Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Savor the luscious fusion of sense and emotion.

There’s a place where all the sense impressions that come into you churn and stew with stuff that’s looking for a way out.

You keep what you need, but the essence, the aroma of it, exudes through your skin, inviting more, inviting others.

(Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. readers!)

Friday, November 21, 2014

TALL ORDER – How Yao Ming and You Can Save the Elephants

Anyone see the PBS documentary the other night about the poaching of African elephants, and NBA gentle giant Yao Ming?

PHOTO: WildAid

Yao is appealing to his upwardly-mobile Chinese countrymen to understand the impact of their appetite for decorative ivory craft—not just how it's decimating elephant populations, but how it stresses entire ecosystems, destroying both ecology and economy for countless Africans who have very little else.

 If you abhor the slaughter of nearly 100 of these 
 noble creatures every day for the sake of folks’ 
 pretty little trinkets, here’s what you can do. 

PHOTO: collect.at
I’ve decided to support Yao’s efforts and, if you abhor the slaughter of nearly 100 of these noble creatures every day for the sake of folks’ pretty little trinkets, please consider joining me. Here’s what you can do:

  • Check out Wild Aid (www.wildaid.org) to see what the only substantial organization coming at poaching by drying up the ivory market (and the outfit that enlisted Yao’s help in a massive P.R. campaign to that end) is doing.
  • Support Wild Aid if you like what you see. Donate, volunteer, or at the very least let others know what they and Yao are doing.
      Ask them to help spread word...
      that having ivory on their curio shelf 
      is no longer cool.
  • Contact anyone you know who lives in or knows someone living in China, and ask them to help spread word to their countrymen, friends & family who may not realize what’s at stake, that having ivory on their curio shelf is no longer cool. Include a link to Wild Aid or to any news coverage of Yao Ming’s heartwarming campaign for elephants.
  • Share your interest with your own family, friends and colleagues, and ask them to help stir up some buzz.
  • Pray—for Yao and his challenging work; for organizations like Wild Aid fighting to protect elephants; for desperately poor Africans who feel they have no other option but to participate in the slaughter to find other employment—perhaps helping protect wildlife or in safari tourism; for buyers and traders of ivory to make a compelling emotional connection to the results of their actions.
  • And pray for the elephants.

PHOTO: Animal People News

Thursday, November 13, 2014

THIS ONE’S A GAS – The Home-grown Science of a Twelve-year-old

The human body has two ends on it: one to create with and one to sit on. Sometimes people get their ends reversed.  – THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Twelve-year-old boys, it seems, are especially good at discovering and exploiting the quirks of the human body.

One of my grade school pals showed me this truly odd little experiment applying both physiology and physics. First, you have to yawn. (We learned it’s pretty easy to make oneself do so on demand.) Yawning does several things: it opens your mouth; it draws your tongue back and up; and it produces a rush of saliva (tears too).

          Surely, this was science at its best, 
          though I’m not sure the rationale would 
          have held water with our parents.

While your mouth is still open and your tongue back, you force your tongue quickly down and forward. The little pool of saliva that’s collected in the soft pocket under your tongue gets squeezed, and, if you’re lucky, a few drops will squirt out, maybe a foot or two. Needless to say, we had contests to see how far each of us could squirt. (But Mom, we were just studying fluid dynamics!)

(I found out much later that we weren’t the first to discover this odd practice. In fact, there’s a name for it: gleeking. Go ahead, google it; I dare you.)

I’ll never forget my first lessons on the combustibility of methane and hydrogen. One day, at a friend’s house, he was all excited to show me something. I thought, oh, the lucky stiff; he got a new baseball glove. When we got up to his room, he shut the door, pulled the shades and slumped down in a chair.

     Usually, matches meant we were about to 
     light either a cigarette or a cherry bomb.

He asked me to hand him the book of matches on his desk. Usually, matches meant we were about to light either a cigarette or a cherry bomb. This time, he just told me to shut up, watch and listen. He tore out a match. Then he drew his legs up in the air. I could see he was straining, the veins on his neck standing out and his face getting red. For some reason this didn’t surprise me.

There was a dull flupping sound as he passed some gas. He quickly struck the match and moved it right to his crotch. Swear to God, a grapefruit-sized ball of blue flame poofed between his legs.

Surely, this was curiosity and wonder at its best—the way only kids can do it. I’m not sure the science rationale would have held water with our parents. But for me it was far more than science, more than an appreciation of the wonders of Nature that reside on us and in us; this was the stuff of legend.