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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Women's Basketball

For a number of years I've been saying that I really should attend a Maryland Women's game to support what is always one of the best teams in the country. This year I've finally made it to two games so far. The first was against Connecticut which has a winning streak of about 90 straight games. I figured we'd probably lose, but I knew it would be a great experience to be there if our team managed to break that winning streak. We lost, but I'm glad I went. It's our only loss at this point.

On Thursday along with Stan and two other guys I went to the Michigan game.

The plan was to go attend the women's game which began at 6 while Stan taped the Men's away game which began at 7. After the Maryland Women's win, we picked up a pizza and went to Stan's house to watch the Men's game which had already ended. Since Stan fast-forwarded through the commercials and time-outs, it only took about an hour to watch the whole game; the whole game up to 53 seconds, that is, because that's when the screen went blank. Uncharacteristically, Stan had screwed up setting the timer. Up to then all four of us had been good about not checking our smart phones to see what the final score was, but we certainly immediately went to them at that point. Maryland was ahead by about 3 or 4 points when the image died, and with that lead with that little time left the team ahead would win the majority of times. But certainly not every time, so we had a few seconds anxiety before finding out the men also won.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Winter ground cover

A patch of green like this in the winter woods in Patuxent State Park catches the eye.

I call it ground cover, but actually I have no idea how big these plants get.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Music of the Mind

I recently finished the most provocative book I've read in years, Music of the Mind by Darryl Reanney. The scope is wide with the major points following in logical sequence, and any attempts by me to summarize them wouldn't do them justice. Instead, I'll describe some of the thoughts which particularly resonated with me. (The author would find my use of the word "resonated" as notable.)

Previously (12/6/13, and 10/22/14), I have written of my discomfort with the split I often note between the sciences and the humanities, and beginning with the introduction Music of the Mind holds that this divide is both unnecessary and damaging, that science and the humanities are not just consistent but are interrelated. Throughout the book quotations and foot-noted references appear from literary and religious as well as scientific writings.

Music and especially rhythm has always been of interest to me, and in recent years I have learned and written about the importance of rhythm in the universe in everything from the heart beats of humans and other animals to the orbits of planets. (11/9/13 and 8/26/14) Reanney writes on page 90, "Music is the most alchemic force of all, for the resonances it sets up can vibrate in tune with the inner logic of the universe. This is because the universe is rhythmic at root..."

The beginnings of this universe of ours are described in the early pages of Music of the Mind as the author explains the interconnection of all of us to everything else over the past 15 billion years since the Big Bang. He observes that the carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen of our bodies owe their creation to this 15 billion year old event so that "we are the children of the stars." Astronaut Edgar Mitchell who died a year ago has spoken of this realization while in space:
In a story he retold through the years, Mitchell described a moment during the return trip to Earth, as he gazed out the window of the spacecraft and saw the sun, moon, Earth and stars.
“Suddenly I realized that the molecules of my body and the molecules of the spacecraft and the molecules in the body of my partners were prototyped and manufactured in some ancient generation of stars,” he said in an interview for “In the Shadow of the Moon,” a 2007 documentary.
“And that was an overwhelming sense of oneness, of connectedness. It wasn’t them and us, it was, ‘That’s me. That’s all of it. It’s one thing.’ And it was accompanied by an ecstasy, a sense of -- ‘Oh my god, wow, yes’ -- an insight, an epiphany.”
Mystics from different religions and people with near death experiences often speak of this "oneness" in similar words as astronaut Mitchell. Reanney doesn't use the word pantheism, that God resides in everything, but that concept could be an interpretation. The author doesn't enter the realm of religion directly, and his references to God are few and often are quotes by others. Instead, he states that all atoms in the universe contain a "memory" that they were all together in the brightness preceding the Big Bang and desire to be reunited; that this desire is what we call gravity.
Music of the Mind's explanation of human consciousness and thoughts are complex, and although the author develops these explanations patiently, as I mentioned earlier, I would not attempt to summarize them here. This section of the book did, however, provide me with some insight as to why human communication is so difficult, a subject that I often pondered during my working years. Once I was one of the principle managers of a business and reported to the owner. Two or more times a week he would call me into his office to discuss general concepts he wanted me to put into practice in my organization. These concepts often sounded simple and obvious which would cause me to wonder why we were going over the same ground on multiple meetings. Then suddenly through a change in phrasing, or more likely an experience, I would finally grasp the full meaning of what he had been attempting to make me understand.
Darryl Reanney would describe this breakthrough as "knowing", a collapse of " the wave function of the relevant quantum ripple yielding a 'sharp-edged thing'-a word or a particle." No, I'm not going to try to explain what I just wrote even though I could follow it as I read along through Music of the Mind. As I read I often argued with specific points or phrasing and, although I doubt the author is right about everything he says, I found it stimulating reading. It will stay with me for a long time.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Saturday, January 7, 2017

First snow of the year

An inch or two. The geese adjust.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Thinking ahead to next season's fishing

A couple of days ago Pam and I drove to Annapolis for the annual ritual of getting my new fishing license at Angler's Sports Shop. I dislike being without a valid license at the start of the new year ever since a New Year's Day some years ago when the temperature was in the 70's, and most of us fishermen yearned to take advantage of the weather by wetting a line. This was before you could get a license on-line, so there wasn't any way I could legally fish since I hadn't taken action beforehand. I still prefer getting the license at a tackle store rather than using the internet, and afterwards we traditionally drive to Mike's Crab House in Riva for fried oysters.

Taking an inventory of my flies, I decided there were five types I needed to tie in preparation for next season, about a half dozen of each type.

1. Marabou bead-head- Consisting of only a marabou wing and a bead on a hook, it's about as simple as a fly can be. Nevertheless, it is effective for trout and pan fish. Marabou are fluffy feathers whose name comes from the marabou stork. Since those storks are now a protected species, fly-tying marabou generally comes from turkeys and chickens. The fluffy feathers present a life-like movement like a small baitfish as the fly travels through water. Flies that imitate other fish are called "streamers".
2. Crystal bugger- This fly is a variation of the popular wooly bugger which in turn came from the wooly worm which was popular when I first began fly fishing 40 years ago but is seldom mentioned these days. The basic design for these flies may go back centuries. I learned the crystal bugger as well as the marabou bead-head from books by Joe Bruce, a Maryland fishing legend. The marabou tail of the crystal bugger dominates the picture below:

3. Black and bluegill- Another simple fly which I learned about from a magazine article. As the name implies, it was designed by a tier who lives in North Carolina to catch bluegills, but it also is effective on smallmouth bass, and some use it for trout. What makes a fish bite this fly is a mystery to us humans because it doesn't seem to look like anything a fish would eat. We call flies like this "attractors".
4. Bend-back flies- Unlike the first three, I haven't yet used this style steamer, but I was inspired to try it because the design allows it to go through heavy aquatic vegetation without getting hung up. There are places I've been fishing lately that this feature would be beneficial.
5. Soft hackle wet flies- A few years ago, I read article about using the feathers of starlings to tie these. I tried some with success and would like to get back to using them on trout streams like the Gunpowder River. Wet flies imitate a subsurface stage of aquatic insects.

Christmas 2016