Yesterday was World Turtle Day!


Well I can’t believe I missed this, but I definitely missed World Turtle Day yesterday. I remember a teacher I had in high school, a very fantastic woman, who had a pet tortoise in the classroom, named Ortoise. He would wander around during class, so you had to make sure not to move your chair without looking, or put your feet down. Anyway, she was a great teacher, and I’ve always loved turtles anyway. So, here you go, a repost from Caitlin R. Kiernan, because she’s awesome, and there’s not much else I would want to say about it anyway:

Originally posted by greygirlbeast at World Turtle Day ’10

Yes, today was World Turtle Day. I suspect not a lot of Americans spend a lot of time thinking about turtles. But they’ve always been among my favorite reptiles, even when I include all those wonderful extinct groups. Indeed, turtles are a relic of an all but vanished branch of the Reptilia, the Parareptilia. Of all the many and varied forms of parareptiles that once thrived, only the Order Testudines (turtles and tortoises) survived beyond the Triassic Period. Long before the evolution of either lizards or snakes, there were turtles. There may have been turtles even before the first crocodylomorphs appeared in the Late Triassic. The oldest known turtle, Odontochelys semitestacea, was described in 2008 from 215/220-million-year-old fossils from the Late Triassic of Guizhou, China. Unlike all living (and most known fossil) turtles, Odontochelys had teeth.

Turtles are, evolutionarily and ecologically, a success story. They’ve survived two major extinction events (the Triassic-Jurassic extinction and the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction) and many less catastrophic mass extinctions. They’ve diversified, from terrestrial ancestors, to take advantage of fresh-water and marine environments, and many species (mostly within the Superfamily Testudinoidea) have returned to dry land, and include the modern tortoises and box turtles. Over the course of their evolution, turtles have produced some giants. The largest-known turtle is Archelon ischyros, from the Upper Cretaceous of North America, which was more than four meters (13.5 feet) long, and about 4.87 meters (16 feet) wide from flipper to flipper. The largest-known freshwater turtle, the living Asian softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii), is only about half that size, but still measures a very respectable six+ feet (about two meters) in length. The largest land species known is the bizarre horned Meiolania of Australia and New Caledonia, which reached lengths of eight and a half feet. And they are among the longest-lived of vertebrates, with some individuals of a few species boasting a longevity in the neighborhood of 200-250 years.

Estimates of the number of living turtle species vary widely, from 250 to 330 (depending of variations in classification schemes, and never mind species as yet discovered). And worldwide, an enormous number of these species are currently endangered or threatened. It has been estimated that about 75% of Asia’s ninety tortoise and freshwater turtle species have become threatened.* All marine species are endangered. And even those taxa not officially listed as endangered face vanishing habitat, climate change, human predation, and threats from pollution on such a scale that it’s not unreasonable to consider most living turtles in danger of extinction. Numerous species have already become extinct due to the actions of human beings.

Around the globe, turtles figure prominently in our myths, folktales, and religions. In Hindu mythology, the world is believed to rest on the backs of four elephants, who stand on the shell of a turtle. In Hinduism, Akupara is a tortoise who carries the world on his back. It upholds the Earth and the sea. But, in truth, at this point in the history of life of earth, the fate of all turtles (and elephants, for that matter) rests on the back of humanity. Will a single species of primates, and one that only dates back 195,000 years, be the end of a reptilian dynasty stretching back to the earliest days of the “Age of Reptiles”?

*Hilary Hylton, “Keeping U.S. Turtles Out of China,” Time Magazine, 2007-05-08.

(Portions of the entry were adapted from relevant Wikipedia articles.)

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Clear Perception: Consciousness


On Wednesday May 23 at 7pmSLT I’ll be hosting a philosophy discussion at LnL! Intro notes are below. Be sure to check out their blog! The venue we’ve got lined up is fantastic. You should come check it out even if you can’t make it to the event!

The notes are taken from an article in Yoga International Magazine from Summer 2011.

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Yin and Yang – TCM Series


Tomorrow at 7pmSLT we are starting the in-depth traditional Chinese medicine series with a discussion on yin and yang! Below are the notes, which you can also get a copy of in world at the venue. The squares you’ll see are where textures exist, which are in the SL version and will be shown in world.

Next post is the intro notes for the discussion on Wednesday at LnL, 7pmSLT.

I’ve started reading “The Tao of Pooh” on Sunday’s at noonSLT, at my new home. You should come join us – it’s great fun and we all learn a lot. I also threw a house warming party last Sunday. It was great fun, with DJ Strix spinning the awesome tunes, and about 20 people came. I’m thinking I’ll be hosting another one of those some time, although maybe not soon.

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Mark Twain on Plaigarism


Wow, this poor blog. I haven’t posted lately because I’m in the midst of moving and starting a new job, but I found this this morning on Brain Pickings, and had to share. I remember in high school having this same conversation with a friend. Interesting that it comes up now…here is a quote from a letter by Mark Twain to Helen Keller:

Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that ‘plagiarism’ farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernel, the soul — let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of allhuman utterances — is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men — but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington’s battle, in some degree, and we call it his; but there are others that contributed. It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a telephone or any other important thing — and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.

Thanks Brain Pickings!

Sinus Infections and Allergies in TCM


Ok, doing some research to see what I can use that’s not man-made to get rid of sinus infections, and thought I’d share.

This link shows an experiment proving that antibiotics actually don’t work when treating a sinus infection. That, I could have told you without mass experiments. I’m prone to sinus infections, and so is my mother, and we’ve both been on antibiotics for a few weeks trying to kick the infection, although it eventually went away, seemingly without any help from the antibiotics. Of course, whenever taking antibiotics (if you must) I suggest taking acidophilus (good bacteria) to help replenish your bodies natural immune system. Antibiotics are known to kill all bacteria cells, not just the bad ones. This allows room for other infections and bad bacteria to enter your body without any immune system to be in its way. Acidophilus will act as that immune system until your body creates its own again.
You can use herbs in steam (inhalation) to help clear out your sinuses. Specifically (gathered from many sources, and found commonly): lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil. These three can be added to boiling, steaming water and inhaled through the nose to clear the passages and induce healing. Eating lots of garlic or taking garlic pills will also help the healing process.
Two herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine are Gan Jiang (Dried ginger) and Bai Zhi (angelica root). In the past, when I’ve used dried ginger, I put it in boiling water, with fresh squeezed lemon and a bit of honey. Mostly, it helps with sore throats, but the properties of the herbs help healing too. Although fresh ginger works better for the tea, dry ginger would serve the same purpose. For more info on Gan Jiang, click here. Bai Zhi also expels wind-cold and dampness. I haven’t used this before personally, although by the sounds of it it’s pretty similar in properties as Gan Jiang. Info on it here, and here. I would assume you could use it in tea as well, although it looks like you can get it in powder, so you may add it to foods, or soups, etc.
Of course, accupressure works, so pushing on certain spots in the sinuses to help them clear. Also, applying a hot cloth helps, although if you add the lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil to the cloth it will get soaked into the sinuses as well. I’d suggest filling a bowl with hot water and adding 2-5 drops of each oil, then soaking the cloth in the water before applying it over the sinuses. Apply approx. 3 times a day, for about 3 minutes each time. You can also switch the temperature of the cloth from hot to cold. For cold only use it for about one minute, whereas hot would be the three full minutes at a time.
Sadly, none of this is covered in western insurance, and these ingredients are expensive. But they have been proven to work better and faster, and can even prevent sinus infection. If you use these when you feel the onset of the infection or if you know you’ll be in an environment that will bring the allergies up, it will work to prevent the onset. Common allergies that cause infections are hay fever/spring allergies, dust and dry environments, and artificial fragrance (some people are affected strongly by non-artificial fragrances, although essential oils doesn’t seem to be a problem for most people). They say to not have cold air (breezes, etc.) on the head when you have an infection as it will cause the sinuses to tighten (cold contracts!) and make the pockets the infection is brewing in tighten which will inevitably make the movement of the infected mucus (out, hopefully) less possible. Any cold or dry environment would be a bad idea for this reason.
Also, if you’re interested in applying oil directly into the nostrils, as you would saline solution, nasya oil is a good option. Quote: “Certified organically grown herbs including brahmi, calamus and scullcap in a base of certified organic sesame and olive oils. Nasya is traditionally used in Ayurveda for sinus conditions and headaches, to promote clarity and balance prana. Useful for all doshas, it helps decongest the nasal passages while soothing and nourishing the tissues. Please note: this is a liquid product in an oil base that is intended for use in the nose. Contents: Certified organic Sesame and Olive oils, brahmi*, calamus*, skullcap*, Eucalyptus essential oil.” So, as you can see form the ingredients, this is a good bet for fast and simple application. You do drop the solution right into your nose, up to 5 drops in each nostril depending on how much mucus you need to clear. A good video on how to apply this can be found here.
I know essential oils have done loads for me and I’m not allergic to them, even though I’m allergic to other non-artificial smells (flowers, mostly). They are natural, and have been used for 5000+ years in oriental medicine to cure worse illness/injury than sinusitis. So, it’s worth a try. Especially if it can prevent the infection from happening at all, let alone getting worse.
Based on TCM Assistant, this concoction works wonders on sinusitis:
Bai Zhu Fu Zi TangAtractylodes and Prepared Aconite Decoction
Class: Expel Wind-Damp

Recipe

Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae)  29.00 %
Fu Zi (Radix Aconiti Carmichaeli Praeparata)  29.00 %
Sheng Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis Officinalis Recens)  14.00 %
Zhi Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae Uralensis)  14.00 %
Da Zao (Fructus Jujubae)  14.00 %
Actions
Eliminates Dampness
Eliminates Wind
Warms the channels
Calms painIndications
Wind-Cold-Damp affecting the muscles and channels.

Symptoms
Maxillary sinusitis
Myositis
Neuralgia
Paralysis of the face
Dizziness
Sensation of general discomfort
Sensation of heaviness of the head