Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wedding Imminent

I am up early this morning sewing seafoam green ribbon on black bridesmaids dresses. I still have to make the final plan for flowers and find a suit for my husband. I'll post wedding pictures in a few days.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Chickens in Prehistory

From today's NY Times:

June 9, 2007
Trans-Pacific Chicken
In the litter of our meals lie the bones of a forgotten history. In this case, chicken bones found at a Chilean archaeological site called. Their DNA closely resemble prehistoricchicken bones found in Polynesia and radiocarbon dating suggests that thechickens these bones belonged to made it to the New World about a century beforeany European explorer. The research team that made the discovery calls this “the first unequivocal evidence for a pre-European introduction of chickens to SouthAmerica.”

The modesty of this statement is impeccable. But its implication is not so modest. It has long been believed that the easternmost reach of Polynesian voyaging was Easter Island, some 2,200 miles off the coast of Chile. But these bones place the voyagers — whoever they were and whatever their intent — in the Americas themselves, and well before the Europeans who were long supposed to have introduced chickens to the southern continent. Like Captain Cook, we get to marvel yet again at the thought of how far the Polynesians traveled and how well they knew their world. As Cook put it, “It is extraordinary that the same nation should have spread themselves over all the isles in this vast ocean.”

And what better traveling companion for a long voyage in an ocean-going outrigger canoe than a few chickens? They would have been perhaps the nucleus of a new settlement and, at the very least, an assurance of supper. They would, of course, have looked very little like the chickens we know — more like the native jungle fowl of Southeast Asia from which they were descended. And we know nothing about how they were prepared. But in the remains of that meal there is a world of conjecture.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Global Warming for Poker Players

The Heartland Poker Tour at Leelanau Sands Casino in May 2007.
I'm way back there dealing at table N.

Okay, let's review the concept of "pot odds".

For those of you who don't play poker, evaluating the "pot odds" involves weighing the odds of winning a pot against the cost of further participation in the hand. When the cost of further participation, the bet, is larger than the value of the pot times the chance of winning the pot, we say that “the pot odds aren’t there”. If the pot odds aren’t there, then you fold instead of betting. If the pot is big and the bet in front of you is small, you bet a marginal hand, because further participation won’t cost you that much.

There is a chance that the human race in not the cause of global warming. It's not a big chance, maybe like holding a suited Jack and King in your hand. In the pot in the middle of the table is a host of things like big cars, big houses, a new wardrobe every year, cheap imported food....some nice stuff, to be sure. We would like to win that pot. But someone has bet in front of us. To match that bet, to stay in the hand we have to bet our whole bankroll. We have to go all in.

And what is in our bankroll? Our whole earth. The only place we know we can live in. In order to, maybe, save our current lifestyle, we must bet our entire livable Earth, the livable Earth for not only us, but all of our descendants. There's no hitting the ATM machine to withdraw another stake in the game. That's it.

Is it worth it to bet our whole earth on the off chance that global warming is an illusion? As much as we like the things that are in the pot, they aren't worth risking our earth for. A good poker player folds in that position. He walks away from that pot so that he can live to play another hand.

And there will be other hands. We can live with smaller cars. We can devise lifestyles where we drive less and eat food from the neighborhood. We can figure out all sorts of way to avoid burning gas and oil, and to conserve electricity so that the power plants don't burn so much coal. I guessing that our descendants will shake their heads and wonder how we could ever have lived so enslaved by our outsized cars and homes.

A good poker player congratulates himself on a good laydown and goes on to play smart in the next hand, too. The human race can walk way and be the better for it, or we can stay in and play a suicidal hand. The action's on us.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Garden Is In

Tonight I officially finished planting the garden. Except for another bed of lettuce. Except for yellow beans which will go into the bed vacated when I harvest the garlic. Except for the rest of the white zinnias that I started for the wedding; I'd better figure out where they're going because the wedding's coming up soon.

I actually have three main garden areas. I'm particularly proud of the plot pictured above, as it used to be part of the old M-204 roadbed. We used it to stockpile horse manure and leaves until it started to have soil instead of gravel.

Anyone can pave over farmland to make a road, but I made a road back into farmland! I have raised corn, squash, and potatoes there. This year half of it is in tomatoes, but I'm still wondering what to put in the rest. It is outside the fence, so deer are an issue. Do deer eat zinnias? It was a ten day dry spell, but it started raining as I put the tomatoes in and we've had a gentle drizzle all night. It's so nice when Nature plays along.
Posted by Picasa