Monday, September 30, 2013


   These photographs were taken in the Coon Creek area, near the northwest end of  Clinton Lake, Douglas County, Kansas, on September 29, 2013.
    Also seen during my walk were white pelicans (which pass through here on their way south each September), two cattle egrets,  about ten turkey vultures, some seagulls, lots of great blue herons, two sandpipers, a beaver (pictured) which slapped its tail in the water until I moved on, a surprised deer, and an eagle.
   Countless insects and spiders, butterflies, and songbirds were also to be seen throughout the fields and in the forested areas bordering the creek bottoms and pastures.
   The only change to the photos has been to enlarge these selections from the full images. No "photoshop"-type  techniques were used.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A new word, looking for meaning

 It's a truly wonderful word, and was unknown to science.  Until I came along, that is.

As a word, whether spoken, written, or even mumbled by Tom Brokaw, it has certain attractive advantages:

1. It has five syllables- at least.

2.  It has tricky spelling.

3.  It has the sound "phone" in it.

4.  It has the sound "syn" in it. 

5. It has "the" in it, which everyone can relate to.

6. It has the sound "sis" in it, so it is family-friendly.

7. Finally, it has the word "no" in it, and so it will have wide appeal to all ages, from toddlers to passive-aggressive adults.

After I invented this word-  (Just like that, about twenty minutes ago- you can't tell me pot makes people stupid!) - I did what any rational actor would do. 

That's right.  I asked the Google if the word "phonosynthesis" exists. 

Google of course, having a tremendous memory, and great intelligence, but not quite enough imagination for the task at hand, quite unjustly and brusquely brushed me off with this dismissive slap in my graphic user interface:

ScreenHunter_42402 Sep. 26 20.22.jpg

So, naturally, Urban Dictionary has never heard of it either- and I'm not ready to tell them yet. 
First,  I need a good definition for it. 

Seven billion warm bodies on this planet, and this task falls to me! -or to us. 

 It is both a duty and an honor.  

But it is also a challenge.

 As Flannery O'Connor might have said, a good definition, man, is hard to defined. Sadly, though, in this case, Flannery will get you nowhere.


But here is my best idea of all: a T-shirt with the following message:

                  What Part of 
          Don't You Understand?

What people will do is come up and try to tell you what they know plenty about photosynthesis. Then you just raise your eyebrows and give a faint smile while looking at a point exactly one inch above the other person's eyes and say, "Read more carefully, my hasty friend". 

Then, resplendent as a cassowary who has just bested a flamingo, you casually saunter away, like a lost French prince named after a smiling sea mammal. 

 Oh yes- It is okay to skip. Just don't overdo it. You don't want him to think you are conceited.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

                                      Helen P. Young's Sketchbook

    About fifteen years ago,  a small  sketch pad done by a high school girl named Helen P. Young, "Class of 1896", was found among my grandfather's effects.

      Helen may have been a student at the high school in Chillicothe, Ohio, from which my grandfather graduated, one of graduating  class of sixteen, in 1898.

     These pictures would probably never be called great art; the work is fairly rudimentary, although gracefully done, and seems to be largely copied from illustrations from periodicals such as "The Century" magazine.

    But  the mystery of the sketchbook's semi-anonymity, and the simple charm of the sketches themselves on the yellowed paper, and the interest in history they may inspire,  make these little pictures worth keeping. For example, the sketches of the British J-Boat Valkyrie III  and the Herreshoff-designed Defender, opponents in the 1895 America's Cup Races (the Defender won) may be of interest to sailors and amateur Cup historians.

    The sketchbook could have easily been lost or thrown away more than a century ago- it could have been seen as of no significance.

    Fortunately, it was saved, in accordance to Helen's written notice: "High School Work  Keep", at the top of the cover page.

    Whoever Helen P. Young was, she likely has descendants. There is no doubt she has a story, although I know nothing of it. She probably died years before the Internet, and home scanners and digital imagery, and never dreamed that,  after an intervening century and more, her high school work would be kept, and be put into a kind of virtual world museum, on line,  for all the world to

                                                              The Sketchbook