A Watched Pot Does in Fact Boil

I’ve seen it happen. It’s actually kind of fascinating, too. If viewed through a glass pot you can see the heat currents moving through the water, the bubbles forming and disappearing. I was also surprised how quickly these bubbles begin to form; almost immediately after the heat was turned on. However, the steam in these tiny bubbles recondenses as the heat is absorbed by the surrounding water. They grow in size as the heat differential between the steam and the water is reduced, allowing the steam to remain gaseous longer, eventually reaching the top surface and becoming the rolling boil that we are familiar with.

Upon reflection, I feel that the adage that a watched pot doesn’t boil is more a reflection of our limited power of concentration or focus than it is of our real influence on the pot. Unlike a quantum observers ability to influence the velocity or position of a photon, an observer has no ability to slow or stop time around the pot. There is no Schrödinger’s cat involved. It is only our own perception of time. Or, really, of the passage of time.

For example: Staring at a clock for a minute is first of all torture and almost impossible, but also a demonstration of what interminable really means. However, looking around the room for a minute seems to take much less time. Why?

Because of the time markers we have available. Every tick of the second-hand looks identical to last or the next. But a look around the room is divided by the time our eye spends on each object in our view: the chair, the light, the window, the book, the cat… each is a tick that we can recall and identify individually. They are unique.

In our mind, we have created a timeline or a short movie that is a minute long. Watching the clock or the pot for a minute doesn’t give us enough stimulation to use to create our little minute long movie, so it just seems to go on and on and on. As far as our stimulation-loving mind is concerned It could be 30 seconds long or 30 eons.

This may be for another discussion, but don’t think our lives have gotten any more complicated than they were fifty years ago. We have just filled them with distractions. Our minds are no longer forced to focus on anything for longer than a microsecond and so our lives have become nothing but a long timeline of snapshots in our minds, resulting in time passing faster than we can notice.

We need to take more time to watch the pot boil or the clock tick or the roses bloom or the toddler walk. We need to slow down our time so that we can experience it rather than just tick it off.

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Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

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The Journey

I’ve realized recently that life is a journey; not a destination or a destiny. There is no real point to the journey other than the journey itself. We either enjoy it or we don’t. How we use this journey is completely up to us, no one else. I always thought I was destined to be rich and important. I’ve finally given up on that belief. I was never destined for anything, but I recognize the decisions I made that resulted in my not being rich and important. However, I am also very happy with how my journey turned out in spite of my failings and mistakes. My journey has been amazing and I will continue to enjoy every day of it. I will avoid becoming cynical about humanity and our future because our future does not depend on one man or one party or even one country. In future, I will avoid discussing any timely topic that can be nailed to one event or personality in the news. There is enough of that commentary elsewhere. Instead, I want to comment on the journey as a journey rather than on events along the journey.

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Just a short note. I needed to brag about passing 25,000 on The List. It may not mean much in the big picture, but it’s really the little things that matter. I’m feeling accomplished tonight.

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A duck on vacation

Mrs. Quack Mallard shook her tail in the warm California sun. The San Diego zoo was more than she had ever expected. Far beyond her wildest dreams. This was one place that she had dreamed of visiting all her life. Not the Johnson’s cornfield or the Baker’s pond, like her husband, Quack. He was always so shortsighted and could only see to his next meal. She, however, had bigger goals in life. And she was here. The glorious duck pond at the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California. Too bad he never got to see this far south, he would have loved the bay. The seagulls would have scared the droppings out him, though. He was never one for loud species. He hated geese and despised Jays of any kind. Even the little ducklings got on his nerves and made him cranky. Once in a while he would go off on one of his temper-quacks and scandalize the neighbors.

Oh, but she was passed all that. Mr. Mallard had insisted on stopping for one last dabble in Baker’s pond. She had warned him that it would be the death of him. So, Mrs had made the trek south on her own. The winter quarters were lonely and quiet without him, but she had held out hope that he would show. But even hope has a deadline and spring was hers. Then, instead of making the long flight north to the breeding grounds with all her neighbors, she had turned south on her own. A lone female traveling the world. And it was glorious. The gulls had embarrassed her at first, but they were actually kind of handsome in a loud white rakish kind of way. She was passed the age for a life partner and a little extra male attention couldn’t be a bad thing.

She turned away from the pond in search of penguins. Now there was a handsome bird! Tall, dark and silent. Yum!

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Maturing Farts

About a year ago I noticed that my farts have changed. Not the frequency or potency, but the maturity of the fart. Like an aged scotch, my farts seem to have a more musty meaty tang to them than before. I’m sure there has been a slow gradation to the change, but I had just personally noticed it and found it interesting.

Our diets change as we age. Our food preferences change and accordingly our gut bacteria are altered to accommodate. I’ve observed a progressive change in my own diet; I eat more vegetables, but little dairy and I have begun to crave meat more than ever before. Which is weird because I’ve never been much of a meat eater.

Yes, this is a strange topic, but I’m just wondering if anyone else has noticed this phenomenon?


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Ain’t So Bad

I turned fifty last week. I had a big party and everything, but I don’t feel any different. I expected to feel fifty; to feel some sort of gear change or seasonal shift or something. But there was nothing at all to denote my summiting of that hill, the midpoint of my life. I remember when thirty was old, forty was ancient and fifty was near death, but now that I’m here I don’t see what the big deal is.

I look at other people my age and can see the age. I don’t really see it in my mirror. It may just be denial, however I can’t see that possibly being the reason. Or that my internal self-image is lagging the reality. To be perfectly honest, I am completely okay with that.

In my own opinion, I believe that aging has changed. Previous generations were often heavy smokers, heavy drinkers, or worked in dirty industries. Even lead additives in gasoline probably contributed to aging. However, I don’t smoke and rarely drink and work in a fairly clean industry. Therefore, I don’t look fifty or at least the stereotypical fifty.

I may have just turned fifty, but those bastards at the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) have been after me for years with their emails and mailings and discount insurance. They seemed to think that I was old or something. But the joke is on them now. I am fifty whether I feel it or look it or act it and I’m going to take all of those damn discounts I can get.

In my assessment, I think I’ve aged well. I don’t have any health issues. All my parts are present and functional. I am still learning new things and making plans for tomorrow and next year and next decade. I may have slowed down and lost some of my drive, but I think that experience and wisdom have given me an edge to make up for it. I look forward to the next fifty years, because so far being old ain’t so bad.

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If there is no God, is murder still wrong?

I recently ran across this headline at Skeptic magazine and had some thoughts. Their article went into the more academic logic of this question, but I wanted to give my shorter more down to earth logic.

From the first, I need to say that I am an Atheist; I don’t believe in the existence or need for a god.

Next, I believe that murder is wrong. I also believe that I didn’t need God or a supernatural being or even a book to tell me this. I was taught by my parents and by the society that I grew up in that murder is wrong. It’s not an instinct or a revelation from above. It is simply what I was taught.

I do not believe that moral teachings come from god or an inspired text; they are taught to us by the adults that influence our youth and by the social norms that surround us. I grew up in a community where the destruction of personal property was frowned on, so I’ve never tagged anything with spray paint. I’ve never shoplifted or ever seriously considered it. I’ve also never stoned someone to death. However, there are societies or communities where this is the norm and has become part of their morality. But did it come from god?

I don’t carry a gun in my car, because that is not something people did in my hometown. But we also didn’t give alms to the poor or take strangers into our home. However, I am a modern American, so I break the speed limit laws on a daily basis. This could be a question of morality, since I am breaking the laws of my country, but since nearly every citizen of this country does the same thing it’s not even frowned on.

So, how could morality come from god? Which morality? Who’s version of it?

The Christian Bible is rife with questionable morals. God instructed to Israelites take the young girls of their defeated enemies as slaves and concubines (sex slaves!!) and to kill everyone and everything else – men, women, boys, the old, the sick and the animals. The bible also explains that slavery is okay and stoning is really good punishment.

Please explain to me how this morality fits into today’s world. If our morality comes from god or his books then how can their adherents pick and chose which his morals to follow? Or is it really just of matter of free will after all? The Quran doesn’t suggest stoning for adultery, but Christian Bible does. And technically these books are supposed to be the inspired  word of the same god. So again, what morals come from god?

I believe we are more influenced by our parents than by any book. I was spanked for stealing toys long before I could read and I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t refer to bible to determine whether I should be punished or not. She did not need a god to determine her moral judgement at that point. And I do not believe that we need a god to make us moral.

Murder is wrong because our society says it is, not because god wrote about it.

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St Louis!!

I am now officially living in St Louis, MO. I haven’t had time to explore the city much yet, but I plan to this weekend. My wife will be joining me for a couple days. We usually start with a food safari to find interesting places to eat. We avoid the tourist traps if at all possible. I learned that there is a St Louis style pizza! It’s thin crust with a provolone, white cheddar mixed cheese. It’s on my list to try.

I will have some pictures to post soon.

I think the one thing I must tell you to make this post worthwhile is that if you are traveling away from home for any length of time, bring your own pillow. I have never slept well in hotels, regardless of how comfortable the bed is. I think it’s the strange environment that makes me uncomfortable. I spent the first week here without my pillow and didn’t sleep well at all. But on my return from the weekend I brought my pillow from home and have slept like a baby every night since. The smells of home, even old stale ones, must work like aroma therapy and relax me.

Next I need my wife here and everything will be perfect again.

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New Adventures!!

I have concluded my job hunt and have landed in St Peters, MO. Just outside of St Louis!! I’m looking forward to exploring the area and getting back to writing. It was amazing how much of my attention was taken by the search. I’ve been out of work for nearly two months and accomplished almost zero actual writing.  SAD!!

However, now that I am gainfully employed once again, I will be focusing my free time to my writing, both blogs and my novel. I will be living the bachelor life for the next two months or so and want to use that time to concentrate on writing and getting my sh*t together. If this is truly the career I want, then I need to prove to myself that I can actually do it. I know I can write, but have only produced in fits and spurts, not the consistent flow necessary for a career.

So, I’m going to warn you up front. I will be posting more, but much of it will be about my adventures in St Louis, our new house (we have house for the first time in ten years), and my new job. My wife has never lived outside of Nebraska, so this is as much hew adventure as mine and I will be posting about that also. She is so excited she may explode!!

So much for this post – More later.  See Ya!!!

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Back to Writing: Future Tech

My job search is beginning to wear on me. Being home all day is getting old. At the beginning of this period I had the hope to get some writing done, but in the end I spent so much time on the job search that my other work was pushed to the side. However, I now believe I have an offer or two on the way and want to try to get some of my work done before I have to, you know, go to work!!

So I’m hitting the outline again. I’m to the point of creating scenes in the outline and fleshing out the details. However, I find myself worrying too much about background details. For example: my novel is set in the future – about 100 years in the future. The technology of the time is very important to the story, but I catch myself putting too much time and effort into the details of the technology. But I have a work-around that I am trying to force myself to stick to, which I will explain at the end.

I happen to love science fiction particularly classic scifi and I make time to read a number of them every year. However, as I’ve grown in my own writing skill or understanding, I find myself analyzing the stories and the writing techniques rather than just enjoying the story. And for the most part my enjoyment has been much reduced. I begin to see the plot holes and lack of character development where I only saw adventure before. I am also an engineer with a good grasp of physics and electronics and I find the wonderment that I experienced when seeing future technologies being replaced by scowls and head shakes at the bad science or bad predictions. I seem to have learned too much to really read story for entertainment only. And I think that is sad.

My own writing is influenced by these same skepticisms. I analyze my own writing through the same critical lens I do anything else I read. In order to avoid anyone scoffing at my bad science, I feel the need to science the heck out of my vision of the future. But I can’t be absolutely accurate. Unless I actually take the time to invent a repulsor pod or an animated tattoo, I will only be guessing at any future technology. I can interpolate into the future all I want, but it will be no more than guessing.

So, my work-around for writing about future technology is to describe it as little as possible. Write about it as if it were just a toaster or a refrigerator. An author would never go into an in-depth discussion of how these common items work, because he can safely assume that the reader already knows the basics of how they work and can just use them without explaining them. I attempt to use future technology in the same way. I assume that the reader already knows enough to not care about how it works. A replusor-pod is just a repulsor-pod; they’re every where, right? Just assume that in this story they are and the details are not important.

This is a new work-around or mindset or whatever you want to call it. I am in the midst of using it right now and hope to get some quality writing done without worrying about the technological details of the future. Remember: It is the characters and their struggles that matter, not how their floating car works or who invented it.

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