SYW: From Productivity to Personhood

Here are Melanie’s questions (and my answers!) this week for Share Your World.


Are you more productive at night or in the morning? Do you think it’s possible to change and get used to another schedule? I’m not really a morning person. I am more active at night, usually – perhaps it’s because I realize I have things to do and here it is evening and I haven’t done them yet! Yes, I think it is possible to adapt to another schedule, which I would like to do. There is an exercise class at 9:00 am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which is right now too early for me, but if I stop staying up so late, I should be able to get up an hour earlier so I can go to that class! So I should try to move back my bedtime incrementally. (But here it is 11:18 pm and I’m just starting to blog!)

What’s the biggest vehicle you’ve driven?  If you don’t drive, what’s the biggest vehicle you’ve ridden in? This is wimpy, I know, but the largest car I’ve ever driven is a station wagon or small SUV. I have recently started driving my husband’s Subaru Forrester for short distances in decent weather, but I still prefer my Prius!

My Prius during a snow storm. I would not drive Dale’s Subaru in weather conditions like this!

What songs would be played on a loop in hell?  (Suspend disbelief for this one, it’s cool not to believe in Hell, but let’s use our imaginations to answer.  Of course one can always skip the questions they find odd too.  And yes, I took into account that individual tastes will influence individual choices.) Advertising jingles – they are very repetitive, loud (ads are louder than the TV shows that air them), annoying as hell, and somehow stick in one’s mind. I think that would be the worst thing to listen to on a loop in whatever hell one may end up in!

(Deep and chewy philosophical question):     What does it mean to be a person?  What constitutes “personhood?” (there may be some diverse opinions, but we’re all mature adults in here, so be respectful of others please). I think of a “person” as a human being. I don’t refer to animals such as pets as “persons,” although some people do. All humans are “persons” (or people – is that the plural of person?), no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or whatever. Every human is equal to every other. Some are nicer than others, but that doesn’t make them less than persons. However, just because a person is a human being doesn’t make him or her superior to other animals. We think we are more intelligent and more important than other animals, but we have a lot to learn – a humbling prospect!


How were your spirits (mood) over the past week? 

It’s been a hectic and sort of dreary week. The weather has been lousy overall for this time of year. My daffodils are starting to bloom, while we get snow and hail! I was feeling really blah this morning, but I felt better after being in the swimming pool and hot tub this afternoon!

I’ve been busy working on Earth Week (April 18-22) activities here at the Moorings, as head of the environmental concerns committee, so everyone looks to me to figure this stuff out! I hope it will be a success though! Stay tuned!!


SYW: Knowing Tangerines & Potato Chips, and other Musings

Melanie asks some profound questions this week for Share Your World!


What is knowledge?
Google’s online dictionary has two definitions for knowledge (definitions are from Oxford Languages):
1. facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
2. awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.

Being smart is not the same as knowledge, but “street smarts,” for example, is a type of knowledge from definition #2. However, I usually think of definition #1 when thinking about what knowledge is.

How do you define consciousness (self awareness)?
Consciousness is being cognizant of your surroundings, who you are, and what you are doing. It’s also possible to be conscious without an awareness of one’s surroundings, such as the things you do without thinking – your mind is elsewhere. Often when we drive, we do it so automatically that we don’t think about it as we are doing it – but an unusual situation on the road will usually bring us back to that awareness. (If not – and this happens often enough – likely one will get into an accident.) It is difficult to be aware all the time – this is called “mindfulness,” distinct from consciousness in that we are constantly aware of our senses in the present.

Mindfulness takes a lot of training in self-control to keep one’s mind from wandering. I would like to be more mindful – appreciating the sensations, for example, in eating a tangerine: how it looks and smells, the sensation in my fingers as I peel it, and then really noticing it when it’s ready to eat: each section has little sacs in which the juiciness resides; there is some stringy residue of the peel still clinging to the outside. Smell it, taste it, be aware of how wonderful it is to eat a tangerine. We don’t do this enough. I tend to eat without even thinking about it, and then when I’m done (I eat too fast), I look at my empty plate and realize I didn’t have an appreciation for what I ate. The food is gone and I ate it without awareness.

So often consciousness involves one part of the brain paying attention to one’s surroundings as the person goes about doing routines automatically, while another part of the brain is distracted – thinking about something else altogether. Mindfulness, existing in and appreciating the present, is a richer experience than consciousness, I believe.

Is it possible to prove that other people besides yourself have consciousness?
Of course – they are conscious if they are engaging in the world around them, whether they are being mindful of it or not; it’s still consciousness. If you ask your partner, say, if he is asleep, and he answers “yes,” then he is probably lying. Sleep is our brain’s rest from consciousness. But are dreams simply a different level of consciousness?

Would you be able to tell if time had been altered in some way?
You mean, like a time warp? Yes, if I got into a blue English phonebox called the Tardis, and emerged from it in medieval Europe, or in a futuristic world, I would definitely be able to tell time had been altered!

We alter time twice each year, when we go on and off Daylight Savings Time. (Personally, I’d like to stay on DST all year.) It is then that I realize that time is an artificial construct that we impose on our world to establish order, a conformity that everyone in society lives with. Time is, of course, related to the cycles of the moon, the rotating and orbiting of Earth around the sun. Either it is light or it is dark. We behave differently and have different expectations of ourselves and others at night than during the day. Some people say they have trouble adjusting to going on and off DST, but I think, really? It’s just an hour, and during that hour – or missed hour – we are usually sleeping anyway. It is noticeable, sure, when we are used to leaving for work in early daylight, but suddenly, it’s dark out when we leave our house at 7:00 a.m. That’s a drag – and I’m very glad I’m retired and no longer have to worry about it!

Another time when we notice time changes is when we get into an airplane and fly halfway across the world. Our bodies continue on the time zone we were in when we got on the airplane, and yet when we get to our destination, it is a completely different time of the day. We may be tired, because back home the night was just beginning, but where we are now, everyone is very much awake and going about their daytime activities. In 2022, we are going to Australia and New Zealand, so we will cross the International Date Line and – presto! – although 12 hours have gone by, it’s the next day over there!! And we gain that day back when we return: It was Tuesday when we departed Auckland, and now we get to live most of Tuesday again at home on the other side of the world!

Do you like potato chips (they’re called ‘crisps’ in Europe I believe)?
Four “profound” questions that require real thought, and now you ask whether I like potato chips?? How mundane!! Yes, I do like them, but I try to avoid eating them, because like the commercial says, “so good, you can’t eat just one!” I make allowances on special occasions (noshing at a party, for example) or when I have only a small portion of chips on my plate and cannot eat any more!

GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

On this side of the world it’s coming into Springtime.   Celebrate Spring by sharing an image or anecdote that shares “Spring”!   Alternatively, it’s coming into Autumn on the other side of the world.  Please do the same for Autumn!   Thanks! 

Daffodils, the heralds of spring, are blooming everywhere!

Daffodils alongside the east wall of my house
Daffodils blooming along the fence separating our old house and the neighbor’s. Those weren’t there two years ago, when we moved, but I’m glad the new neighbors decided to plant these lovely flowers!

Question Fun: Time

Rory at A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip has a twice weekly series of questions, called “Question Fun.”

Today’s topic is ………….. A Question of Time 

How often do you actually deep think of time as a concept?
Not often, unless my attention is drawn to it – I have read two books recently that dealt, partially or totally, with the concept of time: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink and Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking. Both were thought-provoking books.

When was the last time that you sat down and tried to visualise the future of the planet by 50 years? [Where are we going to be in the year 2069? Explain your thoughts]
I am often prompted to visualize the future of our planet. According to Stephen Hawking, we will either destroy Earth through nuclear war or environmental catastrophe caused by human avarice. Climate change is a global problem requiring urgent action to prevent our planet from becoming uninhabitable. By 2069, I have confidence that we will have gone a long way to tackle this problem. We simply cannot go on polluting and using up our finite natural resources as we have been. By 2069, I visualize electric cars as the norm – perhaps there will no longer be gas-powered cars by then – and artificial intelligence doing many of the jobs currently done by humans. The problems of the future may include sustainability and the scarcity of employment.

What time is it right now as in the time you are answering this question and where abouts are you in the world?
It is 9:46 p.m. and I am sitting in front of my computer in my home in Midwestern USA – specifically, Des Plaines, Illinois, a suburb northwest of Chicago.

Tell me about a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone?
When I decided to change careers and become an elementary school bilingual teacher. Teaching was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I often struggled with the myriad of tasks it required.

Last time you had a really good time was … ?
Two days ago, when I went with a friend to the Chicago Botanic Gardens. It was a beautiful day – pleasantly warm and sunny and the flowers of all kinds were abundant and beautiful. It is the time of year when we were able to see the field of red, orange, yellow and white poppies, and also a display of various colors of foxglove. Afterward, we had a really nice lunch. It was magnificent!

Quote Time!!! Display two excellent quotes on the subject of horology!
Horology is the study of prostitutes.
Watching gory movies made me an expert in horology.

Let the good times roll … please provide me with three song titles that are about the topic of time in your eyes?
Time Has Come Today by the Chambers Brothers
Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper
Time by Pink Floyd

Having a really good time means what in your world?
Traveling to an interesting place with a person I enjoy being with.

Time to ….. what?
Finish answering these questions!

Which term do you prefer more ?

Lost Time
Wasted Time
Time Spent
Time flies
Time flies because it reminds me that time is precious and I should make the most of it.

What do the following mean? [However DO NOT ANSWER the correct way but answer the incorrect way!]

Ahead of one’s time? Getting somewhere early
Behind the times? A person reading the New York Times by holding it up in front of his/her face so that the person is behind the newspaper.
In the nick of time? Adopting the timetable of a guy named Nick.
A Race against time! Visiting another part of the universe by going through a wormhole.
Having the time of your life? The lifespan of a person; all the time of one’s life.
Bide your time? Description of buying a clock by someone who doesn’t speak English fluently and thinks the past tense of “buy” is “buyed.”
Bad time for you? When time is bad, not good.
Having time on your hands? Description of a German clock maker.
All in good time? When all time is good, never bad.
A Matter of time? A conversation about the usefulness of wrist watches.

Can you write a small story on the subject of Time and the Giraffe?
The giraffe’s sense of time was guided by his instincts and the natural world. He knew when it was time to sleep, because it was night and he was safe, so he folded his long legs and lay down in the tall grass. It was always time to eat – he spent much of his day picking the tender leaves off the tips of acacia tree branches as well as munching baobob leaves and those in the canopy of the forest. He knew when it was preferable to hide, and he was able to camouflage himself perfectly in the foliage, where predators and pesky humans riding around in noisy vehicles couldn’t see him.

He knew when it was time to run because he would see a herd of zebras stampeding by. A predator – a lion or leopard – would be looking for an animal that lagged behind. He and his fellow giraffes would lope alongside the zebras, kicking up the dust of the Serengeti.

Thus his days and nights would pass, most of the time spent foraging at the tops of trees.
He knew when he was mature, at the age of seven or eight, because he would suddenly feel an urge to find a mate.

He knew when it was time for mating when he would smell the urine of a female in heat. He would have to take time to woo and pursue her (and hopefully not have to fight with another male for her), letting her know his intentions by putting his head on her back and pushing his front legs into her rear legs. When she was willing, she would stand still and he would be able to mount her – a rather tricky and awkward process, but the giraffe knew how to do the act smoothly and quickly.

A long time later, his offspring would come into the world, falling several feet from its mother’s body to the ground. Then it was time to guard his mate and calf until instinct would tell him it was time to leave. Once again his days and nights would pass – mostly peacefully – chewing tender acacia leaves until the urine of a female would tell him it was time to mate again.

December Squares: Steam Clock of Gastown, Vancouver

20160819_203328 (2) Gastown Vancouver

The world’s first steam powered clock is in the Gastown neighborhood of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This plaque tells about it.
Glass panels on the sides allow the curious visitor to see the mechanics inside this clock.
Another photo showing the whole clock is in my previous post.

For more timepieces and other interpretations of the theme time, see Becky’s December Squares.

Speaking of time, here’s a video of the lyrics to the song Time Has Come Today by the Chambers Brothers.