The Time of Sands

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Sand is an ephemeral medium, intermediate in particle size between the rock which is its parent material and the ever-finer slurry of yet-further abraded silicacious dust. Easily transported by wind and water, sand flows in turbulent and chaotic motion. The emergent forms are transitory: winds and waves build and re-build patterns, sifting particles by size and weight to build dunes and ridges. The willing eye may find aesthetic pleasure in the incessant sculpting and deposition, and the imagination may be awakened to find creatures whose brief lives are rarely documented. Here are a few examples from the last week’s expeditions to Drift Inn beach, less than 2 miles from home (and see a larger sand gallery including examples from the last decade or so).

This image contains the marvelous detail below:

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The lady below seems to bloom from the swirl of the upper image:

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and another, a begowned goat-faced personage with claws:


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A dragon materializes:


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…and a rather dopey yellow being arrives as the upper image is unfolded:

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Ephemerality in the woodpile

February in Maine means stoking the fires several times a day. These days it’s just one woodstove, but still a fair amount of wood moves from woodshed to house every day. Each piece has some specifics, like species (mostly maple, oak, birch) and mass (a 15 lb knot burns longer than 3 5 lb sticks), and of course there’s an art to placement and draft adjustment. In addition, there’s the occasional personality who takes refuge in the carefully-stacked woodpile. I choose to think of such visitors as looking forward to the transcendence that immolation brings, and to their further lives into which their constituent atoms are recycled (and one might apply the same expectation to other forms of organic life too…). So here are some of today’s potential immolatees:

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Updates and evolutions

I just remembered another verse of Ken Stallcup’s wonderful anthropologist/linguist song, cited in a post last April and now updated with the missing bits included.


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But today’s post really has to do with a succession of images emerging from an original capture yesterday at Drift Inn. The raw version as it came from the camera (a broken fragment of sea ice floating above sand):

and as adjusted (vibrancy, clarity, sharpness) and uploaded to Flickr:
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and then I saw a figure within the original, and cropped and rotated:

and eventually with minor adjustments it resolved to this:
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And then I wondered about that baleful yellow eye at the top, and did the by-now-familiar copy-flip-join to produce a mirror image:

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And while we’re considering the experimental, a new perspective arrived yesterday in the form of a 10 mm fisheye lens that has no very serious purpose (or not yet, anyway) but does that thing of making me think differently about what I see via the medium of the camera. Among the experiments I tried was this:

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Now, that’s all very meta: a photograph of a photograph, and probably of no consequence… but another example of where the feet wander as one stumbles from thing to thing.

One more image from that lens, which has pretty startling quality for not much $$:

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(click on that image to zoom in, and then click again…)

Convivial: Ex-spire one week, In-spire the next

Lately I’ve been putting my contributions to the weekly Zoom Convivium (4 to 6 of us, an hour or so on Wednesday nights of freeform discussion of a Question posed by one of the participants). Two recent examples:

Death and Dying

Inspiration

These suites of pages and links are overkill, useful and fun for me to do, but pretty definitely in the tl;dr and Informing Others Against Their Will territory.

how it happens

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We were out at Drift Inn just after sunrise this morning, incoming tide and very cold, but a successful venture for me, with a nice set of photographs.

Most images evolve in Lightroom, and sometimes pass through GIMP before making it to Flickr. Case in point:


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That one began with this not-very-promising image:

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I pushed and prodded and tweaked and tried it in monochrome

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before I went back to color and kept nudging until I was satisfied:

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a morning harvest

Much to chew upon in these three not-unrelated posts:

  • The neurons that hold our hidden thoughts (Harvard Gazette)

    scientists have identified the individual neurons critical to human social reasoning, a cognitive process that requires us to acknowledge and predict others’ hidden beliefs and thoughts … Now that scientists understand the basic cellular mechanism that underlies human theory of mind, they have an operational framework by which to begin investigating disorders in which social behavior is affected.

    There’s a hubristic flavor here, along with the journalistic handwaving, but the claim is at least interesting: certain mental processes seem to be locatable, and there’s an ‘operational framework’ to put to work on further problems. What can possibly go wrong?

  • jnana (Sesquiotica blog)

    What does a mirror look like when it reflects only itself, and no one is looking? … The essence of knowing is the mind perceiving external things and concepts and modelling them and assimilating those models into its schemes and structures and mental Minecrafts. Which means that knowing is an intrinsically separate and separating act; even knowing yourself takes parts of your self as objects, models them, and adds them to your miniature village of the mind. So what do you call the knowing that knows that the knower and the known are the same? The realization that all that is realized is all that realizes, and that at root the watcher is watching the watcher, and any plurality is just the reflector reflecting?

    this idea of knowing that one is not separate from the ultimate unity of the universe (specifics depend on religion—Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh—and particular sect or school within the religion), well, that’s something that we particularly wanted to see as an exotic thing we could borrow from them, like a jewel from the East, the prize of a secret journey to find a holy man.

    More familiar territory for some of us, awash in knotty paradox and the inventive genius of language.

  • Bronze, iron, gold, silver (Language Log blog)

    the Iranian-speaking peoples were among the first to ride in chariots and to mount on horses, so we can think of them as being highly mobile. They were also responsible for the spread of key instruments and modes from the Middle East to Central Asia and thence to East Asia. So we can call the Iranian-speaking peoples masters of metallurgy, mobility, and music, but much more as well.

    Words and concepts are substantial parts of that “much more as well”: see the ‘Selected readings’ links at the end of the post, and especially enjoy Faces of ‘Siberian Tutankhamun’ and his ‘Queen’ buried 2,600 years ago reconstructed by science.

And then add Andy’s post from yesterday. Whew.

with the new iPhone camera

Yesterday’s trash pickup led me to a ditch on the Glenmere road which had some nice bits of ice. I had my new iPhone with me, and here’s what came from my first shot:


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A bit of tweakage (crop, rotate, twiddle contrast and vibrance) produced this, in which my eyes see at least one creature, perhaps blue-faced and blonde-haired (YMMV, as usual):

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Just a few feet away were these two:

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And here’s a further evolution of the lattermost, in which the latent creature is revealed (or perhaps it’s creatures…):

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Similar treatment of the penultimate other produces a being with pronounced Northwest Coast sensibilities:

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And this version is even better:

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And it’s only Tuesday.