SYW: Aliens, Cats, and Gum

I missed Share Your World last week so I am determined to participate this week! Here are Melanie’s questions for this week for us to share our world.

What would be the most surprising scientific discovery imaginable?

Intelligent/sentient life on another planet, and being able to communicate with them.


If aliens landed on earth tomorrow and offered to take you home with them, would you go?


Probably not. I would want to know about where they lived first. Also, it would be a very long journey!

What breed of dog would you be?  If you’re more a cat person – what breed of cat?


I’d be a tortie (cat), because they are known for being aloof sometimes – they want to maintain their space, but at the same time, they are also very affectionate toward their humans. I am including a photo of my cat, who is a tortie, for those who don’t know what this breed is. (Tortie is short for “tortoise shell” although I don’t really understand the connection.) Torties and calicoes are closely related, and are usually female. Being a cat also means sleeping a lot!

Bubble gum?  Yay or nay? 
I chew gum sometimes to keep my coughing and throat clearing at a minimum – I heard about this and decided to try it, and it works! Drinking a lot of water also helps, but gum can be more effective. But it’s not bubble gum and it’s kind of rude to chew in front of other people (except those you share a residence with, of course).
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GRATITUDE SECTION  (As always, optional)

Feel free (no pressure) to share some gratitude from January of this year.
I like this gratitude image that I downloaded from Google.


Society6 print – downloaded from Google.

SYW: Least Favorite Day, Energy, and Other Musings

Monday, Monday…I can trust that day
Monday, Monday…to find Melanie’s Share Your World today!

This is a good segue into Melanie’s first question, which is…

“What’s the worst day of the week for you?”  Why?

It’s not Monday, as it probably is for many in the working world – but I’m retired so Monday is just fine, and so are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! I have a different schedule every day. Monday is mostly free of scheduled activities and commitments, but it’s the day I have to do our weekly calendar, fill my pill cases, and usually do laundry and/or run the dishwasher (i.e. clean up the kitchen, thus filling the dishwasher). But it’s pretty laid back. Sunday, I guess I would have to say, is my least favorite, because it’s the only day I have to get up early to go to church! But really, I can’t think of a “worst day” of the week. I have random “bad days” but they don’t fall on the same day of the week.

With the recent energy crisis here in the UK, would you prefer electric, gas, oil or some other means of heating your home?

Downloaded image from Google, courtesy of https://www.insideindianabusiness.com/articles/iea-awarded-illinois-wind-farm-project

I would prefer to have solar panels and a system for storing solar energy at my house, but I cannot do that, because I live in a senior community and our house is rented. We have all electric, except water & heat, which are gas. That said, when we were living in our own home before we moved here, I was some years ago given the opportunity by our energy provider to choose wind energy. I signed up for 100% wind energy – there are extensive wind farms in southern Illinois. I hope my instructions were followed, but I have no way of verifying that all of our household’s our energy was in fact generated by wind turbines. More and more people in this area are signing up for solar power – they have the panels installed on the roof and a system for collecting and storing that energy. It requires an initial large financial commitment, but in the long run, it saves money. You can get energy credits and “sell” your energy back to the company. I wish this community would go solar!

In your household, who takes care of the bills, taxes, and other financial stuff? Is one person responsible or is it a shared chore?

We share financial matters, but I do more of it in terms of the amount of time spent on it. I pay the bills, keep track of medical/drug/charitable expenses by putting them all on spread sheets, and then when we are compiling our tax information, I print out the spread sheets and give them to my husband. I also keep spread sheets of our trip expenses and our children’s debts to us. Dale takes care of getting financial documents together, compiling all the things we have put into our yearly tax folder, and getting them over to our tax preparer. We also have investments, and managing these is a shared responsibility.

If you can have any one job (real or fiction) in the galaxy (yes, the galaxy, I’m widening the search radius, imagining relocation to other planets possible), what is that job?

galactic explorer and journalist/travel writer; also perhaps being an interplanetary travel agent, helping people plan trips to wherever. I would expect perks from this job – free or almost free travel credits on flights aboard space ships!

Who are you grateful for?

My husband, Dale. He does so much to take care of me and does all kinds of tasks that I get frustrated doing or my ADHD interferes with me doing, as well as a lot of household chores. He has been having some more health issues lately, and I feel as though I should learn to do the things he customarily does. I think I take him for granted too often! Living in a senior community, we find out when someone in independent living passes away, often leaving a husband or wife behind. Sometimes it happens suddenly, and sometimes after a long illness. But it’s always hard, and there are a lot of widows and widowers here! This may sound morbid but it’s just part of getting older.

SYW: Grammar, Genets, Sibs, & Alter Egos

Monday Melanie starts 2022 with the following Share Your World questions:

What frivolous, but annoying thing that people do be considered a sin (crime)?  
And how should violators be made to repent (be punished) for it?   

Confuse possessives with plurals by adding an apostrophe where it does not belong!!This is extremely common these days. Don’t they teach grammar in elementary school anymore or were these people asleep in class? It should be a crime, punishable by having to spend a whole day in a grammar class in which the attendees would write out many examples of both plurals and possessives, using all the rules for making plurals and possessives in the English language.

Cake’s is not a word, although the supermarket would have you think so! What belongs to the cake? Frosting? A message written on the top? No. They mean simply “more than one cake” which is a plural. The rule in this case is to add an “s” to the end of the word, NO APOSTROPHE! I have a dear friend that makes this mistake all the time and it drives me crazy!! But I don’t tell him about it because he would feel I am just lecturing him in my teacher mode! At the very least, he’d be embarrassed and since I only see his writing in emails, I’m letting it slide. There is one common exception to this rule which confuses a lot of people: its and it’s. “Its” is the possessive. (Its paws, its timing, etc.) “It’s” is a contraction of “it is.” If it doesn’t make sense to substitute “it is” where you’ve written “it’s” in a sentence, then correct it by removing the apostrophe.

Imagination IN and impracticality and logic aside, if you could pick one animal to have as an exotic pet based solely on how cute and adorable it is, what would it be?

A genet. I had never heard of this species until I went on a safari trip in Tanzania, and at one of the lodges, the owners had genets (they left food out for them so the genets would hang around) who would crawl out onto the rafters and stare at the people below. They look like cats, which is probably why I like them so much, but they are not cats. However, they are so CUTE!!

A genet looks down on diners at Ndutu Safari Lodge.

Do you have any siblings?  If so, where do you rank in birth order?  And do you think either of these facts contributed to the person you became?

I am the youngest of 5. I have three older sisters and one older brother. I’m sure it contributed to the person I became, because I tended to get away with stuff more often than the others. And I was the rebel, or “black sheep” of the family, so I think I made my mother rethink all of her child-rearing methods that she had developed raising four other children before me. Letting me excuse myself from dinner because “we eat so late” and I wanted to watch a TV show during that time. (Not sitting with the family during dinner was always verboten!) And letting the cat stay with me in bed instead of making him sleep in the garage. Things like that, I was able to get away with. Still, I fought a lot with my mother, but not my dad – he was always calm and hated conflict. Then my siblings, one by one, went away to school, and I ended up with only my brother, or alone, living at home with my parents. I think that had an effect also. I loved one of my sisters the most, and always wanted to stay up until she got home from school so I could see her right away. It was hard when she went away, because she served as a buffer between my brother and me. My brother teased me mercilessly, and I wanted that sister at home to comfort me, to distract me with songs or games.

We all have things that make us happy, but what makes you deliriously, giddily, tail wagging-ly happy?

I wish it were my grandchildren, but I don’t have any. It is my cat that makes me the most happy, although I wouldn’t say “giddy” – I love to watch her antics, to play with her, to hear her purr when I stroke her. Speaking of wagging, did you know that cats wag their tails? People associate wagging with dogs, but my cat does wag her tail by flipping it back and forth when she is content. It’s almost an unconscious gesture, because if I pet her when she is almost asleep, her tail starts flipping.

Who could resist a face like this? This is my adorable fur baby Hazel.

If you had an alter ego, who or what would it be?  Describe some fun or interesting things about them!

I don’t know if my alter ego would be male or female. I guess I would want her/him to have the skills and personality characteristics that are the opposite of mine. My alter ego would be confident, organized, and a risk-taker. (S)he would do things I would never do, such as ziplining, hang gliding, going on archaeological digs, and white water rafting. (S)he would be athletic and agile (unlike me) and be an excellent photographer. (S)he’d have a blog, far more exciting than mine, about traveling all over the world. At home, (s)he would have an awesome job: graphic designing, travel consultant, linguist or anthropologist, famous novelist or painter, architect designing eco-friendly buildings. (S)he would get involved in environmental projects that would really make a difference in preserving species from extinction or mitigating the effects of climate change.

I guess my “alter ego” would be damn near perfect!! 🙂 😀

What are some hopes or accomplishments you’d like to see happen in 2022?
My number one priority is for the federal government to really get serious about mitigating climate change, and that the population in general become more aware so they can pollute less and love our planet more! I have many other hopes, but I’m afraid they are just pipe dreams: Trump and his cronies get convicted for corruption, lying under oath, and deception of the public. Everyone gets vaccinated against Covid-19 so no new variants have a chance to take hold and wreak havoc. And a personal accomplishment would be for me to waste less time, so that I have time for all the things I “don’t have time” to do! And that the exciting trips I have booked for this year don’t get cancelled!!

SYW: Pillow Talk, Piñatas, Summer Night Irritations, & Being Free as a Bird

Here are Melanie’s Share Your World questions for the week:

QUESTIONS

How many pillows do you sleep with?  If over one or two, is it because you sleep better ‘propped up’ a little?
I have a chronic mucus build-up in my sinuses and throat which no meds totally work for. It is often, inconveniently, worse at night. I like to read in bed before I go to sleep, so I prop myself with two pillows. When I go to sleep, I use mainly the “My Pillow” I bought at Costco years ago (before I knew the CEO’s politics!). It creates a depression for my neck and poofs up around each side of my face. I’m a back sleeper, so I mostly use that pillow plus a foam wedge to stay a bit elevated. I also use a small pillow under my knees, and if I turn onto my side, I put that pillow between my knees. On my side, I tend to also use a firmer pillow to reduce strain on my neck and shoulders. So, in total, not counting the wedge, I use three pillows. (If one ends up on the floor, I shake it out before using because a person is never more than 18″ from a spider.)

What would be the worst thing you could put in a piñata?
Olives. Also raisins. But olives would be worse, because they’d be messier! If raisins weren’t picked up by the greedy kids, at least birds would eat them. I don’t think birds eat olives, though, so uncollected olives would litter the ground.

What noise annoys you the most?
A mosquito buzzing in my ear. I remember many summer nights at our cottage up north, when mosquitoes would sometimes get in, because people were constantly opening doors to come in or go out. The mosquito would always find its way to my ear and face. As soon as it started buzzing, I would sit up with a start. Sometimes I would have to actually get up and turn on the light, and try to find the offending insect in order to kill it. Mostly, though, I would put my head completely under the sheet, which also made me lose sleep because I like fresh air when I sleep.

Was a mosquito this big in May (2020) a sign of a season of overly robust mosquitoes?

If cartoon physics suddenly replaced real physics, what are some things you would want to try?
Floating or flying in the air, with no fear of falling. I would like to experience what it would be like to be a bird. I would be able to take the direct routes to places I would like to visit, saving me airport and airplane hassles!

GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, OPTIONAL)

Please share something good that has happened to you over the past month.
The weather has been unseasonably warm in late Oct.-early Nov. (which I know is a sign of climate change, but I liked it anyway!)

My son has been clean & sober nearly five months and recently got a job as a production assistant for a studio. As he says, it’s entry-level, but it’s a foot in the door of the field he wants to work in, and hopefully it means no more dead-end retail and food service jobs!

SYW: Games, Scary Movies, Nature, etc.

Melanie’s back with a new set of Share Your World questions today!

QUESTIONS

(Two ‘seasonal’ and two plain today)

What is the scariest game (board or on-line) you ever may have played?
I have never played a “scary” board/on-line game. I have never heard of a scary game, but I’m not a big “gamer” in terms of online/video games. Perhaps when I was a child, I may have gotten scared by some game like Hide and Seek if I felt left alone and couldn’t find anyone. I don’t remember, so it probably didn’t happen. I have played games that are thrilling and exciting, but not scary.

What’s just ‘over the rainbow” for you?
Traveling – we finally got our new passports!

Passports – Cleveland Public Library

mDo you have to watch something upbeat after watching a suspense or horror movie so you can go to sleep?
I don’t normally watch those kinds of movies. I have a few that I like in that genre, but no, I wouldn’t watch them late at night! I went alone to Silence of the Lambs at a local theatre many years ago. It was dark out when I left the theater, and I started to walk home, only about 2 blocks away. Once I left the downtown area and started down a street that was not well lit, I saw a man coming toward me, on the other side of the street! He didn’t make any threatening gesture and I couldn’t even see what he looked like, but I started running and didn’t stop until I got inside my apartment building! Never again!

The Silence of the Lambs - Where to Watch and Stream - TV Guide

Is there intent behind every action?
EVERY action? No, I don’t think so. I often do things without thinking, although I don’t think that is a good thing to do in general. I usually don’t even remember most of the “actions” I have taken during any particular day.

GRATITUDE SECTION  (as always, optional)

Feel free to share some gratitude with folks today!   Thanks!  
Although it’s probably got some connection to climate change, I am grateful for the warm, summerlike weather we have had the last week.

I am also grateful for nature. Yesterday, I was sitting on our screened porch and noticed a bird at the foot of a tree. It looked bigger than most birds I see around here, but maybe it was a pigeon. But then it flew up on a low branch on a tree and I saw that it was a hawk! And it was trying to catch a squirrel! I watched the drama of predator and prey play out for at least five minutes. The hawk was unsuccessful, though – the squirrel escaped every time the hawk tried to grab him. Lots of flapping of wings and scurrying up the tree and onto higher branches. I think the hawk was young, probably born this year and now out fending for himself, but apparently he has much to learn about swooping down and grabbing his prey before it can get away. Each and every time, the squirrel outwitted the hawk. I sat there, watching the scene and in the back of my mind, I was wishing I’d had my camera right then – I could have gotten some great shots! But I was content just to witness the scene. There are dramas unfolding every day in the natural world!

I have a new phone, and it takes sharper photos than my previous one. Here are a couple of photos taken at one of the ponds of the heron who comes here every day.
 

5 Italian Foods: Deliziosi!


It’s been quite a while since I participated in Tanya’s 5 Things challenge. The topic this week is: Italian food!! My favorite cuisine! It’s even a bit difficult to choose ONLY five of them!

  1. Gnocchi with Vodka sauce
Bowls filled with comforting gnocchi alla vodka, Parmesan, and basil.
I love gnocchi with whatever sauce is put on it, but I am partial to “vodka sauce” – I don’t taste the vodka, but it’s a wonderful tomato based smooth sauce!

2. Gelato: This is the Italian word for ice cream, which is my favorite food, but somehow the Italians (or wherever it is made in their name) have it just perfect – rich, creamy, flavorful! I also like the sorbets.

Espresso Gelato
This is a photo of espresso gelato – coffee ice cream! I love it! Since I cannot drink coffee anymore, this ice cream is a delicious way to get my “coffee fix”!

3. Pizza – Who doesn’t love pizza? It is such a versatile dish – a variety of toppings, a variety of crusts, the combinations are almost endless! If you ask me what kind of pizza I want, I would say spinach (for deep dish), Hawaiian (pineapple and Canadian bacon, usually topped with barbecue sauce), margherita (tomato and cheese) if it’s very thin crust, and sausage and onion if ordered from a certain local pizza place.

Mugs Pizza and Ribs | Chicago


4. Shrimp or Chicken Alfredo – I rarely order this because the alfredo sauce has about a gazillion calories (more than many other Italian foods, but most Italian foods are very caloric), but I still love it!

5. Risotto, if it’s prepared properly!

Overhead shot of prepared shrimp risotto in grey bowl with spoon.
This is risotto with shrimp – one of my favorite kinds!

SYW: On the Nature of the Universe and Balloons

Melanie gives us some philosophical questions for this week on Share Your World!

QUESTIONS

Is there inherent order in nature or is it all chaos and chance?
I believe there is inherent order, in terms of the rules of nature or of the universe, but also chaos, or randomness.

In nature, the main thing that establishes order is adaptability. Tree leaves and humans have visible veins, which are necessary because liquids and nutrients flow through them. There are some really fantastic creatures on this planet who have adapted to their environments in weird ways. In the universe, I believe there is order in terms of rules, although we have not discovered them all yet. It’s amazing how Einstein’s theories – particularly of relativity – have since proven accurate as scientists have developed ways to analyze celestial phenomena.

But there is also chaos. When a star explodes into a supernova, for example, its matter is flung outward in all directions, and where it ends up is random. Sometimes a supernova becomes a quasar. Also, several planets in our solar system have had wayward asteroids crash into them, including Earth, but I find it amazing, or sheer dumb luck, that an asteroid has never landed on a highly populated area. Now scientists can predict asteroid trajectories and may have ways of deflecting them.

Why have so few Milky Way supernovae been observed over the last millennium?
A supernova (Image from Google)

Another random thing that happened was the formation of our solar system and the development of life on Earth. By the method of accretion, the planets were formed (which likely is the order of how planets develop elsewhere as well), but why some matter adhered to one planet or another is somewhat random, and ultimately determined by gravity.

I have seen science programs about the evolution of life on Earth and how it all began. Earth has the right circumstances for life as we define it, due to its optimal position in relation to the sun. Astronomers call this the “Goldilocks zone.” It is located in a zone that the sun’s rays are neither too hot nor too cold for life to develop. At the same time. gravity had to be just right to develop magnetic fields around our planet, which protect us from damage by ultraviolet rays. Using this premise, astronomers a few decades ago (when I studied astronomy) estimated the likelihood of life as we know it developing in other solar systems by discovering whether a planet was in the “Goldilocks” zone.

Since then, however, I have learned that life on Earth got started by a somewhat random process. It is disheartening, in a way, for those of us who would like to know for sure that advanced life forms exist in other solar systems, that life could just as easily have failed to evolve. Fortunately, it did or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this, and I do believe that whatever chance circumstances existed for life to develop or not, that there must be advanced life on other planets. There are millions of galaxies, all with their own groups of stars and solar systems, so it can’t have been impossible that we are the only “advanced life” in the universe. That is, unless you believe in divine creation, which I do not. (I believe in God, but not as an entity that formed the planets and different life forms. Perhaps “God” helped nudge the unlikelihood of life into the real possibility of life.)

What is infinity?
Infinity is something that human minds can not really conceptualize. If we believe the universe is “infinite,” that means that the universe is never-ending. Theoretically, scientifically, infinity exists, but it is not something that we can fully understand, because humans are limited by experience and the ability of our brains, all based on the finite-ness of life as we know it.

Infinity is most often found in mathematics. Pi, for example, is often expressed as 3.14 but the digits beyond that go on infinitely, with no end. Click on the image below for a link to an interesting article about infinity.

https://www.livescience.com/37077-infinity-existence-debate.html

Does observation alter an event?
It might. Someone may perform a dance or a song perfectly during dress rehearsal, which is supposed to mimic the actual performance, but not perform as well when an audience is looking at them. If we know there is police surveillance on a particular stretch of road, we drive more carefully and observe the speed limit. In physics, which I really don’t understand, according to Wikipedia: the observer effect is the disturbance of an observed system by the act of observation. This is often the result of instruments that, by necessity, alter the state of what they measure in some manner.” The Wikipedia article goes on to mention a common example: when you check the pressure in a tire, you can’t help but release a little bit of the air in the tire, so the pressure slightly changes. No matter how negligible, there is still change. We can’t usually observe it, though!

Do you like balloons? 
Yes and no. Balloons are fun and pretty aesthetically; adding balloons to an event makes it festive. However, they are made of plastic and we have enough plastic pollution already to not justify people releasing a bunch of balloons into the air to memorialize someone, for example. Mylar balloons, in particular, are wasteful both in material and the helium used to make them defy gravity by floating above our heads.

Mylar helium balloons at my niece’s birthday party

However, I am not a curmudgeon. Balloons are not even in the top 1,000 products that produce plastic pollution. I say let’s continue blowing up balloons for fun and celebration! 

I have never ridden in a hot air balloon, although I had the opportunity a couple of times during my travels, and I don’t think I ever will. They don’t feel stable enough. They do look pretty, though!

I could have taken a hot air balloon ride in Tanzania. I opted out.

SYW: On Art, Freedom, Money, & Gratitude

It’s a new week, and here are Melanie’s new (?) questions for Share Your World. I do feel as though I’ve answered some of these before, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

QUESTIONS

What are you most proud of in the last year?

The artwork I have done. I wish I could say that during the pandemic lock-down, I did artwork every day, but that would not be true. I meant to, but didn’t do it…

Even so, I have produced a number of drawings and watercolors during the past several months, as the rules loosened and we could form a small art group again. I even gave my niece one of my watercolors for her birthday! She had actually asked me to paint “something green and with a waterfall in it,” so that’s what I did.

As a result, I am accumulating a decent portfolio of my artwork. The pieces I am most proud of I will gladly display for viewing if an opportunity arises.

Besides these free-hand works, I did a lot of really nice coloring pages. Maybe that sounds silly, but there are coloring books for adults and I set myself high standards! I’ve had many of the books for several years, but didn’t do much with them until this past year. I used gel pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, or markers, depending on the picture.

If you see a puddle on the ground, do you walk around it or give in to the child within and splash about?

I walk around it, although right now the rain puddles are welcome because we really need rain! We need enough rain to make puddles impossible to avoid! We have been down 8 inches of rain this spring compared to last year, and normal would be 6 inches more than we’ve had. It finally rained last night and today the sprinklers are on!

Do you feel free? Why or why not?

I do benefit from the freedoms afforded to me as a U.S. citizen, good health, and enough money to live on and to travel. So I do consider myself to be “free.” However, we all have our burdens, which hamper our freedom because they tie us down in some way. It’s very liberating when a burden is lifted from my shoulders!

I also feel that the freedoms given to us in the Bill of Rights are not completely unlimited. My freedom ends where another person’s begins. It is not a “freedom” issue, for example, to disobey a mask mandate, just as one has to obey traffic laws, or suffer consequences. Part of living in a society that provides us with many benefits is being responsible to other people living in that society. They have the same freedoms the rest of us do. I don’t have a problem with accepting these responsibilities nor do I think I am not free as a result.

To be totally “free”, perhaps one would have to live alone with no one around to impose rules. I don’t want to live like that.

What life skills are rarely taught but are extremely useful?

Money management. My dad tried to teach us how to manage money, but he didn’t succeed very well with me – probably because I wasn’t listening! However, I did learn on my own how to make a budget and make sure I had enough income to pay my expenses. Even so, I wasted a lot of savings because I didn’t plan for the future.

I think there are a lot of young people who never had a class on money management. But what if they win the lottery or get hired to be on a major league sports team? Suddenly they have a lot of money, but not necessarily the skills to make sure they don’t lose it! Some lucky people take having money for granted, and they blow it all on get-richer schemes or lavish entertainment. Tales of riches-to-rags are as prevalent as tales of rags-to-riches! For most people, having enough money takes hard work and sacrifices.


GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Please share some gratitude with everyone!   There are lots of reasons just now I think!

I am grateful for my legs. Although I have arthritis pain in my knees, my legs can still take me where I want to go.
I am grateful for my arms, which finally can be used to hug people again!
I am grateful for my hands, which are used to take photos or create nice pictures, and to write.
I am grateful for my eyes, which, although severely myopic, let me read books and see the world.
I am grateful for my brain, befuddled as it is. I have put it to great use in all the intellectual pursuits of my life. Since I am expressing gratitude, I will not list its shortcomings!
I am grateful for my ears, which can listen to music, such as one of my favorite songs performed by Cat Stevens…