Bare Bones Biology 334 – Cold


Speaking of facts, as we were last week, it’s a fact that it gets cold up here at 7000 feet altitude with one foot on each side of the continental divide. A fact that I need to deal with – I who am made sick by toxic air and combustion fumes.



Which is worse? Spending one’s evenings barfing in the bathroom from toxic fumes of burning gas, oil, coal or the like? Or freezing in the clear cold air of the unheated canyon? Electrical energy was useful in the good old days before they started using toxic paints on the space heaters.


Those are the unfortunate facts. Too many people, too much garbage in the air, water and soil, and all of those things recycle in our Biosystem – over and over and over again, changing form over time, more or less forever. And so the climate changes.


But that’s not what this blog is about. This time we are thinking about our personal survival as real people with physiological needs and limitations.


And I just glanced out the window as I was writing this, on September 24, to the first snow of the season, huge flakes flopping down on yellowing leaves and bending over the tall grasses before melting into the thin ice of our first hard freeze.   Last year I had more than four feet of snow on the roof. Someone said six inches a bit higher up.


160908-nance-asc_6172rlssFacts definitely are facts, and as I mentioned last week, we have basically three choices (minimum) with regard to any fact. First, pretend it isn’t so. This can be lethal. Suicidal I think was the word I used last week. Second, try to change the fact, but of course this cannot work if it is a real fact because facts – the word means the things we cannot change, and there is no way I can change what the weather chooses to do on any given day. Third is to change how we behave – to organize our behaviors to accommodate the facts, and today I want to tell you about the neat little house that one woman made for herself, by herself, of course with a little help from her friends and the community.


It begins with tried and true lessons learned in a community that knows how to live in a hard land. Note the steep angle of the roof that encourages the snow to leave, and the deep overhang to the north that piles the snow in a way that protects the house.


On the south side the house incorporates some more modern technology, a Trombe wall is what particularly interests me today.

“A Trombe wall is a passive solar building design where a wall is built on the winter sun side of a building with a glass external layer and a high heat capacity internal layer separated by a layer of air. Light (energy that is) close to UV in the electromagnetic spectrum passes through the glass almost unhindered, then is absorbed by the wall.”


The wall is made of any substance that absorbs a lot of heat and releases it slowly. So the UV light energy is changed to heat energy when it hits the rock or concrete or whatever the wall is made of. The heat energy cannot escape through the glass as easily as it came in, and so it heats up the wall and then, on the inside of the wall, it heats the house.

Yes, that does sound a lot like the cause of global warming. The physics is the same fact in both cases. Reminding us again that we can’t change the facts — it is how we use the known facts that makes all the difference to our survival.

The small roof overhanging the Trombe wall is designed so that the sun in winter hits the heat absorbing south wall of the house, but the wall is shaded from the summer sun to prevent overheating.


160908-nance-asc_6190rlssAdditionally of course, the modern tech touch includes a solar panel that provides electricity all year round. Solar is not very useful for heating or for cooking, because the gadgets used for those things need to plug in to a high energy source, so the wood stove makes up any unmet energy needs.


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Bare Bones Biology 332 – Facts

I have finally conquered lecture one of Physics. It took about six weeks, but now I can spontaneously tell you that speed equals distance divided by time. For example, miles per hour. And velocity is displacement divided by time, which is not what I thought it was and explains some of my confusion about the facts that are described by the science of physics. Displacement is how far away you are from where you started – not how many miles you went to get there. Words, words, words, but their definitions are critically important if we want to understand the facts they describe.


Personally, I don’t much care, but I now have these mathematical definitions in my mind so I can go on to number two of the 60 lectures in the course. Probably take the rest of my life, but I want to know how the language of the math works, because our modern generations seem to understand that mathematical facts are facts – but not to understand ALL facts are facts.


Two plus two = four. Surely it does, and always it does, regardless how we name the numbers. Four, quatro160917-mountainmusic-asc_6264rss-copy, whatever the word, the fact remains a fact.


There was a time in human history when we did not have numbers to help us understand the facts of our universe. Understanding the numbers, the facts, gave us power. Power to align ourselves with the reality, or to fight against it, but not to change the facts — because facts do not change for us. By definition.   The word applies to things/realities/forces that humans cannot change. Regardless of how some authors mis-use the word to sell books.


Somehow in the past 50 years or so, the majority of people (voters/citizens) seem to have come to the idea that science changes facts. Science does not change facts. Neither does technology. Basic science seeks to understand the facts, and technology seeks to use the facts. What we use them for is basically up to the people, and that is where religion should come in, but instead we seem to have ditched it, or perhaps sidelined would be a better description; put our religions into separate little boxes that don’t directly relate to the realities of Life, and science off in some other separate box.

But the fact is that facts are facts – the same facts, if they are real, both in science and religion. Just as the word “two” means two, also the word “fact” means something that we cannot change, so once we know what the facts are, it makes no sense to try to fight against them. Cooperate, yes; align ourselves with reality, yes; fight against something that we cannot change? Stupid, really. Suicidal.


Where I sit now, in a cabin at 7000 plus feet altitude, a few steps from the US continental divide, I look out the window as the sun is rising, behind a thousand feet of cliff in my back yard, and skinny clouds form and slither and creep through the canyon with the fluid ease of misty, slowly swirling Gods, or maybe omnipotent, hungry dragons that swallow me up slicker than a snake swallows a rat, it’s easy enough to believe in facts. Maybe it’s not so easy, where you live, to believe in the omnipotence of reality, but the root facts are the same everywhere.


2 + 2 = 4.

Surely it does, and if we would rather believe that 2+2 = 5, then we are wrong, and when we get the facts wrong we get our answers wrong. Like Hitleresque bullies stumbling around in a continental divide midnight thunderstorm, trying to prove that we are bigger than the clouds – bigger even than the cliff.



We could tear it down with our machines, but that would not change the Facts of Life.


We can’t change gravity, how it works to bring the boulders crashing down the hill during a midnight thunderstorm. We can’t change systems, how they speak to each other in the language of information energy. We can’t change time or space and neither can our Einsteins.


Better to figure out how the facts work and how to use them properly — for the common good, for all sentient beings, for the glory of God and The Creation.   For the welfare of human kind.


Why else are we here?


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Bare Bones Biology 331 – September Song

This is my September Song, written in on 9-1-1, 2007. Entitled Voldemort.


To me this date every year is a reminder of the kindness of Takahashi-sensei

On that morning when I woke to shocking images on television

Of an unbelievable call to realty

And arrived on his doorstep an hour early

For my Japanese lesson.



And very soon after that, George Bush and Osama bin Laden began their macho

Pax de deux.



On this date – today, in 2007 – the television greeted me with

A message even more shocking to me, if that were possible::



         “It doesn’t matter what we have done

It matters what we have become.”



What have we become?


We have become a people who no longer CARE what we have done.


And what has been done

In my name

by my country

curdles my insides.


Whatever we have become can never change what we have done


It matters:


It matters to the orphans; it matters to God’s Creation; and it matters to me.


We have broken our own laws;

We are terrorists, pretending to be heroes.

We have emasculated our constitution;

And desecrated our flag.

We have chosen to abuse the whole world,

Rather than nurture the Creation.


Pretending to be heroes.


“And what does your God require of you but to

love kindness

do justice

and walk humbly with him?”


And I’ll repeat this ending to the folk story told by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers on their exceptional DVDs that can be obtained at


“And the man killed the bird

And with the bird he killed the song

And with the song – himself.”


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Bare Bones Biology 329 – Ignorance


 “. . . ignorance by itself is a potent cause of suffering, knitting the net in which man is caught – the net of false hopes, of unrealistic and harmful desires, of delusive ideologies, and of perverted values and aims.”   Nyonaponika Thera,    1993.


Short of death and taxes we have a fair number of lesser disasters to face in life, most of which result from ignorance of the reality of a situation or from forgetting what we already knew. Or just wishing.

My most recent was aided and abetted by a couple of people who claim they wanted to be “colleagues” but were abusively opposed to finding out what it is that I am trying to do that we might be collegial about.


Colleague is a professional, city kind of word. During the decades that I was a professional city kind of person I only had one colleague who – well never mind, she used to write toxic letters, but she never actually tried to physically trash another persons work, so far as I know.


160711-sargents-asc_4806rls-copySo, now I’m back in the canyon, where the aspens are already beginning to turn and air we breath is incomparable to any city kind of professional air, anywhere, and I am healthier living here than I have been in a decade or two, but — nobody got what they wanted most.


Yesterday, Bitsy and I popped in to the Winter Palace to do laundry and a few chores and right back out to the wilderness. It’s a good way to live, but it wastes a lot of gas, not to mention contributing to the prevailing pollution, so I try to not do it very often. I washed the bedding that smelled of the cabin, relocated what I think is our last house-rat. He looked pretty bad, thin and undernourished, I put him out near some horses so maybe he can find food; there isn’t any here, just the smells, and I plugged up his entryway, but of course they know the entrances and exits better than I do and the cabin is a vermin-sieve, but Bitsy and I together are pushing them back out into the real world. After a hot afternoon of vermin chasing, she goes up in the loft, stretches out on the carpet, leans her head over the edge and watches from above as I work .


It could have been worse. One disaster out of ten or twelve biggish cooperative efforts is probably a good record – very good if we consider that win/win/win is not a goal to which most people now aspire, and if I look back and count up, this one was only half a disaster, because there is no such thing as a glass half full, and it’s the bot


tom half from which we learn. People who live from the top never do learn much, and the odd thing is they boast about it even though they know it’s only half a life.


And that reminds me of another meme we invented to avoid thinking, some time back in my life, that said: “everyone has a right to (her) own (beliefs-behaviors).” I disagree; I was raised in the Hitler era, and I refuse to empower abusive behaviors in myself or others, for any reason other than physical self-defense, which fortunately has not been an issue — yet.

And anyhow, whatever I can do to explain biological reality to the corposystem will not prevent the impending collapse, because it’s just us few micro-components against the full emergent might of the corposystem, and we will lose. I knew that when I started. Yes, it is a tragedy, but it is happening, with or without my consent.


“And the man killed the bird,

And with the bird he killed the song,

And with the song – he killed himself.“


So be it. I made my choices. What’s the point of saving the world of man if men   can’t behave decently in it.


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Bare Bones Biology 328 – Los Alamos

Here we are finally able to relax with no people pounding by on the busy road or stirring up fumes of various kinds, but of course nothing is easy in life and getting here was a bit of an adventure.


First, the people I have encountered in Los Alamos are very nice – all of them. They even let Bitsy lick their faces, which is something I don’t, but they give the most confusing directions imaginable. We came over the bridge and through the entry guard because I already knew where that is. It did not occur to me they would want to search my little travel trailer, or I would probably have spiffied it up yesterday, but yesterday I was exhausted from listening to people who want the same things I want but are not prepared to do what it would take to get them. Just wishing – just fairy tales floating around the fuzzy edges when the facts are clear and simple and focused on target.
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It makes as much sense to me now as it did 15 years ago when I began this trail of tears. The facts haven’t changed. Facts don’t change. That is why we call them facts. I wonder if these people believe God will change his mind about the facts? After all, if God created the Living Earth, then obviously these are God’s facts. We certainly didn’t make them. I don’t believe God will change His mind. Not after 11 billion years along this road. And all we can think to do is more of what caused the problem in the first place – with prayer.


Anyhow, they searched my trailer. I can’t imagine why they didn’t search the truck, which looks a lot more threatening to me, but also overwhelming and people were lining up behind us. “Do you have any weapons?”   I almost answered “bear spray” but in time remembered: NEVER JOKE WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE SEARCHING YOUR TRAILER!.


So they let me through and I immediately got lost in Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is where we are not supposed to be, and why they searched us. But there are plenty of uniforms, including military, and they guided me on through.


Last time I was here I was photographing people being arrested, and the place was quite different. They have rerouted the whole thing, completely moved a road, and it appears there is a gate that is different. I don’t know if they added it last time, or took it away this time, or if it was part of rebuilding the road, but this one takes us to Bandalier.
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And off we went, me and Bitsy, to Bandalier National Monument, where my senior pass gets me in FREE! And half off for overnight stay. Just think, I spent $40 a night in Santa Fe for the privilege of being sick from whatever it is they put in their septic system that permeates the air. Here they just tell me to keep my wheels on the pavement, which I very elegantly managed to do and squeezed us into a little space meant for a tent camper, with a built-in bear box for our dog food, and clean air again finally after a week away! And water but no electricity and my phone battery is dead, and there is just enough left in the computer to download the pictures and maybe play with them a little.


Bitsy and I were here before, in the tourism area they were very anti-dog, so I figured we couldn’t stay. In the camping area, however, the ranger gave Bitsy a pat and nothing was said. I had to learn how to use some kind of computerized machine that was not working properly, but for that I give up and scream for help and here we are. A whole day of relaxation before us, and tomorrow morning we will go back to the coffee place and plug in my computer, back to the center of the whirlpool of unnecessary stress that is caused, primarily, by our human denial of the overt nature of God’s reality that is “spread out before us but men do not see*,” will not see in our dominater social system.


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*This is supposed to be a quote of Jesus reported in the gospel of Thomas: “The Kingdom of Heaven is spread out before us but men do not see it.” The gospel of Thomas was removed from the New Testament about at the time the “dominator” social system took control over Christianity. It seems, according to some authors, that Chrisianity (or Jesus’ vision) was, before that, an attempt to restore the “partnership” style of social relationships. Those terms, dominator and partnership, reference Eisler, The Chalice and The Blade, available from Amazon. The reference to Gospel of Thomas is from Joseph Campbell, interviewed by Bill Moyers, in Campbell, Joseph and Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, DVD


-Eisler, Riane. 1987. The Chalice and the Blade. Harper Collins.



Bare Bones Biology 327 – Instinct

160821-trailMaking-asc_5799RSs copyEvery creature on earth operates on the basis of instinct, if we define instinct as the

in-born inherited responses that each species uses to react to what happens in its enviroment. Instincts are inherited and evolved, and we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have them, because they are the other half of the definition Life. Life can be defined as the ability to respond to the environment in a way that maintains its Life. Life is alive because it is able to respond to its environment, and this includes behavioral responses of which we are mostly unaware. Those are instincts.

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We creatures do these things because that’s what we do; we may think about them or we may not, but thinking about is a different thing from instinct. We all have instincts that we do not understand: spiders spin webs and sometimes eat their mates, dogs lick their newborn puppies, tigers pace their cages, and humans make war over issues that could easily be resolved with a little common sense applied to technical knowledge. And each of us individually sometimes behave in ways that are self-defeating and harmful to others even though we don’t know why. Even though we know better.

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This is a problem in our modern world, where the environment in which we live has been mostly destroyed and replaced, not in reality but in our worldviews, by something we refer to as a “city.” Or perhaps “civilization.” Civilization is comfortable in many ways, but only if we can manage our instincts so that we do not cause harm to others.


It’s not easy, but one way is to think about our lives in three parts, and then challenge ourselves to make all our choices winners. Three-way winners; a win for me a win for you and a win for the Biosystem that really needs us right now so it can fill our supermarkets with the fruit of its creation.

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The level one winner will be me, of course, and let’s say I want to choose what is the best thing I can do next weekend. Civilization usually gives us many choices, and usually I want to do everything, but five options particularly appeal to me. Any one of those would probably pacify my tiger instincts, and that would be a win for me.




Level two winner will be my friends, family, dependents or other animals and livestock that don’t get to choose. Will any of my choices cause intentional harm to others? OK, the bullfights are out. Pacifying my instincts by causing mental or emotional pain to others can be very effective. I mean it makes me feel big and powerful. But it is abusive, and I am not an abusive person, so that narrows the choices to three and expands the number of winners to make a win-win weekend. But don’t let’s forget the third winner.160821-trailMaking-asc_5829RLSs copy

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My level three winner will be the Biosystem, our environment, because we have an obligation to the ongoing biological crisis and to our children and grandchildren. I will not choose to get my kicks at the expense of causing harm to their future. No, I’m out to create a win-win-win weekend, and then a win-win-win life that may or may not be “fun” or “happy” as the corposystem thinks I should be – by buying their stuff. That might not be one of the available options. But will be deeply satisfying to my communal instincts.

160821-trailMaking-asc_5808RLSs copySo I told you that to show you pictures I took last weekend of a group of folks doing just that. A win-win-win holiday, tent-camping with friends in the wilderness forest, near the Chama, New Mexico, access point to the Continental Divide Trail that runs all the way from Mexico to Canada, through New Mexico, Colorado, and whatever else is up north there. Doing a little maintenance on the trail. Breathing the clean air; talking to the trees, and friends.

Working together for something that is worthwhile to the whole of Life.


Check it out on the internet.

Continental Divide Trail.


And if you are receiving this as a podcast, you might want to go to my website,    to see pictures.


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Bare Bones Biology 326


“Less than a month away from the kick-off the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii, a team of scientists reports that three quarters of the world’s threatened species are imperiled because people are converting their habitat into agricultural lands and over-harvesting their populations.” August 10, 2016.   Sean L. Maxwell, Richard A. Fuller, Thomas M. Brooks, James E. M. Watson. Biodiversity: The ravages of guns, nets and bulldozers. Nature, 2016; 536 (7615): 143 DOI: 10.1038/536143a


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What do you do when you are stuck solo on a mountainside with no electricity except a little battery juice left over from yesterday’s weak sunlight, and it is the middle of the night and you wake up, and you know there are bears and mountain lions out there in the dark.


Of course internet access is best in the middle of the night. Usually you can watch videos without those big time-gaps during which the trotting horse hangs suspended in air while the little video wheel tries to catch up with the action, and I got somewhat hooked on them last night, beginning with an elegant olympics video and working my way to the little equine puppy below.


But this has got to stop. It just makes me wish, and an odd feeling, in the moon-dark night, that I am not really here, but instead am living somewhere in history when horses were my friends and I was theirs. And because that time is long gone for me — and for everyone else on this earth — and I really am right here on this cold mountain, watching wishes go by and dreams collapse in the irresponsibility of our generations, therefore, it is not useful to spend time living in yesterdays.

Most people I know are still back there, in their heads. Evidently they believe they can save what no longer is by living it, rather than using it as a foundation for something that is actually save-able, and so they don’t want to hear about truth, facts or reality, but only about some fairy tale that has to do with human omnipotence and activist heroics.


So then what else can I do but sit here and watch those same fairy tales play out on UTube? Fiddle with the video while the Earth burns to a homo-toxic crisp? Join the farewell party?


And if the party were about the reality, we might actually be required to take some responsibility for our human survival and a vibrantly healthy Earth. So they don’t. Don’t want to hear about it, I mean.   Willful ignorance is a great copout, because when their uninformed opinions turn out badly, then they can blame George.


That was probably my mistake. I did do my homework, and as ignorance fades it is true, unfortunately for me, it is replaced by responsibility to the facts of God and nature.


Facts are not opinions to be believed or not as we choose; they are provably real, by definition – that is what the word means – and that means they can be studied, checked and evaluated for accuracy. They cannot be debated, except by the willfully ignorant; they have been well understood for centuries, and are better understood with every year that passes; and we have had the technologies to deal with our human factual medical, social and political relationship with reality for more than 50 years. Willful ignorance is inexcusable in a world where information, wisdom and knowledge are available at the touch of any finger on any computer. Let’s name it what it is — criminal ignorance. Crimes against humanity, even against Life itself.

So then, what might actually be a useful thing to do? For me, right now. I could always try one more thwack at explaining what I have learned in my long career – but the willfully ignorant will do almost anything to avoid learning that their own knowledge fails the omniscience test, even to compassionately trying to “help” me by teaching me the corposystem line of crap, as though I hadn’t heard it already ad nauseum, and fact- checked that line of crap time and again. They are experts at the compassionate put-down as a way of life; one wonders what they think I have been doing all their lives. Waiting for me I suppose. Anyway, they won’t hear it.


And now I think I’ve wasted about two decades on “survivors’ guilt,” when all the time I could have been enjoying fame, frolic and fairy tales alongside the doomed, instead of trying for compassionate survival of the whole. But I am not the guilty one.


I am not the guilty one. Nor am I the victim. And neither am I God or nature that I could change the laws of God AND nature, which are very simple and straightforward. They do not respond to whatever good thoughts you had in your mind; they have nothing to do with human thoughts or intentions or what you would have done “if you only knew,” but they do respond exquisitely to exactly WHAT YOU DID DO, or didn’t do, and whatever that is, YOU CAN NEVER TAKE IT BACK.


Even to save your own children.


And I’m tired of listening to the homocentric babble of the criminally ignorant.


So why don’t I just quit?160720-FullMoon-asc_4854_ copys copy

It’s dark out here on the mountainside, and cold, with no utilities, no water, and no supermarket. I am here because the air is clean and makes me feel good in a way that no human medication ever can replicate. Try it for yourself sometime. Try it in the wintertime in Colorado. Because in a very few more decades, human activism will have burned away the very nature that gave birth to humans and we will be lucky if even this cold mountainside remains as a future haven for human kind.





“Our massive tampering with the world’s interdependent web of life — coupled with the environmental damage inflicted by deforestation, species loss, and climate change — could trigger widespread adverse effects, including unpredictable collapses of critical biological systems whose interactions and dynamics we only imperfectly understand.

“Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth. Uncertainty over the extent of these effects cannot excuse complacency or delay in facing the threats.” Union of Concerned Scientists

In fact, there isn’t even any uncertainty, and there has not been any uncertainty in your lifetimes

regardless of the corposystem fairytale.


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