Archive for March, 2013

  • Perceivings: The tech we don’t need

    Mar 28, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Alan Dean Foster's Perceivings18 CommentsRead More »

    By Alan Dean Foster We’re all gadget geeks now. Manufacturers know it. Advertisers know it. And those who live by selling us all the myriad technological developments we don’t need surely know it. I was put in mind of this when, for the umpteenth time, I found myself turning into the Willow Creek Road post office in the wake of a 4×4 SUV that, if its wheels were removed, might possibly fit into the cargo compartment of a 747. It wasn’t the size of this gas-guzzling behemoth that forced contemplation upon me. It was the speed with which it took the driveway: a velocity only slightly greater than that of a desert tortoise anxious to commence mating. Every monster 4×4 that enters the post office parking lot, each looking as if it possessed the ability to climb the steep side of Thumb Butte, was taking the driveway as if its undercarriage and suspension were no tougher than a chocolate soufflé just out of the oven. Hence, the inevitable question that echoes in my mind every time I am witness to this vehicular farce. Why? Why pay all that money for engineering and technical advances if you don’t need them and you’re never going to use them short of puttering up and down the hill in front of the Elks Opera House a couple of times on the rare occasions when

  • 4rt Page: Origami art for our times

    Mar 28, 13 • ndemarino • 4rt Page, 5ensesNo CommentsRead More »

  • The Absurd Naturalist: Maintaining a Natural Perspective

    By Gene Twaronite Developing an appreciation for the natural world offers many benefits, not least of which is that it keeps us from going insane. Did you ever have one of those days when you’ve just been fired from your job, and you come home to an empty, filthy apartment only to find a note from your girlfriend telling you she’s leaving you for a body builder in Samoa? And you try to grab some beer and find there is none because someone has stolen your refrigerator? Then your doctor calls with some really, really bad news? Keeping your chin up under such circumstances is no easy task unless you are an unfeeling machine or have the intestinal fortitude of Job or, better yet, have learned to maintain a natural perspective. A natural perspective is a way of seeing things in terms of our relationship to that larger time frame and sphere of existence we call nature. In the afore-mentioned case, for example, instead of dwelling on your crappy karma, you can take heart that you are still alive as opposed to the estimated 150-200 species of life that go extinct every 24 hours. And you can be thankful that you’re not living during the infamous Permian-Triassic extinction event, when some 90-96 percent of all species of life on Earth bit the dust, so to speak. The human species is

  • Prescott Astronomy Club Presents … Astronomy 101: M’s the Word

    By Wyatt Frazee “M81 anybody?” That’s not a confused bingo caller; it’s an astronomer. “I have M81 in my telescope if anyone cares to take a look.” It’s Saturday night, and I’m at a star party. I contemplated taking a peek, but my telescope’s trained on M41, a beautiful open star cluster. That’s when it dawned on me that to many folks, and even to some of the people at the star party, all this M-stuff is educated gibberish. Let me introduce you to the Messier Catalog. It’s a list of objects that, quite simply, aren’t comets. The French astronomer Charles Messier compiled this list multiple times in the latter-18th century to help fellow comet hunters. It includes a variety of celestial objects today known by different names. There are other classification systems but, to modern amateur astronomers, this list of M-numbers is pretty much “Astronomy 101.” Charles Messier was born in Badonviller, France on June 26, 1730 and lived until April 12, 1817. (Yeah, he powdered his wig.) He was interested in astronomy from an early age, and, at age 21, moved to Paris to work under French Navy astronomer Joseph-Nicolas Delisle. Delisle instructed Messier on the importance of accurate observations — a discipline of exactness that later helped the success of the Messier Catalog. Believe me, it’s no fun trying to observe something you can’t find. A quarter-century

  • Death, taxes, & IRS Zombies: The science of inevitability

    Mar 28, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Guide16 CommentsRead More »

    Let’s be honest: March is always a crapshoot. Consider March weather. It’s cold, then it’s hot, then it snows, but then the clouds clear, and you get a sun burn. The vernal equinox doesn’t guarantee spring. Pair that with schizophrenic holidays — two that straddle or hop between months, and one that starts with libations and ends with green vomit — and you’ve got an erratic, unpredictable month. But now it’s April. Ahh, April. Now that’s a month you can count on. It’s going to get warmer and drier. Migrating birds will return to Prescott for days, weeks, or months. And so will mountain bikers. And tourists. And then there are the holidays. April Fool’s Day is the first, and an alarmed loved one will forward you a satire newspaper story in a fit of panic. You’ll swear you’re filing your own taxes this year, then struggle to find an accountant on Tax Day Eve. And you’re bound to forget Buddha’s birthday, two earthy holidays, and recreational drug use day. You can try to fight it, but April is a month of inevitabilities. But science has you covered. The studies, factoids, and oddities below can help you deal with certain inescapable facets of the human condition. They’re drawn from actual scientific studies and data, although some details and caveats have been omitted in the interest of brevity, entertainment, and copy

  • News From the Wilds: April

    Mar 28, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds24 CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris After the long quiet of winter, April is the raucous, enlivening yawp of life in the wilds. We may still have snowstorms, but the majority of the month is sunny and warm with extraordinary proliferations of butterflies, returning migratory birds, native bees, flowering plants, and mammals in the thrall of mating and bearing young. For the attuned naturalist, this can be a time of deafening, beautiful noise, and more activity than easily followed. April is also the beginning of the three-month dry season. But water abounds, and the creeks continue to run with snowmelt from the high Bradshaw, Sierra Prieta, and Juniper Mountains. The soil is damp in most places and flowers thrive. Young mammals emerge from their dens and begin the long process of learning to forage and navigate their landscapes. And butterflies, the real vanguard of spring, fly in amazing diversity. Look for orange and black checkerspots, commas, and question-marks, yellow and blue swallowtails, dark, low-flying iridescent skippers, and soaring, gold-tinged Mourning Cloaks. April 20 is Earth Day, now in its 43rd year. You can join Prescott Creeks this Earth Day in their annual Granite Creek Cleanup. Registration is 8:30 a.m., and the cleanup is 9-11:30 a.m. Last year 650 volunteers removed 3.5 tons of litter from our watershed’s creeks. (PrescottCreeks.Org) Afterward, swing by the Earth Day Celebration at Courthouse Square. (YavapaiOSA.Org/EarthDay.Htm) ***** April weather

  • Jay’s Bird Barn: April’s orioles

    Mar 28, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Jay's Bird Barn's Bird of the Month14 CommentsRead More »

    By Eric Moore Prescott is home to three species of orioles: Bullock’s, Scott’s, and Hooded. Bullock’s are the most common. Males are brightly colored with striking orange, yellow, black, and white plumage. Many homeowners make a special effort to attract orioles by putting out a variety of food sources for them during spring and summer. One of the simplest ways to attract orioles is to put out an oriole feeder with sugar water. Nectar is a big part of an oriole’s diet, just like a hummingbird’s. Another way to attract orioles is to put out orange halves and live meal worms. Orioles begin showing up in the Central Highlands in April, and leave for the tropics in August, so their time here is very brief. May you be so fortunate to enjoy orioles in your yard this year. ***** Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn located at 1046 Willow Creek Road in Prescott, Eric@JaysBirdBarn.Com

  • Highlands Center for Natural History’s Outdoor Outings: Springtime delights

    By Jill Craig Like a fresh new antler, the branch is soft and velvety. It reaches for the sun’s photosynthetic rays. Tiny catkins on the tips of each tip will soon tempt hungry pollinating insects. This Lemonade Berry Bush (Rhus trilobata), a close relative of poison ivy, is a crowd pleaser from spring to late fall. Don’t worry: It’s not poisonous. The catkins produce a cluster of small, inconspicuous white flowers before the shrub leafs out. After pollination, each flower develops into a bright red-to-orange berry with a single seed. The berries are edible and taste like bitter lemonade, hence the shrub’s common name. Perhaps this growth will deter hungry herbivores. This Lemonade Berry Bush is a spring friend I look forward to seeing after a long winter. It’s one of many hopeful indications that spring is here. Another telltale sign of spring’s arrival is the lengthening of days. Winter is especially difficult for me and many others because the sun doesn’t lighten our days until the late morning and it sets so very early. In spring, though, I’m greeted with sleepy morning rays that evoke Joni Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning” — ah, where is my milk and toast and honey? We can thank these longer, sun-filled days to the tilt of the Earth’s axis. During the vernal equinox, the northern hemisphere inclines toward the sun allowing it to grace us

  • Raison d’Arte: The wit and whimsy of Raina Gentry

    Mar 28, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Portfolio6,522 CommentsRead More »

    By James Dungeon After a decade of toil, Raina Gentry was ready to become a fulltime artist. But she was scared. “I had a mortgage, all these bills, no more student loans to tap into,” said the Prescott-based painter. “I didn’t know how to market my work and didn’t really have a body of work or focus.” She didn’t have a vision. After earning a bachelor’s of arts from the University of Arizona in 2002, Gentry returned to Prescott — the city she’d called home since 1990, when she moved from California to attend Prescott College. And she got yet another job. “I did what a lot of artists do: I got a job that’s related to art,” Gentry said. “But, as long as you have a day job, you’re not devoting your energy to your own art.” She made ends meet but couldn’t evolve. What’s a burgeoning artist to do? Nature & nurture It’s not as if painting was an obvious career choice for Gentry. “Art wasn’t a big part of my childhood,” she said. “We didn’t go to museums or art galleries; we didn’t talk about art or anything like that.” But her mother and grandmother encouraged her interest in drawing, paint-by-number books, and watercolors. Gentry took art classes through high school, but at some point got discouraged. “I thought, ‘You know, this is not my thing,’ and

  • Prescott: the final frontier

    Mar 28, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Event4,634 CommentsRead More »

    By Helen Stephenson As if you’d pass on seeing William Shatner belt out “Kaahhnn” on the big screen. As if you’d pass on meeting someone who’s donned one of the infamous red shirts. As if you wouldn’t fight off the herd of javelinas around your car to hear Alan Dean Foster read from “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.” Prescott Film Festival is giving you yet another incentive to attend its inaugural “Sci-Fi Mini-Fest”: Rod Roddenberry, son of legendary Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, is visiting Everyone’s Hometown for a special screening of “Trek Nation.” The convention includes three days of film, star gazing and workshops April 19-21 at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. “Trek Nation” tickets are $10 ($5 for students of any school and Yavapai College employees). All other films are $6 ($3 ibid). Workshops and readings are free. Find out more and look up show times at PrescottFilmFestival.Com and YCPAC.Com. Films Rod Roddenberry’s autobiographical documentary “Trek Nation” screens Saturday.  Rod was just 17 when his father passed away. This film is his personal exploration of his father — discovering who he was and the legacy he left behind. Other featured movies include “Forbidden Planet.” Originally written to be a low-budget film called “Fatal Planet,” the writer, producer, and special effects team pitched it to MGM. Investors said yes to their $1 million budget, which later nearly doubled

Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott.

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