virtuoso Louis Armstrong, 1901-1971.

Cetacean Nation or Scrambled Ambergris
Constellation Cetus, which we see now in our winter northern sky, is a crossover from the southern hemisphere, a sea monster pardoned by Helios/Sun after being frozen by Perseus—with the aid of Medusa’s head which turned it to stone—and sent to shine next to Eridanus, the celestial river which connects northern and southern sky hemispheres. Poseidon created Cetus to represent the power of the deep sea, and sent the sea monster on many missions of destruction. He met his death when Poseidon punished Queen Cassiopeia for her never-ending boasting, and ordered the powerful creature to destroy the Ethiopian coast. Catalogued by astronomer Ptolemy, c.A.D.100 in his Almagest, he was the sea monster sent by Neptune to devour Andromeda, chained to a rock as a sacrifice. In Greek myth, Cetus was turned to stone but released to the Cosmos, to shine forever.

Celestial sea ‘monster’ Ketos/Cetus the Whale clambers into northern skies to remind us of our oceanic origins

Cetus is the fourth largest constellation in the night sky, occupying 1,231 square degrees. Cetus is intertwined with Aquarius, Aries, Eridanus, Fornax, Pisces, Sculptor and Taurus. The constellation has four main stars and nine deep space objects, including one Messier and three meteor showers.

Superstitious sailors believed in cetus as the bringer of a great storm or misfortune on the ship. They associated it with lost cargo, the presence of pirates, or being swept off course, and avoided any talk of it aboard ship. Cetus equated to having a woman on board. Both were considered unlucky—as the Sea was the Sailor’s only Mistress—so presence of both presaged superhuman disaster.

Ambergris forms the basis of human—female perfumes; whale oil (blubber) used for lanterns until the advent of kerosene in 1860. Theoretically no nation needs to kill for fuel any more; but ‘scientific assessment’ continues within the whaling nations, despite statistics of decline.

We IWSGers are no strangers to deadlines! ❤ Superstitious? Well, yeah, kinda. Goes with being a Writing Introvert. We like symbolism, but a gathering storm of politicos has consequences for all of us.

As our SciFi guru Alex, says, we need to grow up; let the skittles fall where they may—get on with our latest writing project—and start cherishing the special creatures in our midst.

Before it is too late.

According to world wolf/bear and whale survival statistics, the deadline has passed: it’s already later than we think.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Ascension, astrology, astronomy, authors, birds, blogging, culture, environment, festivals, fiction, music, novel, publishing, seasonal, traditions, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Birds of a Feather—The Cuckoo in the Nest

BIRDS OF A FEATHER—THE CUCKOO IN THE NEST
Monthly Perch for Insecure Writers & Others of that Ilk

Subterranean Samhain monster in partially submerged Oligocene strata, Antipaxos, Ionian Sea

Our current cultural vision may seem similar to that strange bird, the cuckoo—medieval cuckold comes to mind ❤ —who 'invades' a functioning bird family, usurping the nest, flinging his fellow flightless companions to their deaths and running adoptive mother (meadow pippet) ragged, while he—oversize and undernourished—tumbles overspilling—into first flight.

To divert us ISWGers from our tendency to dwell on our failings, forget that we are capable of greatness, I devised a strategy of timewarp which should please our Ninja Cap'n Alex—time travel.

Only on this occasion, we're doing it in reverse.
Let's go back. Way back. Buckle up. You might discover something new on the ancestral (animal) path.

If you’re pouncing broadly into Jurassic Park time, Jurassic World even, that’s mezozoic: 199.6million-145million years ago, a little early. Imagine beyond Tyranosaurus Rex, post-pterodactyl, after Smilodon

Jurassic Ancestors Die off after Global Cooling

The Oligocene Epoch, when our Ionian Ogre, top, appeared, came right in the middle of the Tertiary Period—at end of the Paleogene—approx. 33.9 million-23 million years ago. Although it lasted a ‘short’ 11 million years, a number of major changes happened at that time. Changes caused by global cooling include appearance of the first elephants with trunks, early horses, and an explosion of many grasses that fostered a habitat for a sudden influx of new quadrupeds.

As a result of cooling temperatures, life and habitat of many ocean organisms were directly affected. Marine eco-environments fragmented as sea creatures able to withstand cooler temperatures migrated to places further from warm equatorial current. This suddenly reduced diversity in marine plankton—foundation of the food chain.

Nocturnal raptors had an easier time in the Oligocene until daytime hawks & eagles joined in

On land, mammals like horses, deer/elk, camel, elephants, cats, dogs, rats and primates began to dominate—except in Australia.

In Western Europe there were 17 generic extinctions, 20 first appearances, and 25 mammal survivals. As the land fauna migration route between Asia and North America dispersed lineages of cattle, pig, giraffe, and camel to new continents, South American forest and pampas flourished. Apes developed both in the Amazon and in Africa simultaneously, but Africa alone created the first hominids. North America spawned the rat, his cousin the gopher and many lesser mouse companions.

Fossil Hyaenodon from White River, South Dakota, coyote ancestor found in Badlands National Park

The first feathered bird appeared with a beak that was mobile enough to catch insects—presumably our friend the pterodactyl couldn’t. The first deciduous broadleaves [oak, ash, hazel] started to infiltrate the previously dominant redwood (northern) rainforest.

Conifers were also losing ground to developing grasslands—spreading from Mongolia via the land bridge to American prairies and the Midwest—perfect habitat for newer, speedier grazing mammals. Buffalo, cattle, boar-pig—with supporting cast of voles and hamsters.

In the southern pampas, camel and giraffe diversified to become llama and alpaca. Tropical rainforest found refuge in equatorial Amazonia and Indonesia.

Primeval Beaver and Wiley Coyote

Racoon ancestral selfie

Daylight raptors, like falcons, eagles, and hawks, along with 7-10 families of rodents, first appeared proliferating new northern forests, strengthening along with the grain.

The ancestor of the American beaver built his first dam.

Burgeoning meadow grasses made for rapid and diverse genetic growth in horses, developing both in size and speed capability. Ancestor of the Mustang started here.

I liked the logic of the Aleutian land bridge being used by intelligent—and high-energy new creatures—along with their predators—in a competitive novel environment, bringing new lifeforms and muscle power to the New World. The present Kentucky racehorse may be the pinnacle of that growth curve.

Forgive my digression. I had to think laterally. The news is otherwise too distracting. For a writer, that is. NaNoWriMo is also in progress and I’m ‘resting’ this year 😉
Thanks to the Ancestors—fish and fowl, feline and four-pawed.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

November 7, 2018 Posted by | authors, birds, calendar customs, culture, festivals, fiction, history, nature, novel, publishing, trees, volcanic, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Drop, Cover & Wh-a-a-a-t? Falling in Unison off the Cliff

DROP, COVER & WHAT’S THAT YOU’RE SAYING? A-A-A-A-R-R-G-H
…as We Fall in Unison off the Cliff

Give me your hand—there ya go—oops

The Great ShakeOut across the American continent has become a national obsession: an emergency drill—in case of earthquake, fire, flood or tsunami—which drives people on October 18th at 10:18a.m. to

Drop—Cover—and Hold On

when the adrenalin in your cells prompts you to run—for higher ground.

Sixty-three thousand people along the North Coast west of the Cascades, are participating in 2018—from Seattle, WA through Oregon to Northern California, a fraction of the 10million participants in the state of California as a whole. For comparison, Japan ShakeOut drills involve 4.5million people throughout the year.

Preparedness Tip for the Real Thing

10/18 at 10:18—drop, cover & hold on, when you want to run to higher ground

“Put together a grab-n-go emergency kit for work or home—a satchel or small backpack—to include those essentials you need to survive for a few days, if you have only minutes to leave. On my list are water, medications, extra glasses, a thumb drive with photos of important documents, power bars, raincoat, space blanket, flashlight, hand-cranked portable radio and, most important, chocolate. Everyone in your family should have one—children can include a stuffed toy, game or favorite book”
Prof. Emeritus Lori Dengler, HSU Geology dept. ShakeOut guru, October 2018

She suggests we think about what happens if we’re driving when the earthquake hits. A big one will feel like a blowout. So, to avoid having an accident, slow down and stop until the shaking has weakened. It’s good to rehearse a scenario beforehand without fear, so that it prepares us for an actual event. e.g. what would you do if you happened to be in a low area by the coast or bay where a tsunami might follow?

“Pay attention to your surroundings”, says Prof. Dengler. Is the road damaged? Has traffic made the street impassable? How far are you from roads heading inland?

If the street is still passable, proceed slowly to one of those roads. If you can’t drive, leave your car and go on foot.

Counting Calms the Mind
Preparatory thinking need not alarm us. It gets us in the zone. We are restless souls, our minds constantly on the move: motivated either by fear or duty/habit.

Count von Count’s answer was always to count

If you need something to do to keep your mind occupied during the ShakeOut drill—COUNT. Counting will help calm down the adrenalin rush that all of us feel in an earthquake.

And remember to breathe. 😉

After all, what if we are with children, or older ones with disability access issues? we have to try to make counting fun; but keep it practical. Know your local vulnerable areas: stay clear of highways where emergency vehicles have priority.

According to Kevin Cupples, city planner for the town of Seaside, OR, for the seventy-one thousand people living in Cascadia’s Inundation Zone, that will mean evacuating in the narrow window after one disaster ends and before another begins.

“They will be notified to do so only by the earthquake itself—a vibrate-alert system,” he jokes. And he urges people to leave on foot, since the earthquake will render roads impassable. Depending on location, they will have between ten and thirty minutes to get out. That time line does not allow for finding a flashlight, tending to an earthquake injury, hesitating amid the ruins of a home, searching for loved ones, or being a Good Samaritan.

“You protect yourself. When that tsunami is coming, you run for your life.”
Jay Wilson, Chair, Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC)

This is where counting is useful—the count itself, like thunderclaps seconds after a lightning strike, helps us assess the magnitude of a quake aftershock and/or tsunami floodwaters to come.

Downtown San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake broke water mains, created unquenchable fires

Making the Great ShakeOut fun for children and elders is worth the effort during a practice run, especially as our gut reaction in an actual event will give us no time for amusement! It also helps the family know what their duties are when/if the Big One comes.

Shaking from a Cascadia quake will set off landslides throughout the region—up to 30,000 in Seattle alone, according to city emergency management.

“It will induce a process called liquefaction, whereby seemingly solid ground starts behaving like a liquid, to the detriment of anything on top of it.”

Fifteen per cent of Seattle is built on liquefiable land, including day-care centers and homes of some 34,500 people. Portland is Oregon’s critical energy-infrastructure hub, a six-mile stretch of the city through which 90% of the state’s liquid fuel pipelines flow and where the majority of its electrical substations and natural gas terminals are located.

Together with earth movement, the subsequent sloshing, sliding, and shaking will trigger fires, flooding, pipe failures, dam breaches, and hazardous-material spills. “Any one of these second-order disasters could swamp the original earthquake in terms of cost, damage, or casualties—and one of them definitely will”, according to Wilson.

Four to six minutes after the dogs start barking, the shaking will subside.

For another few minutes, with or without a functional tsunami warning alarm—sounding more dramatic and perilously like a wobble-up&down squeal than a police siren—the whole NorthCoast region—in disarray—will continue to fall apart on its own.

Then the wave will arrive, and the real destruction will begin.
Seriously.
Count for Great ShakeOut 2018: fifty-nine million worldwide, 20.1 million in U.S.A.
Are you in?
©2018 Marian Youngblood

October 18, 2018 Posted by | belief, calendar customs, culture, earth changes, environment, New Earth, ocean | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Millennial or Generational Divide: all Baby-Boomers’ Fault

MILLENNIAL OR GENERATIONAL DIVIDE: ALL BABY-BOOMERS’ FAULT
Monthly IWSG Writerly Hideaway for All Generations

Ernst & Young report on Rise of Gen-Z shows 2001+ iGen overtaking Millennials worldwide

“Millennials are more focused on what’s in it for them. They look outside to others—companies and colleagues—for solutions; whereas the younger people naturally seek to create their own solutions.”
Marcie Merriman, Exec.Dir. Ernst & Young LLP

Children born in 2001 will turn 18 next year. In U.S. many will enter university, vote and, depending on their choice, may smoke and drink alcohol without breaking the law. These are the Gen Zers or iGens. They have never known a non-digital world and have grown up amid a world aware of terrorism and global recession.

They are grandchildren of the Flower Power peace people of the ‘sixties Boomer breakaway. They have seen mistakes made by parents and grandparents, and are determined to do things better.

Psychedelic Dragon by 12-year old GenZ artist

And they have the IT capability to make it happen.

Baby Boomer Baggage
Boomers, born after their parents returned from war in 1945, were radical—not rad like their great-grandkids, but countercultural enough to up-tentpoles and follow their rock idols (as groupies) anywhere; some experiencing Vietnam, took the advice of Berkeley guru-of-all-trades, Timothy Leary:—

“Turn on, tune in, drop out”
Timothy Leary, UC Berkeley, 1966
Mantra of the ‘Sixties psychedelic generation

Millennials, on the other hand, are accustomed to external motivators, according to a recent report by Ernst & Young. Time Magazine called them “The Me Me Me Generation” because they want it all. To Psychology Today they are known as confident, entitled and depressed.

Apex hippie flower power Boomer music curve, Altamont 1969:— “If U remember, U weren’t there”

Born between 1980 and 2000, incentives, trophies, and praise were used [by their parents, the Baby Boomers, themselves struggling to survive] to motivate Millennials as they were growing up. Many Millennials lack internal motivation to overcome career impatience.

iGens are DIY-motivated, independent; i.e. if you want it done right, do it yourself—75% of them believe there are alternative ways to get a good education than attending college, according to Sparks & Honey 2018 survey. Nielsen’s recent research survey finds:

“Each generation comes with a unique pattern of behavior, presenting challenges for those targeting them. Gen Z are bombarded by messages and, as a generation, can quickly detect its relevance to them.”

Demographic switch-over is welcome news for delivery services, gadget makers and the so-called gig economy.
But it means headaches for educators, event planners, luxury brands and travel companies. Golf and world cruising are relegated almost exclusively to Baby-Boomerdom. Golf is now a game where the average age of players is 50+. Tiger Woods, 42, would be pleased to know he is an anachronism.

Rôle-Hopping or Job-Hopping

Which generation burns the candle at both ends? CatGen, of course

Growing up fast in an on-demand culture, the Millennial generation [b.1980-2001] has little patience for stagnation, especially when it impacts their careers. They switch jobs. Or hold down multiple after-hours work themes.

Generation Z don’t want to miss any valuable experience. They flex their super-aware learning antennae by multi-tasking: marketing, accounting, human resources—always with IT—within an organization. Or work from home.

iGens say they’d rather have a reliable internet connection, than a functioning bathroom, according to Nielsen. They make do with what is—while continuing to communicate with a network of roughly 150 friends—see Dunbar Numbervia Memes, wordplay, game slang and graphics.

Global Citizens or Spectators

IWSG Anthology contest continues thru Nov 4

Nielsen states 58 percent of adults worldwide aged 35+ agreed “kids today have more in common with their global peers than with adults in their own country.”

Millennials were the first global generation. They saw significant world events in their life times and share character traits and international values across borders.

Gen Z interacts with global peers with greater fluidity than any previous generation. As more people come online and geography continues to shrink, Gen Z see themselves as global citizens.

We Insecure writers are mostly head down tunnel-visioned introverts. Our Ninja Cap’n.Alex helps us draw inspiration from the future—his prequel CassaDawn is reviewed as rivaling Asimov’s Foundation. Asimov (1920-1992) was of the classic “Silent Generation”. Think Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Dean Martin and the Ocean’s-11 Rat Pack—themselves prequel to 2018’s Ocean’s-8.

A great way for us—in-between Boomer groups—to cherish our ancestors!
©2018 Marian Youngblood

October 3, 2018 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, fiction, history, novel, publishing, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Season of Mists, Mellow Fruitfulness & Hotspots

SEASON OF MISTS, MELLOW FRUITFULNESS & HOTSPOTS
Autumnal Insecure Writers‘ Monthly Hideaway

IWSG Anthology contest, submissions accepted from today, September 5th

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells
John Keats, Ode to Autumn, 1820

Should our Ninja Commander-in-Chief, Alex J. Cavanaugh be slaving (creatively) over the holiday period, I want to thank him for keeping this little writerly group together for a respectable period of time.

Let Not Labor Day Week Disturb, All Passes
We have a tendency to enter September, with a doom-and-gloom attitude—thinking the end of the year is upon us, fall is here & I haven’t done what I thought I would do. We allow ourselves to return to the TGIF and Woe-is-Me-Monday pattern. Such autumnal thoughts weigh us down or distract us from the lustre we see as we enter another season.

Brazil’s Museu Nacional—National Museum—in Rio de Janeiro after last Sunday’s fire, Sept.2nd

Writerly advice is not my strong point, but I know of some good human advice for introverts—which writers, according to Myers-Briggs’ classic curve, usually are: pause, stand and look at the view, and b-r-e-a-t-h-e!

There are others out there FAR WORSE OFF than you and me. The residents of Puerto Rico still haven’t had their power turned back on since last year’s hurricane season.

From flooding [sea-level rise] in Indonesia and Bangladesh, to hurricane Lane mop-up in the Hawai’ian Islands after she dumped 40-inches of rain; to the other extreme—forest fires still raging uncontained in Pacific NW—through No & So California, Oregon, Washington to Utah, Colorado and Arizona. Precious water supplies—river and urban recycled—are running low. Burning Man in the Nevada desert last weekend is our crazy cultural way of challenging Nature‚ believing we can fight fire with fire, proving our power as microdot humans in a world far beyond our comprehension.

Keeping Cool in the Hotspots

Winged serpent deity in Temple of Isis, Pompeii survived AD79 Vesuvius eruption

Fire/Sun is indeed challenging our survival in increasing desertification, global temperature rise, baking end-of-summer days. Water is scarce, not just for farmers, but for fruit orchards, local gardeners and fish.

Yet, as writers, we keep on writing, don’t we? ❤

Frescoes that survived the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79 like the winged serpent, right, were among the priceless collection of 20 million pieces burned in Brazil’s National Museum blaze last Sunday.

They included a fragile fragment depicting peacocks perched on stylized gold chandeliers, and two 1900-year old designs featuring seahorses, a dragon, and dolphins. These irreplaceable objects, originally gracing the walls of Pompeii’s Temple of Isis, were among 750 pieces from Rio’s Portuguese/Mediterranean culture in the collection—largest group of artifacts in Latin America. The huge upwelling of international support has encouraged them to try to save what’s left.

Barely breathing, we pinch ourselves, thank our lucky stars—and our Ninja Cap’n Alex—for our ability to wield the pen that holds body and soul together. And what do we do?

Write on IWSGers—write on.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

September 5, 2018 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, environment, fantasy, novel, publishing, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In August/Lammas Heat, our Thoughts Turn to Water

IN AUGUST/LAMMAS HEAT, OUR THOUGHTS TURN TO WATER
Finding Respite in the Hottest Summer Yet

Mother Orca carrying her dead baby for over a week, slows her progress south with the herd


Monthly Hideaway for Insecure Writers and Others in need of a Cool Corner

This August seems hotter than most.

U.S. East Coast tropical storms began early. Now, with forest fires in California barely under control, homes and businesses are being evacuated from Redding, in Shasta-Trinity Forest’s Carr Fire, with volunteer fire crews being flown in from other states to combat its ‘tornado’ effect of flares spreading. It now covers 115,000 acres, 20% contained.

That’s twice as much acreage as last month’s Yosemite fire. Mendocino continues to battle its own Complex-Elk forest fires to the south. Emergency evacuation and road closure information here.

With all the burning going on, it is natural to turn to water, both metaphorically and literally. For the heroic firemen, a reliable source—river run-off, brackish or waste water—will work, as back-up for their ‘controlled burn’. The Carr fire is nevertheless not expected to be 100% controlled until at least mid-August. Our prayers go to Shasta and Trinity Counties. And to the 4,151 firemen there now, saving lives.

Cooling Contrast with Liquid Refreshment
To cool tempers and change our perspective a little, Washington Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, WA have been tracking/caring for a small pod of the last Southern Resident Orca in the wild. Numbering just 75, the group’s first baby to be born in three years just died. Mama Orca, above, has continued to carry her child, balancing the inert body on her snout and pushing it through the water. The pod are sensitive to her grief—the Museum record them grieving with her—which slows their progress in their brief migration.

Orca—the black-and-white so-called ‘killer’ whale is not much bigger than a dolphin. Their diet is a little more carniverous than their cousin the Humpback whale—plankton preferred, hence the name. Like dolphin, they are great mimics, playful in human company, some say boat-friendly.

16-yr old Orca Wiki with her calf born in captivity in French Aquacenter can say hello, goodbye & count to 5

In contrast, researchers at a French Marine Aquacenter are stretching the Orca’s fondness for communication in teaching their whale companions how to speak.

English, mostly.
Wiki, seen left with her calf, can say ‘Hello’, ‘Amy’, ‘goodbye’ and count from one to five.

Chesterton Windmill Crop Circle formation in Warwickshire shows musical/vibrational notation

Prelude to the Heat of Summer
Among the IWSGers here who (sometimes) emerge from our beloved (writing) cave, at our Ninja Cap’n Alex‘s call, I cannot resist a partial—if exoplanetary—explanation for such summer extremes:
July assembled a full moon in total eclipse for many parts of the world (except U.S.A.) and the auspicious heliacal rising of Sirius—worshipped and calculated to the millisecond by ancient Egyptian timekeepers—occurred within days of each other.

Unlike the parched West Coast U.S.A, in ancient times, Sirius foretold the rising of the Nile, providing much-needed water to abundant crops in the Egyptian delta. Eclipses, as we know, predict change.

Crop Circling PostScript
A ‘vibrational’ crop circle—noted for sound anomalies and making people’s wifi malfunction—also appeared on July 26th 2018 near a windmill in Warwickshire, creating woven nests in the wheat like little safety/comfort zones. Past crop circles with windmills have clearly encouraged human reuse of such traditional water/wind power.

Just a reminder from our interstellar relatives.
Let’s try to enjoy the heat. Or at least let us be grateful for the H2O.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

August 1, 2018 Posted by | art, astrology, astronomy, authors, blogging, calendar customs, crop circles, energy, environment, festivals, seasonal, volcanic, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

All the Numbers for the Fourth—Maybe a Few Special Ones?

ALL THE NUMBERS FOR THE FOURTH
Monthly Corner Hideaway for Insecure Writers—and others

Royal Bedchamber has not changed much since Domesday 11thC England, courtesy HM The Queen

Back in the ‘Nineties, British anthropologist Robin Dunbar noticed a remarkable correlation between primate brain size and the social groups they formed: His theory was simple—the bigger their brains, the larger their social groups—because animals with bigger brains can remember, and interact meaningfully with more of their peers.

Dunbar’s famous prediction achieved by correlation of his extrapolation curve to the size of the human brain, stated that humans could have no more than about 150 people in their social sphere.

Recent research has since found more evidence for Dunbar’s Number, from the size of hunter-gatherer societies, Roman legions—130-145—to effective modern businesses.

Dunbar’s Number—backed by recent internet/iCloud/social media statistics is even more apt for modern exchange via social networks, where we humans gravitate to a natural limit of meaningful relationships we can sustain—around 150.

Dunbar is Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology—the study of how we evolved as modern humans—at the University of Oxford and author of How Many Friends Does One Person Need? (Faber). His research has gone on to find ‘Dunbar layers’, from family intimacy—five—outward to once-a-year contact with the acquaintance layer—beyond 150.


Social Behavior Rooted in Human Biology and Layers in the Digital Age

Mediaeval Warrington & Cheshire villages, on banks of River Mersey, map courtesy John Speed

The way in which our social world is constructed stems from our biological inheritance. As primates, together with apes and monkeys, we have developed a general relationship between brain size and size of our social group. There are social circles beyond the group and layers within—but there is a natural cluster of 150.

This is the number of people you can have a relationship with involving trust, obligation—and usually—some personal history.

That’s the Dunbar number.

In updated research in the digital age, other patterns emerge for the average human—most people have a small group of three to five very close friends. Various layers of friendship – which increase in number but decrease in intimacy and frequency of contact are on average:

Dunbar Layers
Layer 0. Nucleus/very close friends—those you turn to in a crisis, ask for money, lean on for support—on average 3 to 5 people. Likely keep in touch once a week.
Layer 1. Close friends/sympathy group—12-15 people (number of Apostles, members on a jury). Contact once a month.
Layer 2. Distant friends—45 to 50 people
Layer 3. Maximum number of friends/acquaintances: 150 people (Dunbar’s Number)
Layer 4. 500 people
Layer 5. 1500 people
Layer 6. Plato’s ideal size for a democracy—5300 people

Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything… number according to Douglas Adams

“I was working on the arcane question of why primates spend so much time grooming one another, and I tested another hypothesis–which says the reason why primates have big brains is because they live in complex social worlds.

“Because grooming is social, all these things ought to map together, so I started plotting brain size and group size and grooming time against one another. You get a nice set of relationships.

“It was about 3a.m., and I thought, hmm, what happens if you plug humans into this? And you get this number of 150. This looked implausibly small, given that we all live in cities now, but it turned out that this was the size of a typical community in hunter-gatherer societies.

“And the average village size in the Domesday Book is 150.”
Robin Dunbar

“It’s the same when we have much better data–in the 18th century, for example, thanks to parish registers. County by county, the average size of a village is again 150. Except in Kent, where it was 100. I’ve no idea why.”

The number evolved as tribal societies did. Dunbar believes his Number probably dates back to the appearance of anatomically modern humans, 250,000 years ago, from Australopithicus to Neanderthal. Prior to that, by estimated brain size, community size declined steadily.

A key evolutionary adaptation of primates facing survival out there on the plains and in the forests was group living within a hierarchy, with explicitly communal solutions to living as a unit—an ape strategy, evolved very early in the timeline.

Most species of birds and animals are not as intensely social. Socialability for them hovers around pair-bonds, which is as complicated as it gets. But the species with big brains mate monogamously.

Has the Dunbar Number Increased with the Internet?
“We’re caught in a bind: community sizes were designed for hunter-gatherer societies where people weren’t living on top of one another. Your 150 were scattered over a wide area, but everybody shared the same 150. This made for a very densely interconnected community, and it also means the community polices itself.

“You don’t need lawyers and policemen. If you step out of line, Grannie will wag her finger at you.”


Rôle of the Internet, Smart Devices, & BFFs in the (Wired) Generational Divide

Can we extend deep relationships beyond the old numbers?

Magdalen College Oxford Prof. Robin Dunbar

Dunbar says he can find out what you had for breakfast from your tweet, but can’t really get to know you better. Digital developments help us keep in touch over distance, when in the past a relationship might have faltered and died. Now it can be extended. But we can only maintain Five Close Friends

Current statistics compiled by consumer research specialist, Paul Hudson point to a generational divide—younger teenagers aged thirteen to sixteen–the fastest-growing social media generation—have an average of 450 social network “friends”.

Figures rapidly reduce between decades—people in their thirties have on average between one and two hundred friends; those in their forties between fifty and 100; and over-fifties—if they are internet-savvy—form the lowest stat-curve, the majority having fewer than twenty friends.

Seventeen Hugs a Day—the Touchie, Feelie Solution
Dunbar stands by his ‘grooming’ theory: that we actually have to get together to make a relationship work. Tablets, iPads and smartphones still haven’t figured out how to do virtual touch, which humans rely heavily on—the ape hug, the elephant caress, lioness’s kiss, dolphin’s smooch.

In a widening social network, intimacy becomes more important—and apparently less available, considering the number of dogs in the United States equals the human population! That, my dear Virtual Cap’n and fellow Insecure Writers, must hold for another day.

One hopeful statistic: Writers—as we IWSG-ers all know—are mostly introvert, so we keep our BFFs forever!

Words are slippery. A touch is worth a thousand words—always.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

July 4, 2018 Posted by | ancient rites, art, authors, belief, blogging, culture, Doomsday, fiction, history, publishing, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping it Light: Learning Games when Dark (Vog) Clouds Loom

KEEPING IT LIGHT: LEARNING GAMES FOR INSECURE WRITERS
Monthly Catch-up Corner for IWSGers & Insecure Historians 😉

Big Island’s southern sector smothered by lava, now adds VOG to the mix, photo USGS

While volcanic mayhem continues to play out in fresh ruptures around Hawaii’s Kilauea fissure zone, see last month’s blog update, below, our Insecure Writerly hearts go out to a duplicate blast from Mother Earth in Guatemala.

It seems superfluous to remind ourselves that the hurricane season officially kicked off June 1st—conveniently “tropical storm” 2018 Alberto already gathering speed—when devastated homeless Puerto Rican refugees from last year’s hurricane Maria still have no dependable electricity (a public service in U.S.) or back-up power source.

Meanwhile, half an ocean away, another volcanic tragedy strikes Guatemala where hope in the search for survivors underground is waning. In Central American Fuego—as with Pu’u-O’o—there is VOG—unbreathable air formed when sulfur dioxide SO2 and other gases/particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight—to add to the mix.

Rescuers in Las Lajas, Guatemala search for survivors under the lava from Fuego volcano

It bears remembering that when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2011, all trans-Atlantic flights were cancelled.

My intention here is not only to draw attention to severe gaps in this Administration’s compassion for human suffering—California went to the polls tonight—but to highlight past ways some of our ancestors used to make light of the heaviest subjects—including death, famine, sickness.

Our learned chieftain Alex would have a sci-fi solution, unleashing from his fantasy bag of tricks a plethora of goodies to feed our imagination—and lighten our spirits.

Science Fiction or Real Earth Scenario?
We insecure writers know that sci-fi only came to the world of literature with ‘Forties /’Fifties greats like Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert [“Dune”], Heinlein, Vonnegut and Clarke—unless you count Jules Verne and H.G. Wells’s 1895 “The Time Machine”.

So when sci-fi seems to be playing out around the Earth in new and unimaginable ways, it may serve us well to revert to childhood games we used in those times to learn what we didn’t feel like learning seriously.

Grandpa’s Alternative Method of Learning History
Hold on to your hats, IWSGers, and watch as the alternative learning rhyme unfolds.

This beauty has particular attraction for those hundreds-of-thousands who may have watched the British royal family parade through May, also below. And wondered where all the names came from. In Brit kids’ speak, these monarchs date from 1066. And we’re all heard of that. The English try NOT to remember that before the Magna Carta, there were other kings and queens of far greater lineage. Save that for another time.

Willie, Willie, Harry Stee

Elizabeth Tudor’s embossed signature, c.1589

WILLIE, WILLIE, HARRY, STEE(V)

HARRY, DICK, JOHN, HARRY THREE

ONE, TWO, THREE NEDS, RICHARD TWO

HARRY FOUR, FIVE, SIX AND WHO?

EDWARD FOUR, FIVE, RICHARD THREE,

2 HENRYS, EDWARD & BLOODY MAIREE

ELIZABETH, THE VIRGIN QUEEN,

TWO JAMES WITH CHARLIES IN BETWEEN

WILLIAM & MARY, ANNA GLORIA,

FOUR GEORGES, WILLIAM & VICTORIA.

NED, GEO, NED, GEO, LIZ.

William I 1066-1087 William II 1087-1100 Henry I 1100-1135 Stephen 1135-1154 NORMAN

Henry II Plantagenet 1154-1189 Richard I 1189-1199 John 1199-1216 Henry III 1216-1272

Edward I 1272-1307 Edward II 1307-1327 Edward III 1327-1377 Richard II 1377-1399 Plantagenet 245 yrs

Henry IV Lancaster 1399-1413 Henry V 1413-1422 Henry VI 1422-1461

Edward IV York 1461-1483 Edward reigned a few days Richard III 1483-1485

Henry VII Tudor 1485-1509 Henry VIII 1509-1547 Edward VI 1547- 1553 Mary I 1553-1558

Elizabeth I 1558-1603 Last Tudor Sovereign

James I 1603-1625 Charles I 1625-1649* Charles II 1660-1685 James II 1685-1688 Stuart

William III Orange 1689-1702 & Mary d.1694 Anne 1702-1714 last of Stuarts

George I 1714-1727 George II 1727-1760 George III 1760-1820 George IV 1820-1830 William IV1830-37 House of Hanover

Victoria 1837-1901

Edward VII Saxe-Coburg 1901-1910 George V 1910-1936 changed name to Windsor Edward VIII abdicated

George VI 1936-1952 Elizabeth II 1952-present

Length of Dynasties

We all know who he is—six wives later—

Norman Kings 88 years

Plantagenets 245 years

House of Lancaster 62 years

House of York 24 years

Tudors 118 years

Stuarts 97 years

Orange-Nassau 13 years

Hanoverians 187 years

Saxe-Coburg 9 years

House of Windsor current, adopted by Geo.V

* between 1649-1660, England was a “Commonwealth”, Oliver Cromwell & son Richard Cromwell, Protectors
In 1660 Scotland enacted the Reformation—all worship to be Protestant; Roman Catholicism outlawed.
Hope you IWSGers survived your history lesson. Thanks for your patience. You will be tested next month—lol.

©2018 Marian Youngblood

June 6, 2018 Posted by | astronomy, authors, belief, blogging, earth changes, environment, history, nature, ocean, publishing, rain, seismic, traditions, volcanic, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Volcanoes Can Be Friendly Neighbors

VOLCANIC GODDESS PELE IN CHARGE OF ISLAND

Natural road surfacing with new lava—Leilani Estates road gets another topping over weekend

A Shield Volcano as a Friend
Kilauea, in the southeastern part of Hawaii’s Big Island, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The sacred mountain—domain of fire and lightning goddess Pele—has been erupting on and off for hundreds of years—possibly thousands.

This particular episode, fueled by accompanying earthquakes and aftershocks, began late Thursday afternoon in Leilani Estates, a subdivision near the small town of Pahoa, a 30-minute drive south of Hilo.

Why is Kilauea Erupting Now?

Kilauea sends volcanic messages

“We don’t know enough detail about her internal plumbing to give really good answers to this question. The short answer is that a blob of new magma from deep below the volcano got injected up into the volcanic edifice.
“That, combined with Kilauea’s instability, has allowed the magma to erupt near Leilani Estates”
Tracy Gregg, Associate Professor of Geology University of Buffalo

Big Island Hawaii’s Kilauea has been erupting continuously for more than thirty years, but new background activity flared up significantly last week after a series of powerful earthquakes—Mag.6.9 and Mag.7.0—struck the island.

A dozen new volcanic fissures have since opened up on Kilauea’s flanks, and the combination of flowing lava and noxious sulphur and methane gas necessitated the evacuation of 1,500 residents.

USGS volcanologists had been monitoring the volcano’s southeast flank for months before last Thursday’s eruption, aware of its instability. “It will fall into the ocean someday,” said U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall.

How Long will This Episode Last?

Kilauea’s Pu’u O’o caldera erupting May 7th 2018, peppering Big Island, Hawaii’s SE coast with lava fissures

As one side of the mountain slowly tears itself away from the rest of the volcano, it creates an easy subterranean pathway for the magma—underground lava—to travel along.

“There’s more magma in the system still to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, this eruption will continue,” she said.

As lava oozes down steep slopes, it often breaks apart into a billowing avalanche of hot rock and gas, called a pyroclastic flow. Pyroclastic flows destroy anything in their path.

Lava flows have damaged areas around Kilauea for decades. Flows destroyed a visitor center at Kilauea in 1989 and overran the village of Kalapana on the volcano’s southeast flank in 1991.

Current residents of Leilani Estates have been evacuated, but allowed to return, while local agencies continue to monitor the furnace.

As lava inundates the heavily forested area outside Hilo, organic matter burns and releases methane. “That methane gas can get trapped in pockets beneath lava flows or underground and explode violently, throwing rocks and debris in every direction” said Ms. Stovall.

Fire Goddess Pele in Charge

Big island Hawaii’s SE coast lies within the precipitous lava field of Kilauea—currently erupting

Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983 and is considered among the top ten world’s most active volcanoes. In 2014 lava burned a house and overran the local cemetery in Pahoa, but this flow chose to stall outside the town this time, and has not crossed the road.

Eruptions of lava fountains continued through last week, leading geologists to prepare for further activity. “Because lava on Sunday was flowing farther than it did in the first days of the eruption, that means the magma supply is still present and shows signs of continuing”.

Flows are still moving quite slowly. USGS scientists were able to walk away from hot lava deposits fairly quickly. So far ten vents have developed within a 20-miles radius, and new fissures are expected.

Kilauea is a shield volcano—broad and domed with ten-mile wide sloping sides made up of liquid, gas-poor lava that does not explode. That contrasts sharply with a stratovolcano, such as Mount St. Helens, whose eruptions are made up of thick, sticky, gas-rich lava that explodes, creating ash.

Legend tells that goddess Pele journeyed in her canoe from the island of Tahiti to Hawaii. She tried to create her fires on different islands, but her sister, Namaka, was chasing her, trying to kill her. The two sisters fought and Pele was killed.

Hawaiians believe her body was destroyed, but her spirit lives on in the Halemaumau crater on Kilauea. “Her body is the lava and steam that comes from the volcano.”

She can also change form, appearing as a white dog, old woman, or beautiful young woman.

In addition to being goddess of volcanoes, Pele is known for her power, passion, jealousy, and capriciousness. She has multiple siblings, including Kāne Milohai, Kamohoaliʻi, Nāmaka and other sisters called Hiʻiaka—most famous being Hiʻiakaikapoliopele—Hiʻiaka in the bosom of Pele. Hawaiian mythology calls them to be the offspring of Haumea. Pele’s siblings include deities of various types of wind, rain, fire, ocean wave forms, and cloud forms. Her home is believed to be the fire pit called Halemaʻumaʻu crater, at the summit caldera of Kīlauea. Her domain encompasses the whole volcanic field on Big Island.

Agencies, emergency services and first responders are active, continuing to keep the public safe, schools open. Local residents who have experienced lava episodes before, are patiently waiting for Pele, goddess of fire, wind and volcanoes, to give the Big Island a break.

Bless you Pele—and Hi’iakapoliopele, in your bosom. We’re believers.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

May 11, 2018 Posted by | ancient rites, belief, crystalline, culture, earth changes, energy, environment, nature, sacred sites, seismic, traditions, volcanic | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments