Validity

Augury is an ancient Roman method of prophecy by studying the flight of birds. Signs from birds were divided into “alites” from the flight, and “oscines” from the voice. The alites included region of sky, height and type of flight, behaviour of the bird and place where it would rest.┬áThe oscines included the pitch and direction of the sound.

The augur was a priest and official in ancient Rome. His main role was to interpret the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds, whether they are flying in groups or alone, what noises they make as they fly, direction of flight and what kind of birds they are. This was known as “taking the auspices”.

Observation conditions were rigorous and required absolute silence for validity of the operation. The effectiveness of augury could only be judged retrospectively. The divinely ordained condition of peace was an outcome of successful augury.

The individual that best represents augury is Attus Navius. One day he lost one of his pigs and promised the gods that if he found it he would offer them the biggest grapes growing in his vineyard. After recovering his pig he stood in the middle of his vineyard facing south. He divided the sky into four sections and observed birds. When they appeared he walked in that direction and found an extraordinarily large grape.

Hiking

Swampman is the subject of a philosophical thought experiment introduced by Donald Davidson, in his 1987 paper “Knowing One’s Own Mind”. The experiment runs as follows:

Suppose Davidson goes hiking in the swamp and is struck and killed by a lightning bolt. At the same time, nearby in the swamp another lightning bolt spontaneously rearranges a bunch of molecules such that, entirely by coincidence, they take on exactly the same form that Davidson’s body had at the moment of his untimely death.

This being, whom Davidson terms ‘Swampman’, has, of course, a brain which is structurally identical to that which Davidson had, and will thus, presumably, behave exactly as Davidson would have. He will walk out of the swamp, return to Davidson’s office, and write the same essays he would have written. He will interact like an amicable person with all of Davidson’s friends and family, and so forth.

Davidson holds that there would nevertheless be a difference, though no one would notice it. Swampman will appear to recognize Davidson’s friends, but it is impossible for him to actually recognize them, as he has never seen them before. As Davidson puts it, “it can’t recognize anything, because it never cognized anything in the first place.”

Intoxication

Tetraodontidae is a family of marine and estuarine fish which includes many familiar species such as pufferfish, balloonfish, blowfish, bubblefish, globefish, swellfish, toadfish, toadies, honey toads, sugar toads, and sea squab.

They are morphologically similar to the closely related porcupinefish, which have large external spines. The scientific name refers to the four large teeth, fused into an upper and lower plate, which are used for crushing the shells of crustaceans and mollusks, their natural prey.

Puffer fish are generally believed to be the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world, after the Golden Poison Frog. Certain internal organs, such as liver, and sometimes their skin are highly toxic to most animals when eaten, but nevertheless the meat of some species is considered a delicacy in Japan when prepared by chefs who know which part is safe to eat and in what quantity.

Puffer poisoning usually results from consumption of incorrectly prepared puffer soup, fugu chiri, or occasionally from raw puffer meat, sashimi fugu. While chiri is much more likely to cause death, sashimi fugu often causes intoxication, light-headedness, and numbness of the lips, and is often eaten for this reason.

Nerolidol

Melaleuca quinquenervia, commonly known as Niaouli or Broad-leaved Paperbark or the Paper Bark Tea Tree, is a medium sized tree of the allspice family, Myrtaceae. The plant is native to coastal Eastern Australia, in New South Wales and Queensland. It has become naturalized in the Everglades in Florida, where it is considered a serious weed by the USDA.

Melaleuca is used traditionally by indigenous Australians. A brew is made from the bruised young aromatic leaves to treat colds, headaches and general sickness. The steam distilled leaf oil of the cineole chemotype is also used externally for coughs, colds, neuralgia, and rheumatism. A nerolidol and linalool chemotype is also cultivated and distilled on a small scale for use in perfumery.

The flowers serve as a rich source of nectar for other organisms, including fruit bats, a wide range of insect and bird species such as the Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus), the Grey-headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) and the Little Red Flying-fox (P. scapulatus), which all consume the nectar and flowers.

Melaleuca is known for its capability to withstand floods and droughts. If there is a canopy gap created by a flood or some other disturbance Melaleuca will establish to make use of the extra light. In physically disturbed sites, flourishing invaders have high colonization abilities. Melaleuca is constantly thinning itself of small branches and twigs and this causes many seeds to fall all the time, along with the detrius.

Seclusion

Hammocks are dense stands of hardwood trees that grow on natural rises just few inches higher than surrounding marshland that is otherwise too wet to support them. They are formed gradually over thousands of years rising in a wet area through the deposits of their own decomposing organic material.

Because of their slight elevation, hammocks rarely flood. Acids from decaying plants dissolve the limestone around each tree island, creating a natural moat that protects the hammock plants from fire. Shaded from the sun by the tall trees, ferns and airplants thrive in the moisture-laden air inside the hammock.

As a result they typically have a large and diverse density of various forms of plant and animal life. They appear as teardrop-shaped islands shaped by the flow of water in the middle of a slough. Many tropical species such as mahogany and cocoplum grow alongside the more familiar temperate species of live oak and red maple.

Hammocks are one of the habitats found in the Florida Everglades, as well as in more northerly marshy areas of Florida such as the Gulf Hammock Wildlife Management Area in Levy County and the Steinhatchee Wildlife Management Area southeast of Cooks Hammock in Lafayette County.

Scattering

Rayleigh scattering is the elastic scattering of light or other electromagnetic radiation by particles much smaller than the wavelength of the light. This effect in our atmosphere causes diffuse sky radiation, which is the reason for the blue color of the sky and the yellow tone of the sun itself.

A portion of the light coming from the sun scatters off molecules and other small particles in the atmosphere. It is this scattered light that gives the sky its brightness and its color. The resulting color, which appears like a pale blue, is actually a weighted average of all the scattered colors, mainly blue and green.

The color of sunlight is intensified when the sun is near the horizon because the volume of air through which sunlight must pass is significantly greater. The Rayleigh scattering effect is therefore increased, removing virtually all blue light from the direct path to the observer. The remaining unscattered light is of a longer wavelength and therefore appears to be orange.

In locations with minimal light pollution, the moonlit night sky is also blue for the same reasons that the sky is blue during the day, as moonlight is reflected sunlight with a slightly lower color temperature due to the brownish color of the moon. The moonlit sky is usually not perceived as blue because at low light levels human vision occurs mainly from rod cells in the eye that do not produce any color perception.

Vibrance

Murano glass is a famous product of the Venetian island of Murano. Located off the shore of Venice in Italy, Murano has been a commercial port as far back as the 7th century. By the 10th century, the city had become well-known for its glassmakers, who created unique Murano glass.

The process of making Murano glass is rather complex. Most Murano glass art is made using the lampworking technique. As the glass passes from a liquid to a solid state, there is an interval wherein the glass is soft before it hardens completely. This is when the material can be shaped.

The technique known as Millefiori begins with the layering of colored liquid glass, which is then stretched into long rods called canes. Two glassmakers each pull the glass as they walk in opposite directions. After cooling, the glass rod is sliced so that the pattern shows through each slice. Each slice of the millefiori Murano glass is called a murrine.

When cold, these canes are then sliced in cross-section, which reveals the layered pattern. Each layer of molten color is molded into a star, then cooled and layered again. When sliced, this type of murrine has the appearance of many flowers, thus mille (thousand) fiori (flowers).

Equator

The Anhinga, sometimes called the Snakebird, Darter, American Darter, or Water Turkey, is a water bird of the warmer parts of the Americas. The word comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird.

It is a cormorant-like bird with a very long neck, and often swims with only the neck above water. When swimming in this way the name Snakebird is apparent, since only the light-colored neck appears above water, making the bird look like a snake ready to strike

Unlike ducks, the Anhinga is not able to waterproof its feathers using oil produced by the uropygial gland. Consequently, feathers can become waterlogged, making the bird barely buoyant. However, this allows them to dive easily and search for underwater prey such as fish and amphibians. They remain submerged for significant periods.

When necessary, the Anhinga will dry out its wings and feathers. It will perch for long periods with its wings spread to allow the drying process. If it attempts to fly while its wings are wet, it has great difficulty getting off the water and takes off by flapping vigorously while “running” on the water.

Anhingas will migrate towards the equator during winter but this range is determined by the amount of sunshine to warm their chilled feathers. They have been found as far north as the states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. A flock or group of anhingas is known as a kettle.

Light

Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights, is an important five-day festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, occurring between mid-October and mid-November. During Diwali, lights illuminate every corner of India and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of firecrackers, joy, togetherness and hope.

The celebration commemorates the return of Lord Rama from his fourteen-year long exile, and his vanquishing of the demon king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen oil lamps and burst firecrackers.

While the Diwali is popularly known as the festival of lights, the most significant spiritual meaning is the awareness of inner light. The celebration refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one’s true nature.

In each legend, myth and story of Diwali lies the significance of the victory of good over evil and the lights that illuminate our homes and hearts. It is the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds; that which brings us closer to divinity.

Tact

Spanish moss is a bromeliad with thin, thread-like leaves that reach up to 10 feet in length. It ranges from the southeastern United States across the West Indies, Central America and as far south as Chile and northern Argentina. It is the most well known bromeliad in the world after the pineapple.

Found extensively in tropical trees, Spanish moss foliage prospers in dappled sunlight under tree leaves. Although tolerant of occasional exposure to heat and sun, the foliage is lush and succulent especially when humidity is high.

It is commonly associated with the live oak and bald cypress trees in the American South. If humidity is high year round, Spanish moss can germinate and clasp onto rock surfaces and cliffs. This ability to grow from any coarse surface manifests itself in human settlements, where the bromeliad grows on roof eaves, fences and telephone lines.

Spanish moss has been used for various purposes, including building insulation, mulch, packing material, mattress stuffing, and fiber. In 1939 over 10,000 tons of processed Spanish moss was produced. It is still collected today in smaller quantities for use in arts and crafts, or for beddings for flower gardens.