Environmental science, traveling, and the sociology of the unraveling American dream.


If you're looking for more about me, I'm pretty much hanging out over at my livejournal these days. I use this account for commenting on other people's blogs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

A small portion of today was spent in Plymouth. I looked out over the water and tried to see what my ancesters would have seen, coming over from England on the Mayflower -- cold, inhospitable, windswept, the Puritan worldview embodied in landscape -- but I couldn't. I won't ever be able to look at the New England coast as anything but home.

There was also a Myles Standish Shopping Plaza. I for one think that says a great deal about the survival of Puritan ideals in modern American culture.

Other portions of today were spent thinking such entertaining thoughts as What a nice cranberry bog... wait. There weren't any cranberry bogs on the way here, were there? and Now this is a lovely high bridge. Which I don't remember from the map. and Why am I on sodding Cape Cod?

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Sun is dead; long live the Sun

Solstice this year is around seven a.m. tomorrow morning EST, which means (if I am correct in this) that tomorrow will be the shortest day, and tonight is the longest night. The winter solstice. The death of the Sun.

There are a lot of places I'm not this Solstice, and a lot of things I'm not doing. I'm not sitting down to a Solstice meal with my parents, or holding a lit candle with friends and discussing the year before. I'm not listening to the click of stag horns from the dancers in the darkness, or joining hands and singing to hold the dark away. I'm not huddled around a fire with my kinsmen, smelling roasting meat on a spit and watching as the stars wheel overhead, distant and cold, and wondering if the light will ever again decide to return.

But I am inside, and warm, and about to eat a quesidilla. My candles are lit on the windowsill behind the desk where I type this -- three, on an iron holder. I'll speak to my parents on the phone, and I'll speak to my friends online, and I'll hold back the darkness with an episode of Angel on DVD and the cold by working on the hat I'm making for my father. And the Sun will once more come back.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

To Texlahoma once again

The atmosphere when the plane flew in was one of the more stunning displays of air pollution I've seen: clear sky above, and then a sharp contact where the murky brown polluted air we on the surface breathe every day was confined by the tropopause. Entertaining, on a day when the front page news in USA Today was on a ten percent drop in particulate matter. (Since PM 2.5, the small stuff, is what seems to be most closely linked with health effects, a drop in overall particulate is good but not a solution -- smaller particulate is hardest to clean from emissions.) It did make the sunset glorious, though, the sun sinking down tomato red as the rental car shuttle drove away from the terminal.

But then I left the city, and as I drove to where I am now the stars gradually came back out from the smog and the murk, shining and cold. I drove into Orion, as it was rising in the east. For a moment I thought I saw a satellite, and looked up, just in time to see a meteor hit the atmosphere and burst into flame, dropping through the sky and burning itself out before reaching the bottom of the horizon. Were I a king of old, I would have taken it as an omen. As it is, I shall take it as a wish.