Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Pest Quest

Remember the old Sun and the Moon metaphor? The Moon's light, as you know, is merely a reflection of the Sun. When the earth comes between it and the Sun, it has no light--in the same way, for someone pursuing a relationship with God, when you let something get between you and that relationship, you dim your light. As you know, I hope for you to view some of the unknown features of the scientific world in the same metaphorical light with which so many of us view the Sun, Moon, flowers, and open horizons. Enter the Gypsy Moth, a fat little insect in a wedding dress of fluffy wings.

You know the larvae as "tent caterpillars", I believe. Maybe you don't. Either way, they're huge pests, plant vampires that suck the nutrients out of backyard trees. From their point of view, however, perhaps they are peaceful, idyllic teenagers, children who live together in huge utopias built of a softer version of silk. Their silk first brought them to the Americas, because a foolish scientist wanted to see if he could breed them to produce it commercially. They escaped from his evil slavery designs, and today most young Gypsies live together until the age comes and each must leave the Community tents to take on the Quest.

When a caterpillar youth comes of age, he or she enters a deep meditation state within a pure, simple hermitage. He leaves the comforts of the mobile, spacious life and pledges to develop himself into something greater in his self-made coffin. As we all know, through the miracle of sleep, he undergoes his first trial, the Opening, and emerges as a moth, resurrected like Christ himself, or sometimes, like you. He begins the glory and the challenge of the Flight, and begins to seek the Mate.

During her deep meditation, the Mate has mastered the subconscious art of producing pheromones to draw her Questor Mate to herself. She is his everything, and he is her everything, and their union, like your union with God, fulfills the Quest.

Those outside the Community, the Humans, do not understand, and in evil futility design poisons to shrivel the Communities, de-flight the Mates, or otherwise destroy the Youth, their real enemy. In their giant dark laboratories, through unspeakable tortures worked upon Mates and complex chemistry, they have devised a simple ruse to prevent the creation of the Youth--in short, to prevent the Quest from fulfillment.

The Humans spread pheromones EVERYWHERE. The world may do this to you. The Questor Mates now follow any number of useless signals, and die frustrated or deluded in their old age, never having found true happiness and fulfilled their Quest.

Don't let anyone do this to you. The world will throw things everywhere, things that are often good, that despite all their beauty and wonder, should never get in the way of your Quest. Remember who you are, and the Community you came from, and the re-birth you claimed, and never lose sight of the One Being who is your ultimate goal.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lessons from my Tarantula

This morning from atop my slowly stiffening mattress I noticed an odd movement from the tarantula tank on my bedside desk. My chilean rose hair tarantula stood on her tip toes, oscillating her abdomen like a paintbrush as she drew web over the doorway to her log home. Her spinnerets (the sticks on her rear from which web emanates) stretched out in two different directions as she gracefully wove her acrobatic form up to the top of her little castle and down to the floor. I wish I were that limber.

This is the most work I have ever seen her do, I think. Her webbing seems to be some form of decoration, for she has never used it to actually catch anything or even to hide herself. Remember Jesus' "Do not worry about tomorrow" spiel, where he compared the flowers to Solomon and the birds to farmers? The birds do not sow or reap, he said, and yet they have food. The flowers don't stress out making themselves beautiful, and yet they will continue for all history to be the very emblem and metaphor for beauty itself. If he had come through a Latina in Chile instead of an Israeli girl in Bethlehem, perhaps he would have spoken about the tarantula. Perhaps.

My tarantula, tastefully christened Mary Jane, can go for two months without eating. (Talk about "waiting on the Lord" to renew your strength!) I feed her every two weeks, and expected that by the time two weeks completes she would begin prowling throughout the tank like a wolf spider, stalking her prey. At the very least I expected MJ to construct some sort of trap.

These tarantulas do not eat that way, however. They wait. Literally, this week from the moment I journeyed to Pete's Pet Forum to obtain the succulent crickets, to the moment the crickets entered the tank, to an hour afterward, she did not move. She did not worry--she trusted the very stupid crickets to come to her, and they did. One cricket actually LICKED HER FOOT. When the crickets completely trust her, then she strikes, putting them to rest in one quick, painless efficient blow before liquefying their innards into a delicious smoothie.

So to take a page out of Jesus' parable book--if God takes such good care of MJ, who does not hunt, fish, or even get out a blender to make a milkshake, will he not much more see to your every need, if you trust him?

Isaiah 40:31, Matthew 5,6

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Header: Introduction and Pilobilus

This blog is going to take on a little new flavor. I am slightly uncertain about this, but I figure that since I am so reluctant to completely throw away the "How Not To Blog" and since I really believe the Jesus Geek thing actually matters more in the scheme of things, I am going to marry the two together, that the perversion they create may open gaps between the Netherworld and this one, ripping holes in space and time that destroy the fabric of the human PSYCHE! This child of their scandalous elopement shall be named Prometheus Studies.


World-ending aspirations aside, I want to establish a basic guiderule here. First of all, I am not really here to discuss Creationism and Evolution. I am here to point out the illusive and intricate God-given metaphors that exist in science and occasionally science fiction, and although I am perfectly willing to address the subject of macro-Evolution on request, it's something I have studied all my life and quite frankly become bored with. Some people will never accept evidence, and I say that to people on both sides of that argument. Secondly, please do not sue me if I forget to cite a source. I want to say right now: unless otherwise stated, none of the scientific information that I vomit here comes from my own creation or study, for no one ultimately creates the food that becomes their barf.

I think that metaphor there at the end failed so epically it won. ALRIGHT let me show you something less fail.

Imagine walking through an alien forest. Above you rise crystal clear stalks, pliable trunks if you will, made of nearly translucent strands called hyphae. The outside of these hyphae bears an armor-like material akin to that of an insect, called chitin, and inside the cells are nearly continuous. You, of course, cannot see that, but you can see the bulbs up at the top of the see-through trees, each one capped with plate of bright orange or smooth, reflective black.

Suddenly the tree-like creature above you rears back, nearly crushing you as the kickback of an explosion drives that head almost to the ground as a black plate bursts off. The force of the stream of liquid firing the plate off into the distance accelerates the alien trees backwards so quickly that they completely smash, bursting with their whole being into nature's fastest action. I hope you leapt out of the way in time, but I sincerely doubt it.

These spore-bearing reproductive structures, sporangia, belong to the Pilobilus fungus. Imagine if your mother shot you out of a cannon like this as a newborn! This dispersion technique allows the fungus to maximize its spread, prevent competition between the young spores and the original fungus, and give them the hope of a better life farther away.

I believe that desperation often drives people simply to wilt. A frustrated desire builds up over time, and social fear or a troubled past or uncertainty or what have you pushes you down on top of it until that desire becomes a haunting and you being to hate it. Perhaps you dream of an illustrious career or perhaps you want to do well on your football team or your English paper, or maybe you're "saving it" for the right person. What happens when that person doesn't seem to exist, or your grades come back Cs and Ds again and again? In the words of Langston Hughes, what happens to a dream deferred? Many people cannot take the pressure and wilt into discouragement as the dream lingers in their mind but they no longer strive to take hold of it. Although they may not have given up, they let off a little pressure, hanging in the middle with a shriveled dream.

Maybe, if you clicked on the link and read the poem, you see where I'm going with this. The Pilobilus builds up incredible pressure over time in that tiny head as it continues to soak up fluid like you soak up ideas and dreams. To let off the pressure is to decrease the incredible potency of the glorious burst. The Pilobilus waits until the push is much more than too much to bear, until the dream of fulfilling its natural purpose spurts forth of its own accord and the world of fungi is made better for it. Not every dream is worth a wait that kills you, but every dream is worth a wait until suddenly success comes not in the way you had imagined it, but with an eerie power that far overshadows anything you could have done had you given up or let off the pressure.

So keep working on that novel, sending it to agents, and waiting for an answer. Work smart, but work hard, and don't let off the pressure by backing out the easy way (or selling the story off to a "preditor"). Realize that this "novel" is a metaphor within a metaphor for anyone waiting for love, and love the wait knowing how unique and beautiful you are, no matter how drab or humble your surroundings.

Thanks to BIOL 2040 at UVA, and Marciel Garcia, who provided the videos on Collab.