The Current Middle Ages

If you travel the stretch of I-79 near Slippery Rock, PA this time of year, you are likely to see thousands of tents and banners flapping in the breeze at a local campground, Cooper’s Lake. Ever wonder what that was all about

If that piqued your curiosity, you can get a short video synopsis here or go to the main site for the organization. 

A Grain of Sand

As July winds down, I can feel the energy of early summer passing into late summer, and my mood is tinged with anticipation for the ‘start’ of the academic year in the fall. A segment on NPR this morning regarding our microbiome caught my attention; 90% of the cells on and within us are not “ours”, but are, in fact, spores, bacteria, viruses and fungi. This led me to think about binary concepts such as “us” and “them”, and how this black-and-white worldview seems to promote discord on both the microscopic and macroscopic levels. Perhaps the time has come for us to look more closely at The Gaia Hypothesis and co-evolutionary processes: we ARE the planet, all of us, every last living and non-living thing. To that end we can boldly declare our interdependence. What better way to do that than to play in the great outdoors?

Thinking about Thinking, Again

Perambulation and conversation are two of my favorite occupations, and part of a wide-ranging conversation while recently engaged in said activities led me, once again, to contemplation. What is real? What is true? And how do we decide these things? Distressingly, the grey stuff packed between our ears often LIES TO US. This article is a bit lengthy, but informative. Enjoy, and keep moving!

Sex and Death (Because it’s not just any Pilates class, we are Contrologists.)

During class warm-up today I mentioned my annoyance with my cat when, a long time ago in a one-room efficiency far, far away, she went into heat. The noises that came from her throat sounded like someone attempting to drown a tauntaun. One of my students mentioned that one of her cats had become pregnant without the traditional yodeling at all hours of the day and night. This prompted me to explore the concept of “silent heat” which, apparently, is more common in dogs than in cats but does indeed exist. Read a little bit about it here if you are so inclined. 

Additionally we went over a few books on our summer reading lists, and another student mentioned Rob Dunn’s The Wild Life of Our Bodies which brought me in mind of Mary Roach’s recent work Gulp, an entertaining book on the digestive system. Her work Stiff, on what happens to us (our bodies, at least) after we die, is still part of my book collection through many moves. 

Discussing this last book naturally led another student to mention the sprouting of Death Cafes in and around the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. Cultural responses to mortality are fascinating. 

On that somewhat somber, but inevitable note,  here is a bit of levity: follow the link to a product that no true Star Wars fan can live without; imagine holding your next Episodes I – VI marathon viewing event from the snugness of your very own tauntaun sleeping bag! 

Serendipitous Stumble Upon Du Jour

That PhD thesis regarding cognitively restructuring the perception of objective physiological responses to exercise from negative to positive affect states? (From: “Oh no, this activity is making my heart is beat harder and faster, and my breathing is heavy, how awful!” to “Oh yeah, this activity is making my heart beat harder and faster, and my breathing is heavy, awesome!”) Yes, what you think has a great deal to do with the benefits of physical activity. Surprise!

Although this article doesn’t go in exactly the same direction as my research, it reinforces evidence supporting the unity of mind and body which inspires me to keep looking. And to keep moving!