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Poetry Friday ~ Wild Fire

10 Jan

Hi, everyone! Welcome.

Since September, 17.9 million acres of Australia have burned in one of the country’s worst fire seasons on record. That’s an area larger than West Virginia, and more than eight times the area that burned in California in 2018, the state’s most destructive year for wildfires. 

The fires have now killed at least 27 people and destroyed almost 2,000 homes. The blazes turned skies orange and made breathing the air in Sydney as bad as smoking 37 cigarettes. Those are just the impacts on people. The destruction of the country’s land and biodiversity is harder to fathom. An estimated 1 billion animals have been lost, and scientists fear long-term damage to many sensitive ecosystems. 

Though rain brought firefighters a slight reprieve Wednesday, the AP reports that hot and windy conditions that will keep the fires burning are expected to return later this week. 

It’s a disaster that’s particularly ominous: In a warming world, extreme fire events like this one will only grow more likely to occur. – Australia Fires: 7 Things Everyone Should Know About The Brushfire Disaster.

Photograph by Cris Saur @crisaur

What is happening in Australia right now is devastating. I feel terrible for the families that have lost loved ones and are suffering through this hellish brushfire disaster. The number of animals that have perished in the fire is perturbing. 1 Billion animals dead! The firefighters that are putting their lives at risk every day battling the flames are amazing. It is easy to feel helpless, especially if you live on the other side of the planet, but there are things we could do to help.

  • If you’re in Australia, Givit has a list of specific items needed by people and organizations affected by the bushfires.
  • People with emergency response training can sign up to volunteer in Queensland.
  • The World Wildlife Fund is collecting donations to restore habitats for koalas impacted by the fires.
  • You can donate to the Australian Red Cross’s fire recovery and relief fund.
  • You can also donate directly to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, the Country Fire Service Foundation in South Australia, and the Country Fire Authority in Victoria.
Photograph by Mark Galer @markgaler

Colleen’s 2020 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 159, #Poet’sChoice

I chose to share this beautiful and heart-wrenching poem by Philip Salom dedicated to the men and women who fight these fires. Below is part one of the poem. You can read the rest of it here.

Bushfire

As if going into battle, the knapsack 
full on my shoulders, its pipe and nozzle
slung up like a rifle.
We fought along the river, seeing shrubs
explode, riddled with fire,
eerie sounds of trees shrieking
like things alive, feral, flames like faces
spilling down into the ferns.
We staggered, sick with the hammering heat,
dousing endless flames that slammed at us
like nightmares, sullen ghosts
groping at our limbs. We plunged
into that day's red thunder,
subsumed like suiciders who stare into
the rifle, gulp the flame. Individuals
meandering in something huge.
We choked in smoking semi-darkness,
shadows through the lead-coloured
air of limbo.

Now the aching blistering weight
of the knapsack pulling my shoulders.
Exhaustion worries the scorched end
of some unity: thought and action
fused into one. Sagging now,
heavier than the slopping drums
behind the tractors coming in.
We see the new men walking in
and seem to meet our earlier selves
but are more certain and more tired.
I, older than my youth, seeing these men
as if they were children.
Photograph by Liam Pozz @liampozz

Enjoy the rest of your day!

What Happened to Flying Cars?

3 Jan

I hope everyone has had a great start to the new year.

I remember all the promises of technological advances for this period. By this time, we were supposed to have flying cars, robots in every home, and teleportation, among other things. So what happened?

I have no doubts that the technology for flying cars is already out there. They probably have not figured out a way to implement it without us killing each other in transit. I mean, we have trouble operating a car on solid ground. I do not think we’re ready to drive amongst the clouds. How would you know which lane you’re on? Where would they put the traffic lights, yield, and stop signs? I could see it now, vehicles crashing into skyscrapers and firefighters getting cars out of trees.

I love to travel; it is one of my passions. Traveling and reading give me the tools I need to write, especially for worldbuilding and characterization. Although I enjoy visiting new countries and enjoying the people and culture, I’m not too fond of airports and airplanes, so I was looking forward to teleportation. To be able to enter a pod and in seconds, be transported to another country––what a dream. Of course, what is probably delaying the process are the test subjects. I don’t know about you, but I would not want this technology tested on animals or people, so there’s the problem the scientists are facing. The last thing I want to hear on the news is that they tried to test teleportation with a human subject and only hamburger arrived on the other side. Gross! What if the other scientists are vegans? We wouldn’t want to offend anyone, would we?

Seriously, although we did not get every technological advance promised for this decade, we did get a plethora of cool things. I own an iPhone, and it’s like walking around with a calculator, compass, dictionary, camera, and computer in my pocket––among other things. If someone had told me in 1999 that my phone would speak to me, answer questions, and assist me with specific tasks, I would have thought that person was talking about something he or she read in a SciFi novel. How about gene therapy, reversing paralysis, Wi-Fi (devices powered by the air!), Nanotechnology, computers that are figuring out how to do things no programmer could teach them (anyone thinking SKYNET?), 3D metal printing, artificial embryos? Wow! We’ve come a long way since 1999, but have we gone too far in certain areas?

Let me share with you the 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2019, curated by Bill Gates.

1. Robot Dexterity – Robots are teaching themselves to handle the physical world. (SKYNET comes to mind again)

2. New-Wave Nuclear Power – Advanced fusion and fission reactors. (This reads scary. Did anyone see the drama miniseries on HBO, Chernobyl?)

3. Predicting Preemies – A simple blood test can predict if a pregnant woman is at risk of giving birth prematurely. (This I like. I worked in the NICU (area in the hospital that provides care for premature infants and seriously ill babies) for a while, and it was heart-wrenching.)

4. Gut Probe in a Pill – A small, swallowable device captures images of the gut without anesthesia. (Another good one. Anesthesia is not suitable for everyone.)

5. Custom Cancer Vaccines – The treatment incites the body’s natural defenses to destroy only cancer cells by identifying mutations unique to each tumor. (It’s about time.)

6. The Cow-Free Burger – Both lab-grown and plant-based alternatives approximate the taste and nutritional value of real meat without the environmental devastation. (I do not eat beef, but I did once, and I do miss a good burger. Maybe I would try the plant-based one––lab-grown does not sound appealing.)

7. Carbon Dioxide Catcher – Practical and affordable ways to capture carbon dioxide from the air can soak up excess greenhouse gas emissions. (How do plants feel about this? Plants need carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, right?)

8. An ECG (Electrocardiogram) On Your Wrist – ECG-enabled smartwatches, made possible by new regulations and innovations in hardware and software, offer the convenience of a wearable device with something closer to the precision of a medical one. (Well, it’s practical, but that means ECG techs will be obsolete in the future.)

9. Sanitation Without Sewers – Energy-efficient toilets can operate without a sewer system and treat waste on the spot. (What does it use concentrated sulfuric acid?)

10. Smooth-Talking AI (Artificial Intelligence) Assistants – New techniques that capture semantic relationships between words are making machines better at understanding natural language. (SKYNET)

There you have it. We cannot teleport to Bora-Bora, but there were so many advances in the last twenty years I cannot wait to see what this new decade has in store. Please excuse my somewhat weird sense of humor. I wish everyone happiness, good health, love, and prosperity in this new decade.

What are some of your goals for 2020?

Poetry Friday ~ Love & Time (Synonyms)

17 Aug

Hello, everyone! Welcome!

 

I don’t know if you’ve heard the news about the ‘Red Tide’ algae affecting southwest Florida, but what’s going on here is a real tragedy.

Toxic algae, called ‘red tide’ are killing the marine life in the southwest coast of Florida. Sea creatures have been washing up on our shores. The situation is so bad that our governor has declared a state of emergency.

This kind of thing upsets me beyond belief. Scientists are trying to figure out how to get rid of these tiny creatures and there has been some wild speculations as to how they had come to be. Well, I have a theory of my own. I believe The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (BP oil spill) in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010 is one of many things to blame. Nature always tries to protect itself and that includes marine life. All the garbage and oil in the water have killed many aquatic creatures and vegetation. Maybe, some of the gulf’s algae mutated into what are now known as ‘red-tide algae’ to protect itself long ago and maybe they plague us for disrespecting their environment. Yes, I know this reads like something out of an M. Night Shyamalan movie, but it makes perfect sense to me. When a life form is placed in a toxic environment it will either die or change to adapt to its new surroundings. Only this algae has mutated into a monstrous form that kills off every other creature around.

Now, I know that it is a natural phenomenon, but the exact cause or combination of factors that result in a red tide outbreak are not necessarily known. I also know that this phenomenon has occurred since ancient times. Biblical scholars and early marine biologists of the late nineteenth century postulated that the first plague of the Exodus story, the blood color of the Nile, might have been an outbreak of Red Tide. But who’s to say that pollution, oil spills and other unnatural disturbances in the water doesn’t have something to do with a Red Tide outbreak occurring.

Anyway, here’s an article from the Washington Post you can read for yourself:

Florida’s governor this week made official what residents of southwest Florida already knew: The bloom of toxic algae that has darkened gulf waters is an emergency. The red tide has made breathing difficult for locals, scared away tourists, and strewn popular beaches with the stinking carcasses of fish, eels, porpoises, turtles, manatees and one 26-foot whale shark. Continue reading . . . 

Mother Nature’s Lament

In an age of greed

Seas once clean now choke with oil

My darling sea life

Leaving your bodies on shore

As red tides lap my beaches

red tide-toxic_algae-Florida-Poetry_Friday-Vashti Q-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Quiroz Vega-marine_life

 

Love and Time are this week’s prompt words chosen by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer. *The catch is that we can only use the synonyms to these words in our poems.

Colleen hosts a challenge that anyone could participate in called, Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge every Tuesday, and you have until Sunday to create a post featuring your Haiku, Tanka, Haibun or Cinquain poem. She is an author and poet, and also does book reviews and so much more on her blog. Be sure to check it out.

Thank you for visiting!