flowers, humor, photography

Unlikely Blooming

The Pink Rebel is a Xmas cactus that blooms when it damn well pleases.  Experts say a Xmas cactus left to its own devices is unlikely to bloom at all, let alone during the daffodil season.
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Unlikely | The Daily Post

daff_pink-rebel._Yellow-10_840x960

The Pink Rebel is actually a Thanksgiving cactus (if U want to draw the distinction).  It earned its nickname by blooming when it damn well pleases, with no special treatment from me.  I keep the soil moist all year, with a little diluted fertilizer in the water.  The plant gets as much light as my window will give it, with no enforced darkness or coolness.  Experts say a Xmas or Thanksgiving cactus so treated is unlikely to bloom at all, let alone during the daffodil season.  But unlikely things do sometimes happen.  Don’t bet on when or where.

unlikely-life

Unlikely Life | Word Porn Quote

haiku, humor, photography

Lines Plan Their Day

«Let’s twist and ripple across the computer screen
in an exuberant pseudorandom dance
that won’t repeat for centuries.»

twist-ripple-bird_840x788

«Maybe tomorrow.  Still sore from yesterday.
I pulled red line duty and
people stepped on me as they crossed.»

red-line_840x344

«Hmmm.  Let’s just mark a few straight edges
of flat surfaces in the real world
until U feel better.»
«I’m up for that if we keep the angles simple.»

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Images #1 and #2 in my response to

Lines | The Daily Post

were selected and cropped from bursts of photos while running the Mystify screen saver.  Image #3 is a photo of an architectural detail, edited to compensate for my inability to compose precisely w/o a viewfinder.  (Glad I eventually replaced the old camera by one with both a screen and a viewfinder.)  Here is a haiku about the kind of silliness exemplified by the dialog in my response:

What the World Needs
|More silliness from
|those who know they are silly;
|less from the others.

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humor, mundane miracle, philosophy, photography, science

Partially Reflected Light

There is much to celebrate in the simple act of flipping a switch, and the resulting light provides many other mundane miracles to ponder.  Look closely at a partial reflection in a window.
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As the natural light outdoors fades, a mundane miracle occurs.  Tho I have no supernatural powers, I create light and see that it is good.  I need only flip a switch, and the resulting light provides many other mundane miracles to ponder.

Light ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #133

Before I close the curtains, a pine tree across the lawn is still visible thru the window.  Conversely, a bird roosting in the pine could see the light fixture I have just turned on.  Most of the light that my fixture throws toward the window goes right thru the glass, harmless and unharmed.  My fist could not do that.

It gets better.

Some of the light that hits the window is reflected back.  I see my fixture as a ghostly sphere, apparently hovering between me and the pine.  Hmmm.  Consider a single photon among the zillions that whiz from my fixture toward the window.  How does it decide whether to continue on toward the pine or bounce back toward me?

globe-pine-1_840x840

I know.  Photons are mindless particles that do not decide anything.  They just do whatever a divinely perfect knowledge of physics would say they do, and a humanly possible imperfect knowledge of physics is rather good at saying what big groups of them do.

By far the best current human knowledge says that what a single photon does is unpredictable.  Not just unpredictable because we do not know all the details about the laws of nature or how the photon is moving or what is in the glass where the photon hits it.  Not just unpredictable because exact calculations are not feasible. Intrinsically unpredictable!  On a photon-by-photon basis, even divinely perfect knowledge of the rules and the current situation does not determine what will happen in the next picosecond.  Even God must wait and see.

Dunno whether I will succeed in posting more about intrinsic unpredictability and its consequences.  (Don’t hold your breath.)  Without wrangling equations, a great deal can be still be said about the quantum physics behind partially reflected light and its wider implications.  See pages 173-176 of the excellent book Dice World by Brian Clegg (or web pages like the one U can visit by clicking here, if U do not have the book handy).

humor, philosophy, photography

Ecclesi-ICE-tes

Time ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #131

I want to add another line that starts with “A time to” in the Bible passage Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  The new line could be anywhere in the series.

To every thing there is a season,
     and a time to
         every purpose under the heaven:

A time to freeze and a time to melt;
     a time to be rigid, and a time to be fluid;

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Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!

While I could not resist giving this post a silly title, I do respect the yin/yang wisdom of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and have already proposed a related serious addition to the “A time to” lines.  Those who have seen and liked yet another addition are welcome to comment with a line and/or a link.

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humor, music

Jambalaya for JS Bach at Age 333

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Physically, JS Bach was in Germany thruout his life.  His musical imagination ranged more widely, with trips to England and France and (especially) Italy.  Later musicians’ imaginations took him to many more places.  Brazil.  Russia.  New Orleans.

New Orleans?  Yes!

Pianists Eyran Katsenelenbogen and Tal Zilber took Bach (and some other saints of music) to New Orleans.  They later played souvenirs of that visit for an audience in China.  Bach goes marching in about 12 minutes into the 14 minute YouTube video; the whole thing deserves to heard and heard again.

The image below is a screenshot (with a link to the video) that is better than what I got with the YouTube embed code.  U can click on the image to follow the link and then click on “SHOW MORE” (just before the YouTube comments section) for easy access to each variation on the great song that is like an anthem for New Orleans.

JSB-NewOrleans

Happy Birthday, Johann Sebastian!  Hope U enjoyed the jambalaya.

Acknowledgement: I appreciate being pointed to the video from a post on the WQXR Blog by James Bennett, II.

 

humor, photography, STEM

Tamed But Not Stifled

It is fun to imagine being able to fly.  I am an adult who might enjoy imagining flight but would not jump off a balcony and try to fly.  It is definitely not fun when a child (or a nominal adult with an assault rifle) acts on wild imaginings.  How can wild imagination be tamed but not stifled?
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As Patrick Jennings remarks in

« Imagination ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #129 »,

a world seen without imagination would be sadly plain and gray.  Imagination can be fun.

It is fun when Patrick sees a reflection (of a dark building with a bright light) and imagines a dragon breathing fire.

breathing-fire

Breathing Fire © Patrick Jennings

It is fun when I see a decorative gourd and imagine a phallus going soft after sex.

penis-gourd_800x1067

Phallic Gourd © Mellow Curmudgeon

It is fun to imagine being able to fly.

Both Patrick and I are adults who might enjoy imagining flight but would not jump off a balcony and try to fly.  It is definitely not fun when a child (or a nominal adult with an assault rifle) acts on wild imaginings.  How can wild imagination be tamed but not stifled?

While there seems to be no single simple answer, the methods of STEM do rather well.  We soak imagination with other things, many of which have rhyming names: calculation; experimentation; observation; replication; validation; verification.  Yes, it is hard work.  We often get ourselves soaked, with perspiration.

Sometimes we get consternation, when we find that what we fondly imagine cannot happen.

Sometimes we get wings.

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Image downloaded from Imgur has been lightly cropped.

haiku, humor

Sacrum Sutra

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Can a haibun be a sutra?  Is the Kama Sutra anatomically correct?  We will see.

Carpe Diem #1369 Kamala

Climbing the Tree - crop

Climbing the Tree
(cropped)

The sculpted couple embrace, each standing on the left leg while hugging the other with the right leg.  She entrusts some of her weight to his strong stone hand and thigh; he entrusts some of his seed to her willing womb.

They have held their pose for something like a thousand years.  They ignore the admiring gaze of pilgrims who ponder the mysteries of life and love and whether flesh and sinew can hold that pose for anything like a thousand milliseconds.

Climbing the Tree
|She climbs his body
|as a tree that burns with lust
|(and lower-back pain).

ethics, haiku, humor, language, music, oversimplify

Be Precise, But Keep It Real

I am big on precise language.  Why am I so damn mellow about whether a poem is a haiku?  The answer hints at bigger things (like reconciling polished theory with rough-hewn reality), but there will also be a few jokes.
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Yes, there are short poems that are not haiku.  Limericks are not haiku.  Googling «one word poem» yielded more hits than I expected (and infinitely more than I would like).  U can read about one that made national news here.  One word poems are not haiku.  (As candidates for a one word poem about one word poetry, words like [prank] and [scam] come to mind.)  On the other hand, trying to say exactly what is a haiku is a lot harder than it seems to many people.  It is also a lot less important, and we should be thankful for small blessings.

A list of several common characteristics of haiku is a good starting point as a tentative definition.  Such a list can be good for introducing people to haiku.  Whether it should be carved in stone is another question.

Here is a plausible list of things one might say about a short poem in English, such that the poem “should” only be called a haiku if they are all true.

  1. It does not rhyme.
  2. It has 3 lines, with a total of 17 syllables distributed 5-7-5.
  3. It includes some seasonal reference.
  4. It includes a poignant relationship between nature and humanity.

I got this particular list from a thoughtful comment by Sue Ranscht on a post with a 3-5-3 haiku.  Amicably and implicitly, the comment posed the question that starts this post.  It deserves an amicable (but explicit) reply.

§1: How Do I List Thee?

Let me count the ways.  Hmmm.  Do I have enough fingers?

There is a downside to defining the word [haiku] in a way that excludes much of what the best haiku poets actually write and much of what the Haiku Society of America considers to be a haiku.  What are we to call that stuff?

Jane Reichhold (1937-2016) was among the many eminent haiku poets who do not adhere to our 4-item list.  She was also an advocate (so am I) of haiku with a characteristic that is not in that list: juxtaposing 2 contrasting images (rensô in Japanese).  Rather than import yet another Japanese word into English, she wrote about “fragment and phrase” as parts of a haiku, in an insightful essay that was nicely formatted in a CDHK episode.  The juxtaposition may seem incongruous at first, and much of the fun comes from realizing how it does make sense.  Sometimes one part clarifies the other.  Sometimes the fragment (the shorter part) is the punch line of a joke set up by the phrase, as in the essay’s clever classic

roasting_veg_chkn_800x575

Haiku © Jane Reichold superimposed on
Photo © Vladlena Azima | ShutterStock

Another criterion not in our 4-item list is interchangeability of lines 1 and 3.  While Jane did not advocate interchangeability (neither do I), it matters to some people.  Should we have a 6-item list?  There is no need to consider here the whole multitude of criteria that are sometimes important to some people.  There is no need to try wriggling out of the contradictions between some of these criteria.  This section’s takeaway is simply that there is no single authoritative list.  Do U find that conclusion stressful?  Maybe a musical interlude will help.

§2: Musical Interlude

Back in 1800, Viennese concert-goers knew what a symphony was, with or w/o knowing much music theory.  A symphony was an orchestral composition with 4 movements.  Movement #1 might have a short slow introduction; otherwise, movements #1 and #4 were both at a brisk pace.  Movement #2 was slower; movement #3 was a minuet at an intermediate pace.  Performing the whole thing took a while, but well under an hour.  And so on.  That was before Beethoven began shredding the dictionary.

Did anybody abuse the new freedom by writing schlock that was long and loud?  Of course.  But some composers crafted some beautiful and enduring symphonies with great care and skill.  Works like Dvořák’s From the New World are classics, tho in various ways they are not classical.

Saying that something is “a symphony” no longer says much about its length or layout.  With no claim that they are all great symphonies, here are a few examples of the diversity.

  • We have symphonies with less than 4 movements (Hovhaness; Schubert).  More movements were apparently intended for Schubert’s “unfinished” symphony, but it is deservedly popular as is.
  • We have a short strings-only symphony that does have 4 movements, but the 2 (not 1!) based on dance forms are not minuets (Britten).
  • We have humongous symphonies with vocal parts (Beethoven; Mahler).

And so on.

Maybe it would be nice if the word [symphony] had a more specific meaning, but we get by.  When Prokofiev revisited the old layout from before 1800, he did not claim to be writing the first “real” symphony in decades.  He just wrote his Classical Symphony. The title’s meaning is clear enough.

§3: Back to Haiku

I wish those who advocate one of the narrower concepts of haiku would imitate Prokofiev.  Speak of “classical” haiku or (better still) “traditional” haiku.  Say which of the various traditions U have in mind.  Want to make a discussion of a single tradition flow more smoothly by temporarily restricting the word [haiku] to that tradition?  That might work, but it is hard to avoid any hint of permanently excluding other traditions in other discussions.  Want to claim that working within your favored tradition tends to help people write good haiku?  OK.  I may well agree, unless U go on to claim that all haiku (or all good ones) are necessarily in that one tradition.  Ain’t so.

Most of my own haiku (and many that I admire by others) do comply with at least 2 items in our 4-item list.  Full compliance is common but far from universal.  Want to be careful and focused when writing haiku?  Pay serious attention to a list like this.  But don’t let the tail wag the dog.

§4: Leery of Labels

The 6-item list briefly contemplated at the end of §1 is much like the 7-item list of rules that was actually used in a challenging CDHK episode.  The main difference between the lists is in whether rhymes or words referencing the poet (like [I] or [dunno]) are forbidden.  Neither is common in haiku; both do occur.

I responded to the challenge with a cheekily titled but fully compliant haiku (This Haiku Is Kosher), followed by one that breaks a few of the rules (Not Quite Kosher).  Which rules?  In the unlikely event that anybody cared, I could say.  As it happens, my Not Quite Kosher is a wry lament (about crediting an image illustrating This Haiku Is Kosher).  The title’s double meaning would be lost if it somehow specified which rules in the 7-item list were being broken.

zen-frog

Not Quite Kosher
|Zen frog bronze sculpture
|(credit lost, like casting wax).
|Dunno who to thank.

Suppose we want to discuss partial compliance with a list of rules in some detail.  Would it be helpful to have a noun as a 1-word label to pin on my partially compliant haiku, so as to indicate exactly which rules it obeys?  Not really.  With 4 rules we would need 16 nouns.  That would be burdensome.  With 6 (or more) rules, we would need an absurd 64 (or more) nouns.  Better to just say what happens with each rule, if there is any need to say it.

Maybe a single noun for obeying all the rules would still be helpful?  No, it is better to just plop a convenient adjective (like [classical] or [compliant] or [kosher] or [traditional]) in front of good old [haiku].  Remembering which rules are relevant at the moment is enough of a cognitive load.

A cluttered vocabulary is not the only downside of a profusion of special nouns, one for full compliance with each of several lists of rules.  People tend to confuse pinning a fancy label on something with understanding it.  They also tend to assume that labels are mutually exclusive.  When the recipients of labels are other people, the results can be nasty.

§5: Takeaway

Tho willing to break the 5-7-5 rule, I obey it more than might be expected of somebody who knows about its origin in a translation error.  I am especially respectful of 5-7-5 when I write an aphoristic haiku (as a zingy summary of some nerdy philosophizing) rather than a moment-in-nature haiku.  With a linebreak after the comma, this post’s title could be a 2-line aphoristic haiku.  (Yes, there are 2-line haiku.)  Maybe a 5-7-5 aphoristic haiku will reinforce the point.

Precision < Accuracy
|Speaking precisely
|is great, if we speak about
|what is really there.

birds, humor

Dirty Look Thru Dirty Window

My seed feeder is hung just outside my living room window.  Please pretend that the white specks in my hasty snapshot are snowflakes, not crud on plexiglass that refuses to stay clean (but is springy enough to prevent serious injury when a bird tries to fly thru it).

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Hey, stupid! The feeder’s empty!

When I am slow to refill the feeder, birds rummage in the tray and sometimes find a seed among the debris that has accumulated.  Then they usually go elsewhere for a while.

Sometimes a chickadee (but never a bird of another species) has a different response.  The chickadee sits on the edge of the tray (looking into my house) and glares at me.  Corvids and parrots are not the only brainy birds.

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(reblog), grammar, humor, photography

5 Days, 5 Abstract Photos – Day #5

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Day #5 of Olga’s challenge is effectively reblogged at the end of this post, after my own abstract photo.  (I tweaked this post’s title to avoid ambiguity.)  The challenge has been fun but intense.  Now I can turn to whatever has been piling up.  Hmm… Yikes!

penis-gourd_800x1067

Originally posted as
5 Days, 5 Photos Challenge: Abstract (Day 5) | Stuff and what if…:

icicles3

Rules:  No people.  No explanations.  Open invitation to anyone else who would like to participate.

flake2

Since this is the finale, an extra photo to say Merry Christmas and Peace to all.

View original

humor, philosophy, photography, seasons

Old Gold

Ultimate reality is elusive (or maybe illusory).  All photos in this post were taken by daylight on sunny late winter mornings in 2017, using the same dried silver dollar plant in the same corner of the same room.  But they don’t look it.
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Tattered old gold still glows.

gold-point_800x600

But is it really silver?

silver_800x600

Or some nameless pearlish color?

Shifting light; flaky white balance; …

Ultimate reality is elusive (or maybe illusory).

Rashomon

All photos in my response to

Gold ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #111

were taken by daylight on sunny late winter mornings in 2017, using the same dried silver dollar plant in the same corner of the same room.  The old camera’s unpredictable white balance sometimes lucked into interesting images.  It also inspired a riff connecting an old Beatles song to a recycling incentive, but the old camera was replaced after showing more signs of senility.

Another response to the same challenge shows that silver dollar plants sometimes do look golden in natural light!

humor

Voice of Experience

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They both come in tubes.

They are used in the same room.

colgate-equate_800x313

They should not be
in the same drawer.

haiku, history, humor, politics

What Luther Did Before Nailing

Did U ever wonder how an outraged monk could be like a frightened squid while being quite unlike the squid in a closely related way?  Neither did I.  The answer hit me before the question.
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The answer hit me while I pondered an intriguing juxtaposition in

Haiku Poems: Grip (For Samantha) | Poet Rummager

that inspired me to write a haiku:

Squids and Scribblers
|Squids squirt ink to flee.
|Writers also (sometimes), but
|often to confront.

• Image from © Brad Scot Lark | ShutterStock
• Image cropped from © Michele Paccione | ShutterStock

Long after Martin Luther’s time, fundamental institutions have yet again strayed from their missions and been corrupted.  Of course, people write (and mesh their words with images) very differently now.  Writers depend on the media (rather than a trip to the hardware store) to nail things to doors.  But if U listen carefully, U can still hear hammering.

2017-09-22

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