Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Poking at Dead Things

Dahlia never met a dead thing she didn’t want to poke, or nudge with the toe of her sneaker, or flip over with a stick. If someone were watching she’d do it sheepishly, act like it disgusted her, act like it was the first time she’d ever been this close to a dead thing. But it never was. There had been lots of other times: the slim, brown deer legs sticking out of the snow bank, the harbor seal washed up on the beach with half its bony jaw exposed where the flesh had been ripped away, the mice her cat caught and dropped on the bed still warm and limp, the squirrel that had fallen onto the asphalt from the telephone wire overhead. The crows tugged at that morsel, fighting for the tastiest parts until she passed by on her walk, scaring them away temporarily. Several passing cars scared Dahlia away too. On her return a half hour later, only a fluffy red tail and yellowed rodent teeth in a gape-mouthed head remained for her examination.

She’d once felt the rush of adrenaline as she followed a bloody trough through fresh December snow. It led her down the hill, off the packed trail to where a hunter had recently left for the coyotes that which he didn’t want. The crimson entrails were not yet frozen, organs and vessels still nuanced in color and texture. She looked around for a stick, started to break a small branch off of a nearby tree but stopped short. This wasn’t dead enough yet. The clean, organic smell of blood still wafted from the neatly arranged innards. The fragile curves and bulges of what should be protected inside flesh and bone still glistened with life barely gone.

Dahlia felt nervous and vulnerable, like the hunter might suddenly return to scare her away from what belonged to the scavengers now. She'd taken off her gloves and laid them carefully on the snow next to her knees. She reached up inside her winter layers and placed her warm, damp left hand against her belly, felt it rise and fall with her breath. Adrenaline-jacked blood pumped up through the carotid artery in her neck; it thumped in her ears. The cold December air quickly chilled her right hand as she cupped it against the perfectly contained mass of guts on the snow in front of her. The lingering warmth she’d hoped to feel there existed only in her imagination.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Totally Frivilous Post About Nothing Important

Warning: This post is a complete waste of time and only if you are truly bored out of your skull should you read any further. Consider yourself warned.

A consistent theme of some sort surfaces when one studies my "celebrity" crushes from early childhood to pre-teen years.

1. Casper the Friendly Ghost

2. Kermit the Frog ("singing" here with Debbie Harry...ah the early '80s...painful)

While looking for a video to showcase good 'ol Kermit I found a clip of him singing Radiohead's Creep but I didn't put it here because Kermit dropping the F-bomb is just wrong. But funny.

3. Elliott the dragon from Pete's Dragon

4. Gilligan but not the Professor

5. Luke Skywalker not Han Solo (I didn't realize Han Solo was supposed to be the sexy one)

6. Radar but not Hawkeye or Pierce (Radar had a teddy bear and was so painfully shy, *sigh*)

7. Robin but not Batman (I'm talking the old TV show, the one where they wore colored tights)

What a bunch of sissies. All of them. It's embarrassing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

JeNPR wishes Darwin a Happy 200th!

Q: How do you tell the sex of a chromosome?

A: Pull down its genes.

Today you get an introductory primer in Evolutionary Theory. This is my attempt at educational blogging (i.e. links to where smarter people have explained really cool stuff way better than I can). So, if you're looking for stupid-humorous Jen anecdotes, you'll be disappointed.

Two hundred years after Charles Darwin's birth we all could do to understand evolutionary theory a little better. At first glance, it is a beautifully simple process but the results, implications and continued research of evolutionary theory quickly become mind boggling and wonderfully thrilling. If you begin to scratch the surface of your knowledge about evolutionary biology,(even as a complete amateur there are a number of books that allow you to do this), you may soon realize that you barely understand anything about it and there's always some new concept to research in order to further your depth of knowledge. Here's a link to some basic misconceptions about evolution.

And what's not to like about evolution? For one thing it's about us - Homo sapiens and how we have gotten the way we are with no need to invoke a supernatural creator or 'intelligent design'. Even better is that it's about the entire biological/botanical world around us and how our mutual genetic "destinies" have co-evolved throughout time to produce what exists today. Even more importantly still is that because Evolutionary Theory is a science and not a dogma, it is open to inquiry, skeptic scrutiny and refinement as the knowledge base grows and changes.

The sciences can seem intimidating to an amateur like me. The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. I read a quote recently that said that's what it means to be educated. But with a little investment of time, access to the internet, some library or book store action, and a few friends willing to hash over questions with you, the scientific world slowly begins to make sense and unfolds with mind-expanding possibilities.

Last week I finished a difficult book discussing the existence of Free Will in a deterministic world. I was in way over my head intellectually, but did gain some insights into the topic and it piqued my interest for investigating some neurobiology, which should be fun. But the most important thing I came away with was this encouraging sentence offered by the author after a particularly arduous section:

"A semi-understood, dimly imagined version will do just fine, as always, as we pick our way gradually from obliviousness to comprehension."
Daniel Dennett - Freedom Evolves p. 265

For me, the never-ending wonder and discovery science offers to a curious intellect far surpasses the inflexible, dogmatic nature of superstitious belief any day.

Ignorance knows no bounds...check this out, I hope it's a joke...but I'm pretty sure it's not:

Well there, that settles it. Peanut butter proves that evolution is a fairy tale. Glad that debate is over. I wonder what jelly has to say about the after-life?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Winter. A Fickle Mistress.

I don't care for the slogan "Work hard, play hard." Only an adult could come up with something so serious. Most adults don't spend nearly enough time playing. I don't mean perfecting some hobby, like golf or watercolor painting or yoga. I mean romping, falling down, laughing, engaging in silliness that feels pointless but absolutely life-affirming.

Life is Good, right? That's what the t-shirts claim, anyway.

Unfortunately, winter is a fickle mistress. As an adult you may be forced to deal with the parts of winter that try to defeat the creative spirit you just captured while out playing like some foolish little kid.

Life is Crap, some other shirts suggest.

How 'bout we settle for Life Just Is? If I wasn't such a nontrepreneur, I'd start my own Existential t-shirt business. Does Existentialism sell these days?