It’s been a long day

Human life is a kind of myopia, everyone walking around, seeing only what’s in front of them, or not even that—passing each other by, embroiled in our little dramas to such an extent that we miss out on everything; making big what is small.

Sheila HetiMotherhood: A Novel (Henry Holt and Co., May 1, 2018)


Notes: Illustration: Owen Gent. Related Posts: It’s been a long day

Flying AA 1263 DFW to LGA. Over all Walls, Barriers and Fences.

Not a statistically significant sample for the Data Kings, but good enough for me. Here’s a driver profile summary for my last 5 Uber rides in Dallas:

“Egber”
Descent: Kurdish, 1st generation arrived in U.S. age 1
Car: Hyundai Elantra (spotless inside)
Music Playing: Country
Uber Rating: 4.88
My Rating: 5.0

“Fouad”
Descent: Egypt (1st Gen)
Car: Toyota Camry (Spotless)
Music Playing: Classical
Uber Rating: 4.82
My Rating: 5.0

“Rafat”
Descent: Jordan.
Car: Toyota Camry (Spotless)
Music Playing: Classical (soft)
Uber Rating: 4.88.
My Rating: 5.0

“Bennie”
Descent: U.S. Lake Providence, Louisiana. African American. “Retired Grandpa of 5. Love People.”
Car: Lexus ES. (Spotless)
Music Playing: Jazz
Uber Rating: 4.94
My Rating: 5.0

“Jason”
Descent: Jamaica (1st Gen)
Car: Nissan Maxima (Spotless)
Music Playing: Pop
Uber Rating: 4.91
My Rating: 5.0

This Rider (DK)
Descent: Canada (1st Gen). Green Card Resident.
My Uber Rating: 4.92

Punch line:

God Bless America.

I love this country.


Photo: (via me-poppins)

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Photograph: San Diego Zoo. Dromedary: 7 to 11 feet long; 6 to 6.6 feet tall at the shoulder; weights 880 to 1,320 pounds when grown. Gestation of 12 to 14 months. A newborn camel is able to walk beside the mother within half an hour.  Camel calves nurse for 10 to 18 months. Reach full adult size at age seven. Median life expectancy is 17.8 years.
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

Incognito

With star turns in last year’s “Lady Bird” and the new period epic “Mary Queen of Scots,” out Dec. 7, the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, 24, has catapulted into Hollywood’s top ranks. But she prefers to spend her off time out of the limelight: The 24-year-old’s favorite pastimes include knitting, cooking and reading history. “I don’t go to a lot of clubs because I’m busy knitting,” she jokes. “I just knit and read history books.” She laughs and shakes her head, adding, “Now nobody will want to read this interview.” …

She’s read a lot of history books to study for her roles, but she says her script choices are more emotionally than strategically driven. “It’s like a chemistry thing,” she says…She found revisiting her emotions “quite therapeutic,” she says. “It can really help get something out of your system or help you understand why you’re feeling a certain way or just be more in touch with how you’re feeling.”

That self-aware groundedness is part of what keeps her close to home in Ireland when she isn’t working. A self-described homebody, she lives outside Dublin, near where she grew up. Her father is an actor and her mother a homemaker…

She enjoys remaining incognito at the grocery store. Her relaxed attire helps. While she says her style changes all the time, she thinks she tends to dress like a “cool Scandinavian mother.” When I look at her quizzically, she describes loose, high-waisted pants and flowing shirts. “They’re not necessarily Scandinavian, but I just mean mothers who have just had a baby,” she explains. “I look a bit like a mother of one who’s gone mad in Anthropologie.”

Alexandra Wolfe, from “Saoirse Ronan Would Rather Be Knitting” – The ascendant star, now playing ‘Mary Queen of Scots,’ prefers to spend her off-time out of the limelight—and get through the grocery store incognito (wsj.com, Dec 7, 2018)

Invisibly, almost without notice, we are losing ourselves

Physicist, novelist, and essayist Alan Lightman has added his own manifestoIn Praise of Wasting Time. Of course, the title is ironic, because Lightman argues that by putting down our devices and spending time on quiet reflection, we regain some of our lost humanity, peace of mind, and capacity for creativity—not a waste of time, after all, despite the prevailing mentality that we should spend every moment actually doing something. The problem is not only our devices, the internet, and social media. Lightman argues that the world has become much more noisy, fast-paced, and distracting. Partly, he writes, this is because the advances that have enabled the much greater transfer of data, and therefore productivity, have created an environment in which seemingly inexorable market forces push for more time working and less leisure time.

Lightman starts his book with an anecdote from his recent time in a rural village in Cambodia. When he asked a villager how long it took her to bike daily to the market ten miles away to barter for food and goods, she replied that she had never thought about it. Lightman is “startled” at this, and jealous. He points out that we in the “developed” world (his scare quotes) have carved up our days into minuscule portions, not a single one to be wasted. He admits that “from the instant I open my eyes in the morning until I turn out the lights at night, I am at work on some project. First thing in the morning, I check my email. For any unexpected opening of time that appears during the day, I rush to patch it, as if a tear in my trousers…” 

Lightman points to several productive, creative individuals who routinely had unstructured time in their days. A fellow physicist at MIT, Paul Schechter, used to sit for hours daydreaming on park benches, which he credited with helping come up with important ideas, including a formula for the number of galaxies with different luminosities. Gertrude Stein used to drive around in the country every day and find a place to sit and write; much of that time was not spent writing, but gazing at cows. Mathematician Henri Poincaré, after a few weeks of fruitless work on functions, drank coffee one evening and in his sleeplessness found that “[i]deas rose in crowds; I felt them collide under pairs interlocked, so to speak, making a stable combination. By the next morning I had established the existence of a class of Fuchsian functions . . . “

Lightman feels we are in a “dire” situation:

Invisibly, almost without notice, we are losing ourselves. We are losing our ability to know who we are and what is important to us. We are creating a global machine in which each of us is a mindless and reflexive cog, relentless driven by the speed, noise, and artificial urgency of the wired world.

~ Anitra Pavlico, from “Alan Lightman On Wasting Time” (3quarksdaily, January 7, 2019)


Photo: Financial Times

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Photo: Starling by Ostdrossel (Michigan, Jan 5, 2019, National Bird Day!)

Sunday Morning

Carrying a day
is like carrying a mountain,
Brooding over your own horizon
those endless small words
The silence at the end of sentences.
Come to the bank
Breathe the snow
Put your day down

Terrance Keenan, excerpted and edited from “Lullaby of Crossing the River” in St. Nadie in Winter


Notes: Poem via The Vale of Soul Making. Photo by Patty Maher (The Quiet Storm).

What’s Your Spirit Bird?

 

I sit at the kitchen table preparing to read the NY Times. I separate the front section from the rest of the paper, and then pause.

I get up, go to the fridge and grab the remains of yesterday’s leftovers.

I turn to the Opinion Pages, my first stop, and scan the titles. My eyes spot an essay by Margaret Renkl.  I’m a fan-boy of Margarets. I see that her piece is titled “Spring is Coming“…well that’s a bit aggressive on January 5th, no Margaret? 

I read on.

“There’s a New Year’s tradition among bird-watchers: The first bird you see on New Year’s Day is your theme bird for the year. Your spirit bird, the bird that sets the tone for your encounters with the world and with others, the bird that guides your heart and your imagination in the coming year. It’s hardly a serious ornithological exploration, but there are plenty of birders who will wake before dawn anyway, no matter how late they stayed up on New Year’s Eve. They will drive off to some wild place teeming with avian life, all to increase the sunrise odds of seeing a truly amazing first bird. Who wouldn’t love to be matched for a year to the spirit of the snowy owl? What a gift to be guided for 12 months by the soul of a Bohemian waxwing!”

I pause.

Yea, OK, it’s January 5th, it’s well beyond New Year’s Day but there’s no reason I can’t find my bird now. I need my spirit bird Now.

I stop nibbling on my sandwich. Get up. Step out the back door, watch, and listen.

Silence.

I wait a few moments longer, in my short sleeve t-shirt, in 38° F temperatures.

Nothing. 

Perhaps some encouragement. Come on Red! Where’s that Red Cardinal? There are four bird feeders in the backyard. All hang on their poles silently. No breeze. They don’t swing. They are Still.

Nothing.

I step back into the house, pull the sliding door closed, and finish up Margaret’s essay.

No Bird. Wonder what that means.

I reach for the remaining quarter of my sandwich, and look down…

Chicken Sandwich…

What a gift to be guided for 12 months by the soul of a Bohemian waxwing!


Photo: Ostdrossel

Big Baby

A rare black rhinoceros calf, born on Dec. 9, is seen with his mother Maisha at a zoo in the Czech city of Dvur Kralove nad Labem. (David Tanecek, wsj.com January 4, 2018). More on the story here.

T.G.I.F. (It’s been a LONG Week!)


Notes:

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