Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Bag it!

I realize that both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans have a mass

of trash caught in a wind pattern called a gyre.

Image result for large mass of plastic in the pacific

The Great Pacific garbage patch, also described as the Pacific trash vortex, is a gyre of marine debris particles in the central North Pacific Ocean discovered between 1985 and 1988.


How big is the garbage patch in the Atlantic Ocean?

The North Atlantic garbage patch is an area of man-made marine debris found floating within the North Atlantic Gyre, originally documented in 1972. The patch is estimated to be hundreds of kilometres across in size, with a density of over 200,000 pieces of debris per square kilometer.

I know that many plastics are made from petroleum products and will evidently last thousands of years.  I expect that the problem of manufacture and of disposal will be solved in the near future.

Still, I am grateful for the existence of plastic bags.  I am surprised at how lettuce, cauliflower and other vegetable do well in the refrigerator when air is kept away from them. I was surprised to read "The Invention of Air" by Johnson and to find how helpful it was to understand the ocean of air that surrounds our planet.  The book is called the Invention of air because for a long time, thousands of years, there was no atmosphere and then, for another long time, oxygen was not part of Earth's atmosphere.

I am pretty ignorant of chemistry but I think oxygen is one of the more active components of our air and tends to mix with other things.  The process leads to dissolution of many of our foods.  But with some foods, an airproof plastic (or other airproof substance like wax paper or aluminium foil), useful life can be extended quite a bit by protecting the food from contact with air.  Ground coffee does better when sheltered from contact with air but I think light, including sunlight, can also age coffee.

A good plastic bag is often convenient for simply inserting into a freezer and then thawing later. We refuse to microwave plastic bags and I avoid the 'steamer' bags that many frozen foods now come in.  I much prefer emptying the frozen item into a large ceramic bowl and microwaving that with a dish for a cover.

Monday, December 11, 2017

If I were in their place

He said,"We drove instead of biking.  We have lost all self-respect."  He was kidding.  He was referring to the idea that we should walk or bike.  The notion is to exercise one's muscles and not drive or make other use of fossil fuel, such as gasoline.  Contrast that with someone who lives where there is rarely any snow, whose local airport has shut down for fear of ice on the runway, whose schools have closed.  


Right now it is 24° F outside or -4.44 Celsius.  The wind is 5 mph which makes it feel like 19° F or -4 C.  Some people feel that is nicely cool and some feel that is dangerously, horribly cold.  The conditions are similar to what they have been all day.  


It can be a matter of what a person is used to, but it is often a matter of equipment.  Having a down coat along with the added necessities of good gloves (often mittens are needed), a good hat, and maybe a scarf to keep the neck, throat and chest protected from cold air may allow anyone to be comfortable at 24° F.  For some people, long underwear, often worn over one's shorts and undershirt, is needed to feel comfortable.  Sometimes, a face mask or balaklava is needed.


When, years ago, I participated in my only winter Audubon local bird count, my experienced friend said after a couple of hours outside, that I needed to stop immediately and go inside.  My nose was showing a white spot, a sign of the beginning of frostbite.  


Soon, we will have lived in the north for 50 years.  We have spent several winter vacations in southern Alabama, southern Texas and northern Florida.  We lived in Maryland and D.C. before the north.  


Many people seem to think first of human feelings and psychology.  But, one of the most helpful thinkers I have ever studied is W.E. Deming.  The man did much to improve the US census, Japanese manufacturing and then American manufacturing.  His is a name often associated with quality circles and total quality management.  His ideas focus on trying to improve what we do and he emphasized that most human errors are attributable to the system, the surroundings.  


Mostly we don't think that way.  We often like to blame someone personally.  If the northerners did such and such, if the southerners did things differently… Mostly, friends, you will find that most people are conscientious and clever.  You can translate that into "if you were in their position, you would probably do the same thing."


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Want to get together?

I have written about multiplicity many times.  There is a movie by that name in which the hero finds himself duplicated into 4 other copies of himself.  Complications increase.  You aren't surprised.  The problem of the responsibility of a single individual in the eyes of the law and in social relation gets confused if there is another person who looks totally alike.


DId I speak to A or B? More troublesomely, which one or ones can confirm our meeting time and place?


Lynn says it is on her calendar.  She has three calendars.  I have two. Four of the five are electronic and one is a small paper book.  We would like to check to see what time we are supposed to be there tonight.  The dream of having one calendar on which we both record all our obligations and celebrations and meetings and such remains elusive.  


A small paper book is handy and I might get one, too.  But where is it?  I won't remember to record the lunch date I just made with Harry when I get home and have access to the little book.  It is little but it won't fit in my pocket. The small paper book is handy to use when I am not connected to the internet or my provider is down.  It is not handy to use or consult when I leave it at home.  


Maybe I better call Harry to get clear on what time and where.  Harry had a landline and it had an answering machine.  I wonder if Harry will be home before I need to hear from him.  Maybe I had better call his cellphone.  I think Harry likes to keep his phone muted to avoid interruptions with his clients.  I could try texting him on his Google number but I wonder if he ever looks at his Google texts.  Maybe I will just stay home by the phone, eating popcorn.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Always changing

Yesterday's post was about changes in practice in our lives over time.  Two responses related to the post have come back.  One said a granddaughter wondered what an ice cube tray was:


She had only experienced ice pieces falling from a gadget on the front door of the refrigerator.  The other message reported recalling from childhood the unpleasant experience of getting one's ponytail hairdo caught in the wringer of an older type of washing machine.


Our language is always changing, too.  I think it is ok to describe some of the changes as widening.  I gather that English has often been enriched by the addition of words and concepts from other languages.  The part of the washer that caught a girl's hair is a "wringer", not a "ringer".  With the "w", the word derives from the action of twisting a cloth tightly to expel water from it.  Without the w, it refers to the clapper in a bell or the person ringing a bell to make it sound.


Another change I notice relates to the word 'unique'.  The word used to mean 'the only' as in "I am unique" = there is no other me.  I am the only one.  My teachers often emphasized that I should not posit degrees of uniqueness, as in "His poems are very unique."  They wanted me to say "His poems are very unusual" or "atypical".  But I hear and see many uses of intensifiers in front of "unique".


Friday, December 8, 2017

What is a horse shoe?

The very first horseless carriage was in operation quite early, depending of course on what is meant by the term.

https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/auto.html Country. Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804), 1769, STEAM / Built the first self propelled road vehicle (military tractor) for the French army: three wheeled, 2.5 mph. France. Robert Anderson, 1832-1839, ELECTRIC / Electric carriage. Scotland. Karl Friedrich Benz (1844-1929), 1885/86, GASOLINE / First true automobile


But clearly, horses and oxen were important sources of transport power for a very long time.  


It would not surprise me if many children and young people today are not familiar with horse shoes. The words are usually written together (horseshoe) but I am purposely separating them.


https://www.google.com/search?q=horseshoe&newwindow=1&tbm=isch&source=lnt&tbs=sur:f&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiX56Tl4PjXAhVE9YMKHfM5BLkQpwUIIA&biw=1280&bih=551&dpr=1.5


I am interested in changing times and practices.  When I was an elementary school student, my family did not have a television set but I had seen them.  Many children of today have iPads or competing brands of tablets.  I have never saddled a horse or been in the presence of working oxen. I have ridden a horse occasionally but never shod one or seen the operation in person.  I would not be too surprised if some students enter college today without having used a computer.


My lunch fellows were discussing washing machines with wringers. We used to have one in our house that looked about like this:

The lunch group is all men and none of us had ever used such a machine nor had any of us ever used a scrub board:

Everything I have mentioned here has to do with physical power but there are undoubtedly many other areas where change is evident.  Foods, dress, fashion, medicine, music, literature and movie themes seem likely areas.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Blogging

I now have 3001 posts in my blog.  The first post was made on March 29, 2008.  Excel tells me that there have been 3540 days since then.  3001/3540 = .85 so there is an 85% chance that I will post on any given day.  The figure 3001 includes some days when I posted more than one item, something very interesting from TED talks or such.  I purposely hang up writing something when I am traveling so the number of posts will always be a bit short of the total number of elapsed days.

The main blog page is http://fearfunandfiloz.blogspot.com/  Anyone anywhere with an internet connection can visit that page, which includes a chronological listing of all the posts.  There is also a search window that allows searching for particular words.  I usually email a given post to about 130 people and to the blog page itself.  The Google blogging service Blogger allows for various settings and one gives statistics on views of the main page from around the world.  For instance, yesterday, one person in Canada, one in Morocco and one in Cambodia viewed the page.  Over a week's time, France and Russia usually have the most viewers but those are mechanical figures and don't say anything about how useful or interesting viewers found the blog post at that time.

The company Blog2Print will copy a blog's posts and put them into a printed, paper book.  I did that once but since then I have written too many posts for their software to handle.  They have been advertising Christmas specials lately and their ads got me to thinking it would be fun to select a group, maybe 50 posts, that seem good in one way or another.  I might have the selection made into a book but I might just put it on a web page or a specially made web site.  

Just for fun, I used Excel to calculate the midpoint between the first day of posting and today.  Turns out to be Feb. 1, 2013.  So, I read that post.  Pretty good stuff!  If you had asked me if I had ever written about Still Island, I would have said I had never even heard of it.  http://fearfunandfiloz.blogspot.com/2013/02/vistiing-still-island.html

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Fwd: The Future of Mindful Policing Research and Other Center News

The links in this message might lead to some good ideas or some good practices or experiments.  I hope so.  The book by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, "Altered States", gives a good overview about research on ways to quietly meditate and keep a high quality of life.  Bill
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Center for Healthy Minds <info@centerhealthyminds.org>
Date: Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 4:23 PM
Subject: The Future of Mindful Policing Research and Other Center News
To: olderkirby@gmail.com


Mindful Policing Research Expands
with New Grant from the U.S. Dept. of Justice
Expanding on a pilot study from the Center for Healthy Minds and the Madison Police Department, this new study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice could bring a better scientific understanding of the unique stressors facing police officers.
READ MORE
Tackling Depression with a Mind-Body Approach
Center faculty member Charles Raison examines a mind-body approach to tackling depression on ABC News 10% Happier with Dan Harris. 
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
Richard Davidson on "Talks at Google"
In this video from a visit to Google's headquarters, Center Founder and Director Richard Davidson talks with Daniel Goleman about the latest research on meditation and well-being.
WATCH NOW
The Need for More Rigorous Mindfulness-Based Research
A recent article co-authored by Center for Healthy Minds alumnus and collaborator Simon Goldberg is putting the spotlight on the need for more rigorous research into mindfulness-based interventions.
READ MORE
The Past, Present and Future of Meditation Research
Mindful Magazine looks at meditation research, including that of neuroscience and Center Founder and Director Richard Davidson, and how the brain can be transformed through practice. 
LEARN MORE
Jobs Now Recruiting
The Center for Healthy Minds is recruiting a Postdoctoral Fellow in Affective, Cognitive, and Aging NeuroscienceDirector of DevelopmentResearch Computing Facilitator, and Research Specialist.

Healthy Minds Innovations, Inc., the external non-profit affiliated with the Center for Healthy Minds, is recruiting a Science Director and Senior UX/UI Designer.
SEE ALL OPENINGS
Our Deepest Gratitude
Thank you for making #GivingTuesday, a global day of generosity and giving, a success. Your support helps advance our research.  
SUPPORT THE CENTER
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