Pointspace’s monthly roundup | August

Sunflowers

 

So September is fast approaching and hopes of an Indian summer are becoming more and more unrealistic. I have been caught out in more downpours this month than I probably have all year but I have also discovered the most amazing honey mangoes from Pakistan (not the ones from supermarkets). I’m afraid I’ve become quite a bore raving on and on about them, but they are little morsels of sunshine.

 

What discoveries have you made this month?

 

Summer fires in Greece are, unfortunately, an annual occurrence. The dry arid weather with weeks and sometimes months of no rain combined with secluded areas of pine trees with dropped pine needles that carpet the forest ground make it the perfect setting for that casually flicked cigarette end from a passing car or bit of broken bottle harnessing the sun’s rays to start that little wisp of smoke. And as luck would have it every single time, days of stuffy stillness would be relieved with a strong cool wind which would help carry the fires further than it could imagine, and render the helicopter water rescues useless as the wind blows the large clouds of water every which way but near the fire.

One summer growing up, the forest fires decided to leave the forests of Halkidiki and creep towards the city, and specifically my neighbourhood. On the slopes of Mount Hortiatis, we were raised above the rest of Thessaloniki, and surrounded by a nest of trees that provided me with pine cones and acorns to spray paint gold and silver to my heart’s delight every Christmas (do children still make crafty presents?). The news told about yet more hectares of land burned to the ground and we wondered whether it would ever stop.

That night I remembered being woken up by an insane watermelon seller droning on about his produce through the crackly megaphone system attached to the top of his pick up truck. On and on he went without respite, at three in the morning. I turned over and drowned out his voice with my pillow.

It turns out the watermelon seller was in fact the local police who were driving up and down the streets announcing the news that the fire was indeed on our woody doorsteps and we should probably leave. Their voices were being carried out through the megaphone system making them sound exactly the same as the watermelon man (and other fruit and vegetable seller back in the day) announcing their arrival to the housewives of the neighbourhood. My parents marvel to this day how I could hear the megaphone but not the words.

1.  This article from the Guardian’s neurophilosophy blog by Mo Costandi goes into the concept that our awareness of the world around us depends on how focused our attention is. Put very simply, if you’re concentrating on one thing enough, you don’t notice other blatantly obvious things.

 

2.  I seek out interesting blogs and articles (about health, wellbeing, technology, culture, physics and kick scootering to name a few) but often it’s the comments section that is most interesting. Think of the raw unpolished diamond in the mines and that’s what some comments (and the resulting conversation) are. A recent article suggesting that chocolate can help your work out was just that.

Researchers have discovered that mice given epicatechin, a purified form of cacao’s primary nutritional ingredient were fitter than mice given only water in the same amount. Of course mice aren’t humans, but the researchers estimate that about half of one square from a normal chocolate bar could be beneficial during exercise. It’s an interesting article and the comments below were (at the time of writing) humorous and insightful. 

 

3.  The latest news of celebrities accrediting acupuncture with helping them conceive, has sparked an interest amongst women seeking help with their fertility issues. Acupuncture offers a more natural, calmer option to the costs and side effects of conventional medicine’s options for infertility, as shown in this article from USA Today.

 

4.  I watched “My Life As A Turkey” which followed biologist Joe Hutto as he hatched a batch of wild turkey eggs to the day they left home. It was full of Hutto’s easy charm, wonder and heartbreak. Amongst the backdrop of the Florida Everglades, Hutto mused: “So many of us live either in the past or in the future and betray the moment. And in some sense, we forget to live our lives. And the wild turkeys were always reminding me to live my life. I think as humans we have this peculiar predisposition to be always thinking ahead and living a little bit in the future, anticipating the next minute, the next hour the next day and we betray the moment… And the wild turkeys reminded me to present. To be here.”

I think that’s a wonderful sentiment. I always plan with one eye on the future, but I think there is great value in remembering to stop and enjoy the moment. It’s a wonderful documentary and I urge you to seek it out (available on BBC iplayer until September 14).

 

Photo credit: Per Ola Wiberg via flickr

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