Winter on it’s way

I love to see the change of seasons. I mean, LA weather is nice and all, but the lack of seasons kind of creates a dreamy illusion of “no change”; a kind of hallucinatory “eternal youth”. Here the seasons repeating cycles create time and link one to reality itself. I’ve been raking leaves and cleaning gutters, but beyond the work required, Fall has it’s own character that really stands out for me. I love it.

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The End of Summer

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Took a walk today, and there, next to the irrigation canal, was a milkweed plant with a dried seed pod that had broken open, spilling it’s silky contents. Now, I haven’t seen milkweed since I was a kid – the dried pods of the milkweed plant were a sign of the end of summer when I was growing up in Ohio.

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Southeastern Idaho is very different from Northeastern Ohio. No big irrigation canals there, for one thing. But the milkweed is the same.

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So here’s to summer. I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

An American Tradition

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The Fourth of July parade is an American Tradition. What would our national holiday be without floats, horses, bands, clowns and flags?

This year Sue and I got to experience Pocatello’s version. We found a shady spot on Arthur St. on the steps of the old courthouse, and settled in to enjoy the show.

Here’s some of what we saw:

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According to the local newspaper, the parade was a big success. According to Sue and I, too.

Hell’s Half Acre

A while back I wrote about a hike Sue and I took up “Death Valley”. Today we visited another somber-sounding piece of Idaho real estate, which we found to be quite beautiful.

North of here, between Blackfoot and Idaho Falls, Interstate 15 crosses the very edge of an ancient lava flow known as “Hell’s Half Acre”. For a couple miles, the landscape on either side of the freeway changes from a carefully groomed smooth, open, green to rugged, rocky and wild.

At a rest stop in the midst of this, the BLM has created a set of paved interpretive trails that allow visitors to experience the landscape close up.

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This is a rough, rugged landscape. A lot of bare, black, basalt lava with scattered juniper trees and sage brush.

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This would not be easy country to cross. As the surface of the lava cooled, it hardened. As the still-hot lava beneath the surface flowed away, the surface was left unsupported and it collapsed, leaving a rough, tumble-down terrain.

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Above, you see that as the surface of the flowing lava cooled and hardened, it left a wrinkled, washboard appearance.

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Here you can see the struggle plants have to live here. on the right you can see some of the moss and lichen that are slowly turning the rock into soil.

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We did see some wildlife. If you look very carefully, in the very center of this photo you can see a rabbit, well camouflaged. (And a good thing too – we saw hawks circling overhead earlier.)

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Here’s a different sort of wildlife. We didn’t see the spiders, but we saw several very beautiful webs.

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And that was our afternoon. If you ever get the chance, I recommend a visit.

 

Space oddity, indeed: 18 talks from astronauts, including Chris Hadfield

You know, when Bowie originally released “Space Oddity”, the Apollo moon landing, Space Shuttle and International Space Station were all in the future. Just Science Fiction. Watch this and realize that now is the future. Wow.

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Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut who’s become a YouTube sensation aboard the International Space Station, has showed us why tears won’t fall in space and the dangers of clipping one’s fingernails in zero gravity. But he has truly outdone himself with his latest video. Scheduled to leave the space station tonight at 7pm – and to touch down in Kazakhstan hours later — Hadfield has remade David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” (For those not up on their Bowie song titles, this is the song that starts: “Ground control to Major Tom.”) Watch it — it’s truly awe-inspiring.

At TED, we’ve had talks from explorers of the mind, charterers of the polar regions and investigators of insects. Today, we’re taking a look at talks from those who’ve seen the earth from outside its atmosphere. All of these TED, TEDx, and TED-Ed speakers are astronauts, yes, but they also have…

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