Sunday, August 16, 2009

Connections, and Yogic Service

I love the endless connections a person can make on this good old interweb. It is truly amazing how this creation has changed my (and obviously billions of others) life. I have always loved to intake various kinds of information and the internet makes this almost infinitely possible. Today's journey has been particularly interesting so I thought I would share.

The catalyst for today's journey was a podcast series that I have been listening to lately. The C-Realm Podcast has been running for a couple of years now, but I have only discovered it recently. The "C" stands for consciousness and the host, KMO, has created a show which truly examines AND feeds consciousness from a tremendous variety of directions. I think anyone who is a return visitor to this blog will find KMO's work to be informative and mentally stimulating.

Back to the topic at hand...

By listening to the C-Realm Podcast, I was introduced to another Podcast series called Psychonautica. These casts can be found at the Dopefiend network website. In listening to one of the Psychonautica podcasts today, I was introduced to the work of Dr. Stanislav Grof, a psychiatrist with more than fifty years experience researching the healing and transformative potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. This connection alone has been tremendous due to my rather large interest in his areas of expertise, but there was more to come.

Thanks to Youtube's automatic viewing suggestions, one of the Grof videos led me to this short 2-part video:

This video really resonated with me for a couple of reasons. For one, I have been increasingly drawn to yoga, also for various reasons. Not the least of these is the fact that yoga comes from one of the oldest eastern philosophies, the one to which I feel most drawn (albeit from limited knowledge). Indeed, there are theories that yoga was created (or given to mankind) as a means to deal with catastrophic occurrences, not unlike those we are likely to be facing very soon.

The other reason that I was inspired to share this video was the concept of service as opposed to charity. I agree completely that charity is divisive in that it tends to signify the giver as being higher in status than the receiver. I much prefer the idea that all individuals making effort to be of service to the whole (by which I do not mean the whole of humanity). I cannot help but see this as a much healthier mindset and one more likely to be of lasting benefit to both the individuals and the whole.

It is a mindset that I have not yet achieved, but I definitely see it as part of finding balance which I am fond of pointing out to be so incredibly important.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So Lucky

If you love nature and are lucky enough to live (or have grown up) beside a marshy lake, you can have the chance to see some pretty amazing things. As I have mentioned before, growing up by one such lake here in NW Alberta Canada I had the chance to see all sorts of various waterfowl living here or passing by. Regular inhabitants were Canada geese, mallard ducks, Franklin gulls, typical garbage dump/city seagulls, and various shore birds. Visitors included Trumpeter swans, other swans, cranes, and even a blue heron stopped for a meal some years back. Odd and rare flyers-overhead have included wild turkeys and pelicans (one group flew over the lake about a month ago but I did not have my camera!!). I seem to recall the odd pelican landed to try feeding out of our lake over the years but they will have gone hungry as it is not fish-bearing.

Lately, we have had a pair of bald eagles move into the area. They like to hunt on the lake in the off-winter months, feeding mostly on baby gulls. They love to perch near my parents` house and look out over the lake for prey. We`re thankful for this, since the gull population has been crazy over the past few years, thanks to a huge landfill next door.

This year, we have also been rather lucky in that 4 pairs of Canada geese raised their young just over the bank from our barnyard, for the shore-bound first few weeks of their lives. 3 of the pairs actually raised their young all in one large group. This large group, in particular, kept their group brood in this location for this entire period, which allowed me to take weekly pictures. Finally, both groups disappeared for several weeks, having moved their broods out to the reed beds where they could feed better and mature more rapidly. Recently however, both groups have returned so that I could get some pictures of their beautiful teenagers.

These first four pictures are the large group, 3 sets of adults (likely many siblings), and the entire passel of young. It was fascinating to watch the group hierarchy and sharing of duties. Looking at the fourth picture, however, one can see that several of the young went to feeding local predators or were simply not strong enough to survive.

One of our dogs actually ended up removing one more of their numbers as well. A very surprising act from her. We think it may have been a gift from her, since there is a new pup at the farm who is siphoning some of her attention away. Such is nature, although we certainly are not encouraging such action.

The next two pictures are of a single family. I didn`t get too many pictures of them as they spent most of their time somewhere else. They were also born later than the large group, I think.

What a lucky child was I. I still am.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Here is an example of the new jobs being created in America. Looks like the worst is pretty much over after all. I know of some prime ocean front property for sale here in Alberta too. Real cheap.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

My Bin o' Worms

Aside from a few days of concern, my condo worm composting project is coming along quite nicely. I do not think it is exaggeration to say that the population seems to have at least tripled. Each handful I look at contains several baby or juvenile worms now, and some of the adults are particularly large and juicy looking. I would say that cocoon production has slowed down, but I do still see plenty of new cocoons all the time.

There have been a few days of concern, however. I think it was just a few days after the last update when I started to notice some sluggishness in some of the worms, as well as what I can only describe as a sour kind of smell in the bin. I even found one worm laying on top of the bedding, with some kind of bubble-like growth on its dorsal side. When I pressed this bubble slightly it burst open, releasing a small amount of very foul smelling liquid. I have no idea what caused this, but thankfully I have not noticed any other so stricken worms.

However, I started to see more worms laying atop the top bedding layer, moving very little when the lid was removed. This is odd as red worms are not fond of light and usually scoot beneath the surface fast should they be topside when I remove the lid. I thought, due to the sour smell, that perhaps the Carbon:Nitrogen balance was leaning too far on the Nitrogen side. Adding more cardboard bedding seemed to help for a day, but then one night I lifted the lid to find about 20 worms climbing the walls and a few even on the inside of the lid. This means the problem was now even worse and was causing a serious amount of mutinous escape attempts. Given the fact that there was all kinds of food for them in the form of manure, cardboard and vegetative waste, I was fairly confidant that they were not starving. Also, the areas containing concentrated food was usually crawling with feeding worms, so over-feeding was likely not an issue either.

Castings were definitely starting to build up, so I began to wonder if oxygenation was lacking. I still found quite a few worms all through the bin so I didn't really think this was the issue either. Then I noticed that the materials might have been getting rather dry so I used a spray bottle to add about 1/3 of a litre of water. This led to a significant drop in escape attempts, but it did not stop them entirely.

The last noticeable potential cause was temperature. We had a couple of weeks of quite hot temperatures here, and even with the lights off and curtains drawn, this condo was getting pretty hot inside. Apparently this was heating the bin beyond a comfortable temperature because aiming a fan at the bin from about 3 feet away seems to have stopped the escape attempts completely.

Looking back, I suspect that more than one of these factors were working together to throw the system out of balance. I'm glad that keeping an eye on it probably helped to regain balance but I have a feeling that, in the long-term, adding water was likely all that was needed. I also added a tiny amount of normal dirt, since worms digest via a gizzard which needs tiny grit and their guts need to replenish clay which is used in processing and released in the castings.

I am also using a 12.5" deep tub in this system and this might be a little bit too deep for the width/length dimensions (16"X24"). I have started a second bin which is only 8" deep. This might provide a more efficient depth/surface area ratio. I am letting this second bin sit without any worms for awhile, letting the decomposition processes get a nice start. I am using the typical cardboard (drink tray/egg carton) bedding and crumbled cow manure. I also added two chopped up apples and sprayed probably 2 litres of water in, since the manure was very dry. Its been very cool to check this second bin once a day and see the formation of molds (I think) and long, fragile mushrooms. I just realized that I should be taking pictures of this progression. I may well start doing so.

If only our human systems were so easily sorted out. Still, there are definite lessons to be learned from observing and interacting with such limited systems.

Peace and comfort to all.