Alexis Allen

It's May 24th. It rained this week, enough to add a few pints back in the rain barrel. The high is 54 degrees, the zucchini are sprouting, and we are in phase two of reopening the economy.

I went to work, in that I turned on my computer and wrote down the things I heard. My friend is no longer fighting with her boss. Two of my colleagues are retiring. Everyone needs to lose weight. My brain twisted around itself, it tried to make all the pieces fit into place. The old wise man whispered "do it differently" which didn't help, old wise man.

"What is it going to take?" My friend asks. "Will everyone have to lose someone they care about?" I explain about who we save and who we don't. She sounds so defeated. I told her to stay away from social media.

It's still too cold up here in the North for things to grow quickly. There's half a dozen bumblebees in the foxgloves, and they're all a little too big to elegantly swoop up the flower's curved chamber, plus it echoes in there. They do get the job done, but it requires some wiggling.

"With you, the thing I could never properly adapt to was how the intense formality of your words and the order you bring to your life and your work crashed against against your love of blood and tears and mess, the urge you seem to have for things to get chaotic and go off the rails... You have more front than Versailles, Alexis, but the important stuff, the stuff you wanted me to understand, is not the face you tend to present to the world."

  • Correspondence, Saturday, May 23, 10:25 PM

My neighbors probably wonder a bit about me, standing as I do in the garden, back to the road, staring at the foxgloves.

Moods may be malleable, but I find that to be true only within degrees. A grouchy person forced to attend a party may find, to their surprise, that they enjoyed themselves, but they will not feel entirely free to party with the same abandonment as if they had woken up in a cheerful mood. Perhaps this is specific to me and not universal, but it is certainly true of me. So the outlook and energy level I feel upon waking (often dictated by weather and the quality of sleep) persists like a current through the rest of my day, and the goal is to match my activities to take advantage of that pull. It demands some planning to manage deadlines and the needs of other people, but that's where one's creativity comes to play.

Most people seem to have this idea that you need to mold yourself to suit the world. Put on a brave face, and such. That's a garbage strategy, with opportunity cost to boot. I mean, we all know that the world doesn't, and shouldn't, revolve around you. That's called being an a-hole. But if it's raining and you're tired and you have a meeting that afternoon, then put on some jazz and write down your thoughts on the subject ahead of time so you don't find yourself needing to be inventive and charismatic at the same time on a low-energy day. That's much better than getting mad at yourself later for having feelings. We're mostly made of feelings anyway.

Likewise, if you find yourself feeling up, channel that energy into something you've been avoiding, or tackle something creative. Have work, whether that work is profitable or costly, product or progeny. Have work. Do not think about the importance or public reception of that work. The work isn't really the point. I mean it is, of course. (It isn't.)

"When I asked him to account for the fact that many true things are foretold by astrology, he answered me, reasonably enough, that the force of chance, diffused through the whole order of nature, brought these things about. For when a man, by accident, opens the leaves of some poet (who sang and intended something far different) a verse oftentimes turns out to be wondrously apposite to the reader's present business. 'It is not to be wondered at,' he continued, 'if out of the human mind, by some higher instinct which does not know what goes on within itself, an answer should be arrived at, by chance and not art, which would fit both the business and the action of the inquirer.'"

I could say: "Young people! Appreciate this time, when sleep comes to you so effortlessly!" But admonishments are pointless. Besides, one of the pleasures of aging is a creeping awareness of every facet of what we take for granted. It brings to mind an idea I have heard attributed to Augustine, that life is composed of things that have utility and things that are meant to be enjoyed. Any common experience seems to change, like the rotation of the stars through the sky in a year, from something you accept to something you use to something you accept again.

If you find yourself looking upon aspects of your life as things to use--sleep, moods--then use it to establish good habits. They will serve you well on autopilot when you don't want to think about it so much later on.

The Amborella genome suggests that the first angiosperms probably appeared when the ancestral gymnosperm underwent a 'whole genome doubling' event about 200 million years ago. Genome doubling occurs when an organism mistakenly gains an extra copy of every one of its genes during the cell division that occurs as part of sexual reproduction. The extra genetic material gives genome doubled organisms the potential to evolve new traits that can provide a competitive advantage. In the case of the earliest angiosperms, the additional genetic material gave the plants the potential to evolve new, never-before-seen structures – like flowers. The world's flora would never be the same again.

Genome doubling is called poliploidy. Say that ten times fast. There are 600 families of plants, so that's going to suck. <cracks knuckles>

A monophyletic group is one descendant and all of its offspring of an evolutionary branch. Thigmotropism is the directional response of a plant to touch. It can describe something as charming as a cucumber vine reaching for and coiling around a support, or the murderous response of the Venus Fly Trap or, even worse, the Sundew. <shudder>. Don't click that link. Thigmotropism is how carrots will curve or even fork if they encounter a pebble underground, like any other root. All these examples are plants responding to touch, thigmotropism.

There's an amusing data visualization of our insular local music scene located at "Seattle Band Map."
This is the life of Alexis Allen. Hello. © 2020, please get your god damned hands off me.