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Bark is Essential for Landscaping

Tree and Plant Health: The Essential Role of Bark in Landscapes

Bark 1 from Tahoe National Forest

Bark decays to create mycelium. Mycelium assists plant roots in absorbing nutrients from the dirt; similar to the way that your gut bacteria help you to digest your food. Mycelium actually will augment your innate immune system: “Testing by NIS Labs confirmed that these three mycelium-centered products: increase innate immune cells for protection* activate white blood cells for immune strength* regulate immune cell compounds for a balanced immune response.” Check out my article on the “Health benefits of Mushrooms“.

I am constantly reminded of how powerful nature is; my friend Stella hosted a nature walk last week and taught that willow trees are actually the source for aspirin. It’s always fun to remember that we are generally ‘discovering’ science, rather than inventing things from nothing. It reminds me of recent advances in machine learning and AI; we are limited by our knowledge of ourselves!

In the intricate tapestry of a garden, every element plays a pivotal role in creating a harmonious and sustainable ecosystem. From the trees, to the flowering shrubs and overhanging evergreens to the dirt that supplies the plants with nutrients to the rocks that shade the plants and the movement of the sun’s warmth and rays through the canopy. Everything becomes harmonious. Bark—an often overlooked component—holds a unique place in contributing to the health and vitality and aesthetic of a landscape. Its journey from the protective outer layer of trees and shrubs to the ground to become dirt as it decays; bark is a critical component of the soil ecosystem underscores its importance in landscaping practices and maintenance. Trees need it. It’s how forests propogate.

Bark’s Initial Role and Its Breakdown Process

Bark serves as the skin of trees, protecting them against physical damage, pests, and diseases. Its chemical composition remains relatively consistent as it breaks down and makes its way, eventually, to the ground. Its role in the ecosystem undergoes a remarkable transformation once the bark touches the earth. As bark degrades, it embarks on a complex process of breaking down into smaller organic components. This decomposition is facilitated by a host of organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and invertebrates, which collectively contribute to its gradual transformation into nutrient-rich soil, also known as humus.

The Formation of Mycelium

One of the key players in the decomposition of bark is fungi, particularly through the formation of mycelium—a dense network of fungal threads that penetrate the soil and decomposing organic matter. Mycelium acts as nature’s recycling agent, breaking down complex organic compounds in the bark into simpler molecules that plants can easily absorb. It also creates communication channels for the trees in complex underground networks that can stretch for miles. This breakdown process not only enriches the soil but also improves its structure, enhancing its water retention and aeration qualities.

The presence of mycelium in the soil is a hallmark of a healthy ecosystem. It forms symbiotic associations with plant roots, known as mycorrhizae, which are crucial for the absorption of water and nutrients. Through these symbiotic relationships, mycelium extends the root system’s reach, allowing plants to access a larger volume of soil nutrients than they could on their own. This mutualistic interaction significantly boosts plant health, vigor, and growth. This is the biggest reason why bark is necessary for larger plants in a landscape.

Bark Mulch: A Catalyst for Healthier Landscapes

Incorporating bark additions into the landscape often mulch accelerates and emphasizes these ecological benefits. Bark mulch not only suppresses weeds but also maintains soil moisture and temperature, creating an ideal environment for mycelial growth and activity as well as root homeostasis and water retention capability in the soil. As bark slowly breaks down, it continuously feeds the soil ecosystem, promoting the development of a robust mycelium network.

The gradual degradation of bark mulch into soil enriches the microbial diversity of the soil, which is essential for nutrient cycling and disease suppression. This rich microbial ecosystem supports the growth of healthier plants, more resilient to pests and diseases, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Conclusion

Bark, in its journey from tree armor to a foundational component of the soil ecosystem, exemplifies the cyclical nature of life and the interconnectedness of all living things. Its degradation into dirt, transformation into mycelium, and interaction with plant roots illustrate a natural process of recycling and regeneration that is completely natural and extremely efficient. By understanding and harnessing the ecological roles of bark in landscapes, gardeners and landscapers can create more sustainable, healthy, and vibrant gardens that thrive in harmony with nature’s processes. Perhaps in the larger picture; we can learn to better manage our forests. I’ll end this article with a quote:

“Fungi not only cycle soil nutrients, but may deposit large amounts of recently fixed carbon in soils, building large pools of carbon in the form of complex molecules that contribute to long-term ecosystem carbon sequestration.” – Science Direct[1]

Bark is essential 2
References:
  1. Science Direct – Mycelium enhance forest nutrient dynamics
  2. Fungi.com – the Benefits of Mycelium
  3. Wikipedia – Mycelium
  4. PubMed – The effects of different types of mulch on soil properties and tea production and quality
  5. PubMed – Transformation of soil microbial community structure and rhizoctonia-suppressive potential in response to apple roots
  6. PubMed – Influence of Biochar on Soil Nutrients and Associated Rhizobacterial Communities
  7. Research Gate – Tree influence on soil microbial community structure
  8. Springer – the seed microbiome
  9. Learn more about Fungi @ Fantasticfungi.com

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Aristotle’s Ethics, Karma, and the Philosophy of the Good

Aristotle lived from 384 B.C.E. to 322 B.C.E. He is widely regarded as one of the best philosophers of all time; up there with Plato and Socrates of Ancient Greece. For the sake of riling you up, I’m going to say that Socrates was the best philosopher in all aspects except one; his hubris. Socrates never wrote anything down. It is a shame that he did not make a greater contribution to the human race through a story, or some kind of literature for children. Just my two cents.

Modern Psychology

In modern psychology, the pursuit of knowledge is linked to a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and personal growth, which are key components of well-being and happiness. This is often referred to as “eudaimonic happiness,” and contrasts to “hedonic happiness,” which is based on pleasure and avoidance of pain. Happiness is probably a good goal for a human to have; and suffering seems to be an important way to get there. Our lives seem to be very balanced in how we view our successes and in contrast our suffering; perhaps a balance of both is what we are really looking for in our journey on Earth.

Socrates’ Skeptical View of Virtue

Socrates famously asserted that an unexamined life is not worth living, suggesting that understanding and knowledge are essential to a meaningful, ethical, and thus happy life. In Socrates view, true happiness comes from self-awareness and the continuous quest for knowledge.

Aristotle claims that there is a way to achieve this happiness. Happiness is achieved through pursuit of excellence and goodness. “Aristotle follows Socrates and Plato in taking the virtues to be central to a well-lived life. Like Plato, he regards the ethical virtues (justice, courage, temperance and so on) as complex rational, emotional and social skills.[3]” Ethics and morals are what make human societies possible.

Aristotle goes on to talk more specifically about how to create goodness, through fine art, construction, horsemanship, military strategy, flute playing, and home construction. He does have one more line that I think is very relevant to today’s society: “the end is some product over and above the mere exercise of the art; and in the arts whose ends are certain things beside the practice of the arts themselves, these products are essentially superior in value to the activities”. I think this can apply to construction in a big way, especially home building.

Aristotle’s views of desire intersect intriguingly with the concept of Maya in Hinduism; the illusion of perception. Aristotle goes further to say that all desire is futile and vain; the end must be the best good, ideally the supreme good (all caps), a concept we also see in the Hinduism; Moksha, or release from Samsara in death in the ultimate goal of life in Hinduism.

Ethics and Religion

Max Brückner  (1836–1919
Max Bruckner (1836-1918), The Walhalla, backdrop for the scenic design of The Ring of the Nibelungs by Richard Wagner (1813-1883). Bayreuth, Richard-…

In all of the religions on planet Earth, there are a few similarities in terms of the realms of reality and the afterlife. There is always some kind of hell: Naraka[5] in Jainism Buddhism and Hinduism, the Fields of Punishment in Ancient Greece, The 9 circles of hell in Dante’s inferno; in Islam, Jahannam is believed to be a space below the Earth, with physical, psychological, and spiritual punishments. There is also, always (except for Judaism), some kind of heaven: however it is usually dystopic. (except in the case of Christianity) In the eastern religions, the heavenly realms are chaotic; there is a titan/demigod realm in Buddhism where beings are very powerful and also conflict jealously with each other. Elysian fields, the Hall of Valhalla in Asgard, Tir na nOg in Celtic mythology, the Field of Reeds (Aaru) in Egyptian mythology, and the final abode of Jannah in Islam.

There is always a heavenly realm that humans enter from creating a good, or purposeful life; there is also the existence of a realm of great suffering that is granted to the wicked and immoral. All of these myths and legends and stories and religions can be applied to modern psychology through the lens of the Hero’s Journey and comparative mythology. They are a map to consciousness and what it is like to be a human being; they are all applicable to our lives in various ways, once we learn to look inwards.

A Map for Happiness

What we get out of all this is that religion, and more importantly the stories within are the ultimate guide to mental equilibrium in the contemporary world. The ethics embedded in religion, such as The 10 commandments are meant to provide us with a way for living a happy and fulfilled life. It teaches us how to interact with each other in a net-positive way, or a way that can benefit all of society, including ourselves. More and more research is being conducted and developed regarding interactions between humans as creating more overall satisfaction in life. We are indeed social animals that prefer to interact with each other in person. “we anticipate that an explicit recognition of the interactionist perspective will foster greater attention to the complexities of happiness, particularly in the domain of human sociality, which involves especially rich and potent webs of interaction”[19]. Some of this new research is very exciting for helping humanity to get more satisfaction out of life.

In the end, Karma and a good, productive life can’t be expressed for you; you have to create it.

Philosophical Concept list:

  1. phronesis – pactical wisdom
  2. arete – virtue
  3. eudaimonia – true happiness
  4. agape – unconditional love
  5. the Hero’s Journey – The continuous quest for knowledge
  6. ethical universalism
References:
  1. Wikipedia – Nicomachean Ethics
  2. MIT – Nicomachean Ethics
  3. Stanford.edu – Aristotle’s Ethics
  4. National Library of Medicine – On happiness and human potentials: a review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being
  5. Wikipedia – Naraka
  6. The ARC of the Hero’s Journey
  7. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – the Upanishads
  8. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Daoism
  9. Oxford Bibliographies – Upanishads
  10. OLL – Upanishads
  11. Britannica – Upanishads
  12. Open Stax – Daoism
  13. Stanford Encyclopedia – Daoism
  14. Oxford Bibliographies – religious traditions of China
  15. Hawaii.edu – Journal of Daoist studies
  16. Introduction to the Special Theme “Daoist Philosophy and Philosophical Daoism: Conceptual Distinctions”
  17. The Perseus Project – Aristotle
  18. Wikipedia – Jannaham
  19. The Human Journal of Well-Being – Happiness: An Interactionist Perspective
  20. study.com – Hubris in Greek Mythology

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Instagram-logo-now-with-an-intensely-toxic-and-poisonous-appearance.

Instagram is Toxic and Dangerous

Instagram-logo-now-with-an-intensely-toxic-and-poisonous-appearance.
Instagram Toxicity Depicted

Instagram has become a dangerous and toxic menace to society at large. Meta is truly one of the most irresponsible companies in history allowing for popularity to take precedent over decency, in regards to violating the rights of its users and therefore, of the youngest generation of humanity. Social media is wrecking the lives of American youth by allowing toxic, even violent behavior. Does Facebook still sell our email addresses? Their ethics seem to be non-existant. Many other tech companies are facing scrutiny for the affect their technologies have on the user base.

Honestly I do believe that Instagram has become an extinction level threat. The toxic negative impacts of the irresponsibly managed company have already destroyed countless lives. Why don’t you report on that Instagram? In combination with the lack of responsible government oversight and regulation and obvious corruption, Instagram could cause the destruction of America and humanity. The failure of America’s government and American academic institutions and cannot be overstated. The social media companies are obviously also to blame.

Here are the leaked documents from Facebook and Instagram:

“In a blog post, Facebook released two slide decks that had informed the Wall Street Journal’s bombshell report(WSJ) from mid-September indicating that the company knew from internal research conducted in 2019 that its subsidiary platform Instagram was harming the mental health of teen girls, particularly when it comes to body image.”

“More than a year after the Facebook Papers dramatically revealed Big Tech’s abuse, social media companies have made only small, slow steps to clean up their act,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CNN Business) The Facebook and Instagram wellness hubs make ABSOLUTELY no mention of the data of these analyses, the statistics, or the math. They are trying to hide the tremendous amounts of negative data about them.

Children and even young adults shouldn’t have access to social media. The data is very clear. They aren’t ready for that kind of hyper-connectedness. They need strong nuclear family connections and during development these kinds of products are far too influential on them and turn them into products for advertisers and the social media companies.

The negative impacts of Instagram on youth culture in America have been a subject of growing concern for the adults populations at large. As various studies and reports highlight significant adverse effects, more studies are released about the harmful quality of the algorithms involved in the platform’s popularity and engagements. This is all supported scientifically, you can see the sources at the bottom of the article. There are a lot of them, because this is a well-documented problem.

Key issues involving social media use for non-adults include:

  1. Body Image and Self-Esteem Issues: Instagram has been linked to negative effects on young people’s feelings about their appearance and body satisfaction. The platform can exacerbate risks for eating disorders and other mental health concerns such as depression and low self-esteem. A study cited by The Wall Street Journal found that 32% of teen girls felt worse about their bodies after using Instagram, indicating that the platform can significantly alter how young women view and describe themselves. Sounds pretty dangerous and mentally poisonous.
  2. Mental Health Concerns: Instagram’s design, which capitalizes on the biological drive for social belonging, encourages continuous scrolling and engagement. This mechanism has been associated with mental health issues like depression, social anxiety, and self-esteem problems and is called . Exposure to Instagram’s narcissistically oriented content, driven by a business model focused on maximizing user attention, can have cumulative negative impacts over time.
  3. Increased Mental Distress and Suicidality: Research implicates smartphone and social media use, including Instagram, in the rise of mental distress, self-injurious behavior, and suicidality among youth. The effects are particularly pronounced among girls, suggesting a dose-response relationship between social media usage and mental health issues. Suicide numbers are difficult to discern directly because of the amount of coinciding variables in a suicide; however rates have steadily increased with the adoption of social media as a norm. Cyber-bullying has also contributed to this numeric increase in a significant way.

“Most teens report at mental health issue” -<(instagram reports)>.

The Mental Health concerns can be further categorized:

  • Loneliness
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Body Dissatisfaction
  • Body Dysmorphia

As an adult that once was a kid with the internet, putting hyperconnectedness into the hands of the youth is irresponsible at best. The highlight reel effect is omnipresent on the platform and the internet as a whole and isn’t really understood by most folks. Kids need to be taught this kind of stuff in school; parents can’t be relied on to teach their kids this stuff because a lot of them don’t know about it. Kids need parents to help them navigate the thick and difficult world of technology that has become more and more predatory over time, from video games, to social media, to conspiracy theories, to just general laziness and confirmation bias and a sense of privilege and narcissism that seems to have become rampant in American society. Teachers, educators, and family, parents, brothers sisters, etc. typically share values to create humility. That’s why we generally both love and hate the time around our parents.

With the advent of all of this new, super powerful technology, we are at a crossroads of a civilization, especially in this country. America can either learn to be ethical, to strive for the greatest good, or we will become a corrupt pile of shit-bags that just want to argue and compete with each other to be the best in some imagined competition. There is always hope for something greater.

These findings underscore the need for greater awareness about time spent on social media. and intervention strategies to mitigate the harmful effects of Instagram on the mental health and wellbeing of young people in America. If you know someone that is spending way too much time on Instagram, or Facebook, or any other platform, you should tell them. Be their friend in real life.

What Precautions can you take to Mitigate the Negative Impacts of Social Media

  1. Take a break every 10 minutes. Try not to spend more than an hour on social media. TikTok has proven to be a data feed for China and its algorithm is very different for Americans and Chinese citizens. In a court filing, the former employee of ByteDance, Yintao Yu, alleged that the CCP spied on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong in 2018 by using “backdoor” access to TikTok to identify and monitor the activists’ locations and communications. There is certainly potential for this to happen to Americans, through Instagram and Facebook.
  2. Remember that Instagram is highly manipulated. It is literally subsidized by the FBI, Homeland Security, and the State Department to monitor potential terrorist activity (this is actually a good thing right now, imo). However, even when you use your privacy settings, your social media accounts are not totally private. How much privacy an American citizen gets should at least be a matter of debate for the people, as well as our representatives. In most cases, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media companies will voluntarily share your information and personal messages with law enforcement agencies, whether they have a warrant or not[21].
  3. No one actually looks like the actors do in movies (although some are undoubtedly more attractive in reality because of their distinctive, unique, and charismatic personalities). Don’t compare yourself to others on the platform; deep friendships and family relationships are the most rewarding according to modern psychological data[20].
  4. There are significant weaknesses in Facebook’s and Instagram’s algorithms. They are very flawed. Deep connections are created and fostered in real life; digitalization of friendship simply isn’t rewarding to us. Social media is most effectively used as an enhancement to real life interaction, not the other way around.
  5. Limit your social media use. 30 minutes per day, per platform is probably a lot, but reasonable for a younger adult. More time on a site might be acceptable for work; if you are growing a business on social media sites, I say good luck to you. Use it for friendship.
  6. Explain to your kids what Instagram is. Teach them how it is flawed and how reality truly work.
  7. Spend more time with your children and kids in general in the analog world. It’s where we are meant to be.
References:
  1. BMC Psychology
  2. Faces engage us: photos with faces attract more likes and comments on Instagram
  3. Instagram Use, Loneliness, and Social Comparison Orientation: Interact and Browse on Social Media, But Don’t Compare
  4. What the brain ‘Likes’: neural correlates of providing feedback on social media
  5. Effects of Instagram Body Portrayals on Attention, State Body Dissatisfaction, and Appearance Management Behavioral Intention
  6. The Interaction between Serotonin Transporter Allelic Variation and Maternal Care Modulates Instagram Sociability in a Sample of Singaporean Users
  7. Instagram use and young women’s body image concerns and self-objectification: Testing mediational pathways
  8. The impact of excessive Instagram use on students’ academic study: a two-stage SEM and artificial neural network approach
  9. The Power of the Like in Adolescence: Effects of Peer Influence on Neural and Behavioral Responses to Social Media
  10. Cue-Reactivity Among Young Adults With Problematic Instagram Use in Response to Instagram-Themed Risky Behavior Cues: A Pilot fMRI Study
  11. Peer Influence Via Instagram: Effects on Brain and Behavior in Adolescence and Young Adulthood
  12. Instagram and Seizure: Knowledge, Access, and Perception of Circulating Information on the Internet
  13. Oxytocin Receptor Gene Polymorphisms and Early Parental Bonding Interact in Shaping Instagram Social Behavior
  14. SnapChat Parental Guide
  15. Facebook is hitting the brakes on Instagram for kids
  16. Cisomag.com – Instagram data breach! 49 million users’ sensitive data exposed online
  17. Slate.com – The Most Damning Thing We’ve Learned About Instagram Yet
  18. Firstpost.com – Leaked documents reveal Meta knew Instagram was pushing girls towards content that harmed mental health
  19. Vice.com – Leaked Documents Show How Instagram Polices Stories
  20. Instagram Psych Files on Appearance Based Social Comparison
  21. Study.com – Things that make people happy
  22. werksmanjackson.com – Is the Government Monitoring Your Social Media Accounts?
  23. Brennan Center of Justice – Federal Government Social Media Surveillance Explained

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the E.T. – Suppression

the E.T. - Suppression

My latest track is out now via YouTube and elliottelford.com. This is very influenced by the recent events with Elon Musk (Go Fuck Yourself Bob Iger), as well as my generation’s (the millennials and Z’s) conquest for a better world. I hope it gets you excited about the release of Grōk, AI, and the cosmic future of humanity.

I spent a little while on this one, mostly on the mix. The sound design process has been pretty consistently expansive for me lately, and I keep fine tuning the frequencies of the sounds that I truly LOVE to make. I am not super impressed with the AI music making software yet, but I also remind myself that highly technical tools, such a RIFT, or PhasePlant are undoubtedly made with AI precursor softwares (which are human oriented). I can’t recommend these two plug-ins enough. They are top of the line and I really love and appreciate the products.

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Henry Gray – the Father of modern anatomy

By H. Pollock - [1] [2], CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1458730

Henry Gray was an innovator and disruptor in the medical field with his surgically precise incisions and methodically meticulous explorations of the human anatomy. I love his work and have used the depictions from his book for much of my anatomy articles due to their lack of copyright.

Gray was born in Belgravia, London in 1827 and spent most of his life in London.

His book on human anatomy, Gray’s Anatomy, is still regarded as the anatomical bible of the scientific world. He was extremely precise and through his experience making painstakingly exact incisions and methodically mapping the physical anatomy of the human body. While still a student, Gray received the triennial prize of Royal College of Surgeons for his essay The Origin, Connexions and Distribution of nerves to the human eye and its appendages, illustrated by comparative dissections of the eye in other vertebrate animals.

The following year, at the age of 25, Gray won another prize for his essay on the Spleen(this is a fascinating read when you have time), and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1858, Gray Published his first anatomy book of 750 pages and hundreds of figures by his friend Henry Vandyke Carter. They met at St. George’s School of Medicine. At first, when Gray wrote his essay on the spleen, Carter thought Gray was a snob. Over time and as they worked together more their respect for each other grew, largely due to their seriousness and commitment to the field of medicine. Initial conflict occurred with respect to the payment that Carter received from Gray for his designs, being in need of money, and that he judged inadequate for his commitment.[5]

The images from these two scientific heroes are timeless. And luckily for me, they are copyright free due to their age and remain some of the most powerful anatomical depictions. I use many of them in my anatomical articles on this website.

Henry Gray’s Death

Gray was struck by attack of confluent smallpox, a most deadly kind of disease. On 13 June 1861, the day he was to appear for an interview as a final candidate for a prestigious post at the St. George’s Hospital, he died at the age of 34.[3] He was buried at Highgate Cemetery.[4][5] Gray had been vaccinated against smallpox as a child with one of the early forms of the vaccine.[6]

He is assumed to have been infected due to his passionate care giving for his ten-year-old nephew, Charles Gray, who did recovered from the deadly disease.

The Style of the Book

had a major influence on science that has since but irreplaceable. It is reminiscent of the evolution of art from Classicism to Hellenism in Ancient Greek art, throughout the Renaissance and afterwards, in that the accurate and precise portrayal of the human form was the primary goal. Read more about the stylistic evolution of anatomy here.

You can buy a cool version of Gray’s Anatomy Here.
References:
  1. Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body
  2. Henry Gray on the Structure and Use of the Spleen
  3. Henry Gray Wikipedia Page
  4. Vandyke Carter (Henry) Wikipedia Page
  5. Royal Society Wikipedia PageRoyal Society Website
  6. The Making of Gray’s Anatomy
  7. Internet Archive of Gray’s Anatomy
  8. Style and Non-style in Anatomical Illustration

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The Wanderer, Part 36

Read see the first story of this series here: The Wanderer, Part 1

or the latest story here: The Wanderer, Part 35

Tas slowly woke on his cot, finally not remembering anything from his dreams. He had become very tired of the incessant dreaming and wanted nothing more than to rest in the warm comfort of his companion Yaina in the darkness, but she wasn’t there. He rubbed his eyes that were coated with crusty sleepies and he was as sore as he had ever felt in his life. He assumed it was his last night of good sleep for a while. Today they would reach the monastery and begin planning with Fei, the monastery’s keeper for his last journey into the shadow-realm. And Tas was finally feeling his normal, old self.

The trek took the better part of the morning. Tas walked with Ice in the lead, occasionally feeding his companion the last little scraps of jerky as they went along. The whole group was walking rather slowly and Ice was very focused on scouting the trail ahead. He eventually found something in the forest, but Yao and Yaina were deep in discussion behind them and didn’t notice, though Tas had no idea what they were saying. He was trying to relax and enjoy his clear mind so he simply followed Ice.

They traversed off the beaten path into the jungle, where the bugs were loud and birds were singing high in the trees and calling to each other. Ice quickly led to the base of a large baobab tree and tried to his his claws to climb and jump up the tree, but could get more than a couple hops up. Tas got to the base of the tree and looked up to see two large apes sitting, looking down at Ice. The second they noticed Tas approaching, their attention shifted and Ice stopped his attempts to climb the tree. Tas sat next to his anxious wolf friend and was content to look up at the large, very intelligent looking animals. Then the primates descended down the giant tree, obviously interested.

Tas waited patiently, but Ice wasn’t quite as docile. He started to pant and pace anxiously, though the apes paid him no mind and jumped the last couple meters to crouch softly on the earth.

Then, to to the surprise of all, they spoke.

“we know of your journey, friend, Tas and wish to warn you of your supposed friends at the monastery. Your journey is perilous and you should trust no one. Especially the monks at the monastery. Friend will become indecipherable from foe as you continue deeper into the nether.”

“what should I do?” Tas said, shaking his head in disbelief at what they said. How could he continue if he didn’t trust Fei, or Yao, or Shu.

“Wait, observe, and watch all around you. Only your friend here is trustworthy.” They both looked at Ice with a certain interest that Tas couldn’t place.

A soft rustling came from the thick of the brush deeper in the jungle, and from the dark shadows a tiger appeared. This was the cat that Yao has sensed earlier. Ice was on edge by Tas’ side; he could feel his apprehension, though his white furred friend was silent.

The cat approached silently, and the apes appeared to also be apprehensive, though unreactive.

“I have been watching your journey for the past few days, boy. I have been interested in you and what you are doing. Tell me, why is it that you travel so far? Through my domain, nonetheless.”

Tas replied slowly, knowing the cat wouldn’t want to hear anything short of the truth. But how much truth should he share?

“We are returning to a place that was destroyed by the likes of a dragon. Do you know of what I speak.”

The tiger hissed, spitting wildly. “yessss I know of this enemy. I have lost several of my hunting grounds to the dark fire that this demon began.”

“Well,” Tas said growing sure that the tiger wouldn’t eat him after he told him more. “I am going to slay him.”

At this the apes panicked and Ice followed. The cat crouched and immediately sprung at Tas, claws outreached and teeth barred. But the one of the giant primates had grabbed a rock, and slammed it into the face of the tiger. The other brought his arms around the neck of the tiger and Ice simultaneously attacked the tiger’s throat, ripping through the flesh. The ape with the rock continued his assault until the tiger’s body convulsed. The whole ordeal took but a minute.

The apes looked at each other in confusion, but also a shared communication passed between them that Tas could see, but didn’t understand.

“The enemy will take all forms of being, my young friend. Travel lightly, and again, trust no one. Except your friend here.” They looked down warmly at Ice, who continued to drink in the blood of the tiger. After he was finished, the apes took the corpse up the tree and bid them farewell. Ice and Tas returned to their perilous path to continue to the old monastery.

After a short time of returning to the monastery’s path, Tas could see the small road winding up to the hillside to the stone walls at the base of the monastery’s overhanging garden. He was happy that they had almost arrived, but there was no sign of Yao or Yaina. They must have travelled before them.

Paj and Shu greeted them at the recently rebuilt entrance, undoubtedly having foreseen his arrival. They both looked rested and recovered, though apprehensive. The garden, however, looked very overgrown compared to the last time that Tas was there; the bushes had grown thick and the grass was peeping through the dirt on the paths. The rest of the monks where nowhere to be seen. They could only see Fei on the balcony, looking out at them as they rose to the courtyard. His large smile put them all at ease, though after their recent debacle, Tas was skeptical of all of his old friends.

The two monks, Tas and Ice walked up the spiral staircase together to meet Fei. Yaina and Yao had arrived previously and were a little uneasy. Tas explained what had happened with everyone. Fei continued his smile at first, but his smiled waned as he learned of the tiger’s attack and the apes warning. Yao brought light back to the conversation immediately. “well, you’re not dead yet! Maybe I should push you off the balcony and speed up the inevitable!” Tas felt a warmth and fondness grow through him for his master. He always missed this nonchalance when Yao wasn’t there. The feeling inside gleamed like the light from the sun.

Fei took the chance to continue lightening the atmosphere: “Welcome Tas and company, make your selves at home. Paj and Shu will prepare a couple of rooms for you.” He bowed deeply. “We will meet this afternoon before the sunset. In the meantime, Tas, why don’t you go with Shu in the lower levels of the garden? You will be undoubtedly very happy to talk and catch up on what has been happening in the last month while you were traveling. Fei winked and walked away, Yao in tow and Yaina slowly followed after with Paj. She looked back at Tas with a light smile as she left. Tas could tell that she was worried for him. He knew they would be planning for later that night.

Tas walked down the balcony and headed towards the gardens with Shu, his first monk teacher. It truly was becoming wild in the monastery, even some smaller trees had begun to grow and there were swarms of insects moving about; everything was dissheveled. Tas had to swat at them to keep them off of his face, but it was nearly useless.

Shu moved into the center of the lower terrace and together they began meditating and oom’ing without even talking. After several minutes of quiet, they opened their eyes and Shu’s smile split open wide, eyes squinting against the light. Tas smiled back

“Tas is that you?!? I’ve missed you my friend!” and he immediately arose to embrace Tas. Tas was a little startled, but settle easily into his friends weight. He certainly was sore from the stress of his long journey.

“I’ve been traveling a lot Shu.” Tas said slowly. “I am so tired and I’m not sure what to do other than go back into the nether and face what’s there for me.”

Shu replied slowly, “well, my young friend, there are only two ways that I know of to rejuvenate the body. The first, is sleeping. If you haven’t had any of that, mediating can restore your energies in a similar way. Let’s mediate for a time, and perhaps you will feel better!”

Tas was in position to refuse. He desperately wanted his energy back. He had woken up with so much and now there seemed to be none and the sun was still high in the sky. Shu and he sat for a short time, before Tas grew impatient. Shu wasn’t saying or doing anything but sitting there breathing deeply. Eventually Tas’ patience ran out and he sighed to get up.

Shu sat him back down, and smiled, “not yet my friend. We will sleep while you are awake! Breath deeply with me and lets restore your energies.”

“But I need to sleep to truly heal and regain my strength.”

“these limitations are made up by your mind my friend. Breath with me slowly and deeply and you will find the sleep that you need.”

So Tas tried to sit still and breath deeply and after a time, he felt himself falling into a deep trance. The light inside of him grew bright and he soon felt as light as a feather. Shu continued to breath next to him, but his breathing was making Tas tired, and soon he felt himself lay back and drift off, darkness once again surrounding him completely.

The Wanderer, Part 36 Read More »

wonkas_wubbalicious

Wonka’s Wubbalicous

I’ve been designing sounds for about 7 years now, far more often when I first started in India than I do now (because I have to survive and make money), but I’ve gotten pretty good at making all kinds of different sounds now!

This most recent track is a dubstep adventure through the frequency spectrum, I made it pretty simple to emphasize the bass and added a Japanese Erhu as the lead to create some interesting contrast to the deep dark bass sounds that I love. I hope you enjoy it!

Stream on Soundcloud:

Download a high quality WAV file of Wonka’s Wubbalicious here:

Wonka’s Wubbalicous Read More »

Taking Time off Landscaping to Recharge

The summer months are getting hotter and hotter in Northern California with increased risk of fire and smoke from the lack of proper management from the California Bureau of land management, which is obviously very inefficient (as evidenced from the record setting fires from the past 5 years).

This makes landscaping and fence building very difficult, and sometimes completely impossible because of hazardous smoke conditions. However, I was able to finish a few more fences before the fire season got under way with the record setting Dixie fire (the second largest in California’s history).

Finished Fences before Fire Season

I have been getting more skilled at decorative fencing and have gotten a lot more tools in my belt (including a chop-saw, a table saw, and a paint sprayer) since I first started doing big fences at the beginning of the year. I typically remove all old concrete and prefer new construction rather than repair. Dealing with other individuals work is typically very difficult as people tend to cut corners when constructing fences. I am very proud of all the work I have done and I think my customers are very satisfied with the level of quality and of service that I provide. I also paint now as you can see below!

The bottom 4 pictures are of a cattle fence repair that I did out in the hillsides. The customer wanted to save money (which I never recommend with construction because you get what you pay for) so I did my best to find less expensive wood and keep the costs down. Overall I think it turned out great!

After 3 months of Grinding in the heat, my back was in bad shape.

So I took some time off landscaping to refocus on my yoga practice. It was an excellent start to the year, but now its time to wind down and enjoy all of the progress that I’ve made this year and to get more efficient with my business!

My yoga practice has progressed a lot recently, I’ve restarted my work on the primary series and will be offering a new workshop on September 4th for the Yoga Chikitsa. I am also starting a new Hot Yoga class in Auburn today, at 7pm. I’m really looking forward to it!

Taking Time off Landscaping to Recharge Read More »

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