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Banbury Cross

a pillow for lost thoughts...

Category: honza

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Animals of Wolf Trap park

(wolftrap)

I'll begin with reptiles.

The most common species are the snapping turtles that you can see in the Wolf Trap Pond almost every sunny day lying on a partly submerged tree stump.

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Slightly scarier are the local snakes. This is a non venomous Northern Watersnake.

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This is also non venomous garter snake.

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Also known as garden snake.

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This live frog has just been caught and is in the process of being devoured. At the time of the picture, the frog was still alive and trying to escape, dragging the snake behind.

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Around the pond you will also find a blue heron

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and in the surrounding woods you can encounter a barred owl.

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The best time to meet this amazing bird is an hour before sundown. After that it makes lots of noises, but the light conditions deteriorate.

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Local groundhogs are fairly shy and you will mostly see them from a distance...

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...but if you sit still at the picnic table, it may approach you on its own.

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There is plenty of deer in the park...

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...some so tame they will let you approach to within a few feet.

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They also often taste the goodies of nearby residential areas.

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Some of the night critters can be observed on a back porch (if it is lit).

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Raccoon is perfectly capable standing on its hind legs.

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Many are pretty cheeky and would have no problem breaking and entering.

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And they do appreciate a dog treat here and there.

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Another night critter is the Red Fox.

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They are much more careful than the raccoon...

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...but in the winter have no problem approaching the door, if they feel reasonable safe and can't see you behind the door.

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Finally, the whitelegged mouse can actually get inside, in which case I usually catch them and the next day release them on the other end of the park. As most incarcerated individuals, they have a right to one phone call and one piece of blueberry while in custody.

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After the dinner it is time to curl up and catch some z's.

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Every now and then a VIM (very important mouse) pays me a visits, in which case I promptly prepare a presidential suite consisting of an old shaving cream cap.

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And that's all Folks.

Passage of Time in Wolf Trap Park

(wolftrap)

sequence of images of a group of trees by the gazebo (shot at different times)

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Moraine Lake

Glacial Lakes are sporting a peculiar tone of blue, which viewed from a certain angle high above the surface may seem almost surreal. Almost as if a tanker with industrial blue paint had a terrible accident down there a few weeks ago. A truly dazzling combination of metallic boldness and pastel serenity.

That unusual tone is caused by the presence of the so called "rock flour" - a powder of finely grained minerals produced over the eons by slowly moving glaciers. One of the most famous examples of this phenomenon is Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies. In addition to the characteristically blue waters, it is also surrounded by a spectacular panorama of alpine peaks that bestows upon this charming place a well deserved postcard status. The view of the lake from a small rocky platform about 30 meters above the surface had become so popular that it was once featured on one of the older editions of the Canadian 20 dollar bill.

This is where the passing birds fall silent. This is where the long fibers of time streak unimpeded across the crystal skies. This is where the Gods of land sculpting come for their adrenaline shots.

Trombones and the bright blue blouses.

Mice partying with the mouses.

Moss is the boss.

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The Sentinel Pass

Unbridled eyes galloping over invisible sediments of time. Green smiles parading on a carpet of alpine meadows. The glassy sky slowly turning around an axle of a glistening flute of Sun. Chiseling fibers of wind caught in the dreamy draft. Gelatinous blue of the glacier lakes. Memories wrapped in an echo chamber of half drunk glasses of wine.

I am sitting at the rocky outcrop of Sentinel Pass, muscles aching from a steep ascent into a narrow saddle between Eiffel Peak and Mount Temple in the Canadian Rockies. Some 2610 meters above the sea level. Stern and rugged slopes frame the breathtaking panorama of the surrounding ridges. They say that "might makes right", but I would tweak this old adage to "height makes right".

There is something about the intrinsic three dimensionality of mountains that gives people certain natural depth without making them pretentious and affected. As if it was the brooding majesty of alpine peaks that prevented our souls from deflating into a parody of greatness. Sure, the hardship of life in the mountains itself is deterrent enough for aspiring crooks, but the beauty of snow capped peaks contributes an extra layer of magnificence.

Stacy Aumonier once wrote a short story "Kidnapped General", in which a bus driver hijacks a doubledecker full of London bankers, drives them far beyond the boundaries of the city and releases them into the fields and meadows so they could find the lost meaning of life.

And that is what mountains bestow upon our wretched existences. The lost meaning of life. Nature has a way of realigning our priorities, filling us with a sense of wonder and recharging our mental batteries.

Simple solutions

We do not live in easy times. The more people roam the surface of this Earth and consequently the more they interact, the more complex the dynamics of human race becomes.

The rules of conduct, legal or implied, have become so complicated that it is virtually impossible to know them all. Whether we like it or not, laws have become contradictory and even the lawmakers themselves do not quite know what every new piece of legislation entails. In immortal words of Nanci Pelosi - uttered during the big battle for Obamacare - "We have to pass this bill so you can find out what is in it."

We have lost our ability to think things through, we have lost our appreciation for sustainable solutions, we have lost our sense of social perspective. Our affairs have become so entangled in a chaotic dance of cause and effect that we cannot really tell what is the right way even if we wanted to. We wave our little ideological flags in lieu of rational discussion and we keep proposing quick fixes that do more harm than good.

And we do not care anymore. Because no matter what we do, the turbulence of life will grab our actions and produce something else anyway.

But it does not have to be this way. Simplicity still is the ultimate form of sophistication. Solutions could still be simple if only we were willing to employ our instincts in lieu of armies of lawyers and lobbyists. I think much of the what ails our time would go away if we implemented two basic principles:

1. all public entities must have a balanced budget
2. all control of money must belong to the people.

The balanced budget creates a necessary feedback loop that provides natural control to the extent of public spending. If people are not willing to pay for certain services (and that is what the taxes are), then those services are probably not sorely needed. The moment you start padding your budget with debt, you lose this natural control mechanism and all hell breaks loose. And if you start supporting the pyramid of debt with the crutches of loose monetary policy, you will just ask for a spectacular implosion down the road. And that brings us to the second point.

The expansion of the money stock yields immense powers. These powers should be brought back under the direct control of the people. Banks can still act as intermediaries between people with capital and people with business ideas, but the levers and pumps of the global money flows should be placed firmly in public hands. Specifically, any money printing operations should benefit all segments of the society equally. After all, we are all equal at the voting booth, so we should be also equal at the printing press. One man, one vote. One man, one dollar. As a corollary, any bank operating on the fractional reserve banking principles should effectively be nationalized. There is plenty of space for private industries in the productive sphere. National currencies and their management should not be a vehicle for profit generation. Those little pieces of paper that we use to represent wealth with should be - to paraphrase Lincoln - "money of the people, by the people and for the people".

I think these two simple principles would make the world as we know it more just and also more dynamic. But common sense does not get much respect these days, so I am not holding my breath.

z3

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