SYW: On Clothes and God, But Mostly About Hazel

Here is Melanie’s Share Your World for this week.

Okay we’re flipping things over this week with three rather silly questions and one philosophical one.

What would be much better if you could just change the color of it?
Half of the clothes in my closet – I like some of the things I rarely wear, because I don’t have a matching blouse or pants. Then I forget about that particular item until I get totally bored with what I have to wear and find it again. If it’s really a weird color I can’t do anything with, I will regretfully give it to Goodwill.

Do You Think Cats Have Any Regrets?
No, I don’t think they can think on that high a level. This is a serious answer for a somewhat silly question! My cat, for sure, is content with her life right now.

Do you ever count your steps when you walk?
No, I have a Fitbit that can do that for me. I used to really keep track of that, but not anymore. I always, however, count stairs whether up or down. That makes me focus on the stairs so that I don’t get distracted and trip or fall. It can also be really useful, for example, in our old house, if we were carrying something that blocks our view and so not able to see the stairs. I knew there were 15 stairs from the first floor to the second, and 12 steps from the kitchen down to the basement.

Is there a supreme power?  (you choose over what, and please be respectful)
That is a tough one. I believe in God but not as a “supreme power” per se. I don’t think God exists as a human-like being somewhere, controlling everything we do. Humans invented God. I believe that God’s presence lies within ourselves – we are our own supreme power, whether or not we recognize it. It’s complicated and I’m on a “faith journey.” Without getting into a long theological treatise, I will leave it at that.


GRATITUDE

Please feel free to share some gratitude with everyone! 
I’ve just been “in love” with our cat, Hazel, lately. She is such a well-behaved kitty and follows us around a lot, just to be near us. She’s not a lap sitter – she prefers what she is doing in the above photo – getting comfortable between someone’s legs, preferably on the recliner. Hazel was a godsend for us during the pandemic. She is 10 years old and life is good!

Watching a nature program with us on TV
Peeking out from one of her favorite catnap places – my computer chair!

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 the Greater Good, Ferris Wheels, Violins & Trumpets

Melanie has a new set of questions today for her Share Your World challenge.

QUESTIONS

A mixed bag today

What do you think of the idea of the ‘greater good’ principle?
I think it is central for a just and equal society. Although we have “freedom” that doesn’t mean we can – or should – do whatever we want to. This is one of my major concerns about American society, that people confuse freedom and individuality. We have gotten so selfish and blame others – mostly the downtrodden – for our own inability to get ahead in life. There are things that living in a society compels one to do – to behave responsibility and with caring for others, whether or not those people are part of your family or social circle. Mask wearing during the pandemic was for the greater good. Some individuals would be inconvenienced by it, but overall, society will benefit – indeed, has benefited by the mask mandate.

Do you enjoy riding a roller coaster or other amusement park type ride?
I’m a wimp – the Ferris wheel is as daring as I get. Many cities have these gigantic Ferris wheels nowadays; I guess they provide riders a good view from the top. London, Sydney – probably many more – saw how successful it was in the city where it was invented – Chicago!

Which musical instrument is the most annoying to you personally?
There isn’t a particular instrument – it’s more the way that the instrument is played. I mean this in two ways: If the person playing the instrument isn’t very good or doesn’t have the “musicality” to play it, and the type of music or piece that is being played.

In the first instance, I would say violin or really any stringed instrument. If the person playing it isn’t very good, it sounds horrible. But I suppose that could be said about any instrument. In orchestras, there are a lot of violins – the stringed instruments are the most noticeable because the strings moat often carry the melody. I’ve been to concerts with a violin section that isn’t very good, and, in some pieces especially, it is really cringeworthy.

I have seen violins played in a variety of ways and in various types of music, and if the musician is good, it sounds fantastic. I think, however, that the violin is one of the most difficult instruments to learn well. I’m not just talking about classical music – I love ‘fiddling” and most of the fiddlers I’ve heard are real professional.

I have an eclectic taste in music; there are few genres I don’t like in general. I like jazz, but there are certain kinds of jazz that I don’t like, like when the piece gets very long with a lot of ad libbing and showcasing one instrument with lengthy solos. In these cases, it is usually the trumpet that I don’t like, because it can get very “screechy” when the musician is experimenting with it.

Would you rather have a vivid imagination or a photographic memory if you had to choose just one?
I already have a vivid imagination, but I have always envied people with a “photographic memory.” My memory has always been bad, but it’s deteriorating even more now that I’m getting older. So I guess I would like to have a good memory – it would have helped a lot during my working years, and maybe twenty years from now would help me stave off dementia!


GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Feel free to share fun plans for this season that you might have.   Especially now that many places are lifting restrictions and travel is a bit easier.
I had hoped to go abroad before the end of this year, but due to my husband’s health issues, we can’t make any firm plans, so we are planning a road trip to the Northeast in October. We may cross into Canada if we have our passports by that time.

SYW: On Games, Grief, Regret, & Truth

These are the questions and my responses for Melanie’s Share Your World this week:

QUESTIONS

What did you learn the hard way?
How difficult teaching was for a person with ADHD.

Which activities make you lose track of time?

Wood Block Puzzle Game - Free Offline APK Download | Android Market


Almost anything I’m engaged in! Especially, though, games I play on my phone. Most are word games, but I also have two different Solitaire games, and a “wood block” game, where you fit pieces of different sizes and shapes into a grid. This last game is the most addictive! I could play it, mesmerized, for hours – I don’t know why!

The best thing I can do if I want to accomplish several things in one day is to stay away from these games until I have a lull in the evening, or am waiting at a doctor’s office, for example.

Why do we seem to think of others the most after they’re gone?
Sad, isn’t it? Grief makes you linger on the one you’ve lost, and regret reminds you of all the things you wish you had said or done for them, but didn’t. I think we take others for granted. If they are a regular part of our lives, it just seems like they’ll be there forever. I hope the pandemic has taught us that we should value our time with loved ones and say and do everything for them that we can to show our appreciation.

Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
Hmm, this is a difficult one. Many people claim to know the “truth” due to what they’ve been taught, and they’ve never been exposed or challenged by other ideas. They may have their “truth” confirmed by other people around them who think the same way, but how can they know they are right? If one is really convinced of the “truth,” that person doesn’t feel the need to go beyond that. They just hang onto reinforcement of that truth.

So yes, one can claim to know “truth” without examining that truth, but I do think that only by being exposed to other “truths” and examining them in an objective way (if that is even possible) can one feel secure that the truth is what one believes or has been brought up to believe.


GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Please feel free to share your gratitude with everyone!   We can all use a boost in spirits from time to time!
Here’s a sentiment I can relate to!

SYW: On Annoying Commercials, Nasty Food, and the Creative Process

“Monday Melanie” has given us a new set of questions for her Share Your World challenge!

QUESTIONS

What’s the worst commercial you’ve recently seen (or heard)? Why was it so bad?
This is a hard one because so many are terrible! Most annoying are the Liberty Mutual ads. I would not recommend this company to anyone due to their ubiquitous, stupid ads! Everyone I talk to hates their commercials as much as I do. Also ads for intimate products, like tampons or sanitary pads.

Since you crossed off “recently”, the ads for Folgers Coffee were awful. In one ad, a person says, “Is your coffee grounds for divorce?’ I mean, how tacky!! Another really old Folgers commercial bragged about the “crystals” in its coffee. Who wants crystals in coffee?? Just give me pure, finely ground coffee, please! No additives!

What takes a lot of time but is totally worth it?
My hubby says, “love.” Awwww!

So I will say something else: the creative process of seeing a project through to the end. I spend long hours and weeks completing photo albums but I love doing it. I can say that a lot of my blog posts fall into this category as well. They’re time consuming, but fun to do. I’m in an art workshop – same thing. The camaraderie of other people who love art is part of it, but also dedicating 90 minutes a week to painting or drawing something is calming and fun, even if it takes weeks to finish it or to come back to. I’m in a writing group – same thing again. I have written a lot of things, and some of them are quite good, others not so much, but it’s worth the time because it is the creative process that is totally worthwhile, especially when producing a finished product I can be proud of!

Have you ever smiled at a stranger and then wished you hadn’t? Why or why not?
Yes, but only because the stranger stared straight ahead and made no attempt to smile back. So rude. Fortunately, where I live now, everyone – whether we know them or not – smiles and says hello!

It’s good to be able to see smiles again after over a year of wearing masks!

What do you think is the nastiest tasting food?  (This one might be a recycled question.  It’s familiar to me anyhow)
Olives. They’re so bitter.

GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, optional)

Are you at peace with yourself?   Your world?   Please share, whether you said “yay” or “nay”! 
Yes, pretty much. Most of the horrors of my life – the failures, dissatisfying experiences, vindictive people – are behind me. In the senior community where I live, we are all retired and we do pretty much what we want and like to do. Most people are friendly and pleasant to be with.

There are many problems in this world, and a few in my life, but I am overall happy and without regrets.

Gratitude Quotes

SYW: On Doing Art, Having Courage, & Showing Gratitude

On this Monday Memorial Day, Melanie presents us with some food for thought questions for Share Your World.

QUESTIONS

What activity instantly calms you?
Art, both the pictures I create myself, and those that I color. Both are very relaxing and because I’m good at it, it is usually quite satisfying. I attend a weekly art workshop, where women from our senior community go and do whatever they want to do in their artwork. We admire each other’s work and give each other encouragement. There are two retired art teachers who help us learn new techniques.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve done lately?
I can’t remember – my short-term memory is terrible. I don’t tend to be spontaneous in big ways.

If people receive a purple heart for bravery, what would other color hearts represent?  (Example yellow heart = cowardice)
Red heart = love and compassion for others
Yellow or orange heart = optimism in the face of adversity
Blue heart = calm, keeping one’s wits about oneself.
Green heart = advocacy and contribution toward improving the environment, helping our planet; such as an innovation that contributes to a reduction in plastic waste, for example.
White or pink heart = volunteerism
Rainbow heart = tolerance, acceptance; extraordinary acts to create diversity in our society

What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done or witnessed someone else do?
Another hard question! I guess in my case it would be making the decision (and following through) to change careers. I was comfortable & competent, but bored, in what I was doing for a living. When I remarried, it became possible to think about finding a career in which I could use my skills in a more meaningful way. I went into teaching because I felt that what teachers do is so vital; every time I walked into my son’s school, I felt a surge of excitement, like something important was happening there. I did it in spite of advice from my husband and others, in spite of knowing it would be very challenging and difficult for me due to my ADHD, in spite of a it being a time of great tension in the field of education due to increased pressure to show student success through standardized tests (or losing funding if scores were not at a certain level. Remember “No Child Left Behind?” What a disaster!) Bilingual and special ed teachers were especially stressed because our students tended NOT to get great scores on these tests. We were watched more closely and there was little tolerance for mistakes or non-traditional classroom techniques.

GRATITUDE SECTION (Always optional)

How do you show gratitude to the people you respect?
First, by thanking them, hugging them or maybe sending them a card. But mostly by being generous, doing things for them, giving them a gift I know they would particularly like. For example, I have a friend of many years, since our sons were little and playing together. She has been through a lot in her life, including the loss of her husband to cancer and her son to an overdose. She sacrificed much of herself for her son, who had disabilities that were difficult to deal with. She has always worked, and even now cannot afford to retire. She always shows her caring toward others, calling when someone she knows is in difficulty, or visiting someone who is homebound. Unlike me, she has never had a chance to travel abroad except to Canada. She is a very Christian person – I mean strong in her faith, more so than I, so when there was an opportunity to visit the Holy Land with a group from our church, I knew how much she wanted to go, and I paid for her trip. I had the money and the trip was fairly inexpensive. Otherwise, she could not have gone. It made me so happy to see her enthusiasm and awe about everything she experienced while we were in Israel.

This is a group photo of the “Green Bus” tour group, upon our arrival in Jerusalem.

I don’t do generous things for people very often, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t remember to do so. Therefore, when I feel strongly that a generous act – something I have the ability to do for someone else – would help a person I love and respect, I do it if they let me.

I used to be impatient and often didn’t bother to understand others, but I think that as I have aged, I have become a better person in that way. I wish I were more of a risk-taker, so I could do much more for others, but I’m not; I’m too comfortable and selfish about my own life and what I want. I’m not a person who jumps to volunteer for a big project, but now I look for opportunities to help someone I care about, in some small, individual way.

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…

SYW: On Belief, Morality, and the Order of Nature

I always look forward to Mondays, when Melanie issues a new set of questions for Share Your World. Her questions this week are quite thought-provoking, so I’d better get started!

QUESTIONS

What do you believe but cannot prove?
The existence of God. God is seen differently by people; there may be almost as many ideas of God as there are believers. For me, God is within each individual and in nature. God is a force rather than an actual being. But I do believe in the power of prayer, so I guess sometimes I believe – when it’s convenient – that God does “listen” to prayers and perhaps helps things happen (or not). It is a comfort to me, at least, and it also is a comfort to others to know that people are praying on their behalf. In fact, there have been scientific studies of the power of prayer, and what was concluded is that knowing that a community of people who care about you bolsters your will to get better (or improve whatever the situation is). People are saying that they support you and are concerned about your suffering. It can actually motivate people to fight harder against a disease like cancer.

Do animals have morals?   Exclude human beings from the equation please. 
Why exclude humans? Are we any more moral than animals? Sometimes I think not!

Anyway, I don’t believe animals have morals, not really, although some do have compassion. Having morals requires one to be able to imagine different scenarios and outcomes, and to be able to judge others’ actions. I am not convinced animals can do that. However, there is much about animals – particularly the most intelligent ones – that we don’t know. Dolphins have been observed helping people in trouble. Elephants also help each other when one is in distress. Whales use a complex system of sounds to communicate with each other. I always marvel at the natural world, because animals have developed adaptations to all kinds of environments and situations. But I don’t think that they can imagine the future or alternate situations. Possibly chimpanzees or gorillas, but only in a limited capacity.

People often pose the question of what makes humans different from other animals. It is our brain’s capacity to reason, analyze, synthesize, and imagine. Unfortunately, these capacities do not necessarily lead to better behavior than an animal might display. We make choices, often the wrong ones, which affect not only our own lives, but also the lives of others, including animals.

Is there inherent order in nature or is it all chaos and chance?
I believe there is inherent order, but we do not understand it completely. Science is constantly revising its hypotheses about the universe/natural world, as new discoveries are made. There is an order, but we have yet to really know that order. I read an article recently about scientists at Fermilab discovering erratic behavior by the tiny particles called muons. They have observed the muons deviating from whatever it is they do, which can alter scientific theories about how the universe works. It’s amazing that this tiny particle, whose existence has only been known for a few decades, can influence so much of scientific theory that was believed to be based on solid evidence.

Where is your least favorite place in the world?
Somewhere that I’ve never been. Someplace cold and desolate. I probably will never visit places such as Antarctica or Greenland; I have heard that Antarctica, at least, is well worth a trip, and I would love to see the penguins. But I cannot imagine living through months of darkness and frigid cold day after day. Alaska is beautiful but I wouldn’t want to live there. So my “least favorite place” might be different depending on whether that place is my least favorite place to visit or least favorite place to live.

There is one place that I don’t think I would even want to visit – it’s the only place in the world that I can think of – and that is North Korea.


GRATITUDE SECTION (Participation Always Optional)

Feel free to share something about the seasons that makes you smile!

I am capable of smiling during any season, but I will focus on the current season of spring. I love flowers and they make me smile. Here is a poem I wrote several years ago about my garden, which is mostly about the flowers of spring.

HAIKU: THE GARDEN
4/26/14

Snow drops rise early
to cheer the winter weary:
delicate white orbs.

Crocuses give hope
when purple flowers appear –
spring will arrive soon.

Yellow daffodils
herald the coming of spring
with their bright trumpets.

Tulip leaves unfold,
hiding their buds until May
brings colorful blooms.

The lilac bush makes
fragrantly scented flowers
in lavender clusters.

The rose bush’s thorns
keep gardeners at bay for
red blossoms in June.

Aromatic herbs
spice up the gardener’s meals;
worthy of wild growth!

Gardeners’ reward
is the harvest of summer:
Beauty, fragrance, food.


Speaking of fragrance, lilacs are in bloom everywhere here! They are beautiful and smell heavenly!