Monday, March 24, 2014

The 9th Threshold


As a child growing up in the southwest I spent many a summer night camping out in the back yard; laying on my back stargazing in awe and wonderment.  I guess you could say I was just trying to get a sense of the room. The whole idea of endless space in this thing we call an unlimited universe had my rapt attention, and I absorbed every book on the subject I could find, becoming a fan of the science-fiction genre in the process.  Naturally I followed our fledgling space program and the creation of NASA the National Aeronautical & Space Administration with a passionate excitement; knowing historic events were unfolding right before my eyes.  I remember the feeling staring up into those summer night skies; of  how small & insignificant we must be in the grand scheme of things.  I think even more than the idea of mankind reaching for the stars, what enthralled me the most was the basic question of how life formed on this planet, and did it also form on other planets in this endless ocean of stars?

I think a great majority of us probably take being alive for granted without ever really spending much time wondering how life came to exist.  For certain we spend some time wondering who am I, and what is the meaning of life, but mostly we tend to classify those questions as unknowable and file them away in long term storage.  We shall leave those questions where they are, as today I am thinking more about how life began here on Earth; and the critical path of events required for a single species to evolve sufficiently to dominate and possibly destroy the entire planet.

This critical path I refer to is what some historians call a sequence of Threshold Moments; which have been instrumental in the evolution of humanity upon this planet.  These are the moments and events which occurred at a critical juncture of time to facilitate and shape the way of things to come.  Historians have identified a total of eight of these threshold moments in time, and they deserve some attention if only in appreciation of the fact that if these eight events had happened differently our story might be very different, or not have happened at all.  To qualify as a threshold moment; an event must alter things on a fundamental level, changing the world irreversibly for better or worse.  These eight threshold moments are unique events in time, when the universe seems to defy its own natural law, and move from the simple to the complex, from chaos to order.

#1 - The Big Bang
The first threshold moment is of course the big bang, some 13.8 billion years ago which created the universe as we currently understand it.  If this event had not happened in just the way it did, the universe might have blinked out of existence just after being created; the balances had to be just so.  In a mere fraction of a second all the energy that will ever exist was created out of the void in an inexplicable flash.  All of the fundamental forces such as gravity, and electromagnetism were created in the first few seconds following the big bang.  If gravity had been just a tiny bit stronger, everything would have collapsed in on itself, and if it had been much weaker, stars would not be able to form.  Instead, the big bang happened with just the perfect amount of force, to set the next sequence of events into motion.

#2 - Stars light up
It took about 380,000 years for the universe to cool enough for matter to form.  During this time there was gravity, and electromagnetism, but no atoms.  Hydrogen & Helium are the first two atoms to appear, the basic building blocks.  Because gravity is not a constant in the brand new universe, some areas having denser gravity attracted these early atoms of helium and hydrogen into structures of swirling gaseous clouds; upon which gravity kept exerting its force, compressing the atoms of hydrogen and helium tighter and tighter together.  This in turn increases the temperature of these gas clouds and they become hotter & hotter until at about 10 million degrees Celsius, when the pressure of gravity is just right, and the number of atoms are just so...they ignite; and a star is born!  This first generation of stars light up the new universe ensuring that things will never be the same again.  In the course of the stars life, eventually its fuel runs low and it begins to burn out.  The death of these first generation stars brings us to the next profound threshold moment in time.

#3 - Complex Elements Created
In the cores of dying stars, simple elements are bound and fused together forming more complex elements.  Hydrogen and helium are now creating other the other elements on the periodic table.  In this way, dying stars become essentially, an element factory.  12 billion years ago stars begin making the elements which eventually will make modern life possible.  Unfortunately these dying first generation stars lack the energy to create anything heavier than iron, as when it first creates iron, the process ends with the star exploding as a supernova!  Only the intense heat and pressure of a supernova can create the more complex elements.  But, not even a supernova can create the heaviest of elements, such as gold.  For that, you need the remnants of two supernovas (known as neutron stars) to collide.  The resulting explosion of two neutron stars creates all the heavier elements, and sends them scattering through interstellar space.  Every time this process repeats, more elements are created.  Eons of time are required for this process to produce enough iron, nickel & calcium to form rocky planets like earth.

#4 - Formation of Earth
It is only after the first few generations of stars that life, and earth like planets can exist.  It takes a minimum of two star generations before all the necessary elements can exist, and even then you still need a lot more luck to get a life bearing rocky planet.  Some of the atoms in your body are more than 13 billion years old, and were a part of creation itself!  Several billion years ago a supernova in the Virgo supercluster sent its shockwave smashing into a cloud of cosmic dust and gasses, causing it to compress, spin and heat up.  Gravity crushes and sculpts this cloud, and from the remnants of an ancient star, a new one, our sun, bursts into light, revealing eight young planets forming around it.  The young earth caught several very lucky breaks.  Firstly Earth resides in the only habitable zone in the solar system.  Earth orbits in the Goldilocks Zone where its not too hot, not too cold - just right for life!  Next, an ancient collision with a Mars size object gave earth its moon, which is a necessary counterbalance to the earth.  Were it not for this stabilizing effect, it's doubtful we would have seasons; or even life on earth.  Next; earth has a molten core which with its rotation, creates the electromagnetic field surrounding the planet.  During The late heavy bombardment, earth received not only a nice mantle containing silver, copper and other minerals, but life giving water, as well; all delivered by asteroid and meteorite impacts.  Yet another favorable aspect is the existence of Jupiter and Saturn in our solar system.  These two gas giants with their extreme gravity wells, serve to attract and consume the vast majority of roaming space rocks...before they encroach into our orbit!  If any one of these factors had happened differently, or not at all; we might not even be here.  But they did happen in just the right way and time, which was what was needed for the next threshold moment in time.

#5 - Life begins on Earth
Life on earth began with chemical reactions at the oceans deepest depths; where rising heat from the planets molten core rips the ocean floor open releasing lava and superheated gas, which ignites evolution itself.  In the frothy soup of these underwater volcanoes, a new kind of chemistry is born.  Just four chemicals, joining in millions of sequences, gives way to the blueprint for all life - DNA.  540 million years ago, three billion years after life first appears; earth's oceans exploded with complex animal and plant life.  About 500 million years ago plants migrated from the ocean to dry land, in time covering the planet in lush jungles.  Inevitably some creatures also crawl onto land in search of food or to escape becoming food; and as they acclimate to being  permanent land dwellers, they will evolve into ever more complex life forms.  Unfortunately, the more complex a life form is, the more fragile it becomes to drastic environmental changes.  Five times that we know of all complex life forms on earth have been destroyed in various extinction events which decimated 50% or more of all life on the planet.  Some 65 million years ago the asteroid that ended the dinosaurs was one such event.  That event cleaned the slate, giving us mammals a shot at the game of evolution, and as we bask in the glory of what we've become, let's also remember that if that asteroid had come along just five minutes sooner or five minutes later; earth would likely still be dominated by dinosaurs!

#6 - Collective Learning
There are several distinctions that set humans apart from other life forms, and one of them is that we're the only species which accumulates information and passes it on to subsequent generations.  Since modern humans arrived on the scene some 60,000 years ago this ability to store and share knowledge has facilitated the evolution of the species to its current point.  Collective learning has given humans the skills & tools needed to adapt to changing environments, to survive in the harshest of climates and to make everyday life easier in general.  This leads to exponential growth of tribes and villages as well as the spreading of humanity across the face of earth.  This unprecedented population expansion did a lot to ensure the survival of the species, but eventually led the way to the next threshold moment, as there was less and less food to feed all those hungry humans.

#7 - Farming Revolution
The pinnacle of collective learning came about 10,000 years ago during the shift from being nomadic hunters to growing our own food.  We interfered with creation itself by combining native grasses into the foods we depend on; like rice, barley corn and wheat.
We did much the same with the wild animals of the day: All of the beef consumed each year comes from cows who are all related to 80 wild oxen tamed by our ancestors 10,000 years ago.  By capturing, taming and breeding; we turned the wild pheasant into the chicken, wild boars into pigs, and the wolf into the dog.  Another wild animal we domesticated, the horse, is also responsible for the widespread use of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language which in time turned into hundreds of different languages, spoken by more than half the worlds population.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to agriculture was learning how to preserve foods and meats; and preservation techniques turned lifestyle changes into a revolution. Being able to build up a stockpile of food freed up more time for other pursuits, including commerce with other settlements and agricultural communities.  This in turn lead the way to villages which became towns, which became cities; and as history so clearly shows us, where you have numbers of large cities you eventually have an empire. 


#8 - The Modern Revolution
Mankind is breaking the ocean barrier around the year 1500 which was probably the original internet as the expansion into the Americas intensified the aspect of collective learning.   This period is sometimes called the great acceleration, because with ocean commerce came new ideas, new ways of doing things, and whole new ways of thinking.  Mankind's ingenuity for making and building things exploded in the new world as collective learning spread thorough the Americas.  In the era of the steam engine it took one hundred fifty years for mankind's collective knowledge to double, today it takes two years, by 2020 it will take 72 hours!

The great acceleration brought about all the modern concepts we take for granted these days which became the matrix for everything that followed: from industry, to farming, to science & technology.  Discovery and exploitation of oil and its by-products became the framework for an ever-expanding economic paradigm, and a hell-bent-for-progress mentality; which eventually became the military-industrial complex as we know it today.  Growth for the sake of growth, and higher profits is a mindset which has infected humanity to the point that not only are we the dominant form of life on the planet, we also affect and destroy many other species without so much as a thought. 

As we move ever deeper into evolutionary times we can be certain that as always, one threshold moment invariably leads to the next in the fullness of time.  At this point all I can say is that anyone who doesn't recognize that humanity is soon to see the next threshold, probably hasn't been paying attention these last forty years or so, all the signs point to it like a flaming finger of fate. 


The 9th Threshold
As we begin to ponder the possible nature and scope of the 9th threshold, a fundamental question arises: with all our advances in medicine, technology & science, have we invented ourselves out of the cycle of natural selection?  Something to think about for sure as we watch the political drama unfolding across our planet.  The dinosaurs reigned supreme on earth for 165 million years before a threshold event ended them.  We humans have only been around 65 million years or so and despite all our science and technology a similar threshold event could be the ninth.  Ironically enough, two of the previous threshold events which led to our living on this planet could conceivably happen again and wipe us out.  The aforementioned asteroid impact is one, the other being another supernova explosion in our neighborhood of the galaxy; which would eradicate all life here rather abruptly.

There are of course other contenders for being the 9th threshold, and some would say it must certainly be the effect of off world cultures influencing life here on earth.  I always kinda hoped that mankind going to the stars and colonizing space would be the 9th threshold but that is very unlikely what with our entire space program being trashed, so I suppose some other kind of contact with aliens could become the next threshold event.  Maybe the 9th threshold will happen when our technology overtakes us and we all become assimilated into the age of transhumanism, cloning and sentient AI (artificial intelligence) aka, "skynet" type robots.  High on the list of possible threshold events would be a thermonuclear war.  The scenarios are meaningless, because after the first one goes off, everyone will get in the game because this time the name of the game is winner takes all.

We of course already have all the radiation from WWIII thanks to the Fukushima debacle; but without all the explosions and destruction of property to disrupt the flow of business.  Yes indeed, Fukushima could quite easily become the 9th threshold event as it certainly qualifies in all regards & aspects.  Perhaps instead of wiping humanity out; all this radiation influxing into our genetic structure just as we're entering a spiritual evolution, will have the effect of mutating our species in ways we can barely conceive.  So, perhaps the next threshold moment might be the mutant evolution of life on earth, resulting from our arrogant misuse of powers we barely understand: being taken over by our own technology!


Our universe is following it's own most basic law, that of entropy.  Those cycles of second and third generation stars are becoming fewer, and farther between.  Astronomers now say that 90% of material to make new stars is used up, so fewer are being formed.  Fewer stars, fewer planets.  As the universe continues to expand, at some point billions of years from now, the last stars will twinkle, sputter, then fade out; leaving the universe once again just a void without forms or structure, without creation.  Maybe that's why most folks don't spend much time stargazing and pondering the universe, we don't like feeling so small and insignificant.  They say that part of this life is the ancient battle between light & dark; and certainly it does seem that way.  When you lay out in the back yard looking up at all the stars and galaxies it sure seems that darkness holds more territory, but the most interesting things happen where there is light.

May the Source be with You!







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Monday, March 10, 2014

3D Printing Adventures


I've felt all my life that Henry David Thoreau was speaking directly to me personally when he wrote about following the beat of that different drummer. I've diligently followed that wisdom since first encountering it as a schoolboy; to the eternal dismay of my parents who had my life all mapped out for me in tidy five year plan increments.  It helped a lot that my release from the educational system neatly coincided with the emergence of a new social culture in 1967. 

It seemed at the time like everyone was wanting me to pick a life just like theirs; yet when I saw how unhappy they all were it didn't make any sense to work that hard just to be so unhappy; so I've been following that different drummer ever since, with mixed results to be sure, but by far more good than bad.  Turns out that drumming sound is actually your own heartbeat, and we all know we just can't go wrong following our hearts!

It never seemed very logical to me that a man should devote 30 years of labor building somebody else's dream; just for a drinking problem and an early grave; no matter how many others were doing it.  My philosophy has always been to set about doing what makes my soul resonate, following my heart, then find means to an income to support it.
Again, mixed results, but more good than bad.  In the fullness of time this philosophy led me to working in the human potential movement, and vibrational medicine which became my chosen career.  In the latter part of 1998 some researchers in the field of Bio-feedback created the first computerized full color aura imaging system, and naturally I just had to have one despite the ten grand price tag for the system.  As I was trying to line up the creative financing angle; my closest friends kept warning me not to invest so heavily in computers with the dreaded Y2K looming on the horizon.  I of course ignored them all, bought the system in 1999 and began doing business as The Little Shop of Auras...with the marketplace all to myself for over a year before I saw someone else with one. 

Seven years later I retired, & sold my business so I could focus my energy in other directions for a while; but always keeping my eye open for another great ride like the one I got from the aura machine.  If I had to pick one factor which kept my little aura machine humming for so long, it would have to be my long time friend Ivan Taylor who is unsurpassed in all things relating to computers and emerging technologies.  We share several areas of common interest and like everyone else, when we run across something cool we send it to each other.  A few years ago I saw a film which featured something called a rapid prototyper which quickly manufactured any item programmed into it.  Last year when I began seeing news stories about 3D printing, I'd send them to Ivan, and vice versa.  The more I learned about this technology, the more intrigued I became with it; seeing the many applications for it in everyday life. 
The concept of 3D printing, or additive manufacturing isn't all that new actually, as it was first developed in the mid-80's.  It wasn't until about 2010 that the technology became reasonably affordable for non-industrial users, like you and me!  Remember The Jetsons, with their futuristic home full of robotic appliances?  Well, 3D printing is the first step in that direction, household robotics.  OK, the second step if you count the Roomba vacuum cleaner.  Like it or not, robotics is the trend of the future, it's here to stay.

On several levels, this idea of 3D printing began to ignite a dormant fire within me, and before long I knew it was the next ride I've been waiting for, and the decision to buy one kinda made itself.  Step two was all about convincing Ivan to be my business partner and resident wizard.  I knew his head & heart would be up for the challenge, but wasn't sure if he'd have the time between being married, his regular job, and an impressive assortment of extracurricular activities.  I'm one of those folks who have become computer functional without being terribly computer literate, so I explained to Ivan that if he signed on with this venture, he'd be pulling the majority of the load.  He just grinned like the Cheshire cat, and we were off to the races, doing business as Skull Works 3D Printing.

"By the year 2030 home robotics will be the fastest growing industry in America."
                                                                                                 ~ Bill Gates~

We purchased the latest model of the Makerbot Replicator, a couple of months ago for about half of what the aura machine cost; and somehow managed to create space for it in Ivan's computer lab.  The thing is absolutely mesmerizing to watch, almost hypnotic sometimes, as it builds an object layer by layer.  The only sound you hear is the faint whirring of servos and tiny motors as the robot goes about its task.  When it stops, you open the transparent door, and remove your newly created object, whatever it is, and the list of possibilities is limited only by the imagination.  Depending on the size of the job, and other variable factors; print time ranges from several minutes to several hours. 
I can already hear many of you asking what practical everyday use is it to have such a machine sitting near your computer at home?  Well, just for starters you can build your own replacement parts for things like broken knobs, light fixtures, tools & utensils, cell phone covers, GoPro camera mounts, and such; not to mention custom boxes of every design & description, toys, gifts, and even things you dream up all on your own.  Every aspiring inventor needs a 3D printer!
The website thingiverse.com/ is an excellent source for design plans from which to print 3D objects, as well as being a portal into the 3D printing community online.  The Makerbot can also scan any 3D object, then print it out perfectly, although the 3D scanner unit is a spendy optional accessory.   There is a growing interest in custom 3D portraits, and statuettes; where a persons face, or upper bust profile is scanned, then printed out.  Imagine a 3D family portrait sitting on your desk instead of that flat photograph!  That's what is so amazing about this technology, the possibilities are nearly limitless, and it seems every month there are new developments sprouting up, like 3D printing in metal as well as plastics!

Since Ivan lives some 40 miles away, we get together once a week, mostly to keep me up to date on what's going on with everything.  Every week he brings some samples of what he's been printing, and every week the objects are more complex, and interesting.  Then last week he shows up, with just a handful of small gears, bushings and other unrecognizable bits & bobs from the current project. Curious, I asked "What Project" to which he replies, "the Makerbot is replicating itself, so we can set one up in your house too!  As it turns out, everything needed to construct one is "open source" except for a few components which total under a hundred bucks!                                                                
Already there are numerous applications for this technology: in addition to concept models and functional prototypes, 3D printing is being used in fashion, footwear, jewelry, engineering, dental, automotive, and aerospace, as well as the construction industry.  I was just getting used to the idea they can now 3D print a house in less than a day, when the news comes out about the medical industry 3D printing a human liver, and other tissues, not to mention prosthetics like legs & feet.  As I said, limited only by the imagination. 

The market for 3D printers and services was worth 2.2 billion dollars in 2012, and that is up 30% from 2011.  Looks to me like Bill Gates knows what he's talking about!  I think that statistic also nicely answers those who claim 3D printing is some kind of fad, like pet rocks or Mohawks.  There were those who said the same thing about television, and just look how wrong that was.   When computers first came on the scene the cost pretty much precluded the average person from owning one, but now you can get one for under $300 bucks; and it will be the same for 3D printing, and home robotics in general. 

While our second 3D printer is being replicated I'm trying to get up to speed on things so when mine is done it can be put to work right away; although I may not be all that critical to the equation, as Ivan tells me he can view the progress & give them instructions via his cell phone.  Ain't technology grand?!  Taylored Technologies seems to have hit the ground running; as we currently have a back order for building another printer after mine is finished and a few smaller jobs on the docket as well - so presently we're only accepting smaller jobs which aren't time-sensitive.  Interested parties can email inquiries to:  Ivan Taylor at ivantaylor01@gmail.com

There are of course several different 3D printers on the market from various companies, from the ultra basic, to the truly sophisticated.  Then again for those with the know-how and desire; you can build your own 3D printer from parts available at any radio shack store if you have a month or two to assemble it.  There's a place online called RepRap which is a great source for 3D printer parts, and instructions for building your own printer.  All of the software you will need is available from Blender free 3D Software on the web.

No matter how you go about it, sooner or later you will probably have a 3D printer hooked up to your computer.  As with all end user technology, this is just going to keep growing better and better.   As time goes on, 3D printers are only going to get smarter, faster, and more affordable than they currently are, so dust off the old imagination and start thinking of the things you want to build that maybe only exist in your mind.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks but they're wrong.  This time when the different drummer led me to that next ride, I not only found something where the customer comes to us rather than the reverse, I also got someone smarter than me to do the hard stuff!  Not bad for an old dog.

Until Next Time ~ Dream Big!



http://www.fool.com/investor-alert/stock-advisor/sa-3d-so-ctrl/?source=esafbfba0860018

http://3d-printers.toptenreviews.com/

http://store.makerbot.com/replicator2x

http://www.blender.org/

http://reprap.org/wiki/Useful_Software_Packages

http://3dprintingindustry.com/2014/01/22/worlds-first-3d-printed-house-begins-construction/

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/06/fighter-jet-flies-with-3d-printed-parts

http://www.forbes.com/sites/rakeshsharma/2014/01/15/1255/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/10629531/The-next-step-3D-printing-the-human-body.html

http://blog.ted.com/2013/02/07/7-talks-on-the-wonder-of-3d-printing/

http://www.thingiverse.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5AZzOw7FwA


http://ascendingstarseed.wordpress.com/tag/3d-printer/




Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mercury Retrograde 2014


It didn't take me by surprise, I've known it was coming for a while now and did my best to prepare for it, for as much good as that does, because I knew this one was going to be rough on a very personal level.  Yes, I'm one of those people who make a point of always knowing when Mercury retrograde will be in effect.  Having a background in astrology helps, but I would still be one of them even without it.  Indeed there are a great many who have their own doubts about astrology in general who know only too well from experience, what merry hob a retrograde Mercury can raise.

Mercury, the messenger, has dominion over the mental and intellectual realms; which includes all forms of communication, memory, transportation, travel, computers and commerce.  Because Mercury and Venus are always close together, areas of emotionality and relationships; ruled by Venus are also affected during Mercury Retrograde.

Normally Mercury retrograde affects my hand-eye co-ordination, and general timing & agility (or lack thereof).  I usually have a few minor computer issues, and maybe a case of clumsiness, those are just the givens, there's always more, depending on those variable factors of placement.  I knew this time was gonna be rough because this recent mercury retrograde hit in the sign of Pisces, right where I have four planets nestled together.  This cluster of Sun, Mercury, Venus & Mars is usually a solid source of energy and ideas; but when Mercury goes retrograde in Pisces it becomes something more akin to a solid steamroller.  Like some kind of virus, Mercury retrograde affects the nearby planets with it's unique variety of mayhem and chaos.  After a while it gets to feeling like a standing eight count!

There was no hiding from it, or tuning it down; all you can really do is just ride it out.  That's why having some understanding of the process helps a little.  Despite the bad press it gets, Mercury retrograde can be a very productive and rewarding time.  But first things first, a definition of terms is in order I think.  To begin with Mercury retrograde happens usually three times a year, being a period of approximately three weeks when to the naked eye observer, the planet Mercury appears to move backwards in it's orbital path.  Now this apparent retrograde motion is really just an illusion created by the dynamics of orbital mechanics; which makes the infamous effects even more interesting to me! 

The period of Mercury retrograde makes a literally perfect time to sit back and examine choices, decisions and agreements you've made since the previous Mercury retrograde period.  Examine these things to see if they're working as planned, or if you need to make adjustments, this is the tailor made time to do it.  This 3 week period a few times a year also serves quite well as a time of spiritual reflection; especially so in these fast moving and turbulent times of humanity at the crossroads of evolution, or perhaps, extinction.  So, instead of bracing yourself for a 21 day ordeal of resistance to Mercury retrograde, go with the flow and use the time to inspect & adjust: Think of it like a pit stop in the rat race!   

It's good to know ahead of time when Mercury retrograde is going to happen, and it's even better to also note which of the twelve zodiac signs it will occur in, and what sensitive placements may be there in your own birth chart.  This is why not everyone experiences Mercury retrograde the same way; and why it effects the same individual differently from one retrograde period to another.  We can get lulled into a false sense of security from experiencing weak or small effects, only to be slam dunked when Mercury goes retro right where you live, astrologically speaking.

With this subject, "Go with the Flow" is definitely the best advice to consider.  You can waste a lot of valuable time and energy resisting or trying to avoid the prevailing energies of a retrograde Mercury, or you can allow those energies to guide you to areas that require your attention, and perhaps upkeep.  In any event, you will want to take some basic precautions like double check all transactions, agreements, travel plans, tickets, and such.  Pay close attention to detail, and try to give others the benefit of the doubt when mercury retrograde snarls communications; remember, they're probably dealing with it as well.  This is also an excellent time to finish projects left undone, and to tie up loose ends in general.

There are some classic "Don'ts" to observe also, just to be on the safe side.  Don't make any big ticket purchases (don't gamble more than you can afford to loose), Certainly do not purchase or upgrade a computer during retrograde (that's just thumbing your nose at it), Don't accept, or start a new job, Do not initiate or close a major sale, Do not start new projects, or schedule important meetings, and don't move, add roommates, or make major changes to your living arrangements during Mercury retrograde. 

A few days ago I got to witness why they say Mercury retrograde adversely affects transportation.  It was a beautiful, sunny California day and both of my neighbors who are motorcycle enthusiasts each decided to go out solo for some wind therapy.  Next door neighbor Bob left first on his new BMW cycle, and maybe fifteen minutes or so later upstairs neighbor Scott departed on his Harley.  It couldn't have been more than another fifteen minutes passed before I saw Bob's wife bombing down the hill in her car much faster than she normally drives.   Another few minutes pass, when I was surprised to see Scott arrive back at the house, minus a Harley.  A few minutes later I see him driving his truck downhill towing a motorcycle trailer, which returned holding two broken motorcycles a bit later on. 

The first part of this recent retrograde actually went pretty well for me despite the expected clumsiness which never seems to fail.  My electronics were all working good and I somehow managed to turn out a couple of blog posts.  Things actually went along quite well for the whole first week; then suddenly, the honeymoon was over.  Out of thin air I started thinking about and reviewing all kinds of stuff from my distant past; from choices & decisions I'd made, to the relationships, and marriages which never seemed to work out...all that old stuff I'd already processed, integrated and gotten closure on years ago came marauding thru my soul like a surly mob with muddy boots.  That just didn't seem quite cricket to me; after all, the whole reason we process, integrate, and get closure is so we don't get haunted by this stuff, yet there it was.  Mercury is a harsh mistress in retrograde mode.

Of course, just as I attempt to deal with the marauders I find my thinking is scrambled & erratic, with my emotions resembling a minor train wreck.  When I found myself criticizing someone for spelling my name wrong on a re-post I knew it was time to take my own advice.  I switched into neutral observer mode to ride the flow of this nasty retrograde, and see what message or lesson it might have for me, only to discover that my problem all along was that none of my partners were in it for the love.  But then, I already knew that!  What better way to deal with it, I thought, than to write about it...only to find that my writing ability had jumped ship, and taken my internet connection with it.  Arrghh!!

So, with my ability to create cogent sentences reduced to incoherent word salad devoid of decent punctuation; and unable to get online for over 48 hours; I surrendered to the mindless numb of television, about thirty minutes before the first unscheduled power failure.  Such is the way of things when Mercury goes retrograde.  How very odd that an optical illusion could beget such results in the everyday lives of people. 


There will be two more periods of Mercury retrograde this year that we will have to endure.  The next one will be from June 7th to July 2nd in the signs of Gemini, and Cancer; so those of you with strong or sensitive planets in those signs might want to make a note of those dates, or not, according to the dictates of your sensibilities.  The same would then also apply to the final retrograde Mercury of the year from October 4th thru 25th in the signs of Libra & Scorpio.  Those of you with Sun and/or Mercury in Scorpio should be really feeling that one, so buckle up and enjoy the ride!

If we envision our journey in this life as a canoe trip down a river, then Mercury retrogrades are those times when we are forced to come ashore, and portage our canoe around a waterfall, beaver dam, or fallen tree.  It affords us an opportunity to slow down, assess our overall situation, and plot the best course back to the flowing river.  Doesn't it just make sense to make use of these mental/emotional interludes instead of just enduring  them?  We can choose to resist & endure these energies, or use them as an interlude to know ourselves better...it's only life after all!


May the Source be with You!


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