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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

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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

The Nuclear Option—Above or Below Ground?

DEALING WITH CATASTROPHE—DEATH-or-LIFE UNDERGROUND
Monthly Drawing Breath Corner for Insecure Writers

Bruno Groth’s Pelican—a remarkable bird that may survive ocean mountains of nuclear waste

It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe
Mohammed Ali

Doomsday ‘Preppers’ have been getting ready for Armageddon-aka-nuclear misfire—cultural breakdown—since the Cold War; but in Silicon Valley they have made it into an art.

One tech company C.E.O. told the New Yorker
“It’s still not at the point where industry insiders would turn to each other with a straight face and ask what their plans are for some apocalyptic event.”

But, having said that, he believes it’s logically rational and ‘appropriately conservative’ to ‘manage the risk’, i.e. plan for the eventuality.

Vulnerability of the United States was exposed by the Russian cyber-attack on the Democratic National Committee during the U.S. election, and by a large-scale hack on October 21st, 2016 which disrupted the Internet in North America and Western Europe.

World food supply is dependent on GPS, logistics, and weather forecasting, which are generally dependent on the Internet. On the Peninsula, every geek knows the Internet is dependent on D.N.S.—the system that manages domain names.

“Go risk factor by risk factor by risk factor, acknowledging that there are many you don’t even know about, and you ask, ‘What’s the chance of this breaking in the next decade?’ Or invert it: ‘What’s the chance that nothing breaks in fifty years?’”

The Final Frontier
Exactly how many wealthy Americans are really making preparations for a catastrophe is difficult to tell; a lot of people don’t like to talk about it. “Anonymity is priceless,” according to one hedge-fund manager.

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and a prominent investor, recalls telling a friend he was thinking of visiting New Zealand. “Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?” the friend asked.

In the event of civil disorder, these items can be stowed in an overnight bag or go for Dome Living

“I’ve wrestled with alligators / I’ve tussled with a whale / I done handcuffed lightning / And thrown thunder in jail.”
Mohammed Ali/Cassius Clay

New Zealand, it seems, is a favored refuge in the event of a cataclysm. According to Hoffman, saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.’”

Dr. Robert A. Johnson, a graduate of Princeton, working on Capitol Hill, before entering finance—M.D. at Soros Fund Management—describes himself as an accidental student of civic anxiety. After the 2008 financial crisis, he became head of a financial think tank, the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

He grew up with financiers, company chairmen, hedge-fund managers in Greenwich, Connecticut.

“They all lived within fifty yards of me. From my own career, I would just talk to people. More and more were saying, ‘You’ve got to have a private plane. You have to assure that the pilot’s family will be taken care of, too. They have to be on the plane.’”
Robert A. Johnson, Ph.D.

Silver Better than Gold
Essentials in the Bug-Out Bag, along with the hatchet, have to include a parachute (from the private plane), foldable canoe (to cross that river of disaster) collapsible tent or Bucky Dome—Buckminster Fuller would approve.

One interesting fact is consensus that small is better than big when the S–t Hits the Fan—it even has its own acronym—TSHF—i.e. silver in small coins beats large pieces of gold jewelry when it comes to trading for food and other life essentials.

Not a happy scenario for a beautiful autumn day, perhaps?

But you know what they say about Silicon Valley—way beyond the Capitol Hill wall: always leading edge.

Will we Insecure writers follow? We IWSG-ers are mostly introvert—according to Myers-Briggs—that’s how we pop up after it’s all over and ask “wot hoppen?” because we’ve been so head-down in the rabbit hole.

Such a tactic could serve us well this time, or we might, like Mohammed Ali/Cassius Clay proclaim:

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
©2017 Marian Younbgblood

October 4, 2017 Posted by | art, authors, birds, blogging, culture, Doomsday, energy, fantasy, history, nature, ocean, publishing, seasonal, seismic, volcanic, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What the World Needs Now…is Love—and Water

The TURN OF THE SCREW
Changing Times call for Change of Tack

Diana Ross in her heyday—’sixties queen of rock and soul

Diana Ross, Jackie deShannon and others sang—

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.
Hal David and Burt Bacharach, 1965

Only fifty years later, we could change the word ‘love’ to ‘water’ and be closer to what this speeded-up world has become—July 2017 hotter than July 2016, which went down in the record books. Water in some places more precious than gold.

Essayist and Kentucky farmer, Wendell Berry [Another Turn of the Crank, 1995] is convinced that organic/sustainable farming in the developed nations ended with the end of World War II. He maintains carefully-managed farming and forestry—as currently practised by the Menominee tribe, can still save agriculture and world food crises.

Another Diana, Princess of Wales—in iconic dress—stunning a nation then & now 20 years ago today since she died

1. FORESTS
Sustainable forestry—as Berry suggests—currently seems a contradiction in terms. Lumber companies like Green Diamond who own 393,105 acres of redwood and Douglas fir forest in Northern California view small local donations as a way of avoiding huge public outcry in their continuing unsustainable forestry practices in Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties. They have been donating ‘donor rock’ monuments, courtesy benches, in Saunders’ community park within their tree-felling domain—Trinidad, CA—a small town park overlooked by a fifteen-acre scar on the hill behind, where Strawberry Rock forest has been hacked into hatchet-shape profile by past, poorly conceived clear-felling operations. Local opinion strongly encourages them and their subsidiary logging companies—including California Redwood Co.—to give back to the community—without strings—the Strawberry Rock ‘trail’ which was a logging road through their near-400,000 acres of Northern Humboldt forest. Local Yurok and Tsurai tribal communities who formerly occupied some of the parcels, urge them to GIVE BACK THE LAND.

2. FISH
Klamath River Festival of 2017 imported/purchased salmon from Alaska, after removing it from the menu altogether last year. Concern over hatchlings is supreme with many of local tribespeople actively introducing protective measures.

Hatcheries on nearly all western rivers are in crisis: either banned (legislation) or unmanned (poor management)—a zero percent return at Oroville has stunned the Central Valley; Jefferson county/Del Norte tribes are now actively managing their own fish.

Mendocino water towers from frontier times could return to former use

3. WATER
Not just California’s Central Valley—whose water supply is still funneled south to the Greater Los Angeles basin—but, in common with many less affluent countries in the world, water is becoming more precious than food.

The world is getting thirsty.

Waste water in many cities is still flushed down the drain instead of being collected as rain and storm water in reservoirs—as was the norm until late 1960s—see Mendocino town water towers, still standing though not in use, right.

Time to conserve ‘Waste’ WATER, not flush it into an already-polluted ocean.
Even the smallest reservoir could prove invaluable in ever-present occurrence of forest fire.

4. POPULATION – 7 BILLION & counting
‘Sixties belief in having no children or only allowing oneself one child is now a past pipe-dream. While there are baby-boomers of the ‘Sixties who resolved not to add to the population, their group [and laudable ideal] are far outnumbered by mindless generations since who have no concept of self-control in the genetic department—not a popular subject. It is not p.c. to say no more babies, but we are sensing a call for Moderation/BALANCE in all things—including procreation.

Larsen-C Iceshelf finally broke off from Antarctic peninsula, July 2017—sea-level rise expected

5.CLIMATE
California government initiatives are already in place for the State to act on its own to steer a corrected course through a mire of climate and emissions’ blunders, to lead Washington in showing the way to conserve resources while reducing impact on climate change. Governor Brown’s administration is prepared to go it alone without federal intervention. California is also already ahead in preparedness for natural disasters, fire, earthquake, flood, tsunami warning system and the anticipated sea level rise —c.f. Larsen C shelf break-off 2017, left, during Antarctic ‘winter’. Meltwater is expected to affect the South Pacific in particular, but islands in north Pacific are already seeing the rise.

Remembering Diana, Princess of Wales
While this blog edition is a poor commemoration of that beautiful creature who was Diana, Princess of Wales, I like to think she would have supported all the above points of crisis affecting her/our beloved planet. From that perspective, I believe she is looking down today on us Insecure Writers and at what the world has become. She affected the lives of those who knew her. I believe her charismatic and generous approach may serve as an example to us all, as we face the autumn of 2017 in a changed and changing world.
©2017 Marian Youngblood
p.s. Forgive me Alex and IWSGers for my five-month absence and ‘early’ return 😉

August 30, 2017 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, earth changes, energy, environment, history, New Earth, ocean, publishing, seasonal, traditions, trees, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Light on the Horizon When All Seems Dark

CANDLEMAS NEW MOON BRINGS LIGHT INTO DARK CORNERS
Monthly Insecure Writers’ Corner in the Year of the Rooster

Pre-Celtic Candlemas, a cross-quarter day, celebrated return of sunlight to N. hemisphere

Pre-Celtic Candlemas—cross-quarter day—celebrated return of sunlight to N. hemisphere

Green Comet 45P rounds the Sun and is heading our way

Green Comet 45P rounds the Sun and is heading our way

‘When beggars die, there are no comets seen
The Heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes’
Calpurnia to Julius Caesar on eve of Ides of March

If we were all visionaries, we might prophesy from our current corner of the world all manner of wild suggestions on what will happen in the corridors of power in the coming months.


Condor Babies Migrate to Ancestral Redwood Forest

Amid a tumult of projects ‘supporting’ Americana, one might lose sight—in this New Year of the Cockerel [Chinese Rooster/ancestral Eagle]—of a happy ending to the return of the condor to the wild.

More than one hundred years after they became extinct in the region, the native American eagle/buzzard Condor will soar again over its ancestral Redwood forest in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

The condor plays a major part in Yurok ceremonies and culture since time immemorial, according to chairman of the Yurok Tribe, Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr. “It is through collaborative projects like this that we will bring balance back to our natural world.”

He speaks of a plan devised alongside local agencies and the National Park Foundation, to reintroduce fledgling birds in the fall of this year into Redwood National Park at Bald Springs, Orick, CA. Pacific Gas & Electric [PG&E], will provide funding and support for this project. More importantly, the energy company will ensure that condor flight paths will not be obstructed by power lines, allowing the birds to prosper in their natural habitat.

Condors in Orick—a dream come true for Tribal chiefs and conservationists alike

Condors in Orick—a dream come true for Tribal chiefs and conservationists alike

The Yurok—largest of the California native American tribes— have been leading an effort to bring back the endangered birds, which lived alongside them for centuries in redwood forest lining the Klamath River.

“When the Condor of the South flies together with the Eagle of the North, the spirit of Mother Earth—Pacha Mama—will awaken.
Then She will wake millions of her children.
This will be the Resurrection of the Dead.”
Quechua Inca Prophecy

Condor Feather Regalia Returns Home
White deerskins, condor feathers and headdresses made of bright red woodpecker scalps were among more than 200 sacred ‘living’ artifacts returned to the Klamath tribe of the North Coast two years ago.

Since their sacred dance regalia returned home, after a century on museum shelves in Maryland, the tribe’s 5,500-strong membership are exultant that their homeland—55,000 acres along the Klamath River—can now celebrate the return of its most sacred bird.

Tribal leaders affirm the sacred feathers and headdresses date back hundreds—possibly thousands—of years. They will continue to be used in ceremonies intended to heal the world.

Sacred regalia of Condor feathers, decorated woodpecker skulls used in Yurok tribal Dance of Gratitude

Sacred regalia of Condor feathers, decorated woodpecker skulls used in Yurok tribal Dance of Gratitude

Yurok Tribespeople celebrated their return in 2014—among the largest restoration of American Indian sacred objects ever—from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, MD. The sacred objects, purchased by the Smithsonian from a collector in the 1920s, were given a welcome home after nearly a century, like ‘prisoners of war’, according to Tribal Chief O’Rourke.

This week fifteen organizations have agreed to cooperate on a reintroduction project in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Meeting in Eureka, they included National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Yurok.

This autumn, after an ‘adjustment period’ with human condor-glove-Mama, above, the captive bred babies will be released into Redwood National Park at Orick, CA—neighborhood forest to the Yurok—and in a State Park in Del Norte county.

The Humboldt forest location is one of few remaining untouched old growth Redwood—sequoia sempervirens—oases in Northern California.

Even if bird fancying is not your thing, IWSGers can, I am sure, find solace in this Year of the Rooster that we can achieve what was once thought impossible. We can do magic. We can bring back from the Dead.

But, we Insecure Writers knew that all along, didn’t we Alex?
It’s why we continue to write.
©2017 Marian Youngblood

February 1, 2017 Posted by | ancient rites, authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, energy, environment, history, nature, publishing, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Late Season Hurricanes promise Autumnal Chaos

INSECURE WRITERS’ MONTHLY ESCAPE CORNER
Refuge even in the Stormiest Weather

Late hurricane Matthew causing havoc in Haiti heading for Bahamas, mainland U.S.

Late hurricane Matthew causing havoc in Haiti heading for Bahamas, mainland U.S.

June too soon
July stand by
August come it must
September remember
October all over
Bahamian Hurricane Rhyme—now outdated by Global Warming

Hurricane warnings are in effect for Haiti, eastern Cuba, the southeastern Bahamas—including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay and Ragged Island; also central Bahamas—Long Island, Exuma, Rum Cay, San Salvador and Cat Island.

Hurricane watches continue for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cuban province of Camaguey, which have now been extended to include the northwestern Bahamas, including the Abacos, Andros, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and New Providence.

Cape Hatteras and Interests in the Capital
Washington D.C. is not unaware of the strategic importance of monitoring a strong category 5 storm headed to Cape Hatteras and Maryland.

Space lightning sprites over hurricane Matthew, filmed from Aruba by F.Lucena

Space lightning sprites over hurricane Matthew, filmed from Aruba by F.Lucena

One possible analogue to Matthew is Hurricane Hazel, which swept through Haiti in October 1954, claiming 400-1,000 lives in severe flash flooding and landslides.

Hurricane Betsy was famous in Nassau for similar treatment of humans in September 1965.

Both storms were unprecedented for their time—technically late season—in the ‘all over’ category of the poem, top. Now hurricanes are known to form in April and extend through November.

Along with unseasonal—but much welcomed—thunder, lightning and RAIN.

On the other side of the world, and on the other edge of the Pacific, Fukushima officials strive hopelessly to reinstall the damaged ice wall they built of sea ice to shut in radiation leakage. But September 2nd, thanks to tornado Lionrock, Japan’s tenth typhoon, the ice wall was again breached, with leakage of contaminated soil and fluids once more soaking through into northern Pacific waters.

Why are we not surprised to hear it’s heading our way?

Realtime Storms and CassaStorm
We IWSGers might sometimes be forgiven for burying our heads in the sand—digging deep into the recesses of our past, future or fantasy selves.

I am tempted to suggest that these earthly storms may even have been fantasized into reality by the fantastical script of our Ninja leader Alex’s CassaStorm—which, I am told, has just gone viral 😉 Congrats Alex.

May we all weather this storm, to write again tomorrow.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

October 5, 2016 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, environment, publishing, rain, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oster Toaster—Our Weather Woes Won’t Disappear

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS CATCH-UP CORNER or
Even Scatty Writers Plan Ahead

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by”
Douglas Adams

Stepping out of the Pool—Plan Ahead

Stepping out of the Pool—Plan Ahead

With a whole *two month* chunk already bitten out of my twelve month schedule, planning ahead doesn’t always do the trick for me. But in a group of writers, where advice and help are freely given and nobody (hopefully) takes offense—our Insecure Writers Support Group I was thinking of specifically—there seems no place to cower in fear. We’re all encouraged to step up to the plate and at least try. With the third month of my year already begun, I’d better think of something.

Insecure Writers stick to the Grand Plan
Insecure Writers Support Group now has its own website, thanks to our Ninja Cap’n Alex who is always ahead of the game—comes of being constantly immersed in “future speak” and (successful) Space trilogies, ahem.

Stepping out of the Pool— into the Next Phase—Plan Ahead

Stepping out of the Pool— into the Next Phase—Plan Ahead

While 2016 may bring major change to us all—February has already broken historical temperature records worldwide—it’s sometimes comforting to believe we might all already be on a trajectory which could end on one of Alex’s famed remote star systems.
First we have the cyclical calendar anomaly—leap year adding a mandatory day to February or we’d all land back in the Middle Ages.

Southern city guarded by angels—Rio de Janeiro hosts 2016 Olympic Games

Southern city guarded by angels—Rio de Janeiro hosts 2016 Olympic Games

Then there is the four-year culmination of super-athletes preparing for Olympic Games in Hispanic Heaven—Rio de Janeiro. You thought the Super Bowl was huge, set for the first time in the brand new Levi stadium, south of San Francisco. Brazil will pull out all the stops for August. They’ve already had a mammoth Carnival—their Fat Tuesday equivalent of Mardi Gras. This year they’re speaking of its continuing right through Easter—the German Oster of my title.

Meantime loads of attention will be focused next week—particularly in sea-level-rising Indonesia—where they will have an uninterrupted total solar eclipse March 9th, that will effectively black out the entire Pacific Ocean—for a moment of cosmic time—four minutes totality at zenith. Sadly it reaches mainland U.S. at dusk, and therefore we miss it. But writers in Alaska will be fortunate to see it as partial.
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Only by cosmic accident do we hear that Alaska is importing snow for its famous dog-sled Iditarod race

The Irish Input
Amid all these cosmic happenings, does it seem a little tame of me to mention the second annual Dublin Writers’ Conference June 24-26, 2016? Judging by last year’s sell-out crowd—it has some kind of Irish spell it casts on us pen-wielders, because when we get together, all kinds of literary explosions are possible. My rationale for bringing up the June date now is that many U.S. IWSGer travelers make plans for Europe months ahead of time when airline deals can still be made. Just sayin’.

St Patrick’s Day, March 17th, will be here in two weeks to remind us!

Dublin was home to James Joyce and still holds the treasured Book of Kells at Trinity College.

Meantime the plethora of Space movies which began with Ridley Scott’s The Martian, continues in remakes—don’t you adore Superman vs. Batman?—and as yet unreleased alien adventures even Mr Spock might show emotion for.

March came in like a Lion in my part of the world. Weather patterns influenced by a strong El Niño produced the hottest February since historical records began.

Climate will no doubt be the focus for 2016, if we can all think simple earth thoughts in between our rages and/or love affair with our Muse. Whichever takes root in our consciousness, I suspect we IWSGers will still find a bolt hole here—along with a phalanx of other Insecure companions.

May we survive the Ides of March, the heat of Equinox and the onset of an early spring with typical writerly calm. It is, after all, our metier, our trade, and it should remind us that, even if/when our world changes beyond recognition, our Muse, our inner writerly urge will still be there to pick up the pieces…

…And put them down on the next available sheet of paper 😉 No wonder writers alone understand writers. How boring we can seem to the rest of humanity.

All the more reason to keep it coming.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

March 2, 2016 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, festivals, fiction, Muse, publishing, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Reality Looms Too Large, Dive into Fantasy

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS’ SHARE-A-THON CORNER

WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF AVENUES OF ESCAPE, Don’t Panic*

Don't Panic

Don’t Panic

—the greatest motto in the galaxy— featured in the adventures of Douglas Adams’s Arthur Dent, the last human to hitch a ride off Earth, moments before it was destroyed—to make way for an interstellar bypass.
*Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1979.

…the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything...

…the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything…

I think our revered leader, Alex Cavanaugh, would agree:
Fantasy—reading it or writing it—fills a certain hole in our psyche, a niche in our comfort zone. It gives us a reason to keep on going, even when the real world seems to have gone awry.

Groundhog Day and the 2016 Monkey Year
The Groundhog knows best. He—and the oriental Monkey who shares his calendar start date—figure if humans have generated global warming a.k.a. climate crisis and he sees his shadow on February 2nd—too much sun too soon—no wonder he goes back in his hole for another six weeks.

What the Monkey does is a whole ‘nuther story!

Metal Monkeys possesses character traits like curiosity, mischievousness, and cleverness. Forever playful, Monkeys are the masters of the practical joke.

And disguise.
For us as a culture, as this year unfolds, traits to prepare for—expect the unexpected.

Finding our Own Space
Forget the Primaries, Climate Crisis Summit, our involvement/warring with so many other countries, somewhere in there we are trying as individuals and collectively to halt our mad rush toward planet instability. Somewhere in the madness, we writers are supposed to find a place of calm—a refuge—usually littered with piles of loose papers and junk—but a haven nonetheless—where we can sit down, (metaphorically) put our feet up, drag the keyboard closer——

Insecure_Cover——And write.

Many of us have previously admitted to being recluses—Myers-Briggs psychic make-up, above.
For me to allow the creative flow to come through, I have to have my filing system (kind-of) manageable and I crave a space where I won’t be barged in on by the (real) world.

Says a lot for our partners/spouses/spice that they put with us, doesn’t it?

I should have had more respect for the Groundhog. His timing was superb.

Happy New Writing Ideas, IWSGers.
Keep it coming.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

February 3, 2016 Posted by | ancient rites, authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, fiction, publishing, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Below the Parapet*—Writers’ Safety Zone When All Around Are Losing Theirs

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS’ SAFETY ZONE orInsecure_Cover
What I Should’ve Done B4 All This Holiday Madness—IWSG CatchUp Corner

*parapet, ‘protecting the breast’—from Latin
pectus-i (m) breast, chest
paries-etis (m) wall, rampart, bulwark

All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came.
~John F. Kennedy, Newport speech before America’s Cup Races, September 1962

Trouble of the World

Fracking in Oklahoma or spontaneous cracking on Tex-Mex border—it's all the same to Mother Earth

Fracking in Oklahoma or spontaneous cracking on Tex-Mex border—it’s all the same to Mother Earth

‘There is so much going on–so much that could make a person just want to run away.
‘Our lives on this Earth are relatively short, so we shouldn’t get too overwhelmed by all the troubles we face while here’
Arlee Bird

Thank you, wise ole Bird, Arlee, for putting some of our anxiety into perspective. We writers tend to be head-down anyway—well below parapet level—and it takes some “venting” by a fellow scribe—wot knowzzz—to keep a calm ‘sough’. That was good old Rabbie Burns‘s word for the windchill factor
“November chill blaws loud wi’ angry sough

We might also try looking at the way our world appears to be fighting back, after all the trouble and toil we’ve levied at her.

Some of my generation believe we still have a chance to right the ‘wrongs’ we initiated. Our attitude to confronting our errors—from nuclear power to trashing earth’s resources—has made us cautious, nay, appreciative of finding the best in what’s left. This (antiquated?) belief may not go down well with the Millennials—a generation who inherited our mistakes, but who prefer to smile and slide on through—but, as even they know, this is the only home we’ve got. So why not pull together on a few issues?

Robert F Kennedy jr. confronts climate control last weekend in New York city

Robert F Kennedy jr. confronts climate control last weekend in New York city

Weather—the great Leveler
While December traditionally finds a way of leveling—wind, rain, hail and snow being not particularly creature-friendly—it can be a gift of time for us scribblers. Above or below the parapet, we can wield a computer (or ice-pick) to hack out a story. No pun intended. Sometimes that’s just what we have to do.

So to all my fellow moaning Minnies in our tight little IWSG corner, keeping head down can be a VERY GOOD THING.

We may have to leave the concept of climate control for another season—when life begins anew and buds start to bud again…and we catch a whiff of w-a-r-m
But meantime, why not allow our ever-fertile Muse to raise her head above the bulwarks. We might be surprised by her dexterity.

p.s. Ninja Cap’n: my preference is for Dragons

“When a dragon offers you a helmet and a parachute, put them on. “

Unknown

©2015 Marian Youngblood

December 2, 2015 Posted by | authors, blogging, consciousness, fiction, publishing, seasonal, weather, winter, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Getting Back on the Horse—Insecure Writers Are Survivors

REFLECTIONS IN THE AFTERMATH OF AFTERLIFEInsecure_Cover

Monthly Insecure Writers’ Reassurance Corner

or
Is there Life for Writers—aka IWSGers—After Hallowe’en & Before Onset of the Festive Season?

Subterranean rumblings from Yellowstone's sub chamber don't deflect Old Faithful from his regular spout, courtesy National Parks Service

Subterranean rumblings from Yellowstone’s sub chamber don’t deflect Old Faithful from his regular spout, courtesy National Parks Service


For centuries humans have dreamed of inner worlds. Numerous writers, inspired themselves, have embedded the idea in our human subconscious. Those—like Tarzan’s creator Edgar Rice Burroughs (At the Earth’s Core, 1914), Edgar Allen Poe (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, 1838) and, most famously, Jules Verne’s 1864 novel A Journey to the Centre of the Earth have been adapted for film, and are an integral part of our now Culture. They continue to inspire our own Inner Search.

Many of us IWSGers are voracious readers—even expanding our horizons beyond the beloved sci-fi kingdom of our Dear Ninja Leader, Alex—into the realm of the…b.e.y.o.n.d.

Losing the human form brings the freedom to remember your self.
Losing the human form is like a spiral.
It gives you the freedom to remember.
This, in turn, makes you even freer.
Don Juan

www.cartoonstock.com-cartoonview.asp?catref=wmi100811

A [spiritual] Warrior knows that he is waiting.
He knows also what he is waiting for.

And so while he waits, he feasts his eyes upon the world.
The ultimate accomplishment of a Warrior is joy.
Carlos Castaneda The Eagle’s Gift

I recall reading every one of the Castaneda series—Don Juan’s wisdom in small snacks—from Journey to Ixtlan through The Eagle’s Gift, and never once seeing a resolution to the cycle. It’s probably a good technique for retaining one’s readership! But recent love-hate guru Dallas Thompson—given his modesty of transmission and innocence of presentation—gets to the (spiritual) point in one book.

Dallas Thompson’s The Cosmic Manuscript lit a few media fires when it first came out in 2002. Since then, it has relaxed into a semi-oblivion of those who have read and those who refuse to read him.

Today I see butterflies dancing by my window, playing in the sunlight,
lilies in my garden, stars shining so bright in the sky, as I learn to usher
the Cosmic water. Meditation has helped me calm my mind and get in touch with the wonder of Celestial Creation – the colors, the light, the peace and the love. And I feel beautiful, I feel transformed as the darkness recedes. I do not really understand it all yet, but the discovery is so exciting. I feel like a new born baby – struggling to breathe, kicking, screaming – and yet so happy to be alive and play in the light. In your words like a celestial butterfly learning to fly, and dance to Eternities Tone

Earth's polar vortex, according to several famed fantasy authors, pulls on our Solar generator for power

Earth’s polar vortex, according to several famed fantasy authors, pulls on our Solar generator for power


According to several meditation enthusiasts, Zen Buddhists, and Tibetan mystics, all these fancy accoutrements are useful for Life on Earth.

“If you have attained noble titles at your University, and have not in the process built a relationship with your Spirit, you are not complete”
Sufi wisdom

Essentially we’re in for a shock when we show up at the Pearly Gates and they ask us if we’re ready to transfer to the Other Side. If you and your Spirit aren’t one by then, it will come as a bit of a surprise that your triple Ph.D. won’t wash.

Like a BoyScout: Be Prepared—or
How to Make Your Chosen Comfort Zone Comforting

For that eventuality, Dallas has a solution—prepare ahead of time! Get with the spiritual program before you need your arsenal of warrior gear.

We are all in spiritual flight in our Inner Worlds

We are all in spiritual flight in our Inner Worlds

Thompson is writer-recluse—we IWSGers know ALL ’bout that—keeping his (sorry, proverbial) light under a bushel in SoCal. He prefers not to be interviewed. Following initial best-seller status of his 2002 Manuscript, he attracted major Media attention to hype a near-death experience. His NDE, combined with an earlier gift of a “Speaking Stone” by a Hawaiian Kahuna, gave simple steps to everyday enlightenment, lovingly laid out for all who wish to imbibe. He promises inner joy, focus, and gentle guidance along a sometimes painful path.

Postscript for IWSGers—Sharing Insecurities Can Brighten Your Day 😉
Bottom line—According to the Cosmic Script, the more you share, the more comes your way. Or
The Better it Gets, the Better it Gets. Apply pressure on the Arm of the Muse, and she may grant us a ‘festive’ audience.

After all, when the Year starts winding down—when the clocks fall back—we writers know we have to hit the keyboard.

In other words—another deadline awaits.

Thanks for listening, fellow scribes~~~ Arlee Bird, Alex, Hart et al. beloved IWSGers.
Keep on writing.
©2015 Marian Youngblood

November 4, 2015 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, festivals, fiction, publishing, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment