Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Playing with Mother Nature

I read an article that has me wondering if I should be concerned. According to Tracy Staedtr from DiscoveryNews, people are coming up with ways to snuff out hurricanes before they reach land.

I know that sounds far fetched. My first reaction was "Excuse me? You've got to be kidding." But apparently hurricanes are actually pretty fragile. To quote Staedtr:

"Typhoons [aka hurricanes] gain strength from warmer ocean waters. In fact, the storms need an ocean surface temperature of between 77 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit to develop and 80 degrees F to keep spinning."

The idea is to use a fleet of submarines to shoot cold water to the surface of the ocean, lowering the temperature of the water by just a little, and "snuffing out the typhoon."

So apparently it is possible to stop a hurricane in its path, if you have the right technology. You can read the article here.

The prospect worries me. True, it would have been wonderful to be able to avoid Hurricane Katrina, and it would be amazing to avoid future natural disasters. But...at what price? Mother Nature does not like to be tampered with. And when she is tampered with, she hits back. to illustrate this point, let me tell you a little story about wildfires.

There were places in the United States where forest fires were not allowed to burn for years and years. During that time, things were pretty nice. But then it turned out that forest fires are actually needed to clear away old growth in forests, and some trees (like the great sequoias) actually needed the fires for their seeds to start growing. And through the years of not having any wildfires there was an accumulation on the forest floors of everything that should have been burned away.
All that stuff that should have been burned away turned into some amazing tinder, and eventually it was impossible for fire fighters to prevent forest fires. The results were wild fires that were more dangerous than any on record, because of the tinder that had accumulated.
So not only did the forest suffer from lack of fires, but in the long run so did people.

I don't know what would happen if people started snuffing out hurricanes. But as someone who knows what can happen when you tamper with nature, and as a Pagan who worries about Mother Nature, I'm not so sure that I like the idea of making an "off" switch for hurricanes.

What do you think?

The Preacher

There's a guy I see on the streets downtown who I have decided to name The Preacher. The Preacher feels that it is his duty to make sure that everyone knows about original sin, eternal damnation, and all that other fun stuff.

Usually I try to avoid The Preacher, but that can be a little hard at times since he likes to preach at one of my train stops, and if it's raining we usually both head for cover...which puts me close enough to hear him. Not that he bothers me personally, because he picks a spot and then announces the Good News to everyone from his chosen place, rather than talking to people individually.

Today my curiosity got the better of me, so instead of heading for the opposite side of the train station I stood near enough to The Preacher that I could see what kind of responses he got from people.

I have seen how people respond to The Preacher before today, of course. Most people ignore him, or at least pretend to ignore him, like I do. But what I never realized before today is that the few who do respond to him do so only to tell him that he's deluded, that they're going to hell already, or to otherwise argue with him. I have never seen anyone show support for what he's preaching.

In a way I have to admire The Preacher. He's doing what he thinks is right, even though he is ridiculed for it.

At the same time I think that what he's doing is pointless. I doubt that he'll convert anyone by preaching on a street corner.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Question

In my English class last evening the professor asked us all a question: what is our favorite punctuation mark? That's a question that I've never thought about before, but I quickly figured out what my favorite is.

What's your favorite punctuation mark?

- / : ; ( ) $ & @ " " . , ? ! ' ...


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bleh

I went to my first fall term class this evening. It was an English class, by the way. :) During break I talked a little to the young woman sitting next to me. I found out that she's also an English major, and when I asked if she was new to Marylhurst University she said "This is my first term here, and this is my very first class."

I suddenly felt old.

There she was, I'm guessing right out of high school, and brand new to Marylhurst. I, on the other hand, am in my second year at the university, and after a year in the music therapy department switched to English. She was young and excited (or that's how she seemed, anyways), and made me feel old and jaded.

I'm only 21! She's maybe 18! I'm no more than 3 years older than her, maybe less! I'm too young to be feeling old!

The word that comes to mind is: bleh. I've never actually used that word before, so I looked it up in the Urban Dictionary to see if I was using properly. You can take a look there if you so wish and decide for yourself if my usage of the word is appropriate.

Bleh.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hair stuff

It's been ages since I've talked about hair, but you might remember that last winter I started experimenting with going "no poo" -- that is, not using shampoo or conditioner on my hair. The idea is that once your hair gets past the greasy stage, your scalp will stop producing so much oil and shampoo is no longer needed.

Alas, that was not the case with me.

I eventually tried some Burt's Bees shampoo, which is all natural, using a vinegar rinse in place of conditioner. Unfortunately, the shampoo made my hair rather lifeless, which I did not like. (I would like to add that whatever I think of their hair stuff, I love Burt's Bees chap stick!)

So now I'm back to where I was before trying no poo, which is using some 2 in 1 stuff that combines shampoo and conditioner. It's pretty simple, but works really well on my hair.

Have you ever gone to great lengths to try to find out how to do something better (whether it was taking care of your hair, or something else), only to find that what you were already doing was actually the best thing for you?

I've read great stories about other people going no poo and it being great for them. I guess I'm just not one of those people it works for!

Then vs. now

I keep thinking about where I was last year versus now.

Last year I was starting my first term at Marylhurst as a music therapy major. This year I am returning to school as an English major. Last year I knew that I wanted to become a music therapist someday, but this year I don't know what I want to be "when I grow up."

ALSO, last year when I started fall term I was just barely recovering from a bout with the swine flu. That was not fun. This year my first day of school is tomorrow, and I'm quite healthy. That's definitely a positive difference.

Have you thought about "then vs. now" recently? What does your "then vs. now" sound like?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

31 Days of Halloween

It's almost October. Do you know what that means? If you guessed lots of fun, you're right. But more specifically...


Mrs. B, from the blog Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom, holds an annual month long celebration at her blog that's all about Halloween. The celebration consists of givaways, contests, crafts, guest bloggers, and recipes. And, I would like to note, I have volunteered to give away a pair of earrings from my Etsy shop.

The last two years of it were really awesome, and it should be fantastic again this year. If you don't already follow Mrs. B's blog, I recommend you check it out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Of living and learning and migraines

Yet another visit to the ER occured last night. This time it was Tall One who was taken in, not grandma. But rest assured, everything's ok. Well, Tall One wouldn't agree with me on that one yet, not after his visit to the ophthalmologist today...but he'll be perfectly ok soon enough.

It happened last night right after Tall One finished his homework (or more accurately, when I interrupted him). He became partially blind. This has happened twice before in his teenage years, and we always treated it like allergies. But this time dad said that it might be worth checking out, so mom took Tall One in to the ER. He had fully recovered his vision before they even left the house, though. And he soon developed a minor headache.

He spent maybe a couple hours at the ER, and they came up with the tentative diagnosis of a migraine.

I found this funny. Not "ha ha" funny, but weird funny. You see, I was talking to someone just the other day and found out that migraines are actually neurological things, and that sometimes they don't involve a headache at all (before, I'd thought that a migraine was simply a crippling headache). That was just a few days ago. And then Tall One got a migraine last night.

Yes, the ophthalmologist confirmed today that it was a migraine. Specifically, an optical migraine. Ever heard of an optical migraine? I hadn't, not until today.

Live and learn. Sometimes migraines don't really involve headaches. Sometimes they mainly cause partial blindness.

Tall One's doing fairly well now, though. Or anyways, he will be once he recovers from his visit to the ophthalmologist. They poked and prodded at his eyes, and used weird eye drops that messed up his vision. He preferred being partially blind. Oh yeah, and now he's off to his bagpipe lesson! He's not gonna let a little thing like bad eye sight keep him from his lesson. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Princess Leia arrested on Subway

Yep, you read that right -- Princess Leia was arrested on the New York subway. By Darth Vader's imperial troops.

Below is the video.




I laughed and laughed and laughed when I saw this. It's exactly the kind of thing that might be done here in Portland! Which makes me like it even more.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Semi-randomness



Yesterday I took a road trip with a friend of mine. We took off for the coast and spent maybe a couple hours on the beach. It was cold and windy, but good.

I took my kite. I can't even remember the last time I flew it. And no, that's not an exaggeration. Well, not much of one, anyways.

I was very excited to fly my kite on the beach. Unfortunately, it turned out to be too windy to be kite flying. Did you know such a thing was possible? I didn't. A stranger who apparently knows something about flying kites told me so after my kite broke in the wind. Oh well.

Now, on a totally unrelated topic...

I started a dream journal in the last couple weeks. I don't really analyze my dreams, with a few notable exceptions, so my journal isn't for that purpose (yet). But my dreams can be rather bizarre and entertaining, so I thought I may as well start a dream journal.

It's been less than two weeks since I started writing down my dreams (or fragments of my dreams, or fragments of fragments of my dreams), but already I've noticed two things:

1) Virtually every time I write in that journal I put at least one name down of someone who was in my dream. Whether it was my mom, a friend, a coworker, or Darth Vader, I dreamed about someone who I know personally or who I know from a story. (No, I don't know Darth Vader personally.)

2) I tend to revisit places in my dreams. I guess it's a form of reoccurring dreams? It's not like I keep revisiting the same place night after night, though. And generally the circumstances are different each time. I think. I haven't revisited the same place twice during the time that I've been keeping my journal, though...

These are two interesting revelations. For one thing, I hadn't realized that in every dream (pretty much) there's someone who I can put a name to. This was rather surprising to me. Secondly, I did know that I tended to revisit places in my dreams, but I didn't realize how often I do it.

Have you ever kept a dream journal? Did you have any surprising revelations?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Feed a dog -- blog!

Did you know that you can feed a dog with just a blog post? Neither did I, until I read Magaly's post about it.

For every blog post about PEDIGREE® Adoption Drive, one bag of dog food will be donated to an animal shelter. Don't believe me? Check it out.

So, my fellow bloggers, why don't you help feed a hungry dog by taking just a few minutes to post about this?


Grandma

Grandma was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. I don't mean to belittle it, but I figured with proper care it wouldn't be too bad. Also, the state of Texas stepped in to handle things. So she may not be happy about no longer having control of her life, but we know that she'll receive proper care. And she's settling into a nursing home now.

Again, not to belittle Parkinson's disease (I know it can get really bad in some cases, and is a progressive disease), but I figured that given time, grandma would regain strength and do fairly well.

Maybe I was being overly hopeful. Optimistic. Naive.

Mom, on the other hand, said from the beginning that it sounded like grandma might have cancer because of: grandma's weight loss (which was pretty major), and her weakness. I thought that mom was being unnecessarily grim.

But no. We got word this evening that grandma probably has cancer.

More tests need to be done. And if she has cancer, we don't know yet what stage it would be.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's not cancer, but I'm beginning to feel pessimistic.

...she's down in Texas and we're here in Oregon. This sort of doesn't feel real.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Text books and eeriness

This is eerie. Really eerie. Eeriness abounds. (Yes, eeriness is a word. Look it up.)

You see, I bought my text books today, and they were about $58. But that's not the eerie bit.

The eerie bit is that I wanted to check out how much I paid for books last September, and I found that info in this post. And, that post was written exactly a year ago, today.

What are the odds?

Anyways, in case you're wondering and don't feel like clicking on the link, my text books last September were $425.

So...I'm guessing that means it's cheaper to be an English major than a music major, which I started out as? Or maybe I'm just lucky this time.

Either way, I'm happy. :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Exciting stuff

You may (or may not) remember that I have a work study position, which is a job that I've got through the financial aid office. This is pretty good, but the downside is that I can only work when I'm enrolled for at least six credits. This translates to me not working this summer since I didn't take any summer classes.

The good news is that I return to work tomorrow!

I'm pretty excited. Not just about earning money again, but also about seeing the people there. Well, mainly about seeing the people again.

I hadn't realized how much I missed my coworkers until a few days ago when I stopped by for a surprise visit to drop off some paperwork. I was happy to see them again, and was pleasantly shocked to discover that I had arrived just in time for someone's birthday party.

Is that a good omen? That I showed up just in time to sing happy birthday and eat chocolate? I like to think it's a good omen.

Now, for more exciting stuff...

Tall One is taking his first English class this fall term. I think I'm more excited about it than he is. He got his books today. One is an anthology and the other is Catcher in the Rye by...by someone. I don't know who. I'm going to read Catcher in the Rye, and this evening I was exclaiming over the anthology so much that mom took it away from me.

I'm so overexcited about Tall One's English class that I'm pestering him to tell me what's on his syllabus as soon as he finds out. I can't wait to see if he gets to study any of the short stories I've read for school.

Ok, so yeah, I guess I'm a little crazy when it comes to books...I guess that's why I'm an English major!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

News: good and bad

The bad news:

Grandma has Parkinson's disease. She was diagnosed today.

She's also been declared a ward of the state of Texas, and has been deemed unable to properly care for herself. She's being placed in a nursing home, and will not be allowed to return home. This has been explained to grandma, but she's still convinced that she's going back home.


The good news:

I have placed one of my avocado trees in a pot. I am quite happy with myself.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

YMR: another blog

Do you know about the blog You, Me, & Religion? If you don't, you might want to check it out. The blogger has twenty-two questions that are asked of people of many religions, and a new person's responses are posted every week. It's pretty neat.

I'm the latest one whose responses were posted, and I copied and pasted them below.

.......


Here Is Sarita's Introduction:

Hullo! I am a 21 year old English major, attending a Catholic university.

I enjoy reading, talking about books, writing, music (playing piano, singing Barbershop, singing solo, singing with a choir, etc.), loom knitting, doing needlework, mending books, gardening, learning about other religions/spiritualities, and writing poetry. I'm even a published poet!

I have a couple of blogs that I keep up regularly.

My main one is A College Girl's Day's (http://collegegirlsdays.blogspot.com/) and my book blog is Sarita's Library (http://saritaslibrary.blogspot.com/).


1) What religion do you practice?
I am a semi-eclectic Pagan. I'm also a shamanic practitioner, but I'm still just getting started on that path.

2) Did you convert or were you born into this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
Whether I converted sort of depends on who you ask. I didn't figure out that I was Pagan until I was in my teens, but if you ask my mom I was born Pagan and was Pagan all along.

My mom was raised Protestant and my dad Catholic. By the time they met and married they were "liberal Christians" (my term), so my brother and I were raised celebrating Christmas and Easter, hearing all about Jesus Christ, and praying before meals. However, we never set foot in a church. When I was young I did start praying at bedtime, all of my own accord. I actually don't know if my parents even knew about that. :)

There were certain things about Christianity that I didn't understand. Holes that I couldn't fill in with the explanations given to me, I guess you could say. I started to study other religions and spiritualities, and I discovered that some forms of Paganism filled in those "holes" and that it made sense. After some time studying it I suddenly realized "Hey, I'm Pagan." (And immediately after that realization I wondered "When did that happen???")

So I would say that I didn't exactly "convert." It was more a case of me figuring out where I belonged.

3) Would you consider yourself a moderate, conservative or other.
That's hard to say, since I don't know what would make a moderate or conservative Pagan.

4) In your opinion, what makes you moderate/conservative/other?
See above.

5) What's your heaven/paradise like?
I really don't know, because I think that there are so many ways a person can go once they die. They could be reincarnated, spend some time in a purgatory type place, or wind up in a heaven like place. Or something else could happen.

I can tell you that when I envision a heaven it is a place where I can be outdoors, garden, read my books, and be with those I love. Basically, a place where I could relax and do what I like to do.

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
I believe that everyone gets to the same place eventually. Remember, reincarnation. :) I just don't know what that place we eventually get to is.

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
Perhaps because it's just what I am. My spirituality is just a part of me. I can't really explain it better than that.

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
The solstices and equinoxes, and times halfway between each of them. So that's eight total.

What I do to celebrate can vary, and for most of them it can be something just as simple as having something special for dinner. The two that I do go out of my way to make a fuss about are Yule (winter solstice) and Samhain (pronounced so-when, it is October 31st).

On the longest night of the year I keep a fire going all night long. Preferably it will be a fire in the fireplace but candle flame also works. Ideally I'll stay awake until dawn, but in actuality I have been known to take short naps accidentally.

For Samhain I remember those who have passed away in the last year, do something (maybe crafts) to honor the time when the veil between this world and the Other world is the thinnest, and have something special for dinner. And since Samhain is the same day as Halloween I also hand out candy to trick or treaters. It's a fun day.

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Definitely. It's nice to have friends who share my beliefs, but sharing a belief with someone doesn't guarantee that you'll get along with them. And anyways, things would be boring if everyone believed the same thing. I think it's good that other people see the world differently than I do.
So yes, I definitely consider non-Pagans to be my friends.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Yes. My immediate family is interfaith: Pagans and Christians. So we celebrate the Christian and Pagan holidays together.

I think I will always celebrate Christmas and Easter because I was raised with them, and I do still love Jesus. Also, they seem to fit the Pagan celebrations that occur close to them.


11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
It depends on why the burka is worn. If it's worn for the proper reason -- as modesty -- then that's no problem. If it's worn for the wrong reason -- as oppression -- then there's a problem.

I've never known anyone who wore the burka, but I've had friends who wore the hijab, which is another kind of head covering. Truthfully, I always thought it was cool to see the different styles of hijab they would show up wearing. It seems to me that hijabs (and maybe even burkas) can show a woman's personality more than a hair style does.

I also want to say that I view wearing the hijab (or the burka) as no different from wearing a shirt. Look at it this way: in the USA it's considered wrong for women to run around topless, right? But in other parts of the world it's completely normal. So for Muslim women who wear the hijab it's the same kind of thing: they cover their hair for reasons of modesty, even though other people (even their neighbors in the USA) have no problem showing off their hair.

As for the Shariah Law, I don't like what I know of it, but I haven't exactly studied up on it either.

12) What are your thoughts on women not being allowed to become priests?
In Paganism women can be priests along with the men.

I do tend to get irritated with religions where women aren't allowed to be priests. Perhaps I should work on being more accepting and less judgmental.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
My church is the great outdoors, and it doesn't segregate.

14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
I think that yes, my thoughts on things such as abortion and gay marriage have been affected by my spirituality. At the same time, how do I know that my ideas on things like that haven't affected my spiritual path?

And it does affect my daily life. Every time I eat or drink I try to remember to give thanks to the spirit of whatever I am eating or drinking. I pray every day. I don't have particular times set aside to pray, though I do tend to pray at bedtime. But I pray at odd times throughout the day, sometimes telling a trickster god that something isn't funny if strange things (that are entirely too strange) keep happening, or praying to a healing deity if I see an ambulance go by on the road.

Also, if I want a spiritual experience I just need to step outside my front door and take a deep breath, pausing long enough to really notice Mother Nature. That's one of the upsides of following a nature centered path, and it's something that can be done pretty much any time if you just take the time.


15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
Speaking as someone who is nowhere near having a child, I think that I would have no problem with any child of mine who wanted to marry outside our spirituality, or wanted to adopt a different spirituality/religion. All I would ask is that they still respect nature, themselves, and other people, and everyone's right to follow their own path.

16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
First of all, I do not believe in the Christian concept of hell. However, I do suspect that there are hell like places just like there are heaven like places.
But I don't think that someone is going to end up in a hellish afterlife just because they don't share my spirituality.


17) Who do you think is not a practicing Pagan in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
I've seen some people in the news saying they were Pagans who I thought were doing it just for the publicity or as an excuse for crimes, but none of their names stuck with me. One fairly recent case (again I don't remember names) that comes to mind is a guy who killed his girlfriend and then said that it was part of a Wiccan ritual. Um, the Wiccan Rede is "do as you will but harm none." No true Wiccan would kill their girlfriend, especially not in the name of their religion.

18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
A hate crime? No. Discrimination? I don't know. I can tell you that when I was trying to get my passport last year I was given trouble extra trouble that my mom and brother didn't experience, even though I provided all the exact same paperwork and same kind of stuff that they did. I don't know for sure why they flagged me as trouble, but they might have done it because of my pentacle, which neither my mom or brother wear. After a few weeks they did bend over backwards to be nice to me when my mom wrote to our elected official and asked if the trouble I had was normal, or if it might be religious discrimination.

To this day I don't know for sure if it was religious discrimination.

19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
No. If it did, there would be something wrong.

20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
I guess so. I mean, sometimes I wish the gods did things differently (and I can get irritated with certain tricksters), but it's nice to have them there for me.

21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
Yes I do believe in it. Why? I do because it just seems right. However, I don't believe that it's the only way to "get things right" so to speak.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grandma's in the ER :(

I wanted something to blog about, and now I've got something to blog about. But I would sort of prefer to not have anything to blog about...

In the last hour we just got news that my grandma is in ER. She's been getting weaker and weaker, and finally today she was unable to move around. She can't even get herself to the bathroom.

My grandma is down in Texas, and we're up in Oregon. We haven't seen each other since I was a baby, and in fact I don't think she's ever met Tall One at all. She never said a word to us about having trouble (not even that she'd been getting weaker), so her visit to the ER has taken us by surprise.

We don't know what's wrong with her, and are waiting for a diagnosis.

Any thoughts and prayers would be appreciated.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Insomnia

I was unable to sleep until 6am. SIX IN THE MORNING. Sorry to yell, but I'm not happy about this fact. It's the second time in two weeks.

Insomnia, dear insomnia...it's been ages since we've met....and I haven't missed you. Why did you return to me? Why?

Even when insomnia was the norm for me there's been only once in the past when I couldn't sleep until dawn. Just once. And now it's happened twice in two weeks.

Agh.

Fortunately, there's an easy solution. I'll just start taking melatonin again every night. With very few exceptions, it's always worked like a charm.

Ok. My rant is over. For now. :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Money wisely spent

I was doing paperwork for financial aid (hereafter to be known as "fin aid") today. Or maybe I should say that I was doing computer work for fin aid, since it was all online! Either way, it got me thinking about how different people pay tuition.

There seem to be three main ways of paying:

1) Your parents save up money to send you to school.
2) You save up money to go to school.
3) You get fin aid throughout school, and then pay back the loans afterwards. This option might be in combination with the above options.

I'm doing option #3. It's not because my parents lacked the foresight to save for my college tuition, though. It's because they made the decision to spend the money they might have otherwise saved for my college education on my education throughout my grade school years.

While it's true that it would be nice to have money that had been saved up over time to pay for my tuition, I'm glad that they made this decision. And because I seem to be in a list making mood recently, I'll list the various things that I was able to do because they didn't save the money for my college education.

1) Dance lessons -- Some flamenco (fun!), Irish step dance (my favorite!!! I stuck with this for a while, stopped because the teacher was let go at the dance school I attended, but I plan to pick it up again someday), some ballet (I prefer watching it to doing it), some tap (I'm not too enthused about that), some Highland dancing (that was fun), and one or two other forms of dance.
2) Singing lessons.
3) Singing in various choirs. Not all at the same time though! :)
4) Competing in a highly competitive chorus. Quite a learning experience, that was. And FUN. I plan to return to that when time and money allows.
5) Girl Scout activities -- Earning badges, camping, doing outdoor stuff, arts and crafts, being a Program Aid to help with younger Girl Scouts when I got older...and learning cool stuff about everything I did!
6) Random other opportunities to learn that required money.
7) Oh how could I forget! Piano. :)
All things considered, I'm glad that my parents spent their money on my education throughout my grade school years rather than saving it. Look at everything I would have missed otherwise. The downside to their decision is that I have to do paperwork to get fin aid for college. :( That isn't fun...but oh well. lol

How to fail with dignity

Here is the last installment of how to fail with dignity! I hope you've enjoyed all of these.






Saturday, September 4, 2010

Life, the Universe, and Everything

You've probably heard, Stephen Hawking has come out with a new book explaining that god did not create the universe, and that he can prove it with science. You can read an excerpt from his book here.

On one hand I want to laugh when he writes this:

"According to Viking mythology, eclipses occur when two wolves, Skoll and Hati, catch the sun or moon. At the onset of an eclipse people would make lots of noise, hoping to scare the wolves away. After some time, people must have noticed that the eclipses ended regardless of whether they ran around banging on pots.

Ignorance of nature's ways led people in ancient times to postulate many myths in an effort to make sense of their world."

As a Pagan I want to get uppity and argue that the fact that these "myths" weren't literally true are beside the point.

On the other hand, what he goes on to say is so interesting that I almost forgot his comment about old Norse myths until I reread the excerpt.

Hawking says a lot of interesting things, and I'd like to quote what I find to be his most interesting point:

"As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

The italics are my doing.

I'm not quite sure how it's possible to get something from nothing. But Hawking says that science proves it, and since I don't understand the mathematics behind it I'm not about to debate it with him. How do you debate a "fact" whose explanation you don't understand?

Then again, I can disagree with Hawking without debating with him.

But I'm not sure if I disagree with him. After all, as Anne Johnson pointed suggested, maybe the gods were created by the big bang.

I'm really not sure what to think about all this, although I find it a fascinating subject to speculate on.

Ok, ok, so I do have an idea....years ago I heard that the Hindus believed that the universe has gone through a number of lives. That it goes through cycles of death and rebirth. Reincarnation, if you will, but on a cosmic level. I thought that made sense, and it still makes sense to me. I'm not sure that I like the idea of the universe coming to an end and everything being destroyed...but you don't have to like something to believe it.

And I need to wrap this up now to go watch a movie with the family. So I'll leave you, and hope to hear your thoughts on the subject. :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

And now for a little levity...

...since two of my last three posts have been on very serious subjects.

Here is the next installment of the how to fail with dignity series. You'd forgotten about that series, hadn't you? Well, I almost did too. It's been so long.




What to say?

Recently there was a hit-and-run fatality that's been in the local news. Cassidy Ringwald was walking with his older sister when he was struck by a car and sent flying perhaps 15 feet. People at the scene performed CPR before he was taken to a hospital, where he died.

I know his mother. Not very well, and in fact when I first saw the story in the news I had no idea that Cassidy was her son. But I do know her.

The private funereal, just for his friends and family, was yesterday. Tall One was asked to play Amazing Grace on the bagpipes, so even though he didn't know Cassidy himself he was at the funeral.

(Random thought I keep having: maybe I should get Tall One a t-shirt that says Bagpipes, putting the "fun" into funerals. He's playing at another funeral tomorrow...)

I never knew Cassidy, and I barely know his mom. But I keep thinking about him, especially as I walk in my neighborhood. It's not that I'm afraid of getting hit by a car, but because realizing that possibility reminds me of just how fragile life is.

Then I also think about how funny it is that sometimes you never know people until after their death. You can read his obituary here. It seems like he was a great guy.

...I guess there isn't really any overarching point to this post, other than to share my random thoughts about his death. I know I haven't expressed sorrow and sympathy for his family, but it's there. I just don't know how to express it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

School

September 1st. Unless I'm greatly mistaken, the new school year is starting at Hogwarts today.

My own school year starts somewhat later -- in the last week of September! I'm not sure why that is, but I'm not about to complain.

Now I'm curious, and have a question for my fellow students. Does your school follow a quarterly or semester system? (Mine is quarterly.) And when does your school year start?

Ok, that's two questions, not one. Apparently I can't count. lol