2019 and 2020 were rough years for me, but I have big plans for 2021 and 2022. If all goes well, I will have four non-fiction books published by this time next year. One will be on politics. Two will be on philosophy. One will be a memoir of the three years I lived with my grandfather and all the funny things he said. With those out of the way, I will then be able to focus on the fiction. I have rethought the Champion Of The Cosmos series such that I believe I might be able to start posting episodes as early as the end of 2022.
In other news, I have removed Terror Of The Fun Sponge and The Gorilla With Twenty-Four Heads from Amazon. For many reasons, they were problematic for the branding of my future projects. The Nathaniel Series is not the direction I want to go in.
I have also posted several new posts to my other blogs, The Understanding Project and Flora And Fauna Of The Universe, and I continue to aid my father with Tampa Bay Hidden Treasures and his other projects. Wish me luck!
A while ago I read Mindwise (2014), written by Nicholas Epley. The subtitle is: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want. I bought and read it, hoping to learn how it is that certain misunderstandings occur so that I might help prevent some of them or at least better fix them afterwards. Unfortunately, the book explains absolutely nothing. It does not at all cover why misunderstandings happen, it only shows evidence that they happen – sometimes even without us realizing it. The only advice given is near the end of the book and can be summed up extremely well by this quote on page 174: “If you want to know, ask rather than guess.”
Of course the way to know what someone is thinking and better understand them is to ask! That goes without saying and is what I always try first. Without some sort of communication at the beginning, how am I to know that there is even an issue to discuss? My problem is that people often will not explain their positions to me or else they explain them in so incoherent a way that I can make no sense of them. I read the book in order to learn how to avoid and/or fix misunderstandings that occur during conversation, not the unfounded assumptions that occur because no conversation is even attempted. Never have I been so angry at an author before for wasting my time.
There are many other things wrong with this book too: There is supporting evidence that is explained poorly, issues that are approached backwards, and hints of strange biases. It might be the worst-written non-fiction book I’ve ever read (I have read some fiction that is much worse).
Explaining Things Poorly:
It was reported that people are better able to discern emotional states from audial stimulus than visual, the evidence being a comparison between those listening to a tape of someone talking and those watching a video without sound. What is not mentioned is that by far the best way to know of someone’s emotional state (other than them directly telling you) is to know the situation they are in – and this can be known from what they are saying. Unless one is a good lip-reader, this information will not come from a video. The experiment as described is not even remotely a fair comparison, as it would be if the language of the speaker was unknown to the listener. Is this the way they actually did it?
It was reported that when shown statistics from two imaginary countries and asked which they would rather live in if their socioeconomic strata was chosen at random, liberals tended to choose the more egalitarian country and conservatives tended to choose the less egalitarian country. The point of the passage in the book was to show that while stereotypes often have a bit of truth to them, there is actually very little difference (barely measurable) between groups. What confuses me is why anybody at all would ever choose the less egalitarian one. That the results were anything other than 100% of liberals and conservatives choosing their best chance not to be poverty-stricken bewilders me. I must have missed something.
Could it be that there was more to the experiment than that? Could it be that the less egalitarian country also had more economic freedom? Perhaps it had a better climate or lower crime rates. This was never mentioned.
Also what bothered me is that people don’t assume liberals care more about equality because it is a stereotype, but because that is often part of the definition of liberal. Could I have misunderstood? Were these cultural or foreign-policy liberals that then fit the stereotype of also being economic liberals? If you are going to throw around terms like conservative and liberal, it would help to define them.
Another thing about stereotypes the author seemed to miss is that they are often not known from unfounded prejudice or personal experience, but from having read reports from sociologists. That people might think blacks or whites to be a certain way could simply mean that they are educated.
Another thing reported as having some sort of meaning was that people often assume that God believes the same way they do. This was mentioned in the larger context of claiming that people are quite overconfident in their ability to “read minds,” knowing what others are thinking and knowing whether another being even has a mind. However, it should not be surprising that people assume God agrees with them. The opposite should be surprising. If by “God,” people mean an infallible, omniscient being, then such a being always has the “right” beliefs. What beliefs do people have themselves? The beliefs that they believe to be right – by definition. Thus, whatever one’s set of beliefs and how they came by them, they must believe that they and God have the same beliefs. It is impossible for it to be otherwise. To say that God has a different belief than oneself is to say that one is wrong, and to say one is wrong is to say that one actually believes something other than what one believes, which is a contradiction. Am I missing something that should have been included in the text?
I also have questions about the three-truck experiment. When asked to hand the small truck by someone who could not see the smallest of three toy trucks from their vantage point, requiring people to reason that they must want the medium-sized truck, was it always made clear to people that the other person shouldn’t have any knowledge of the hidden truck? Where did the people enter the room from? How were they introduced? Could it be that children reaching for the wrong truck were not actually any worse at “putting themselves in others’ shoes,” but worse at understanding language and had assumed the other person lived there and had set the whole wall up? How many people verbally asked about the hidden truck before handing any of them over? How many asked why the other person couldn’t reach it themselves and became suspicious? Were the askers looking in the direction of the wall and possibly giving visual cues which truck they wanted? How many people might have assumed that any small truck would do and the smaller, the better? How many reasoned that if it was the wrong truck to give, they would be corrected and no long-term harm would come of it? I’m not sure that anything has been proven here.
Approaching It Backwards:
Other times, the author was not only confusing, but maddeningly deceptive. In one place, he accused people of assuming that intent matches action, meaning that when one’s actions are observed, people generally assume they meant to do it. After giving several examples of this assumption being wrong, including the assumption that people stayed in New Orleans during the hurricane because they were foolish rather than too poor to afford transportation or lodging elsewhere, I realized that the problem is not that intent does not match action, but that an action can be matched by more than one intent. The problem is that people wrongly assume one intent is in play when it is another, but nobody is wrong to think that people mean to do what they do. The author plays word games worthy of a great comedian to prove his absurd case and make the reader feel stupid.
After going on and on about how taking the other person’s perspective does little good in understanding them, which came as a great surprise to me, near the end of the book the author then springs the suggestion that we not “take perspective,” but “get perspective.” Again with the wordplay! How is one supposed to “get” without “taking?” What he finally explained was that the best way to know what someone is thinking or feeling is to ask. Of course it is!! How else is one supposed to take a perspective without first asking questions and listening? It goes without saying! Did he really think that his readers were so stupid that they were hoping to “put themselves in the others’ shoes” without first finding out where those shoes were, what they were made of, how many there were, and if they even had shoes? All along I had been wondering why the perspective-taking tactic was faring so poorly in the experiments done and at the very end of the book I find that it was because they weren’t even doing the most basic, foundational part of perspective-taking!! This is like wondering why your car won’t start when you are still sitting on the couch and haven’t even put your keys in it! At that moment I wanted to reach through the pages back in time and strangle Epley as he typed into his computer. I would have done it too, if not for physics.
Then there are all the strange offhand comments that peppered the pages that kept distracting me and making me wonder if the author was a total crackpot.
On page 25, he suggests that nobody but a trained evolutionary psychologist knows that symmetry is attractive. This might have been true at one time, but the word has been out for decades now. In fact, this commonly-cited dogma is beginning to be questioned by recent studies.
On page 62, he suggests that those who see evidence of purpose and intelligence in nature, inferring the existence of a deity, are spotting a mind where none exists, thus stating directly that there is no God. Epley isn’t just skeptical of claims of God’s intervention, thinking people often read too much into random events (I’m with him there), he’s a full-blown atheist!
On page 63, he lists a bunch of questions philosophers debate, such as whether animals and unborn fetuses have feelings. Hidden among the sensible examples is the question: “Are corporations persons, with rights to free speech that must be protected?” Who is out there claiming corporations are persons? They are persons in a limited legal sense having to do with ownership (which is what the recent court cases were all about), but nobody suggests that they are actual persons. Corporations have a right to free speech not because they are persons (though they are made up of multiple persons), but because the government is prohibited from regulating speech in the first place, whether the speakers are persons or not. The important issue is that the listeners are persons and they have a right to gather as much information from as many sources as possible. Since this is something only those on the far left make a big deal of, grossly misunderstanding the legal issues involved, I began to wonder if the book was nothing but socialist propaganda.
On page 65, he asks, “How was it possible for California residents to vote, in the very same election, to treat gay people less humanely by denying them the right to marry but to treat animals more like people by requiring farmers to house their pigs in more humane conditions?” The ignorance of why people oppose gay marriage was overwhelming to me. He has obviously not followed his own advice to ask conservatives what they think, but has tried to figure it out from afar. On second thought, it isn’t possible to be that dense. It is only the most intellectually dishonest hard-core leftists that even frame the issue this way, making me wonder if it was time to throw the book in the trash.
On page 165, he suggests that belief in microexpressions – brief flashes of our true emotional state before our conscious control takes over – is an egocentric illusion. Why egocentric? I only believed in microexpressions because I had been told from what I thought were reliable sources that they existed, in spite of my ego hoping that I had more body-control and body-awareness than that. I’m confused.
On page 168, he suggests that BP CEO Tony Hayward would never have made the comments he did if he had considered the perspective of all those affected by the oil spill. He is called “World’s Dumbest” and accused of making a “let-them-eat-cake” apology. Why? Is there more to his words not mentioned in the book? I can’t for the life of me see a thing wrong with them. What am I missing? Does the author just hate the rich?
It is little things like these that yank me right out of reading and get me wondering about the biases of the author.
The Good Parts:
After I finished throwing my tantrum, I remembered that the book was not only for me, but for the multitude of people out there who cut off ties with those they disagree with and aren’t interested in the slightest in having their sacred beliefs challenged. Those are the people that need to read it. It has some good parts.
The book suggests making your positions clear even when it might hurt you. For example, admitting a mistake could be used against you in court, but not admitting one could be worse. A quote from page 183 explains:
“In fact, this program actually reduced overall liability costs by roughly 60 percent. The bigger problem had been requiring patients to imagine what their doctors were thinking, or having to sue to find out, rather than just allowing doctors to explain how a mistake happened.”
There is also much in the book relevant to misunderstandings between ethnicities and political parties, as these quotes from page 132 and 133 show:
“The sad fact is that real partisanship increases partly because of imagined partisanship on the other side.”
“When groups are defined by their differences, people think they have less in common with people of other races or faiths or genders than they actually do and, as a result, avoid even talking with them. When groups are defined by their differences, the minds we imagine in others may be more extreme than the minds that actually encounter.”
Overall, the book has an important message worth reading for somebody.
Humans Are Stupid:
I also learned of many, new, interesting reasons to believe humans are stupid. If the studies are right, people are a jumble of preposterous contradictions. If the studies are wrong, it makes me wonder why scientists (all people) so easily jump to conclusions. Either way, people are idiots. Maybe we are better off not understanding them.
Allegedly, people are good at knowing how the average person thinks of them, but very bad at knowing how individual people think of them. This cannot be! The general reputation is simply the average of all the individual reputations. One cannot know the former without first knowing the latter.
Allegedly, even flattery known to be insincere works a little bit. Is there no backlash effect?
Allegedly, those tapping out a tune actually expect others to recognize it, even though they should know that timing alone without pitch, volume, and other differences should never be enough to identify it.
Allegedly, people consistently rate others as having both less emotion and less self-control than they do. Aren’t those attributes usually thought of as opposed?
Allegedly, when asked to choose which of two faces is more attractive, and the asked why they chose the face that they didn’t, only 27% of people catch the switch!
All these studies and more are used as evidence that we don’t know ourselves (or others) very well at all, which begs the question: Why bother asking people what they think and feel then? This undermines the main message of the book.
Most alarmingly of all, doctors used to believe that infants could not feel pain – even doing surgery without anesthesia and arguing with a straight face that crying was just a reflex. This is the most inexplicable and disturbing by far. Since I know that I feel pain, and that other adults appear to react the way I do and are designed the way I am, the default is to assume all adults feel pain. The burden of proof is on those claiming otherwise. Taking the argument one step further, it is highly probable that children and animals also feel pain, but not sponges, trees, stones, and robots. While it is possible for any of these assumptions to be wrong, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I can’t believe for one moment that there was ever a time in the history of any country that any serious professional ever actually believed babies to be pain-free. Even after looking it up and confirming it, I still can’t believe it.
I returned yet again to Little Manatee River State Park at the very end of December 2020. It had changed yet again!
The pigs had been very active since I was gone. It seemed like every part of the soil had been overturned:
There was also more Spanish moss in the mossy area than I ever remember seeing before:
Somebody dropped a bunch of their feathers in the middle of the path. It was now a feather area:
Another area had a very noisy set of trees. They squeaked, banged, clicked, and creaked in the breeze to an absurdly comic and surreal extent like nothing I had ever heard. It was a noise area:
Then there was a stump with bracket fungi on it. This is nothing unusual. What was unusual is that the brackets were fuzzy on the top and smooth on the bottom. They were upside-down! I had never seen anything like it!
Here is some other stuff I saw the same day:
A while ago I read Difficult Conversations (1999), written by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen. I had hoped it would help me to have more productive negotiations and reduce the misunderstandings and strife that seems ubiquitous in my life. What I found was that I am already following most of the authors’ advice very well and that this advice is utterly useless unless all parties involved in the conversation are doing it.
The basic ideas in the book are as follows:
One: None of us knows all the relevant facts and we each bring our own baggage to every situation. Oftentimes, the conflict is not between two opposing viewpoints, but between two incomplete and complimentary viewpoints. The most important thing we can do is listen. To get to the bottom of things, have a “learning conversation.”
Two: Most people are too quick to assign harmful intent to another’s actions or words. In most cases, people do not intend to hurt us. Instead, they have made a mistake or else we have misunderstood. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
Three: Problems exist in a complex matrix of causation. In order to best understand the source of problems and ensure they do not happen again, one has to look at every contributing action (and inaction). It is counterproductive to assign blame too soon. Much of the time, there is no reason to assign blame ever.
Four: It is not enough that everyone has the opportunity to tell their version of events; they must also express their feelings and have them acknowledged.
Five: It is not enough to acknowledge everyone’s feelings about the events in question, they must also have reassurance that how they see themselves will remain unchanged. For example, one is more likely to admit to a mistake when told that even really good employees such as themselves make mistakes sometimes.
All of this sounds pretty good and I have done all this instinctively for much of my life. Unfortunately, no one else does it and so I inevitably lose my patience and give people what they want when they have made it abundantly clear that all they want to do is fight.
Also, I have some concerns about the details:
There are example conversations throughout the book of what to say and what not to say. Of course, the ones where the protagonist says the “right” thing always work out because the authors control both sides of these imaginary conversations. They tell what to avoid saying to avoid misunderstanding, but what they tell us to say instead could also lead to misunderstanding! I can imagine things going wrong in so many ways. My experience is that humans are endlessly clever at distorting my obvious meanings into truly absurd caricatures of what I said.
The authors say to repeat back what someone has said, paraphrasing it, so that they can correct you if you have misunderstood, but some of the examples they use can also sound like attacks – and they can become frustrated if you paraphrase it wrong. The authors also say that expressing our feelings without passing judgment on the other person will avoid putting them on defense, but I know that expressing feelings alone can still put someone on defense.
Speaking of feelings, if I ever responded to a complaint by talking about the complainer’s feelings – as the authors coach us to do in their imaginary example conversations – nine times out of ten the other person would think I was changing the subject. If anyone did it to me, I would think the same, and I would then think I was being accused of being oversensitive. Don’t you dare tell me I sound frustrated when the real issue is your lousy service! Just listen to my complaint and then fix the problem! If I am misjudging the situation, then you may certainly enlighten me with objective facts; I will listen. Just don’t change the subject by talking about my feelings!
The authors suggest asking open questions rather than narrow ones in order to get more information. They have obviously never tested this on real humans. Asking a question that is too vague will get no meaningful response whatsoever. The other person won’t know where to begin. As far as they are concerned, their position is already obvious; that’s why the conversation is difficult! By asking very specific questions, it gives them information about why I’m not seeing it the way they do. That way they can correct me.
Furthermore, the examples of open questions they suggest to use in chapter twelve sound a lot like the examples of “easing-in” they told us not to engage in in chapter ten. Easing-in is when someone asks a question in order to make a point, often an accusation or a judgment. The authors claim it comes across as an attempt to hide the intent to accuse. However, I have always seen the intent as so obvious that I never thought there was any attempt to hide anything.
Finally, the authors suggest not to defend ourselves too soon in the conversation. I worry that my silence will be seen as tacit admission of guilt. While rare, this has happened to me before.
I only wish the real world were as easy as the difficult conversations in this book.
The time finally came for me to return to Florida in October 2020, but first I had to visit my friend in New Hampshire. He took me up Uncanoonuc Mountain for a view of Manchester, but this is all we could see:
From there, I drove to Chambersburg Pennsylvania, only to wake up the next morning to fog so thick I was afraid to get on the highway. It had followed me! While fog is common in the part of Rhode Island I was in, it is not common in New Hampshire, and the chances of encountering it twice on the same trip at points so distant from each other are tiny. It could not be a coincidence! The fog must be alive! Was I to be its dinner?
I ate at McDonald’s and saw ducks in the brook out back. At ten it was still no less foggy, but I had to go. Just one mile out of town were blue skies.
I stopped in North Carolina without incident. The next day, I took a photo of this butterfly at a rest stop in Georgia:
Being absolutely sick of driving, I stopped in northern Florida for the night. The next day, I found that the fog had caught up with me again!!! It got worse and worse as I drove west on 10 until I reached the 75 junction. Then it gradually got better and better as I drove south.
Finally, I got to my parents’ house. No more fog. A couple days later, I took a walk around the neighborhood and saw a lot of flowers:
Part of a tree had fallen down revealing its insides. It looked as though it had started to…send roots into itself?????
I also saw two skinks and many types of birds. Many more flowers were not photographed. The sun was bright and the breeze was blowing. The fog had been banished!
Points To Ponder:
“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.” – The Eleventh Doctor, Vincent and The Doctor, Doctor Who
Sticks and stones can hurt. Words can hurt too. Being told that your words hurt and that this justifies using sticks and stones on you to keep you quiet hurts the most. Suppressing offensive speech almost always does more harm than allowing it.
Sometime in 2020 I held a brushfire. My friend came over for marshmallows, hot dogs, and beer. Once the sun was good and down a couple of deer ran across the yard right near us. It was a good time during what was a rough year.
Weeks later I had a fire by myself during daylight. When it was put out, I found blue smoke:
Points To Ponder:
“Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, and aliment, without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.” – James Madison
A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down and a spoonful of silliness makes the workday go better.
Last summer, my nephews came to visit me in Rhode Island and they played soccer on the porch in pouring rain and lightning. They were completely unmanageable. A bit later there was small hail. This was the second time I had seen hail. The first was in New Hampshire in the late eighties. Interesting.
Later that same day, we saw a rainbow:
Still later that same day, we saw a whole family of turkeys walk right across the yard. A row of little turkeys followed the adult. After that, we were playing hide-and-seek and I got stung by a wasp. A giant wasp nest was in the hedge near where I had previously found a bird nest. It was a wild day in the middle of a wild year.
Weeks later, I visited my nephews in New Hampshire and took a photo of this creek surrounded by flowers:
Points To Ponder:
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” – Jesus, Matthew 19:14, NLT
This past summer, I trimmed the hedge around the yard and exposed a bird nest:
The birds never came back ☹
The twenty-first century will one day be remembered as the age when men were free to appropriate the cultural dress codes of women and enter women’s bathrooms and locker rooms at will, yet white children could not darken their skins to transition into a black person on Halloween.
After living in the same house for 106 years, my grandfather died in 2020. I was tasked with helping to sort through the stuff in the house and the barn/garage. Apparently, my grandparents never threw anything away. It was like visiting a museum! Many things were either garbage or commonplace items, but there were also more than a few objects of interest, some of them quite old.
The model barn shown above was under the basement stairs and nobody knows why it exists. There were also a collection of several gas lamps, including one that had been converted to electricity. There were two towel racks of the kind that stick to the wall and splay out. There was a butter churn that I never saw before it was sold, but I am told it was the kind with crank and paddles and it was glass.
Also in the basement was a tabletop grain mill. There was a “demagnetizer.” When he was alive, my grandfather showed me how it would suck a long bolt through it and spit it out the other side.
In the storeroom was what appeared to be a model of a Victorian “fainting couch.” Only later did we find a note indicating that it was once used as a doll couch. There was also a doll in an old carriage.
Paintings found in every room in the house were painted by my mother. Most of them were of birds or landscapes. There were so many, we had to get rid of some of them.
My grandparents also had quite the collection of china sets that they never used, fancy glassware, and fancy candles, such as this snail:
In the barn were cobbling tools. My grandmother used to make clothes for the family, but no one remembers anybody making shoes. There were also milk bottles, potatoe sacks, and nail kegs from companies no one has ever heard of. There were two old metal trash cans. There was a collection of old doors in the slowly-collapsing shed.
There were railroad spikes. There was a railroad lock on the bracket of a shelf in the barn that nobody had ever been able to find a key for. My grandfather did used to work as the guy who put the crossing bar up and down, but this lock was already there when his parents bought the place.
The barn used to be a schoolhouse and we found a single desk hidden in the corner. It appears that when placed in a row and bolted to the floor, the kids would sit on the chair part of the one in back and use the desk part of the one in front. No wonder pigtails were pulled!
Then there were the numerous tools, such as the post digger, and the pitchfork, and the wheelbarrow I used to take rides in as a kid. Look at all this cool stuff!
2020 has been a very strange year. I let the water run dry on my boiling green beans three times! They smelled like burnt tobacco. A lot of my projects were put on hold and I travelled hardly at all. However, I did take a few walks around the neighborhood:
We apparently have some artistic neighbors. A few miles down the road somebody has filled their yard with giant metal insects and spiders. On the way there is a boulder recently painted with an ocean scene and a holly bush.
These are some other things I saw on walks around the neighborhood in RI:
Points To Ponder:
“The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.” – Psalms 19:1
“Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God.” – 1st Corinthians 10:31
“I have witnessed real faith and genuine sincerity in the holy places of many different religions, and in every case my heart responded to them. I will be entering many more churches and holy places and see a good deal more, I’m sure; but to me the best church of all is the sky’s starry dome above. The whole of nature is my temple, and so are my room and my small heart, as long as it is alive and beating.” – Svetlana Alliluyeva
“I’ve read enough books in their entirety to know that if I persevere and keep reading, things will make sense, and I might even be changed in the process of making sense of them…God, the Master Author, writes every chapter of our lives with the aim of character development. He patiently works in us through the mundane and the problematic. He adds odd passages and tedious side plots. He weaves our lives with those of other characters through unexpected and even bizarre ways. Yet, when we turn the last page, it will be the beginning. There will be no more wistfulness. There will be no more wondering.” – Klara Holscher
I find it very curious that people find it so easy to believe one guilty of a crime such as rape, murder, fraud, or insider trading, yet find it so difficult to believe one guilty of a crime such as falsely accusing another of such a crime. Curious indeed.
So, what’s new in the grocery store salsa aisle in 2020?
Mrs. Renfro’s Craft Beer Salsa:
This medium salsa tastes a lot like bit-too-salty tomatoes with no detectable beer. It contains tomatoe, onion, Rahr Texas Red American Amber Beer, brown sugar, jalapeno pepper, chipotle pepper, ancho pepper, guajillo pepper, cilantro, garlic, citric acid, and corn starch for some reason.
Mrs. Renfro’s Habanero Salsa:
This hot salsa is fantastic and goes with everything. I never get tired of it. The quirky habanero flavor comes through and compliments the sweet tomatoes. It contains tomatoe, jalapeno, green chile, onion, garlic, cilantro, habanero, vinegar, and corn starch.
Mrs. Renfro’s Green Salsa:
This salsa is slimy and contains only jalapeno, which is probably why it tastes that way, but who can be sure?
Mrs. Renfro’s Black Bean Salsa:
This salsa is good, but nothing special. It has black beans.
Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa:
It’s very hot and kind of smoky, reminding me of chipotle. Then again, it might have been my tongue that was smoking…
This salsa just tastes like tomatoes in vinegar. It contains tomatoes, jalapeno, vinegar, garlic, onion, green chile, cilantro, and salt.
Jardine’s Ghost Pepper Salsa:
This salsa I thought was a bit runny and very hot. The lime was detectable and it tasted otherwise like bit-too-salty tomatoes. It contains tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, ghost chile, onion, lime juice, and potatoe starch.
Field Day Garlic Cilantro Salsa:
The garlic and cumin were quite noticeable in this salsa. I certainly wasn’t complaining. It contains tomatoe, onion, cilantro, lime, cumin, black pepper, garlic, jalapeno, and cider vinegar.
Siesta Salsa Bacon Salsa:
This very mild, fine-chopped salsa tastes just like tomatoes and bacon! There are no bacon bits in it, but the essence permeates the vegetables. It goes well paired with meat.
Taste of Inspirations Three-Bean Salsa:
This salsa is mislabeled! It is actually chili! Let me start over…
This hot chili is wonderful and can be used in any application that calls for chili. It contains red beans, white beans, black beans, red bell pepper, tomatoe, onion, jalapeno, lime, garlic, and cilantro.
I visited the Fisherville Brook Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island sometime in October 2020. I needed to get out and get some air and get away from people. I was surprised how crowded it was.
It smelled like fall and looked like fall. Leaves were falling everywhere. So were acorns. One missed me by less than a meter. Sometimes I think the trees are trying to get my attention to warn me about something. Then again, they may just be mad I walked on their toes.
In a ten-foot radius from one spot I found seven “oak apples.” They looked lonely, so I gathered them together.
Not far from there was a pond on the other side of which was a house with a giant boulder in the yard, a small cemetery, and some grapevines. I took pictures of flowers and things.
By this time, I had noticed a pattern. Many trees had dark, vertical marks on them, which in some cases had swollen into ridges. Could these be allergic reactions to dragon scratches?
On the far edge of the park was a stone wall bordering a small clearing that appears to be at the end of a long driveway. No houses are in view. It’s as if people wanted a secret spot in the middle of the woods to conduct human sacrifices or something and the Audubon put a trail right next to it. The nerve!
Further along the trail, I found a dragon tooth! Suddenly, it all made sense!
This wildlife refuge is where they sacrifice people to the autumn dragon for a bountiful harvest! No wonder it smells like fall here! The dragon’s scent has even caused the leaves to break out in spots!
No wonder the parking lot was so full! It’s not because this is a popular hiking spot; it’s because most people never leave! I should have known all along!!!
I also saw a woodpecker. That was nice.
There are those who say war is never the answer. Strictly speaking, this is not true; sometimes war is the only answer we have left. It’s just that war is the type of answer that only seems to raise more questions.
I visited Queen’s River Preserve in Exeter, Rhode Island in August 2020. It was nice, but nothing too special. There were pines, rhododendron, and sweet fern. In several places, the trails continue onto private property. Existence is forbidden there. The highlight of the trip was when I startled a huge garter snake. On my way back to the car, it started raining. That is all.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.