A friend of mine in high school would always say "normal is only a setting on the dryer." It reigns true ever day. How do you even define normal.  Maybe inline with the status quo? Maybe without variation? The only way I can begin to define normal in the natural world is in the laboratory.  Experiments are made in the epitome of controlled environments looking for normal. Once established, normal is pushed until it becomes abnormal.  In the natural world outside of HVAC systems and purified air, normal status seems to move.  A normal dog might have been a wolf long ago but now, a long blond haired dog with an affinity to play fetch bodes well for a 'normal' golden retriever, a genetic variation of what would seem quite 'abnormal' in the wolf world.  Take social acceptance into account and 'normal' becomes defined by stogy dignitaries or teachers who don't know how to teach.  I'd like to keep normal as a way to guarantee my shirt won't shrink.




We've had fish at the house for about a year now.  It is a cichlid tank, the closest one can get to the color and size of saltwater fish without saltwater.  We bought our cichlids small as they are pretty cheap and grow quickly. We came home from Costa Rica to find our brood of fish had grown by three.  It was pretty cool to think we had produced an aquatic home worthy of reproduction. Not knowing the mother or father, or even if we did what that meant for the kids, it has been a watch and see type event to unveil what kind of fish they will become.  The amazement continues as one of them is white, not albino (no red eye) but white.  No white fish in the tank so it must be a recessive type trait or in fact a mutation.  The whole idea of genetic mutation is a mesmerizing one.  Our genetic code has so many variables, all dependent on a mate.  I like how genetic mutations keep the power outside of our control.  You can take X and mate it with Y and sure enough by some crazy venture, get Z.  It's like a control in the face of haughty natural selection. Reminds me of some movie where the droids rule the earth but control is broken by some mutation that breaks protocol.  That's a long way from fish.




So much inventory and analysis is given to the site.  It's the parcel of land you have been granted control.  As my schooling moves from fictitious place into real sites, I feel the unique pressures to tread with respect.  Each site has its own story, some tragic, some epic, some boring and dull.  But all with a background full of success, mistakes, and outright failures.  I look forward to my ideas finding home in real sites, places I hope will stand the test of time and serve its public well.  I hope my work creates places that generations value as "done right" and with "perspective." A solution that would fit no where else but here.  It is a joy to evaluate what is given and pair those unique and valuable assets with just a a few strokes of inventive thought to invigorate a place's potential. 




With all the birthday celebrations, I'm reminded of the joys behind surprises.  The surprise for me is the time leading up to the surprise.  That joy of the unknown.  I think that is why I enjoyed the adventures of duck hunting.  It was always a surprise when that bird careened out of the sky, you raise your gun and hope in your ability to aim and fire.  The end surprise is the appearance and killing of the bird, but the surprise power would mean little if it weren't for the wait, the preparation, and the story.  You hear the birds, you feel the wind.  You setup your decoy spreads in hopes of being the attractive safe haven for passing birds.  You try this and you try that.  You wade through a whole different set of surprises, the rotted out stumps big enough to swallow a man, the beaver runs that trick you into thinking your footing is level in all directions.  Or my favorite, the quick mud that grabs hold of your boots with fear of never letting go.  Sometimes when you've done all right and all seems perfect, the great surprise of defeat jumps up and bites you in the rump. No birds.




As I've aged from year to year, I'm beginning to realize there is a lot of time spent on the hybrid in search of the pure end.  I think of it like the hybrid car market.  We all know the hybrid is not the answer.  It isn't efficient enough to really make a revolutionary impact and we all know technology development in the renewable marketplace is increasing exponentially every day. The auto engineers themselves know the "in-between" is not the end game.  BUT, what are we to do?  Design is full of compromise.  Too many interested parties are involved to allow for pure solutions.  The oil guys can't pack it up.  The electrical grid can't support a rapid movement to battery charging. Car aficionados are going to pass on the muscle car in favor of a green thumb, no matter how much torque electric allows. I'm learning not to expect a pure "my" idea but rather to appreciate and expect a better interim or hybrid solution. It would be great to make quantum leaps but there is something alluring in the process. 



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Looking forward to having my hand back though I'm getting use to my body armor and using it to my advantage.  Countdown with me...




My readings this week tapped into a very cool train of thought.  It compared child baby dolls, one doll talked and responded to mistreatment while the other doll was simple and unresponsive.  The study was hoping to challenge the reaction of children and adults to mistreatment.  Do the verbal cues from the just-as-lifeless doll create a more emotional response than the old-timer doll?  Does the artificial response evoke a sense of soul and continually a sense of pain or anguish? This crisis of realistic souls is disturbing.  I see it developing through the video games and movies so many children are allowed to play.  In my childhood, cops and robbers was as violent as it got until spaceship wars on ColecoVision. By taking the souls out of our play characters or even putting souls INTO our play characters, have we blurred the line too much in what children view as a life worth saving? 




something held in tact by a surrounding boundary.  The human body is held together by the skin.  A body of water is bound by a higher shoreline. A body of creative work is unified by a particular artist, time period, theme or medium. Body copy is a group of words bookended by a headline and conclusive sign-off. What happens if you remove those binding objects.  What is a sea without end.  What are organs and blood without their body form? Is an artist just nuts if his art has no definition? Makes me wonder if these objects are more defined by their boundaries and not by their makeup.




I wonder how long we will be able to say any land is worth preserving.  Seems the land not already earmarked for preservation and is worthy of preservation and not restoration is few and far between. What land have we not farmed, grazed, or inhabited beyond its original purpose.  When I worked for Duck Unlimited, much of the land required some sort of intervention to make it land having purpose outside of food production or human use.  I think the term restoration will trump any use of preservation in the near and far future. 
Visited Heggie's Rock near Augusta.  It's not often when you can honestly say some rocks had you completely floored. This granite outcrop is a world of its own.  With the drought, the amazing plant communities are just waiting; holding every drop of moisture.  I simply can't imagine the immediate shift in appearance and growth a week of rain would spur. I hope to witness it first hand as the pools fill and overflow into a chain of streams, waterfalls, and reservoirs.

I described this place as a terrestrial coral reef, a miniature forest just hoping for a model train to run through. A place of succession.