Archive for the ‘Dinosaurs’ category

P.S. THE YELLOW AND THE BLUE

August 30, 2017

Here are the “yellow” and the “blue”  I alluded to in the last post  about dinosaurs but forgot to include them at the end.     You see, some of these species are still with us, living today.

So here’s the yellow —  tiny little things that spit poisonous and deadly venom at passers-by.

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They’d be easy to overlook as you walked past them.    They were on display behind glass   (rather thin glass!)   in the lobby of the Sternberg Natural History Museum.

Same with the blue deadly venomous spitting things:

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Odd.  Different.   Strange.   Exotic.    Hypnotizing.

I wouldn’t want to raise little children where these things live.

We’re reminded that Nature around us is not necessarily a friendly place  . . .  at least not since after the Great Fall, which forever changed the relationship of Man and his Environment.

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DINOSAUR HEAVEN

August 29, 2017

Those of you who know me know my enthusiasm  for dinosaurs!   A 5,000 mile road trip is just my excuse to visit dinosaur museums  ( ahem,  “natural history” museums).   So please join me on this leg of the trip for a visit to the dinosaurs, for as much patience as you have!

Getting there was easy:

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That’s  the middle of our country!   Kansas,  home of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.   And a very good one it is:

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Easy parking.  No waiting in lines.    That big cream-colored  dome in the back houses the main exhibits.  You can see it better from the expressway.

Inside is a beautiful lobby, with blue and yellow live relics from ancient times on display  (more later)  and a lovely plesiosaurus   hanging overhead.     Also a thoughtful welcome sign:

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Guests are all primed and ready!    First stop, though, is actually the sea creatures,  displayed in a beautiful curving pathway through  “the sea.

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And  close to the “swimming”  monsters:

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Looks fierce at maybe 25 feet long,  but we know what it used those teeth for,  sort of:

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Each of the blue arrows shows bite marks on an ammonite,  a mollusk kind of thing, possibly eaten by the “sea monster.”

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Thirty or so feet long.   Tyrosaurus.

What’s left of him:

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Reptile bones can be a little boring,  but sometimes they can show us interesting things:

This fish swallowed another fish whole . . .  and then died:

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The head of the fish that got swallowed is to the right, so he was swallowed head first.  They know what kind of fish these are:

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But the main attraction is always the big reptile things —  all kinds of dinosaurs — so I entered into “the cave” —

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Through the cave to another world –  with fun warnings:

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And then a rather serious thought:

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I mean,  if you’re observant,  you would notice that tail sticking out from behind the rocks.    That’s a mighty big tail!

Life is mean,  80 million years ago.   Always was,  always will be.    Predator and prey.   It’s a “dog-eat-dog”  world out there.    Or whatever these are.

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A T-Rex towering over me:

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And many others:

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One walks through a land of dinosaurs with sounds of swampy groans and growls and piercing whistles and occasional roars . . .  it became eerily realistic after a while.  Occasionally a huge dinosaur would move as it called out –  thanks to subtle animatronics.

Although the Age of the Reptiles lasted for many millions of years,  even long before these dinosaurs was another age,  the Permian Age:

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You really have to think about this to begin to understand the magnitude of ages before the ages before . . .  us.    If you were a time traveler and started out at the time of the dinosaurs and moved backwards in time . . .   if you stopped off every ten million years and saw what lived on this planet,   you would see the height of the Permian Age;  no dinosaurs for a long, long time to come.  Just Permian Age creatures of all sizes.

Then take a time-leap back another ten million years.  Still the Permian Age creatures.

Then take a time-leap back another ten million years.  Still Permian Age creatures.

You could keep doing that until you were tired of leaping backwards, ten million years at a time —  at still hardly reach the beginning of the Permian Age.

Maybe we don’t do that because the creatures aren’t as glamorous and familiar to us,  but if this scientific guess reconstruction is somewhat accurate,  then it was a beautiful and complex age too.

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It was predator and prey,  dog-eat-dog then too:

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That guy was going after a tasty dragonfly.   The museum had a model of the dragonfly,  much larger, according to Permian Age fossils than our dragonflies today.

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My hand , in the corner,  was much closer to the camera,  but still you can see the exceptional size of this creature with maybe a three-foot wingspan.

There were land creatures too of all sizes,  and creatures who lived in the water and on land

And then it came to an end.  We can only speculate why.   It’s called the Permian Extinction Event,  or the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event.   It occurred about 252,000,000 years ago.   So much of the planet’s biodiversity was lost;  about 96 percent of those sea creatures, and 70 percent of land vertebrates . . .  almost all the insect species.

This was the P-T Event,  which came long before the K-T Extinction Event which killed off the “dinosaurs.”      Someone once wrote that it’s like the earth was nearly scrubbed clean of life, and then after a long recovery period, something like a “cosmic dump truck”  just unloaded an explosion of brand-new life forms that became dominant.

What age are we in? How long will it last?

One thing is very clear from actual history written on this planet:  Extinction events happened because of natural causes –  causes caused by Nature and Nature’s significantly, planet-wide drastic changes.   Whether caused by events from outer space,  cosmic bursts of lethal radiation,   or by upheavals within the earth itself —  mankind DOES NOT CAUSE  planet-wide destruction  and mankind CANNOT CAUSE  planet-wide destruction of the “environment”  or the “ecosystem”  or even any portion of the immense “biodiversity”  that exists on this earth.

Climate change is the result of these immense forces that impact the earth.    It doesn’t start from any one species living on the planet.

Please don’t dismiss the Young Earth Theory  (not the “earth is six thousand years old theory”  but the legitimate Young Earth Theory —   that’s worth looking into too, and there is actual evidence, geological and fossil evidence,  that the earth’s age doesn’t need billions of years to explain itself.)   But just play around with all the theories offered.   There is “a diversity”  of theories too.    (None of us living today can determine the right theory.)

Sure I love dinosaurs,  but my heart  is in the last Ice Age,  about 30,000 to 10,900 B.C.

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Or — as they exist now in the Sternberg Museum:

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Here are Dr. Sternberg’s actual working tools:

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That’s all we have of these magnificent past ages:

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It’s so worth a trip to your nearest natural history museum,  just to enter their worlds.

And ours.

“LOSS OF MOMENTUM”

July 29, 2017

“Momentum”  originates in one’s character.”    So, I suspect,  does “loss of momentum.”

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This little phrase came to the public ear again in the president’s recent speech to  the Boy Scouts.   In that speech he told a true story about the creator of Levittown  —

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Built by William Levitt and his construction company,  Levitt & Sons,  this was a series of suburban “towns” which offered working class people clean, safe, affordable, decent housing.   Most of the working class people were veterans returning home after World War II.    The concept was good . . . .

Modern “sophisticated”  academicians can point out for us the defects in Levitt’s concept,  but no one else made housing so available for young families.   Many hundreds of thousands of people were able to live in houses that they owned..

The president went on in his speech to say that several decades later he was at a party and saw a forlorn looking old man sitting by himself in a chair.  Much to his surprise,  this was William Levitt – the innovative,  energetic,  creative builder of Levittown!   When asked what happened to him,  he said simply that  he had  “lost his momentum.”

It can happen to all of us.

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I think that was the president’s point.    And it creeps up on you,  this loss of momentum.

We know all about the benefits of exercise.    We know the how and why and what to do  —  but, truth to tell,  we commonly don’t  “Just Do It.”     We don’t.     Keep a logbook of your exercise.   (It might take you a surprising long time to fill up even the smallest notebook of your activities.)

Good intentions,  but an eventual loss of momentum.

We all know that “education doesn’t stop with graduation.”     But, truth to tell,  we often just read a book instead of choose a book to study and to learn from.     Or we’d rather  watch the movie . . .

(I understand  – and observe –  that many Americans  are drugged into some kind of pharmaceutical  stupor.   As a friend recently pointed out:    “Medications don’t have side effects;  they have other effects.”    And those other, accompanying effects  lower our energy,  our stamina,  and our mental clarity.    Commonly!)

But apart from losing our momentum  from  the drugging effect of medications and bad diets,   moving forward,  getting things done,  creating,  building – all these things produce a momentum  which is satisfying and rewarding.    Productive activity often leads to  more productivity and personal development.    (Uncommonly!)

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So I can also read a good book once in a while  (without breaking my momentum!)  –  especially if it’s one about the part of our country which I’ll be driving through soon.   This book is based on a true story,  the true cutthroat competition that exists in the field of archeology.    There was once a “William  Johnson,”  of Crichton’s novel,  a  tall,  handsome, privileged youth from Yale who went out West to “dig for dinosaurs.”

What started the momentum was a wager – a “bet you can’t do it”  wager.    Pride may be a motivation for an action;   it can even begin an action and sustain a momentum for a while,  but real momentum comes from a man’s character.

And so does loss of momentum.       Loss of momentum comes from a weakness in one’s character.  I’m sure the unfolding drama in this novel  will come from weaknesses in the characters of the characters.

Here is a foundational sentence from the first page of the book:

William  Jason Tertullius Johnson, elder son of shipbuilder Silas Johnson . . .  according to his headmaster at Exeter (“high school”) was gifted, attractive, athletic and able.   But, he added,  Johnson was headstrong, indolent, and badly spoilt, with a notable indifference to any motive save his own pleasures.   Unless he finds a purpose to his life,  he risks unseemly decline into indolence and vice.”

Yikes!  A life of indolence and vice.    No matter how somewhat motivated he became from time to time to “start something.”     No matter what little momentum he could get going.

Rich parents at fault?  No.   This happens in all social and economic strata.   The simple truth is we are all responsible for our own character.

The old adage:

Sow a thought,  reap an action.

Sow an action,  reap a habit.

Sow a habit,  reap a character.

Sow a character,  reap a destiny.

 

It’s in  the choices we make.   The moral choices.  The small, insignificant moral choices we make at each moment.

Choices create momentum.    Looks like it’s our character that keeps it going.

 

 

 

 

 

DEAR YOUNG PEOPLE: THREE WORDS

June 1, 2017

After today’s announcement about our country’s non-participation in the Paris Accords,  I see there has been a lot of hysterical,  illogical,  non-scientific pronouncements coming out of Mainstream Media,  Social Media,  and Hollywood actors and actresses.

I trust  there are many among us with love for our planet,  love for our country  (The United States of America),  a love for science and invention,  and a can-do attitude.    Therefore,  I give you,  the up-and-coming generation,  THREE WORDS:

Zero.   Point.   Energy.

 

BIG BANG

 

Zero.  Point.  Energy.   (it goes by other names and there are variations)

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  1.    It’s all around you;  you just have to find a clever  way to get it.

 

2.   It’s challenging, dangerous work;  don’t get killed.

 

3.    “Fossil” Fuels  are not made from “fossils.”    The planet isn’t about to run out of  smooshed dinosaurs – and there is no such thing as peak oil.  Therefore,  you have plenty of time for this project.

 

4.   “Solar power”  and “wind power”  require more electricity  (generated from coal, etc.)   to create its electricity  than what these techniques can  even generate.      So far.    It may take a very long time to make this technology viable.

 

5.   It will soon become apparent to all just how lethal nuclear power plants are.   It is the most deadly way humans have ever invented in order to simply boil water and generate steam.

 

The three words:  Zero Point Energy.    The old-timers will laugh at you;    but you will be on a righteous mission and you’ll save the planet.

Just keep your newly discovered technology:  Open Source!

 

 

 

HALT!! WHO GOES THERE?

August 28, 2015

 I’ve always wanted to say that!

              —  Who goes there? !!!

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Big feet!    The feet of a sauropod!

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Here is a 90-meter long  trail of footprints that was recently discovered  (in Germany,  I think)  by some quarry workers recently.

The footprints were quickly turned over to the paleontologists.

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This is the longest continuous trail of dinosaur footprints ever found.  Each footprint is about 1 1/2 meters wide, and about 40 centimeters deep!      They reckon that the animal who made these tracks weighed about 30 tons!!!!    By the shape and configuration of the footprints,  they know they were made by a sauropod –  one of the biggest type of dinosaur, with a thick body, a strong, long neck, and thick powerful legs.

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30 tons!

Yep,  those are two little people beneath this life-size model.

Here is an artist’s rendition of what they might have looked like in the wild:

This is a Golden Mystery.   A vast, wonderful, intriguing, undiscovered,  fun Golden Mystery about the Creation and early years of our world.

Dinosaurs keep us humble.     We know so little!

FALCONRY AND THE GENTLE SAINT

March 31, 2015

Raptor:   falcon,  hawk,  eagle,  kestrel,  buzzard . . .  I shall just use the word “falcon.”

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Falconry is a sport in which a man participates in the joy of the Hunt with his  trained falcon.  It’s a hunting sport shared by bird and man.    The
bird is a raptor,  and he is doing what he was created to do — to hunt for his prey  which becomes his food.

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The falcons used in the sport are well-cared for and well-trained,  but they are wild, and one must use utmost caution and respect — and protective
clothing!
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The falcons are often hooded while they’re being trained and while they are being transported to the hunting area.

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The birds are not frightened under this hood because they hear the voice and verbal signals of his trainer.  There is a kind of learned trust between the
two:   (“You human creature  reliably satisfy some of my needs so I won’t tear your throat out“).

The sport has existed for thousands of years on every continent, and there have always been teachers and students,  methods and skill sets,   schools of
thought,  and  falconry clubs.    You need a lot of room for this sport!  These men are each carrying their falcon.

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So,  why?  What are these people experiencing?

To  touch and stroke the warm, strong body of such a creature;  to control its responses after patient, persistent training;   to learn its habits and desires; to gain its trust.  To be able to communicate with a natural killing machine like that is to  break through the boundaries that separate species.  

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The raptor is a strong, efficient killer,  given extraordinary eyesight that is exquisitely sensitive to movement;  given strong muscles for flying,
vibrating with tense readiness for making the kill, and for tearing apart the food; and a single-minded focus on its prey.

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“Its single-minded focus on its prey” — That is,  its biological urgency for food,  and when once satisfied, there soon follows the need for more and then more.  The falcon’s  life is a quest to satisfy that need – or it will die.
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Whether trained or not,   this is what falcons do.   Falconry gives us the ability to appreciate this creature by sharing some of the joy and triumph of
the Hunt for what is needed.

My own favorite kind of raptor  (heh – as you probably know):

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Now, I don’t believe for a minute that humans ever dragged women by the hair out of their caves to satisfy some desires,  nor do I believe that humans
tore into the flesh of dead carcasses to satisfy their need for food.    Not even “millions of years ago.”      The human intellect separates us – irrevocably –  from the animals. 

It’s true we are born with a similar desire to satisfy our physical needs,  but we’re also born with desires for other needs which we long to satisfy:
Friendship, Love,  Knowledge, Truth, Beauty, Wisdom,  Joy,  Spiritual Peace.   And all these are names by which our Creator can be known.

We can learn a lot from the majestic raptors.   Created with just the right faculties to satisfy their desires and with a single-minded focus on
obtaining what they want.

St. Francis deSales,  the gentle, loving saint,  teaches us that we too should look to the falcon and ask ourselves, “How much do we want the Goodness of God?”   with what desire?    with what strength of will?
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How much . . . ?

Like the hart running through the woods,  panting and thirsty,  longing for that clear spring water flowing in the brook.    *

Like a Lover longing to be near his Loved One.   **

Like an individual, alone,  longing to be known, to be heard,  longing to be touched by the One who made him.   ***

 

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*     (Psalm 41:1  — or 42:1,  Jewish numbering)

**   (Canticles  7:10  —  or:  Song of Solomon 7:10, Protestant naming)

***  (Psalm 76:1   —  or:  77:1,  Jewish numbering)

 

DRIVING FOR DINOS

June 29, 2014

Okay,  I”m really weary tonight.   Come along to a little museum with me,  but take note of the “Summer Silliness” in the Tag Line.

“Driving for dinosaurs”

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Today was my  “tourist” day to search for dinosaurs — and I found them —SAMSUNG

There must be a lot of other dinosaur lovers out here in the West, because there were dinosaurs all over.

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I did a double-take when I saw this one welcoming me to the gas pumps!   (Now, I don’t for a second believe that petroleum comes from smushed dinosaurs;  nevertheless,  for some reason,  gasoline is called “fossil fuel.”  I think this guy is safe from our hungry automobiles.)

So, these guys seemed to know where to go to find the REAL dinosaurs:

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(I gave up a couple meals today to be able to afford these guys for me and Cooper. . . .)

Here was our destination:

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“Wyoming State Museum”

Their dinosaur exhibit — who named this?

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R.ex   I.n    P.ieces    ?

SAMSUNGThere were a few nice arrangements to teach children about dinosaurs, in general.     I was used to visiting the huge professional “dinosaur” museums in Montana, last year.   This was more of a small town effort,  but I accepted it for what it was, and enjoyed being reminded of things I like about dinosaurs,  like size comparisons:

SAMSUNG“Man and  dinosaur femur.”

Many of the bones were inexplicably black:

SAMSUNGThere was no one around to ask why.     The museum was quite proud of having this on display.  It’s a complete skull of an Allosaurus . . .   which they named Big Al, of course.

I got in on the comparisons:
SAMSUNGThat’s not quite a dinosaur fossil, but rather the heel bone of a North American mastodon.    Oh, how I would have loved to see these creatures in great herds on our Plains.   I put my (blurry) hand next to the heel and felt very small.

Moving up ahead even further in time,   the museum had very thoughtful displays of the North American Indian tribes.

SAMSUNGThey had many artifacts from the past few centuries, with explanations that were interesting as well as descriptive.   (I know there is quite a skill to writing these little signs that museums display.   I have a friend who writes well, and I admired her even more when I found out that she’s written many of the signs used in our own state museum displays.)

We promote and protect the culture of the North American Indians.    We are also fostering the recovery of many of their skills.    One day out here in Wyoming, some thoughtless teenagers stole a famous ancient artifact called “Turtle Rock.”    It was made about three centuries ago – I think by the Shoshone — and it was visited in situ by many tourists.

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Eventually, the rock, that round rock there with the faint painting of a turtle on it,  was recovered.   This time it was placed in the State Museum, in a display that looks just like where it was first made out in the rocky wilderness.

It’s very much worth it to visit museums.    There is much to be proud of – and sometimes we need a little self-congratulations.