Sunday, January 28, 2007

Benedict Pond -- Scenes of Winter

Maria Janine and I went to Benedict Pond this afternoon. Other than Maria wandering off into the woods, it was pretty uneventful. Doug came with us too but was adamantly clear that he did not want to step anywhere near the frozen lake.

It's cold.

We were trying to figure out what animal these tracks might belong to.

It was markedly colder on the lake compared to home. For instance, there is an inch of snow on the ground around the lake.

The cracks in the ice were superficial. You could have driven a car onto the ice. We debated it for a few seconds. I did jump up and down a couple times, though.

Jake, Gineane and Maria

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Ice bubbles trapped like forgotten memories frozen in time. Poor ice bubbles. Someone should free them.

We averaged over 100mpg for fifteen straight minutes on the ride back. Not too shabby.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Facing global warming, are people like frogs?

OSLO: Confronted by new evidence of global warming, will people react like frogs?
Reuters | Thursday, 25 January 2007

According to an often-told story, a frog will try to jump out if you drop it into hot water but the hapless creature will stay, and eventually die, if you put it in a pan of cool water and slowly bring it to a boil.

A United Nations report to be released in Paris on February 2 will include the strongest warning yet that humans are stoking global warming that may cause colossal damage to nature if, like the doomed frog, they ignore rising temperatures.

Ex-US vice-president Al Gore tells the story with croaking cartoon frogs in his movie 'An Inconvenient Truth' to urge more action to save the planet. In his version, a hand dips in and rescues a swooning frog just as the water starts to bubble.

"It's important to rescue the frog," he says. And UN officials also sometimes mention the boiled frog as a cautionary tale of the dangers of human complacency about global warming.

There is only one problem – it's not true.

"The 'boiled frog'. . .is definitely an urban myth," said Victor Hutchison, a professor emeritus at the zoology department at the University of Oklahoma in the United States.

"I have investigated the thermal tolerance in reptiles and amphibians for many years. If one places the animal in a container and slowly heats it, the animal will at some point invariably try to escape," he said.


The UN report, by 2,500 scientists, will say there is at least a 90 per cent chance that human activities led by burning fossil fuels are the main cause of warming in the past 50 years.

The warming may cause ever more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels by 2100.

Strengthening the conclusions of a 2001 report that blamed humans for warming, it will guide governments seeking to extend the UN's Kyoto Protocol for fighting warming beyond 2012.

Will the world's governments hop? If the much-maligned frog is smart enough to jump when the mercury rises, there must surely be hope for humans too?

Scientists' warnings about the risks of carbon dioxide have often gone unheeded. Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius, a Nobel chemistry laureate, first pointed to a likely link between warming and industrial carbon dioxide emissions a century ago.

"This is a problem we have been aware of for a very long time and action on it is way overdue," said Naomi Oreskes, a history and science professor who specialises in climate change at the University of California in San Diego.

She said she liked asking friends, colleagues and family which leading US politician said: "This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels."


"Almost invariably people guess Al Gore," she said. The right answer was President Lyndon Johnson, in a special message to Congress about pollution – on February 8, 1965.

President George W Bush, who acknowledges a link between rising temperatures and mounting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, pulled out in 2001 from Kyoto under which most industrial nations have capped emissions.

He said caps would curb economic growth and Kyoto wrongly excluded developing nations from its first phase, to 2012. He is instead investing heavily in new clean energy technologies, from biofuels to hydrogen.

Kyoto obliges 35 developed nations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases – from factories, power plants and vehicles – by 5 per cent of 1990 levels by 2008-12. The United States emits about a quarter of all industrial greenhouse gases.

The UN climate panel's reports have spurred action in the past: the way to the 1997 Kyoto pact was paved by a 1995 report which concluded that the "balance of evidence" suggested humans were affecting the climate.

Most Kyoto nations agree that tougher action is now needed.

Yet in a world where millions of individuals are unable to quit smoking or avoid obesity, action to curb global warming seems a tall order, partly since it will affect future generations hardest.

And, like the fabled boiled frog, people may find it hard to tackle an invisible threat.

"Our evolutionary biology. . . equips us to respond far more easily and naturally to a threat from a snake, or a fang, or a claw or a spider than from a threat that can only be understood by the use of abstract reasoning," Gore said in a presentation in Oslo in 2006.

"It's not impossible, but it does take more time," he said.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

You can take a rerun... if you'd like.

Well, blogging is kinda fun so it'll continue while there are things to blog about. Today we have more pics of the reluctant to leave geese on Smiley's pond (they've finally gone now) and the little pond by Jug End Reservation. Well, I guess as long as there's water, regardless of how freezing it is, they'll stick around. Give 'em another week, tho, and they'll be gone.... Global warming hasn't won out on winter just yet.

Credit goes to Sharon for spotting this hawk or falcon. Then Nori spotted the same falcon (may have been the very same one) a day or two later about a mile away on our drive back from BCC but I didn't have my camera on me. On the same drive home we also saw a red fox and a black squirrel in a little field. I think we both felt that was pretty auspicious.

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You can take a rerun if you'd like, Tim. Tim, from the Berkshire Bike and Blade race team at Catamount, makes it through the finish line with a little added flare and style while somehow still managing to beat his personal best time and putting Berkshire Bike and Blade in good standing. The announcer was actually referring to Steffen's run right before Tim's because she was feeling sorry for Steffen for not quite managing to finish the course after he ate it hard.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Well, it's not as good as eggnog but on a cold blustery day it will do. The Canada Geese reluctant to leave. Bush apparently was never even potty trained; comes hardly as a surprise. Nori in front of the revamped Mahaiwe. Dan, the doctor to be, giving us the tour of UMass at Worcester. Nori and I at Alford Brook making our way back from town.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Meep and Moppet: the final chapter.

But wait, it's not over yet. Here is how the last week in India was spent.

After New Years I went to the southern most tip of India to see where three major oceanic waters meet: the Arabian Sea on the west coast (where Goa and Kerala are), the Bay of Bengal on the east coast and the the Indian Ocean at the southern most tip of India.

Statue of Swami Vivekananda. The spiritual leader wandered the entire subcontinent with rags and a begging bowl and no other possessions. He reached Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent on 24 December 1892. There, he swam across the sea and started meditating on a lone rock. He thus meditated for three days and said later that he meditated about the past, present and future of India. The rock went on to become the Vivekananda memorial at Kanyakumari.
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Goats hanging out on a town wall
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After that Nori and I went on a backwater tour in Kerala.
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MMMM fresh coconuts!
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Jake still meets with resistence when taking certain photographs....
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Or maybe Nori just thinks her feet and hands are prettier than her face.

Still getting along famously well.
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Pixagogo direct photo link Nori writes her name in the sand in Hindi.

An ocean wave breaks on the shore unique to all the ones that have gone before.
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The ocean still remains unpredictable after countless eons.
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Hahaha, who can help but laugh at Nori. Even Nori can't help but laugh at Nori.
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After the backwater tour, Nori and I went separate ways. She back to Varanasi to get her stuff and say goodbye to the family she stayed with and I to Goa.

I hold up the golden ratio in my hand on one of the many miles of Goan beaches.
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Meet Meep and Moppet
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Is there anywhere you can't find a cow in India? The boogie boarding on this beach was great fun. The waves rode in for a good while.
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Oops, got careless with the waves.
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pretty sunset.
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Train ride back to Delhi
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And so concludes the adventures of Nori and Jake in India. Thanks for tuning in. See you next time!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Epilogue: Well, we're back.

It's been a hectic, rich, bizarre, jarring, surprising, beautiful, exciting, fun and adventurous experience. The wonderful people of India have been by and large very graceous, generous and kind. India you have taught me something, I'm not exactly sure what; at the very least you have shown me patience and acceptance, shown me a totally different way of living, shown me a side of the world that is as far from home geographically as it is in its everday way of life. India, I'll miss your loud, raucous, ceaceless energy and vitality, the constant bargaining for a fair price, the slightly overly excitable shop keepers, the squeezing through the thick thrum of unbridled traffic on some rickety two wheel transport, the cows carelessly walking among the ordered chaos, the vast peaks of the north stretching toward the heavens as if promising the way to enlightenment, and the precarious waves of the south lapping on your sandy shores cautioning a reminder of humility and respect.

But I have to say I am very happy to be home. I arrived home last night in the wee hours of the morning courtesy of the lovely Maya (friend of Nori's) who picked Nori and I up at the airport and drove us all the way to the Berkshires. Upon setting foot inside my cozy home I immediately remembered that there's no place like home. Expecially when you've been in a place like India for four months! I haven't felt so reflective, so caught in time, the past and future suddenly pop into focus; what just happened? I feel like I just stepped out of another place and time... a strange, surreal dream where I was caught in a whirlwind that never let me down until suddenly I'm back in the Shire, on U.S. soil; so peaceful and contemplative; suddenly I feel something's changed; something in me or how I see the world or both. India's taught me something. It's changed my mind; it's changed my point of view; it's shown me a much more complete picture of the world. And in doing so it's quietly asked something of me. It's given me something I didn't have before. It's armed me for the next unknown step in my life with its vicarious wisdom that is breathed and lived in every day of Indian life through its rich and vibrant culture and traditions that is the backbone of its ancient soul that is still very much of and rooted in the earth. I see so clearly the juxtaposition of two very contrasting perspectives; two alien lifestyles, two separate philisophical world attitudes and approaches whose paths, on one hand, have begun to meet and cross in various aspects of life, but on the other more interesting side are still vastly disperate and far removed and ignorant of each other; two worlds apart.

Being home immediately puts things into powerful perspective. It's amazing how for granted the things of a modern society are taken; of a home: with so much space and peace and quiet beauty. I realize how truly precious this is and how it is very hard to find in India in the same capacity. The home itself, its familiar smell, its constant unchanged features, inside and outside, perhaps give more comfort and sense of welcoming home and security than the people that have lived there, for they change and grow and move on while home will remain after the people who called it home have gone.