Friday, May 10, 2024

The Curious Case of Total Solar Eclipses

"If you're outside the path of totality, if there's any way you can get into the path of totality for the eclipse, do it. Take the day off. Take the kids out of school. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most people to see a total eclipse, and it is one of the grandest sights in all of nature. It's something you'll always remember, and you'll pass stories of it onto your grandchildren." - Fred Espenak

A strange phenomenon happens at eclipses.  It's not what happens in the sky but rather, what happens in the community.  Eclipses have a strange way of bringing together reams of random people, from all walks of life, from all over the world and uniting them together - despite their differences.

At the most recent eclipse that occurred on April 8th, 2024 I stumbled across the Los Rios campground in Camp Wood, Texas and found myself amongst the following notable characters among many others:  A retired billionaire from Australia who currently lives on a sailboat in the Bahamas.  A French lady.  A retired engineer and hobbyist deep space photographer.  A guy from Italy.  A high school astronomy teacher.  Families from all across the US.  Motorcyclist from California.  Family from Mexico.  Then there's me.

This is a very eclectic group of people from sea to shining sea whom would never ever find themselves in the same place at the same time, especially not in a very small town in Texas that currently has a population of five hundred and forty-four, except for one phenomenon:  A Total Solar Eclipse.

It's a beautiful thing, instead of letting our vast differences divide us, we all set that aside and let our excitement for the eclipse unite us.  It was the most kumbaya experience I've had in a while.  It was peaceful.  It was enjoyable.  It was fun.  It gave us all hope for humanity.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Cuba: It's Complicated

During a trip to Cuba in January of 2024 it was discovered that the picturesque photos you see of Cuba, is not the real Cuba.  The real Cuba is very different from how everything appears on the surface.  It is a country full of extremes and contrasts.  The one phrase that best sums up Cuba is:  It’s Complicated. 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

10 Fantastical Things Learned from the Garden - 2024 Vibes

"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop."
- Confucius

Man in Hat
Pondering things learned

Apparently I'm on a two year cycle of writing a new top 10 things learned article.  The first one was in 2020 and the second in 2022 and now the third is upon us.  No intro is really needed so alas here is latest and greatest, top 10 fantastical things learned from the garden:

1. Stay on top of the weeds and they will go away with time.  Weeds are indicative of a soil health issue plus the ground does not want to be bare.  If you have bare ground, weeds will grow - this is the earth trying to heal itself.  If you plant something and weeds grow instead, you've got a soil health problem.  There are two main approaches to weed control 1) obsessively  try and pull every single weed or 2) let the weeds grow a little bit, then right when the seed heads start forming just cut the seed heads off, when your ready for the entire weed to be gone, just cut it off at the base and let the body of the weed decompose back into the soil.  This makes the weed spend all of its energy into growing then it can't reproduce so over time your weed problem goes away.  Keep an eye out for useful weeds - such as dandelions - which you can eat, make wine out of, or a hand balm, etc.  Just because it's considered a weed doesn't mean it's useless.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

2. You do not know everything despite what you think you already know.  Not even close.  Approach every day in the garden with a mindset of "I know nothing, what can the garden teach me today?"  Do that and you will learn an immense amount every single day.  The garden / nature has a infinite amount of wisdom it's willing to share with you... if you are willing to listen.

3. There is such a thing as too much compost.  Compost is jam packed with nutrients.  If you are producing a high amount of compost and you have a somewhat small growing area, it is certainly possible to add too much compost and overload the ground with nutrients that the plants then can't absorb.  Too much of a good thing... is a thing.