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Archive for November, 2008

the 12 cereal grains plus marijuana, beer and concrete

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

magic unmagic mushroom on my knee – foto by smith

Okay, class – there will be a test.

I like to look into the origins of things. For example, I’ve found three of the oldest, longest used items by folk are beer, marijuana, and concrete.

Marijuana goes back at least to 6,000 B.C. in China.
Beer history also goes back to 6,000 B.C.
The first concrete structures were built in 5,600 B.C.

Today I began wondering where wheat originated, how long it’s been around. So I researched edible grains. I lost 4 hours of my day and drowned my brain in way too much dry data. This is what I found from internet surfing.

The 12 main cereal grains eaten around the world are (in order of abundance top to bottom):


Grain production ranges from 700 million tons of maize grown per year down to 59 thousand tons of quinoa.

Maize, wheat and rice are responsible for 87% of all grain production and 43% of all food calories world-wide. These grains are true grasses except for buckwheat and quinoa which are classified as pseudocereals.

Now, as to the WHERE and WHEN these grains originated, the answers are unsure, sparse and contradictory.

The history of maize and its domestication trace back some 8,000 years. Archaeological studies indicate corn was cultivated in the Americas at least 5,600 years ago. Teosinte (Zea mexicana) has been linked with the earliest maize in Mesoamerica and was first harvested as early as 10,000 years ago.

It is believed that rice cultivation began simultaneously in many countries over 6500 years ago. The first crops were observed in China (Hemu Du region) around 5000 B.C. as well as in Thailand around 4500 B.C.

It is believed wild relatives of wheat first grew in the Middle East. Wheat was one of the first plants to be cultivated. It was grown about 11,000 years ago. By 4,000 B.C. wheat farming had spread to Asia, Europe and North Africa.

Remains of barley grains found at archaeological sites in the Fertile Crescent indicate that about 10,000 years ago the crop was domesticated there from its wild relative.

The origin of sorghum is generally believed to be around the present day Ethiopia prior to 2000 BC. From Ethiopia sorghum was taken to West Africa across the Sudan from where it was first grown among the Mande people of the upper Niger. From Ethiopia, sorghum was taken to east Africa from where it was distributed among the Nilotic and Bantu people. Sorghum was taken from East Africa to India during the first millennium from where it was taken to China in the early Christian era.

The oldest historical roots of millet are to be found in China 4500 BCE, where it was considered a sacred crop. One of the earliest recorded writings dates from 2800 BCE giving directions for the growing and storing of the grain.

Probably the oldest known oat grains were found in Egypt among remains of the 12th Dynasty, which was about 2,000 B.C. These probably were weeds and not actually cultivated by the Egyptians. The oldest known cultivated oats were found in caves in Switzerland that are believed to belong to the Bronze Age.

Despite their widespread praise by nutritionists and bodybuilders alike, oats have a humble origin. They were the last of the major cereal grains to be domesticated, around 3,000 years ago in Europe, and apparently originated as weeds that grew within cultivated fields of various other crops.

It is believed that rye originated in southwestern Asia about 6500 B.C. It migrated westward across the Balkan Peninsula into Europe.

Rye was found as a weed widely distributed in wheat and barley fields in southern Asia. It apparently had coevolved with wheat and barley for over 2,000 years until its value as a crop was recognized.

Rye is one of the most recently domesticated cereal crops. Unlike some other cereal grains that can be traced back to prehistoric times, rye was not cultivated until around 400 B.C.

Triticale is a hybrid between rye and wheat, made by using conventional plant breeding methods. The very first triticales were bred in 1876, and origins can be traced back to Scotland.

Buckwheat is an ancient food plant, having been cultivated in Asia as long as 8,000 years ago, and spreading generally throughout Europe and eastward to Japan by 4,000 B.C. During recorded history buckwheat has often been considered a staple, subsistence crop, grown preferentially in regions or periods in which wheat or rice harvests are poor.

Buckwheat is the world’s highest elevation domesticate,

Fonio is probably the oldest African cereal. Fonio is an important indigenous grain crop of West Africa, but the extent of genetic diversity in fonio, its origin and phylogeny are not well understood.

Fonio is both nutritious and one of the world’s fastest growing cereals, reaching maturity in as little as six to eight weeks. It is a crop that can be relied on in semi-arid areas with poor soils, where rains are brief and unreliable. The grains are used in porridge and couscous, for bread, and for beer.

While no food can, by itself, furnish all the essential nutrients for living, quinoa comes as close to being complete.

Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America, where it has been an important food for 6,000 years.

Since at least 3000 B.C., if not longer, the seed of the plant Chenopodium quinua has been a vital part of the Andean diet, used as a grain in baking, as well as being served in numerous dishes prepared by Aymara, Quechua and other indigenous peoples found throughout the Andean region. Yet, in spite of its nutritious value and hearty growth, in modern society quinoa has never enjoyed the mass appeal of grains such as rice or wheat.

Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico – foto by smith


just wanna be myself, be myself, be myself

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Heart rending – foto by smith

My favorite instructions came with a futon made in Taiwan – they said, “Sometimes during assembly, it is best to be two people.”

Sometimes in life too. I wonder how many people I am. According to Google – I are

365,000,000 Smiths
     2,660,000 Steve Smiths
        387,000 Steven Smiths
           21,200 Steven B. Smiths

That’s way too many mes. Sometimes it is not best to be 21,200 people.

we, me, myself & I – foto by smith


night fragment

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Oaxacan graffiti – foto by smith

The Mexican Government took over the Catholic churches, missions, and convents in 1833. They kept the convents, let the Catholics use the churches. The Government turned some of the convents into community culture centers, and their stone courtyards into community parks. Our church park down the street has a juice stall, a candy stall, and sometimes a wall of religious and sentimental paintings for sale leaning against the church. During the day the park is used for music and dance practice and as a student hangout; afternoon and early evening it is for lovers; and late at night I hear it’s robber territory. I keep wondering about the overlap between lovers and robbers – do the robbers go early to love, then punch in as evil doers as night falls?

Walking by our old stone church tonight, we saw 12 teenagers and pre-teens dancing on the raised tile platform, doing intricate traditional indigenous courting folk dances. They were weaving and bobbing and laughing and I was having a good time when I realized they were all Down Syndrome children. People whom I’ve been taught have cognitive disabilities were doing complicated stuff way beyond my capacity to perform. Made me reevaluate some of my prejudices. And they were joyous.

Oaxacan graffiti – foto by smith


moth moment

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

o boy – foto by smith

Moth flew inside the white paper Japanese lantern covering our ceiling light and thumped around within – loud thumps. I live and let live but couldn’t abide its repeated random erratic bumpings, so got the fly swatter. Wherever it landed within, I lightly thwacked its paper shadow until it flew out and crawled up the outside. I look into its beady eyes and realize I’m not going to kill it. I put the swatter up to it, it climbs on, and I start for the open window to release it, but it flies off and hides in silence. I return to work. Ten minutes later, moth’s back inside the paper lantern thumping away, so I get the swatter and really start whacking its shadow whenever it lands. It gets real confused with my heavy thunkings and dives out the bottom straight at my face and lands on my left shoulder. I look down and it’s looking up at me. I walk over to the open window and shake it off into the dark. It lands on the sill, turns around, raises its antennae to me and starts climbing back in. I blow it away into the night with my big bad wolf breath and close the window. I know it’s out there lurking, plotting, waiting for round three. I hope it stays away. It’s too big to squish – leave too much goop.

a big picture – foto by smith


four seasons of fame

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

four seasons of fame – foto by smith


dog blog

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Dog carnival ride – foto by smith

I was walking the city sidewalk in the sun talking with Lady when a small dog sitting eye level in the window on the outside ledge starts barking directly in my ear scaring the cool cat right out of me. So I took it’s foto as it raged.

Doggie in the window – foto by smith

Once in Essaouira Morocco and thrice here in Oaxaca I’ve seen dogs doing it doggie-style get stuck dog penis in dog vagina when they’re through. One or both always yelp in pain, and sometimes the lady turns and snaps at the gent. I tried to approach the ones outside the walled city of Essaouira to take a foto, but they feared me and ran away in the desert dust – which was an amazingly funny surreal sight because they both had to run a little side-ways since they were hitched at the rear, so you had a crab-like scuttling creature with 8 legs, 2 tails, and a head at each end scurrying ass-end-to-end away.

Dog art – foto by smith

All three times here were below our bedroom window and involved the same timid black dog I call Shadow. Since she’s been in heat twice and we’re in our 12th month here, dogs must go into heat every 6 months or so. She has a smaller male dog friend I’ve named Yipper (because he yaps the night away) who is either too short to mount her or doesn’t have sex with friends. When his dog-pack friends sniff her out and mount her, Yipper goes crazy attacking them, yipping and nipping – to no avail. This last time one dog-pack friend got stuck in her in the morning, and another dog stuck that night.

Large dark brown male dog on right
stuck in black female dog on left
while tan male dog tries to mount already mounted black dog
and Yipper yaps at center front – foto by smith

Since the last three dogs I’ve seen doing it got stuck, I assume it’s standard practice and there’s an evolutionary reason for it. And I think I know what it is – this last time, a third dog tried mounting her while the second dog was still stuck, so I suspect being stuck for 5 to 15 minutes afterwards gives the first dog’s sperm time to settle in and get to work.

Two roof dogs – foto by smith

I’m going to shoot my dog wad in this blog and use the rest of my dog fotos. I’m fascinated and often times startled by the roof dogs suddenly barking at me from overhead as I walk along. They also lunge and bark at me from the crevices in the closed courtyard gates.

Howler dog duets with sirens and paces his small space – foto by smith

Lot of dog here – street dogs, roof dogs, courtyard dogs, barking dogs, howling dogs, night dog packs roaming and barking and barking and roaming and leaving dog shit on the sidewalks. But it’s all good, makes life livelier, more immediate. I talk to all of them.

Street dog taken by roof human – foto by smith

How much is that doggie in the window? (arf! arf!)
The one with the waggley tail
How much is that doggie in the window? (arf! arf!)
I do hope that doggie’s for sale

I must take a trip to California
And leave my poor sweetheart alone
If he has a dog, he won’t be lonesome
And the doggie will have a good home

I read in the paper there are robbers (roof! roof!)
With flashlights that shine in the dark
My love needs a doggie to protect him
And scare them away with one bark

I don’t want a bunny or a kitty
I don’t want a parrot that talks
I don’t want a bowl of little fishies
He can’t take a goldfish for a walk

Written by Bob Merrill in 1952. It was adapted from a well-known Victorian music hall song. The best-known version was recorded by Patti Page which reached #1 on both the Billboard and Cash Box charts in 1953. – according to

My favorite neighborhood roof dog.
He lays and watches others pass yet goes crazy barking at me.
He recognizes my voice, becomes infuriated when I talk nicely to him.
Lady says he’s going to leap from the 2nd floor in a rage and eat me.
foto by smith

Well, I’m dog gone out.

Junkyard dog – foto by smith


lines mine 6/2006-5/2007

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Shadow line – foto by smith

These are a few unconnected lines I harvested from my first year of blogging (June 2006 – May 2007) for possible further use. They range from funky to foolish, silly to sublime.

I got those old algorhythm & blues.

There’s three mes in me: skin, brain, bone. And none of them will leave me alone.

Fooled by the son, startled by the stretch, lulled by the lies in this lullaby of why.

The was what is.

Everything comes to a head – little head, big head, dead head, wet head.

Rat shack, me shank, around the bend I go.

The land of the spree, the home of the grave.

Ying yang orangutan give a god a bone.

Women wear falsies; men wear false he’s.

There are cobwebs in the closet
No closure in the hole
Past sins must first be offset
Before we save our soul

Keep on shadow dancing before the darkens arc.

Bees buzz, we nuzz, times fuzz.

The doing is the essence, the done but distant dream.

Alter ego – foto by smith



Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Oaxaca anti-government graffiti – foto by smith

Here are more lies from the 3-card monte pocket-picking Corporate world:

“Many companies are using a sneaky way to raise prices without driving customers to less expensive brands: They are shrinking their packaging. A jar of Skippy peanut butter, for example, is the same height and circumference it has always been, but now has a hidden, inward “dimple” on the bottom that decreases the amount the jar holds by two ounces. Boxes of breakfast cereal appear to be the same height and width they’ve always been, but manufacturers have reduced the boxes’ depth from front to back, decreasing the amount of cereal they hold. Rolls of Scott toilet tissue contain the same number of sheets as always (1,000), but the length of each sheet has been cut from 4 to 3.7 inches. A “six ounce” can of Starkist Tuna now holds just five ounces.”

– excerpt from “Sneaky manufacturers shrink packaging, while keeping prices the same” – – November 17, 2008

Corp-o-Rat world – foto by smith


me, myself & lie

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

strange dude – foto by smith

I’m a cock-eyed optimist in a cynic’s shell, a psychopath with a conscience, a sociopath with feelings.

My favorite non-existent song by a group that’s never been is “I’ve Got The Longest Short Term Memory Gap In Town” by Sleazy Weasel & the Towels of Unbelief.

Is it safe to come out yet? – foto by smith


1949, 1946, 1808, 1947

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Oaxacan street art graffiti – foto by smith

I keep hearing myself unknowingly “making music” as I walk along – humming, mumbling, whistling, semi-singing. I say “semi-singing” because in the early 1950s in my little white wood two room country school house which had 30 kids in all eight grades, I was in the Christmas play as part of the angelic chorus. After our first run through, the teacher told me not to sing, that I should hum instead. After our second run through, she told me not to sing AND not to hum – just open my mouth in silence and pretend. I can’t carry a tune – but I can make folk laugh out loud when I try.

Still I frequently find myself humming or vocally noodling – and it is almost always one of 4 tunes:

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” (also called “The Magic Song“) which I first heard in 1949 by Perry Como and The Fontane Sisters, and then heard again in Cinderella in 1950;

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” is a 1946 (the year I was born) Disney song from the movie Song of the South;

the first few bars of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, 1808;

and most often the theme song for The Howdy Doody Show (1947 through 1960):

It’s Howdy Doody Time.
It’s Howdy Doody Time.
Bob Smith and Howdy Do
Say Howdy Do to you.
Let’s give a rousing cheer,
Cause Howdy Doody’s here,
It’s time to start the show,
So kids let’s go!

(to the tune of Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay”).

That’s all now&then and then, so here’s now:

Leaning out my night window watching, I see Yipper the male night dog yapper lying before the closed doors across the street wanting inside to be with his timid black lady dog friend. A red Volkswagen pulls up. Yipper sees the car and goes ecstatic, making little yelps and whiffs and sniffs while jiggling all about. Woman gets out of VW. Yipper runs to her. She ignores him. Yipper follows her, bouncing happy. Woman unlocks double doors, opens one slightly and Yipper runs in.

I don’t know how smart dogs are, but it looked to me like Yipper saw the red VW, recognized which car it was, and knew it contained a person who would open the door for him. That’s basic problem solving 101.

And now, back to the more serious days of then.

Salagadoola mechicka boola
Put ’em together and what have you got

Salagadoola mechicka boola
It’ll do magic believe it or not

Salagadoola means mechicka booleroo
But the thingmabob
that does the job
is bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Salagadoola menchicka boola
Put ’em together and what have you got

Music: Mack David and Al Hoffman
Lyrics: Jerry Livingston

Oaxacan street art graffiti – foto by smith


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