Snail Vitals

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There are many species of Molluscs, one class is Gastropods, they have coiled shell that is large enough for the animal to retract to completely and comfortably. The scientific name of garden snails is Helix aspera. The mantle covers the internal organs, the heart, liver, lungs and stomach are located inside the shell and on top of the foot. The life span can be 5 to 10 years.

The mucus or slime protects the body from dehydration. The slime tracks stay moist for 15 to 20 seconds and are visible for several hours. Snails do share slime trails. The rhythm of their movement repeats over and over making a snail’s pace.

Snails are hermaphrodites. Each snail has both male and female sex organs. During courtship one or more love darts are fired into the body of the partner. When snails mate, they each lay eggs and produce between 50 and 80 baby snails. Garden snails bury their white to yellowish color eggs 2 to 3 inches down in the topsoil during warm weather. Snail shell coiling is normally to the right or clockwise and rarely there is a left-coiled shell. When this occurs they must find a mate that is left-coiled. Snails never change shells. Their shell or house grows along with them. The main building material is calcium carbonate.

Night air keeps the skin moist and the blood vessels take in oxygen. A respiratory hole on the right side of the shell allows air passage. If the shell becomes damaged the snail can usually do self-repair.

Snail self-preservation requires a warning of a predator nearby. The snail will climb a plant stalk or find an inaccessible place from the predator. Being nocturnal provides some protection. The foamy mucus treatment is a defense against ants. Hibernation for severe winter or summer conditions of dryness, temperatures and diet is practiced. Decaying plants, damp paper, cardboard and cement are eaten when necessary. Dry times of drought sends the snail into its shell, all openings are plugged and slathered with mucus. When the drought is over the hardened mucus softens and the snail wiggles out.

Some snails are eaten as escargot, other are used in cosmetics, made into jewelry and kept as pets. The medical field is looking at snails for a cure for Alzheimer’s. In the United Kingdom and France the racing snail is usually the garden snail variety. Each snail has a racing number taped or painted in bright acrylic on its shell. Racing snails may live longer; thrushes do not like bright paint on their lunches. The racetrack is circular, about the size of a bike tire, with the radius of 13 inches. A race starts from the center circle’s edge with “Ready, steady, go.” The snails move (hopefully) to the outer circle to be the winner. Many snail trainers are children. The July 2017 winner in Congham, Norfolk, UK made the 13 inches in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

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Quips and Rules about Writing II

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Here is the second installment of my mis-quotes and rules for writers. The exact wording I use may be original, but the basis is old. My source for all of these is Susan Bell.

Remember, the most you can say about how the authoritative a writing rules is:

They probably have occasionally helped their author’s writing.

Many, probably most, good and great writers have shared thoughts on how they write or on rules they follow in their own writing. Nearly all of them would agree that there is probably only one rule in writing—be entertaining. And even that doesn’t apply to writing for one’s own understanding, catharsis or sanity.

The quips in this group express the Susan Bell’s attitude, at least at the time she wrote these. Some of these are not exact quotes so I hope Ms. Bell is not offended by my paraphrasing. Whether they are helpful for you depends on many factors.

Writing Quips and Paraphrasings

Source

Every writer has to discover his best protection from a rapacious internal judge.

Bell, Susan

Genres, like rules, are for breaking.

Bell, Susan

If you cannot say clearly what you mean, you are not clear about your meaning. Clear thinking makes for clear writing.

Bell, Susan

If you want to write a freewheeling, unstructured stream of consciousness, okay, but beware: your language will have to be brilliantly muscular and locomotive to create the tension and propulsion necessary to move a reader forward—a tension and propulsion normally created from plot as much as words.

Bell, Susan

Imprecision in literary matters dulls or befuddles the reader.

Bell, Susan

In the edit Fitzgerald realized that a person (like Gatsby) who talks is more exposed than one who is talked about.

Bell, Susan

It is a common error to think editing simply means to replace poorly written phrases with new, better-turned ones. Editing can, and often will, mean to rethink a character, research her further until your understanding, not just your language, is new.

Bell, Susan

Many writers do not find the first sentence for their book until they edit, because only then, on reading their draft, do they discover that the beginning is hiding on page 3 or 4.

Bell, Susan

The micro-edit [sentence-level and finer] is the once-over you give your text much more than once. You will likely encounter a greater number of errors than in the macro-edit (level of character and plot), but they are often simpler to solve than macro-problems.

Bell, Susan

What a fine beginning never does is succumb to verbal litter.

Bell, Susan

Writing teachers like to say a story is in the details. But it is not only in the details revealed, but in those left unsaid that we learn about a person.

Bell, Susan

Dog Time

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It’s spring. Prairie dogs are popping up along interchanges, freeways, prairie and grassland regions of North America. They are named prairie dogs because they bark like dogs. The Gunnison prairie dogs are here in New Mexico. They love to chatter, eat and play. They are a keystone animal species. The keystone animal of the sagebrush ecosystem plays a critical role in maintaining the structure of an ecological community.

Prairie dogs make life possible for others, by creating the essential conditions. Many times the prairie dogs are the food source; top menu choice of the black-footed ferret, bald and golden eagles, feruginous hawks, owls, plovers, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and badgers.

Prairie dogs nibble and cut the grass around their burrow holes and this enables coneflowers, sneezeweed, prairie gentian and woolly actinella or sunflowers to grow. The camel crickets, grasshoppers and burrowing ants all love the flowers and soil conditions in the prairie dog town. A large cast of characters depend on the prairie dogs for food and shelter. Prairie dogs are their guarantee to a healthy life and a better chance for survival; this is why the prairie dog is the keystone animal of the grasslands and prairie.

The warning signal is their primary source of survival because it alerts the other prairie dogs to nearby danger. It can last for 30 minutes and can be heard nearly a mile away. As danger approaches, the intensity of the chirrup increases, and it ends after the prairie dog has entered its safe haven. Later the sentry dog will issue an all clear.

Studies have also shown prairie dogs can distinguish between the different colors of clothing people wear, and between people expressing threats such as carrying a gun and non-threatening behavior.

Yes, some prairie dogs carry ticks that cause diseases. Does the good outweigh the bad? Fate knows the answer and only time will tell.

Both of these pictures were taken in the City of Albuquerque within a half-mile of our house.  The first prairie dog is in sentinel posture.  The second shows four entrance-holes in a line and how they typically clear vegetation nearby to increase warning-distance.

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Grow, grow, grow your script / flowing down the page. / Word-il-y, Word-il-ly, Word-il-ly / book’s the final stage.

All levels of writers aspire for the words to flow into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into pages with a continuity so overwhelming it brings tears to the eyes of the reader. This would be the beginning of the “to come to be” a better writer. It is rather like the confluence of a stream or river. The writing, writing, writing is the process that evolves into the next state of grow which is “cause to grow” followed by “allows to grow.” The amount of precipitation determines the depth of water in the stream. Natural forces designate the channel and type of stream bed the creek will develop. Just as the volume, time and determination the writer expends will mold the character and the output.

Things are flowing along with the writer and the creek, when what should appear but a boulder in one of its many disguises: writer’s block, lack of information, or interferences of daily life. A stream might make a new channel or form a pool or a waterfall. The imagination of the writer may direct the energy to solve or circumvent the obstacle or diversion by taking a walk in the woods, or to seek additional information from interviews, or reading resources pertaining to the “boulder.”

Time moves on. The stream may meander and mature as things that grow have a way of doing. The writer will mature and grow and learn from the mistakes made. “Trying to grow up is hurting, you know. You make mistakes. You try to learn from them, and when you don’t, it hurts even more,” according to Aretha Franklin. A first grade boy answered, when asked why he didn’t make a correction on his writing paper, “Teacher said we learn from our mistakes.”

In all of the stages of grow it is important to keep a journal and remember, “You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith. Don’t wait for something big to occur start where you are, with what you have, and that will always lead into something greater,” as Mary Manin Morrissey said.

Feedback is a critical element. Critiquing is a powerful lesson. Writers are often blind to their writing inadequacies. Joining a group can provide the motivation necessary to correct the weaknesses. Internet online critique groups can work as well as the in-person group. Try both to find the best fit.

Writers continue to grow when the critiques are analyzed and utilized for strengths and for points of improvement. The glow of words well written illuminate the strong currents and allows the errors to be a checklist and not an attack on the character of the person.

The creek finds its way to the final destination of a river, lake or sea while the written entity has a need to rest before the final proofreading/rewriting and the beginning of the journey to the publishing houses, newspapers or magazines.

What starts as a trickle can grow to a raging torrent that carries material along that cannot slip out of the powerful grip of the current

To write is to grow and to grow is to write, right?

Quips and Rules about Writing I

For the next few months I plan to publish quips on and rules for writing. Most of these are paraphrasing of well known writers. For the first few, I did not locate the source, so I have no attributions. The exact wording I use may be original, but the basis is old.

The most you can say about how the authoritative a writing rules is:

They probably have occasionally helped their author’s writing.

Many, probably most, good and great writers have shared thoughts on how they write or on rules they follow in their own writing. Nearly all of them would agree that there is probably only one rule in writing—be entertaining. And even that doesn’t apply to writings for one’s own understanding, for catharsis or sanity.

And a special note on my sources: These are often paraphrased, in other words, they are mis-quotes.

The quips and rules in this chapter express the writers’ attitudes and many of these reflect rules they observe themselves. Whether they work for you depends on many factors. Knowing the rules, even if it is only to break them in fun ways, is helpful to most writers.

Writing Quips and Paraphrasings

Source

1

A book worth banning is a book worth reading.

2

Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and, well, you get the point.

3

Characters are the heart and soul of your novel.

4

Compromises are for relationships, not writing.

5

In the legacy publishing world it’s usually necessary to follow writing conventions (“rules”) until you make the publisher enough money. Then you can flaunt the rules.

6

The anvil falling out of nowhere onto Wile E. Coyote provides no conflict or suspense. The suspense stems from knowing it’s going to happen from all the earlier toons we’ve seen.

7

I can tell you on good authority that you have been listening to the English language at least five or six years longer than you have been writing or reading. And, most probably, your ears also had eighteen or more years of familiarity with the language before you began to read or write with a writer’s sensibilities. [I.e., read your work aloud before your final rewrite.]

Adachi, Jiro

8

Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.

Archer, William

9

He was so Methodist he didn’t even have any coffee or tea in the house.

Barker, Jim

10

I’m interested in how people arrange themselves, how they sit or stand. It says a lot about who they are.

Barker, Jim, Photographer

11

Adverbs and adjectives are most detrimental to precision and concision.

Bell, Susan

12

Do not confuse redundancy with leitmotiv. While leitmotiv repeats a theme undercover, as it were, disguised as a word or image, redundancy brazenly repeats an idea on the surface of the text.

Bell, Susan, The Artful Edit

Dragonflies

The Odonata, dragonflies and damselflies, form a clade or group with common ancestors which have existed since the Triassic Era. When they flutter into your environment, you’ll know it is summer. The four wings, used independently, are iridescent and some have spots.  Dragonflies are quick and nimble fliers. They can fly 100 body lengths per second. If flying backward it’s three body lengths per second. When at rest the wings are held flat and away from the body. A hovering position can be maintained for one minute.

The word Odonata is derived from the Greek word meaning “toothed.” Dragonflies have mandibles with teeth to crush their prey, but not sharp enough to break human skin. Huge eyes with 30,000 lenses are perfect for spying food and facilitating the success ratio of 90 to 95% capture of prey.

Items on the menu range from biting flies, butterflies, midges, moths, and mosquitoes, plus dragonflies. Yes, they’re cannibalistic. The insect is captured, then a chomp on the head, the wings are discarded and the insect is eaten head first, this is done in mid-air. The dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes in a day.

Enemies of the juvenile or larval stage dragonflies: are ducks, frogs, toads, fish, newts and larger insects. Some small meat-eating plants devour the “juvies” for vital nitrogen. The loss of wet lands is a huge problem for dragonflies in their long aquatic larval stage.

After the larvae morph into the adult dragonfly a new set of predators arise, birds, spiders, frogs, reptiles, and the water shrew. Adults or ‘on the wing’ dragonflies live only a few weeks or months.

Looking for a new hobby try ode or watching dragonflies and damselflies. Binoculars and an identification guide are helpful.

Native Americans have many uses for the dragonfly symbol: courage, happiness, healing, speed, water and purity … purity because the dragonfly “eats from the wind.” Many cultures consider the dragonfly as agents of change and self realization.

Albuquerque, New Mexico is home to the first dragonfly sanctuary pond in the United States. Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge also in New Mexico is home to over a hundred species of Odonata.

The Four-spotted Skimmer dragonfly is the official insect of Alaska. The Green Darner dragonfly is Washington state’s official insect.

The photos are courtesy of Mary Rebecca Gracey an avid ode watcher who also knows her birds.

The Dragon-fly

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

from “The Two Voices”

Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro’ crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.

Wine and Food

Well, we have to get back on our schedule, so I hope we it make this time. The detour for examining political rhetoric of the fact-free majority, inaccurately called the silent majority by Nixon, caused our disruption. So, here we are at week 1: wine and food

Age improves with wine.

A meal without wine is like a life without love.

I suspect most people start drinking wine with friends and later move to considering its nuances. This blog post is for people who are not wine drinkers but want to be and ones who are ready to expand their horizons with this nectar of the gods.

If you like sweet drinks, sweet wines are my first suggestion. Otherwise, Iwineinevening’d start with dry (non-sweet) wines. White wines have less of the bitterness that adds to the complexity of reds. Like the bitterness of coffee, that of red wines gives them more of an acquired taste so many people start with sweet or white and move slowly and cautiously to red.

Some of the best sweet wines, which tend to be good with dessert, are from the Rhine Valley region. Germans must prefer sweet beverages, and the Rhine wines, generally Rieslings, typify this taste. Another class of sweet wines are California’s white Zinfandels. With any of these, check the label to verify the sweetness—for most American wines, if the alcohol content is over about 12%, there will be little or no detectable sweetness. German Rieslings are normally detectably sweet and often have higher alcohol content than comparably sweet American wines. Unlike the US, Germany allows sweetening wines, so both high (for wine) alcohol content and sweetness are found in many German Rieslings.

Another large group of sweet wines are the ice wines. Pioneered by the Germans (Eiswein in German), these fairly expensive wines are from grapes that BackCoverPicstayed on the vine until the morning after the first frost, when they are as ripe and as high in sugar as possible. They are expensive. A typical bottle of ice wine costs about twice as much as a conventional wine and the bottle is only half the size. Some wineries have ice wine festivals in late fall. These are held in regions where a hard freeze is expected. (There are ice wine festivals in Canada, New England, New York, etc.)

Many people “graduate” from sweet wines to dry white wines, which go especially well (pair well) with non-spicy, savory foods such as chicken or fish. The usual dry white wines that people start with are Chardonnay or Chablis. My own preference is Sauvignon Blanc, made from the Loire Valley white wine grape. It is widely cultivated, and like French red wines, its must (juice) is often mixed with that from other grapes. I find it often has an apply taste.

I think the best red wine for white wine drinkers to start with is Pinot Noir, made from the Burgundy grape. It is much less in-your-face than the Cabernets and Merlots. Zinfandel, the quintessential California grape, produces red wines that are more delicate than Cabernet, but it is not as easy to find now that so much of the California Zinfandel crop goes to white Zins.

Take a Risk


bettylizard-cedarhill-lr

Take a risk. No way not me. 1’m not a risk taker. If this sounds like anyone you know, read on.

The chicken crossed the road. It was a risk – to venture onto the road was a choice. What was on the other side? What beckoned and demanded that made the chicken take the risk?  The choice meant danger, threat, hazards and peril for the chicken. The exposure left it vulnerable, and insecure if a chicken is ever anything but insecure. The chicken may have experienced the fowl versionbetty-breadsticks-lr of an adrenalin rush to have successfully completed the danger fraught task.

Then, too, the sky might have fallen on the little hen if she had not crossed the road. Every day a road is crossed. A risk taken. A choice is made. Start with a small risk – eat something different. Listen to ska, rap or another type of music unfamiliar to your ear. A new experience, hardly scary at all. Move on to bigger risks like – fear of heights. Take an elevator (not a glass one) to the top of a slightly tall building. Step out and breathe deeply many times. Then peek between the fingers and locate the perimeter of this space where risk practice is taking place. Walk slowly toward the boundary. Wipe sweaty hands as feet propel the protesting body forward. Didn’t make it. That’s okay, it can be a work in progress until one day the view from the pinnacle, be it a skyscraper or a mountain peak can be endured if not enjoyebrynwalkingonrocks-lrd. A sufferer of acrophobia is probably not ergophobic. If you are a writer, fear of work is not your kind of malady.

The writer turned the computer on it was a risk but to venture the fingers onto the keyboard is a choice. What made the fingers move? Something beckoned, demanded and impelled the mind and body to be exposed and vulnerable by what emerged after the creative process had boiled,bubbled, burped and generated a composition.

Adrenalin sent into the bloodstream enables a risk to be taken: mail the manuscript, hit the send key. It’s the only way to be published. The choice is yours, bettycarylflossie-lralong with: the agent, the editor and the publisher who all play their role in this adventure.   

Substance Abuser

There are ten forms of argument that are not considered rational arguing methods. Following these ten laws or rhetoric should help you keep your argument on course.

  1. Do not attack a person’s charactetrumpr, but the argument. (No ad hominem counters.)

  2. Do not misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s argument in order to make them easier to attack. (Avoid the straw man fallacy.)

  3. Do not use small numbers to represent the whole. (Don’t make a hasty generalization.)

  4. Do not argue by assuming one of your premises is true. (Do not beg the question.)

  5. Do not claim that, just because something occurred before, it must be the cause. (Post hoc ergo propter hoc or False Cause arguments). These are especially loved by political air-heads.)

  6. Do not reduce the argument to two possibilities. (Do not create a false dichotomy.)

  7. Do not argue that because of our ignorance, your claim must be true [or false]. (Ad ignorantum arguments only show the ignorance of the speaker.)

  8. Do not lay the burden of proof on the questioner. (Do not reverse the burden of proof.)

  9. Do not assume “this” follows “that” when it has no logical connection. (Do not make non sequitur arguments.)

  10. Do not claim that a premise is true because it is popular. (Avoid the bandwagon fallacy.)

Donald Trump violates so many of these. He attacks the judge, not his argument (#1). He seems more concerned about his reputation than his facts (10, sort of). He says he had helped working people, even though the economic uptick occurred entirely under his predecessor (#9). An you can easily go on.

Based on this it is clear Trump is a substance abuser. He abuses the substance of his arguments. He is also a rechthaberei.  Actually Strumpet is much farther over the line than that.

Variable Meaning Words

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RuleOfThumb-LROne of the things that I’ve been thinking about is how much words vary in meaning. I’ve noted that scientists use many fairly common words but mean something different from most people. For example, a scientist typically feels a “theory” is virtually certain. The theory of gravity, for example. Most non-scientists use the word theory for an off-the-wall explanation. “I have a theory about Kennedy’s assassin.” Scientists often use the word “model” to mean a description of the world that works in a wide variety of situations. Not much like the common meaning.

Part of the reason this disparity came to mind is an interview on NPR. A New York Times reporter essentially said that Donald Trump cannot lie, because a statement is not a lie if the speaker is unaware of it’s truth. Trump certainly engages his mouth or thumbs long before his brain, and in many cases seems to never think about his remarks. Our tweeter-elect usually only seems concerned in fighting and self-aggrandizement.

The word “lie” struck me as one of those words whose meaning wanders. The Twit-Elect may well be clueless about his remarks, as often suggested, in which case they are not lies in the sense the reporter used. A meaning close to that used by the judicial system, but far from common.

Telling a three-year old not to lie is common for parents of young children, despite the improbability of them knowing the difference between truth and fiction. They are lying in the common sense of the word, but not the legal sense.

TumblingLetters-LRSo, as you write, be careful of the spelling of homonyms and homophones and be aware that two characters may use the same word to mean quite different things. A wonderful source of misunderstanding for your protagonist to trip over. Or, paraphrasing Indiana Jones, Truth is for Philosophers. Archaeologists, criminologists and scientists look for facts.