Thursday, February 21, 2008
  Moon, Sally, Quake

Long as I'm discussing meteors and such, might as well discuss moons....

A lunar eclipse is unique among natural phenomena. Unlike lightning, tornados, or even solar eclipses, the lunar eclipse doesn't look unusual at a single glance. If you happen to peer out the window at any moment, you'll just think it's a quarter moon or a new moon. What makes it unusual is the shadow's movement over the course of a few hours.

So you'd think that critters without a cultural record of change wouldn't notice a lunar eclipse. Not so. Dogs certainly notice it.

Back in 1970 my parents adopted a dog named Sally, who had been a stray for some time. Sally was a ragged terrier ... think of Tramp in Lady and the Tramp and you've got the picture. She had been accustomed to scavenging in dumpsters, dodging boots and cars, and had some scars to show for it. The security of home and family was new to her, but once she picked up the concept, she loved it. Sally was intensely female and intensely maternal. Had puppies every chance she got, and while she had them, those puppies were her entire universe. When the litter was grown and departed, she applied the same care to her human family, encouraging us to play, guarding us from strangers, herding us into one room when possible.

Sally divided living things into five categories:

1. The Master, who was my father. He wasn't a dominating or commanding man in the view of humans, but Sally decided instantly and permanently that he was her Lord, to be studied and followed at all times. I think this was the first time he had received such complete respect, and he certainly enjoyed it.

2. The Puppies, canine or hominid as described above.

3. Neutral Strangers, who were treated with polite formality. There were a lot of these, because my mother did freelance typing work for college students during those years.

4. Enemies, also known as Arabs. And unfortunately there were a lot of these, because many of the students who used my mother's typing service were Arabs. Sally could sense an Arab coming up the sidewalk before we saw him, and we had to restrain her in a back room every time.

5. Toads. For some unknown reason, Sally couldn't resist catching toads, even though their toxin made her foam at the mouth when she tried (unsuccessfully) to eat them.

In short, Sally was emphatically not your baying-at-the-moon type of dog. When I took her outside for a walk, her attention was firmly on the ground. So when she abruptly started barking one night, I looked around to see if there was a toad or Arab nearby. Nope, she was barking at the moon and wouldn't stop. I looked at it, saw a crescent, nothing special. After dragging her back into the house, I checked the almanac: sure enough, it was a lunar eclipse. Even though the moon wasn't part of her standard territory, she somehow knew it was strange, and wanted to call my attention to it.

Since then I've paid close attention to the connections between feelings and natural events. I've noticed over the years that my sexual nature is strongest three days before the full moon, and weakest three days before the new moon. More recently, a swarm of small earthquakes in Spokane in 2000-01 made it possible to correlate feelings with quakes. (The swarminess was the key, because most quakes are so widely spaced that you can't spot a correlation.) I observed a dark dire rebellious feeling, with no obvious direct cause, that peaked about 18 hours before each quake. And this sensation appears to be fairly common. Local talk shows during the swarm were full of similar observations.

Later on, I've observed this particular emotion before large quakes elsewhere on the Pacific rim; stronger when the quake is nearer. It doesn't seem to "notice" quakes
elsewhere, such as the Middle East.

Yesterday I had such a feeling that peaked around 3 PM. And sure enough, a large quake hit northern Nevada at 6 AM this morning.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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