Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

An Extremely Fine Line, Indeed

A friend from high school sometimes referred to certain “odd” classmates as “easily amused.” It seemed appropriate at the time.

On the other hand, especially as I’ve gotten into my later decades, I’ve developed a major appreciation for the ability to maintain a childlike sense of wonder, particularly in regards to some of the simple things in life.

Today I had an experience that I initially thought was full of childlike sense of wonder, but my brain shouted at me that I was just easily amused, and it occurred to me that the difference between the two states might be an extremely fine line, indeed.

The subject in question was water temperature. Specifically, water temperature gradients in an insulated sports bottle.

Here’s a quick, crappy picture of said insulated sports bottle:

(This is my Angels bottle – don’t worry, OF COURSE I have a Chiefs bottle! But this is the one that amused/amazed me today.)

So, fill it with ice and water (or any other fluid) and it will keep it nice and cold for hours. Ditto for hot chocolate or soup, they’ll stay hot for hours. Thermos bottles have been around since I was a kid, had one in my lunch box in first grade way back before most of you were born. It works as expected and designed.

Let it sit for a day or two and forget that you put ice and cold water in it and you’ll have 18 ounces of room temperature water. As expected.

But somewhere in the middle there…

I’ve noticed a number of times that there’s a middle ground where if one picks it up without undue jostling, pops the top, turns it over and chugs it, you can very distinctly taste the room temperature water first, then getting several degrees colder, and then by the end getting much colder water.

On the one hand, that’s what I would expect as well in a “big picture” sense. Fundamental fluid dynamics says hot fluids or gasses will rise, cold ones sink. So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the top water in the bottle, which I drink first when I turn it over, is warmer, and the bottom water, which gets drunk last, is cooler.

What DOES surprise me is that the temperature difference is so distinctly noticeable. It’s not a subtle difference. Secondly, I’m surprised that the water stays differentiated by temperature even as the bottle is picked up, opened, and upended. I would think that there would be enough disturbance there to mix the water and destroy the effect.

Yet the effect is there – I notice it all the time.

So – childlike curiosity and wonder at the simple facts of our bizarre existence on this dust mote in the infinite cosmos? Or, “You’re easily amused!”

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Filed under Curiosities, Deep Thoughts, Photography

Labyrinth

Thinking about it this morning, I realized that “quagmire” might not be the most accurate metaphor.

Let’s try “labyrinth” instead.

You may assume that’s the definition of the hedge maze from the end of “The Shining,” not the über cool David Bowie thing. Trust me, on the best day of my life I’m not 1% as David Bowie on the worst day of his life.

Keep moving. Never give up, never surrender.

And maybe it’s like “Doom” and at some point we’ll find the chainsaw.

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Quagmire

Too much input, too much noise, too many conflicting priorities, not enough time, everything moving too fast, progress way too slow.

Thinking through it tonight the word “quagmire” came to mind.

I understand that quitting isn’t an option. But it would be nice to have a little bit of progress.

And a little bit less stress and Catholic Puritan work ethic guilt.

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Car Battery

Hissy wouldn’t start up on Tuesday, just made those clicky noises. It wasn’t clear that there was any cause for it, no lights left on or anything else to drain it overnight. It just was about 99% dead.

It’s almost five years since we bought her, so it’s not that much of a surprise. And it was a pleasure to see how easy it was to get to the battery, remove it , and replace it. On my 20+ year old minivan you have to disassemble half the engine compartment to get at the battery to begin with. Honda made it easy.

That’s the good news.

But what it got me thinking about was the fact that we didn’t have any warning. In fact, Hissy just went in for her annual work a month ago and they did their normal “1,823-point courtesy check-up” to make sure everything was hunky dory (and find things that weren’t so they could charge us to fix them) and this didn’t get flagged. In addition, today after fixing that one of the wiper blades started to shred and fall apart. Shouldn’t that have been found in an all-points inspection as well?

Just to be clear, I don’t bring this up as an indictment of the dealer’s service department. They’ve done real well by us recently and I’m not unhappy. But I do see a parallel with this and what’s going on with the world, or at least how I’m perceiving it. (Or maybe my brain is doing pattern matching and finding coincidences where there really aren’t any.)

But this whole situation where you can know that there’s a potential issue with A, B, and C and you do the regular maintenance and you check to make sure you’re good – and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, shit goes sideways anyway? I get it, I’m not an idiot, I understand that we’re not eliminating problems, just lowering the odds, but jeeze Louise, it’s annoying!

And “the world” right now, where we’re already leaking oil like a sieve, have two flat tires, the engine’s making some awful squealing noises, the radio won’t play anything other than elevator music, the windows won’t roll down or up, and the air conditioning is just blowing hotter and hotter air? If we’re already in that condition, how fast can the next big breakdown be and just how bad can the consequences be?

Seriously, might be time for a major tune-up and oil change. And maybe a whole new pit crew and set of mechanics!

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Politics

The Monkeys, She Are Winning

Say something silly about hypothetical, rhetorical primates and they go out of their way the next day to prove they exist and they’re in charge…

Between the deadlines both scheduled and spontaneous at both the office, the hangar, the home, and the world, plus the aches and pains of getting through this decade, plus the gremlins that are inhabiting my computer hardware, plus…

I’m sure we’ve all had those days.

I’m sure we’re all having a lot more of them these days.

That’s probably going to get worse in the next five weeks, and I don’t have a lot of faith that they’ll get better a whole lot after that.

Maybe in February. Or March. March would be nice. Maybe a trip to Tempe Diablo in the middle of  the month…

Again, I’ve wandered. My apologies.

Perhaps sleep will help. Remember sleep? It was so nice…

Hang in there. One foot in front of another. It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up! (I suspect the smarmy schmuck who came up with that one never, EVER got knocked down.)

Just be there for one another, be there for others when they need help, ask for help when you need it. We’ll get through this.

But that printer may get chucked into traffic if it doesn’t get its shit together tomorrow.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Deep Thoughts

Read Your Receipts

It could be that I’m the slowest and stupidest person on this particular bandwagon, but…

…do you read any of the fine print, or even the not-so-fine print at the bottom of your grocery store receipts?

I usually don’t. Unless there’s something that I want to check (“Did I get that 3 for the price of 4 special on Lucky Charms?”) I usually don’t look at it at all other than possibly to record the total.

But today…

So it’s not-so-small print. “Recall Notice – You may have purchased the product listed below.”

Let’s get real. Their computer gets our customer loyalty card account number every week so that we can get that special when we buy five boxes of Cheerios and pile up those fuel points to use to get gas. Their computer knows EXACTLY what I bought. Their computer knows what I bought, what minute I bought it, and what product was out on the floor at that time. Their computer is giving me this warning because it’s 99.999% sure that I bought that recalled onion.

Three thoughts:

First, on one level it’s creepy as hell that they can do this while on another level (from someone who has designed databases and written programs in my sordid past) this is trivially easy so OF COURSE they can do this! When you buy Brand A detergent and you get a coupon for Brand B, do you think that’s an accident?

Secondly, given that ability, it’s pretty great that they’re giving us this warning rather than just having it buried out there in a two-second news segment at midnight on a channel I don’t watch or buried off in an online news article from a source I don’t pay any attention to. That’s very helpful and I guess I should be reading the receipt more often, right?

Finally – WHY THE HELL DIDN’T THEY TELL US SOONER? If we’re going to take it as a given that they have all of this data, I’ll guarantee that they have my phone number, my email address, my home address, my mailing address, and probably my shoe size, inseam, and current blood pressure readings. We’ve already eaten the possibly contaminated onions, probably ate them two or three weeks ago. If they found out about this sometime weeks ago, instead of waiting until now to have something stuck on the bottom of a three-foot long receipt, why couldn’t I have gotten a text or email or phone call weeks ago?

If I’m going to sacrifice any semblance of privacy and sell my digital soul to the big corporate grocer in the sky, can I at least ask to get some efficiency and timeliness in the one small benefit that I might get out of it?

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul

Remember Being Bored?

Remember when every day was a whole lot like every other day and there was a serious boredom factor involved and we wished for a little excitement?

Yeah, about that.

Let’s get back to a little more boredom, a little less stress, a little bit more routine, a little bit more predictability.

Is that too much to ask?

The critters are doing their part. Look out in the back yard – the lizards are lounging, the mockingbirds are mocking (it’s right there in their job description!), the finches are finching, the bunnies are bunnying…

How about we humans get with the program? Before the powers that be just reboot the planet by sending in that 900 gigaton iron ore meteor at .99C to solve the problem once and for all.

I know that the “Giant Meteor 2020!” bumper sticker is funny, but can I request “Boredom/Ennui 2020” as the ticket I would fully support?

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In Search Of Focus

If this isn’t symbolic of this entire year, I don’t know what is.

Practically, I was “playing” with the camera trying to get my astrophotography in better focus, then trying to take a picture of the lens settings using my cell phone when I got it right. That was the theory.

In reality, not only was I having ongoing problems with the astrophotographs being out of focus but the photos I was trying to take to troubleshoot it were also out of focus.

It was very meta.

And it occurred to me that it’s symbolic of this entire year, like a waking nightmare where we pray we’re dreaming because that would mean that we can wake up, but we know that it’s not a dream but we have to wake up from it anyway. Nothing makes sense, but we’re being bombarded with emotions and overwhelmed with a roller coaster ride between terror and joy, desperation and hope, wondering if every moment of love will be our last while knowing that every moment of hatred and anger will be followed by more, sooner or later.

Time to make the reality we’re desperate for, to do the work no matter how hard, to run the race no matter how long.

If we don’t, we’ll die.

Or worse.

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How Did We Get Here?

I’m not 100% sure where I was, but I thought I knew at one time. I might have been wrong. Or I might have forgotten. Maybe I left myself notes. Maybe not.

And I’m not 100% sure where I am now. Or which way I’m heading.

I’m not 100% sure where these words come from. I think that I’m 100% sure where this image comes from, but I’m not 100% sure what it means.

I described it twice today as “trying to run a marathon while hip-deep in molasses.” That’s fair, I think.

But while that might all be incredibly frustrating (it is), I will not stop running.

That’s one lesson of the marathon. You can get carried off in an ambulance, and your time may suck and not be what you wanted, but you will not quit.

No matter how much you just want to take a little rest, sit for a few minutes, and see if maybe that leads to a quit.

No.

When in doubt, keep moving.

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Unanchored

Sunday nights seem to be the worst.

The whole world’s going crazy and it’s getting harder to hold on to a sense of balance. So much going on at home, trying to just hold on to a sense of normalcy in our own bubble. So much to do at work, trying to carry my weight and help where I can for those who need it. So much to do at the hangar as we’re shut down but still trying to survive. So much to going on across our country as actual forces of evil are trying to divide and destroy us from within.

Am I doing enough? Or am I doing too much and will I recognize the straw that breaks the camel’s back? Or does that whole “you’re stronger than you know” thing still apply and I need to buck up, get my ass in gear, and do even more?

Overlying all is a growing anxiety and fear over the COVID-19 virus. We’re still healthy, but know folks who aren’t, and have seen just how bad it can be.

Where’s the center in all of this? Where’s the balance point? Or is there one, or is it constantly shifting and moving?

There’s a little bit of relief on the weekend as we can force ourselves to make time to relax, to watch a ballgame or movie. But even there I feel a constant dread, a guilt, a pressure that time is being wasted when I watch that game or show. Which I know is wrong, but which in turn just feeds into the cycle of angst.

Baseball is back, which is good – but I can’t help but feel that the other shoe is going to drop any day, with a whole COVID outbreak that could devastate a team, teams, or the league. Hockey and basketball return this weekend, and pro football is less than six weeks away. Who even knows if we’ll get college sports in the fall.

So much uncertainty, so much stress, so much impending doom. But tomorrow we’ll tackle it all again and do our best. Mainly because we really don’t have any choice. As the saying goes, “The only way out is through.”

But Sunday nights seem to be the worst.

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Deep Thoughts, Sports