The Eternal City

The relentless power of Ancient Rome led to many of its citizens to believe that the city would go on forever.  The poet Virgil wrote the Aeneid, which incorporates the various legends of Aeneas and makes him the founder of Roman greatness.  Written between 29 and 19BC, it refers to the everlasting empire that Aeneas, a mythical Trojan hero, who was prophesied to have a hand in creating the eternal city and ancient Romans claimed Aeneas was an ancestor of Romulus.  Aeneas was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the Greek goddess Aphrodite who is known to the Romans as the goddess Venus.  Juno harbors anger toward Aeneas, because Carthage is her favorite city, and a prophecy holds that the race descended from the Trojans will someday destroy Carthage.  Aeneas was a fearsome warrior and a great leader, that was able to motivate his men in the face of adversity, but he was also a man that was capable of great compassion and sorrow and he always showed respect for the will of the gods.  It had been prophesied that Aeneas would establish a race, whose destiny was to rule the world in peace and prosperity.

After the sack of Troy, Aeneas went to Carthage.  Dido left the land of Tyre when her husband was murdered by her brother Pygmalion.  Dido became the founder and the first Queen of the Phoenician city of Carthage and that is where she fell in love with Aeneas.  The queen of Carthage became an unfortunate pawn of the gods, in their struggle for Aeneas’s destiny, as her love for Aeneas proved to be her downfall.  Aeneas left Dido to travel to Italy, and after he abandoned her, she constructed a funeral pyre and stabbed herself to death upon it with Aeneas’s sword.  Aeneas knew of all the Greek gods, but when he arrived in Italy, he felt that he should create new gods in this new land.  When Aeneas and the Trojans arrived in Italy, Latinus decided to give his daughter to Aeneas, because of the instructions that he had received from the gods indicating that his daughter should marry a foreigner.  Turnus was outraged at this, because he was a suitor of his cousin Lavinia, so he decided to lead his people against the Trojans in war.

Several gods and goddesses got involved in this conflict, with Venus siding with her son Aeneas and Juno who was still angry for not winning the beauty contest sided with the Latini against the Trojans.  The outcome of this conflict however, had long been foretold by the Fates, who predicted that a stranger from a land far away shall marry Lavinia and succeed Latinus as king.  When Latinus allowed his daughter Lavinia to be engaged to marry Aeneas instead of Turnus, her presumed fiancé, the goddess Juno, who hated the Trojans, started to drive Turnus mad, so he would fight Aeneas.  Turnus the warrior king of the city of Ardea and prince of the Rutulians went to the city of the Latins and declared that he wanted to fight Aeneas in one-on-one combat.

Aeneas was sleeping when he saw Tiberinus, the god of the River Tiber appear before him.  Tiberinus told him that the gods weren’t mad at him anymore, and that he shouldn’t be afraid of the war to come.  Tiberinus says, “In case you think this is only a dream, you’re going to find under some trees by the shore a white sow nursing thirty piglets, and this will mean that after thirty years your offspring will found a city called Alba Longa.”  Aeneas became the father of Ascanius who founded the Etruscan province of Alba Longa and he became its first king.

Latinus tried to convince Turnus to take another woman as his wife and leave Lavinia to Aeneas.  Turnus got his chariot-team ready and armed himself for battle.  The next morning, both armies were awaiting the coming battle between the two champions.  Juno expressed some fondness for Juturna, despite the fact that she had attracted Jupiter’s lustful attentions.  Juno watched what was going on and she told Juturna that she would help her brother as long as she could, but the Fates were against him.  Down on the plain, the leaders from both sides were meeting, and Aeneas prayed, saying that, if Turnus wins, the Trojans would leave Italy, but if he wins, he would not enslave them, but instead ask the Italians to join him as equal citizens in a new nation.

Aeneas tried to stop his men from fighting, but then somebody hit him with an arrow, he was wounded but it was not fatal.  Turnus raced forward with his chariot team and started killing many Trojans.  Venus healed her son Aeneas and he went back into the battle.  Aeneas led the Trojans in a counterattack and they killed many of their enemies.  Juturna did not like what she was seeing, so she knocked Turnus’s charioteer onto the ground and she took his place and started driving her brother erratically over the battlefield, keeping him out of Aeneas’s reach.  Venus told Aeneas to take a stand on a hilltop overlooking the city, and order his captains to level the city of Lavinium, unless they surrender immediately.  Turnus rushed back to the city to meet his destiny, ignoring his sister’s pleas, knowing in his heart that he must face Aeneas, as death no longer frightened him.

When Aeneas heard that Turnus was coming, he stopped attacking the city and went to meet him.  A space was cleared for them to fight, and soon they were throwing spears at each other and then they fought with swords.  While they were fighting, Jupiter raised a scale and he placed each man’s destiny in it, saying whosever’s sinks toward the ground will die.  Turnus gave Aeneas a mighty blow with his sword, but his blade shattered on impact, because it was no match for Aeneas’s divine armor, which Venus had her husband Vulcan make.  Juturna gave Turnus another sword and Venus gave Aeneas a spear and Jupiter forbid Juno to interfere with Aeneas any more.  Juno agreed as long as the Latins wouldn’t have to change their name after they lose to the Trojans.

Aeneas stood face to face with Turnus, they exchanged some hostile words, then Turnus picked up a huge rock to throw at Aeneas, but he wasn’t strong enough, and it fell short.  Aeneas threw his spear and it was able to puncture Turnus’s shield and ended up stabbing him in the thigh.  Turnus fell to the ground and asked Aeneas to spare his life, as he relinquished his claim to the hand of his cousin Lavinia.  Aeneas debated with himself about what he should do, and then he saw what was hanging on Turnus shoulder, was the belt that he stole from the dead body of his good friend Pallas.  Aeneas was enraged at seeing the belt of his friend being worn by his enemy, so he shouted that Pallas is taking his revenge, then he stabbed Turnus and killed him.

Written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge 237 where today’s theme is “Zeitgeist”.

Water Is a Renewable Resource

A raindrop is held together by surface tension and when falls from the sky and lands on to the ground or into the ocean, it ceases to become a raindrop anymore, and it will try to seek its own level as it eventually joins other droplets.  It might be consumed or end up in a in stream, river, lake, or an ocean, and it can also go underground.  When a raindrop lands, the liquid in the drop will be attracted to the surface of what it has landed on, it will continue to spread and eventually adhere to this surface or be repelled away.  The water cycle is often taught as being a simple circular cycle of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation, but it is more complex than that.  The water cycle can be thought of as death, when the water evaporates and rebirth when we get precipitation.  There are actually seven steps involved in the water cycle and the ones that you don’t usually hear about are Interception, Infiltration, Percolation and Transpiration.  Interception is when precipitation does not reach the soil, but is instead intercepted by the leaves, branches of plants and the forest floor.  Infiltration happens when water soaks into the soil from the ground level until it can’t hold any more.  Water that infiltrates the ground will be a rebirth for wells.  Percolation occurs when water moves downward through the soil under gravitational forces and is filtered through the soil into aquifers.  This will replenish aquifers that hold groundwater, so this is also like a rebirth.  Plants suck up most of the water that they need from their roots, but when the weather gets very hot, water will be pulled into the leaves.  This will cool down the plants, but water will be lost during this process.

Since global warming, and climate patterns are continually changing, causing the depletion of the ozone layer, it is possible that all of Earth’s water might disappear one day, like what we think happened on Mars.  There are science fiction movies about terraforming the Red Planet, but it is not realistic in the near future for Mars to undergo a rebirth.  It would be really nice for us to have a second Earth, a place where humans could live without having to put on a space suit.  I think that we should be trying harder to protect our own planet, instead of looking for another place to live.

Written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge 236 where today’s theme is “Rebirth”.

Collage

People like to group things when they perceive similarities or differences, and this helps to satisfy their need for understanding why things belong together, or why they don’t.  By arranging certain objects in a systematic manner, that makes them easier to handle.  When things are organized into groups, the properties of an object are illustrated more clearly and then you can contrast and compare these objects.  Humans see organized patterns in almost everything that we look at, and this is because our minds tend to detect and classify things based on certain rules.  A collage assembles different things together, and by doing this, it creates a new form of art, which is supposed to convey a message or an idea.

Let’s try to find the message here with the faded out black and white picture of the girl with the big lips wearing a bandana being shown with Stuart the one-eyed Minion who is supposed to be playful, friendly, intelligent and funny and someone touching a diagram of a brain.  Bandana girl looks lost, and she appears to be standing in front of shower tiles, but I don’t think that she is going to take a shower.  It is possible that she is reflecting on her life and how she got to this point, and I hope that she can figure it out.  Stuart is making a weird face while he is reaching for a banana and there are some smiley faces around the little yellow guy and a phrase that says, “Sometimes, Even I’m afraid of the things my mind comes up with.”  I guess that he has a good reason for being afraid of his own thoughts and I did read that Minions dislike being unsure of themselves.  Since I have only seen male Minions, I would love to know where all the lady Minions are hiding, but I guess that girls are just too smart to become Minions.  Stuart like every other Minion likes bananas and it seems to make them go crazy, but I don’t know how to describe their attraction to butts, and maybe the Minions are all just a bunch of perverts.

I can imagine the finger touching a diagram of a brain as being a way to show how are thoughts are processed.  The gridlines behind the brain seem to be bending up and away, turning a flat grid image into something that resembles a 3D shape.  I don’t know much about brains, but different areas supposedly have different functions and from looking at a diagram that I found, this finger may be pointing at the precentral gyrus, which is responsible for executing voluntary movements and is involved in pain modulation.  Since Bandana girl and Stuart both seem to be worried about things, perhaps this part of their brains can help them work that out, that is if Minions actually have brains to begin with.

Written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge 235 where today’s theme is a collage.

All By Myself

Humans evolved being around others and because of this, we all tend to benefit from interacting with others.  Most people are social creatures and for this reason, social media is doing well.  People want to express themselves and they try to get involved in open discussions.  Most people are willing to take a stand on issues that are bothering all of us and social media gives them the platform to promote their ideas.  People also need some alone time and by getting time by themselves, this helps them to focus, so solitude is important.  Being alone shouldn’t be a bad thing, but it does have pros and cons.  Loneliness and social isolation are also associated with increased blood pressure, higher cholesterol levels, depression and this can lead to a lack of sleep and exercise, and even affect our immune system.  If all these things aren’t bad enough, it also decreases our cognitive abilities and you may develop Alzheimer’s disease, so nobody should be alone all the time.

People tend to think of lonely people as being antisocial or depressed.  Eleanor Rigby, the sad lady in the Beatles song, would pick up the rice in the church where a wedding has been, because she has nothing better to do with herself.  She lives in a dream, waiting at the window, as she is one of the very lonely people that does not know where she belongs.  If you can’t enjoy the time that you spend with yourself, you will probably have a difficult time being with others.  Loneliness is difficult explain to others, as the only person who knows how you’re feeling is yourself.  Loneliness seems like a dark emotion, but it is usually a temporary thing and there are many effective ways to cure it, and once you connect with others, it will disappear.  People don’t like to admit that they are lonely and lonely men are perceived more negatively than women, and more negatively by women, even though more women than men report feeling lonely.  Being alone with your thoughts, giving yourself the space and unstructured time to let your mind wander without social distractions, is something that all of our bodies crave from time to time.

Written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge 234 where today’s theme is Isolation, Communication, Conversations.

Piles of Sand

Apart from air and water, sand is the most used natural resource on our planet.  We can’t take sand for granted, as it is a precious commodity, and it will not last forever.  Climate change has forced coastal communities to constantly replenish their beaches with dredged-up sand because of erosion from storms and tides and a rising sea level.  Eventually, we will run out of sand and then kids will have to dig in the mud with their sand shovels and sand buckets.  A beach can be made up of small smooth pebbles, cockle shells, coral-like fragments, or mud, but there is nothing like a beach that is full of glorious sand.  Sandy beaches are easy on our eyes, and they feel great on our feet.  Scientists estimate that Earth contains anywhere from 5 to 10 sextillion (10 to the 21 power) grains of sand on all the beaches, and deserts, so we could go with an average of 7.5 sextillion grains.  Some astronomers estimate that there are up to 200 sextillion stars in the universe, making Carl Sagan correct with his assumption that there are more stars in the universe, that grains of sand on Earth.  It is almost impossible to count the number of sand grains in a teaspoon, so we need to make estimates based on cubic volumes of measurement and average grain size and then multiply and add to get an answer.

Sand and dust storms are common meteorological hazards in arid and semi-arid regions.  People can literally be buried alive by desert sandstorms and when precipitation is unusually low in a dry year, huge amounts of loose sand will be picked up by the winds and cause havoc.  Swirling clouds of sand and dust can choke and temporarily blind anyone who is unlucky enough to get caught in one.  When wind begins to blow across a sandy, dusty surface, the lightest particles won’t be the first ones to move, because much of the dust is either stuck to larger particles or tucked between them.  But when sand grains start to bounce across the surface, they strike other grains and shake loose the dust, which then rises into the air just above the ground.  All that bouncing and jostling also generates static electricity, where larger sand grains typically lose electrons to the lighter dust particles, giving the dust a negative charge.  The dust particles are blown higher into the air more readily, whereas the now positively charged sand grains usually remain closer to ground level.  That separation of charges creates an electric field that may help electrify some of the dust still bound to sand grains, thus boosting even more of it into the air.  Dust storms are also called “haboobs” and they are unexpected, unpredictable and they can sweep across desert landscape at any time becoming miles long and thousands of feet high.  Dust storms can kill your livestock and your homes can be ravaged by sand.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo and for Reena’s Xploration Challenge 233.

Morbid

Some of you may die, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make, as I couldn’t think less of you, no matter how hard I try.  I don’t have a modicum of respect for any of you and I would like to clearly state with absolute assurance that I don’t give a damn what happens to any of you.  Your death does not concern me in the least, as every man dies.  In the end, death comes for all of us and then we cease to exist.  Death will eventually come knocking on your door, and whether you go quietly into that good night or struggle, the result will be the same.  You may not see it coming, but it is inevitable and there is nothing that you can do about it, as when your number is up, it is time to die and even James Bond knows this.  You are not a customer in the bakery waiting for service, as when the grim reaper calls, or the Angel of Death, who is one of the 4 legendary Horsemen of the Apocalypse, then you must go.  I am not trying to be gloomy, insensitive, gruesome, grisly, or extreme, but death waits for no one and we all completely understand that we are mere mortals.  Your body will return to the dust that it came from, to make room for a new person to take your place.

Written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge 232 where she asks us to consider writing about one of the 4 lines that she gives us and I chose line 3, which is “Some of you may die, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make”.

Being Alone

Some people get lonely when they are alone and others need some time for themselves.  The Covid-19 crisis made a lot of people feel like they were alone, because of the social distancing guidelines.  Being alone is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you are shipwrecked and stuck all by yourself with out any access to the internet.  Loneliness is a perceived emotion and it is felt differently by everyone.  If you are all alone, you should try to embrace the solitude, instead of becoming depressed and filled with anxiety.  Getting in touch with your inner self is much easier to do when you are alone, because you don’t have any distractions.  Most people don’t really know their true selves, and this is a great time for you to reflect on how your life is going and also do things that make you feel good.  Your thoughts and feelings are important, so you shouldn’t suppress them.  You are the one that is in charge of your thoughts and you are responsible for creating your own personality, so by getting to know who you are and what you stand for in life, should help to give you a strong sense of self-confidence.  Your genes provide a starting point for your personality, but as you age, you become who you are meant to be.

It is said that human touch is essential, but in the absence of physical connection with others gives us an opportunity, you may have to be inventive.  The longest relationship that you are ever going to have, is going to be with yourself and if you can’t get along with yourself, then things will most likely not go any better with others.  If you isolate yourself all day, day after day, you are neglecting your own basic needs for healthy socialization skills, and prolonged loneliness will make you feel absolutely miserable.  You need to start by finding out what makes you happy and then try satisfying those needs.  Nothing is more important in life than finding what makes you happy and life is about the journey, not the destination.  You can actively pursue happiness, or let it come to you, but it usually doesn’t happen that way, however when you do find it, happiness must be acknowledged and savored.  As we grow things change and the stuff that we did love and enjoy will probably also change over time, so we have to learn how to deal with these changes and how to regain our happiness.

Written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge 231 where she asks us to think about “How We Can Be Alone”.

Connecting the Dots

In the picture on the left, the guy with the question mark in his brain is perplexed and he has no clue about how to solve his problem, but it is a good thing for him that he ran into the guy with the lightbulb in his brain.  Lightbulb head is an idea man, and he has an unusual capacity for visualizing and formulating solutions, and he uses this unique talent to get his creative juices flowing.  Ideas just seem to pop into his head all the time and no hurdle is too big for him.  It is not easy being lightbulb head as ideas come suddenly, unannounced and they are often uninvited, and his subconscious is off and running.  His brain is like a giant memory bank that constantly stores, sorts and retrieves data based on his beliefs, previous experiences, memories, skills, and everything that he has seen, done ever since he realized that he had a brain.  He doesn’t waste his time chasing rainbows, instead finds the day-to-day problems, focuses on them and solves them.  He looks at the situation from outside of the box, giving him different, unconventional, and new perspectives and instead of always taking the traditional approach, he is willing to try alternate solutions.

In the picture on the right, both guys are literally reaching out to touch each other via their new telephone service.  Question mark guy thought up this new service and lightbulb head figured out how to implement the virtual reality environment.  It is brand new, and it doesn’t require the user to wear one of those awkward helmets, which can be very confining.  Everything is done on a Smart Phone through this new computer-generated app that places both parties in a familiar atmosphere with scenes and objects that appear to be real, allowing the user to become immersed in their surroundings.  The product is still in the alpha testing stage, as profound questions have been raised concerning what happens if people want to use this for porn purposes.  The convincing visuals will be accompanied by sound, smell, and most importantly, touch to fool the brain, but the owners of the company are thinking about closing this project down, stating that this technology might be socially unacceptable, and most likely illegal in the real world.

Written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge 230 where she asks us to write about what happened between the picture on the left and the one on the right.

Unlocking My Potential

I have untapped abilities waiting to be discovered.  I have had dreams that my books would become Best Sellers, but since I have never published any of them, that probably won’t happen.  I have had other dreams where things that I would do would change the world forever, but I never followed through with any of them.  I invented the Obama Pajama and I figured that people might want to buy them.  I designed them with patriotic symbols and donkeys on them and they were very cute, and I told a lot of people about them, but everyone I told thought that I was a bit crazy.  If this became a hot item, I was going to follow it up with the Dalai Lama pajama.  I know that there is something special inside of me and I at one time thought that my blood was special and that it could be used to cure aids or cancer, but that might have been after a night of drinking too much.  When I was young, I used to think that I could unite all the world’s religions together under one God, but I was very naïve back then.

I would like to believe that we all have unclaimed abilities, and unknown gifts inside of us that are waiting to be discovered.  My world is world is bursting with mathematical patterns that most people don’t recognize, like yesterday when I was at the dentist, and I spent over an hour looking up at the ceiling tiles.  It was a dropped ceiling with acoustical tiles to reduce the noise, so it incorporated these random patterns.  My pareidolia took over (a psychological phenomenon that caused me to see patterns in a random stimulus) and this led me to see cats on one ceiling tile, dogs, bunnies and faces on others.  When you stare at something long enough, weird things can happen, and the objects can even start moving around.  Your eyes map what you see and once the image is in your brain, it is yours to do with as you please.  Your brain is perfectly capable of playing little tricks on you and you are always at its mercy.  Sometimes I feel like there is nothing special at all about me and I just want to sit right here till I die.

Written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge 229.

Assortment of Colors

In the Cream song ‘Swlabr’ aka She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow, a girl spends her days with this man, but returns to her husband at night.  Eventually the husband kicks his cheating wife to the curb, so she runs crying to the other guy and asks him to take care of her, because she doesn’t want to be on her own.  She realizes that she left some pictures behind when she moved out, so she goes back to where her husband is to get them.  Her husband gives her all the pictures that she requested, but he has drawn moustaches on a lot of them to make her look like Hitler.  Some of her photographs were decorated with beards, devil horns/tail, blacked-out teeth, spiky hair and one even had an arrow going through her head.

Her new partner was much more mature, and he was able to accept that she had a past love-life.  He knew the marked-up pictures were affecting her, so he told her to box up all the old photographs to show that she was actually over her ex.  He thought she was pure, because she gave him this look like she never did one wrong thing.  He thought she had good responses and that soulful look on her face made her very desirable.  When he looked into her eyes, he saw so many fantastic colors, which gave him this rainbow feel, knowing that there was hope for their future together.  He knew that without her, his life would be a mistake.  They would never be rich, but he could provide for her and they would have a TV, a stereo, a love seat and live in a white room, with black curtains and fill that room with an assortment of colors.  The important thing is that they would be happy, even if the rainbow has a beard.

Comin’ to me in the mornin’
Leavin’ me at night
Comin’ to me in the mornin’
Leavin’ me alone

You’ve got that rainbow feel
But the rainbow has a beard

Runnin’ to me a-cryin’
When he throws you out
Runnin’ to me a-cryin’
On your own again

You’ve got that pure feel
Such good responses
But the picture has a mustache

You’re comin’ to me with that soulful look on your face
You’re comin’ lookin’ like
You never ever done one wrong thing

You’re comin’ to me with that soulful look on your face
You’re comin’ lookin’ like
You never ever done one wrong thing

So many fantastic colors
I feel in a wonderland
Many fantastic colors
Makes me feel so good

You’ve got that pure feel
Such good responses
Got that rainbow feel
But the rainbow has a beard

Written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge 228, where the theme is assortment.