Happy Mother’s Day

To all of my friends, family, and extended family – mothers or nurturing fathers, and everyone who has helped guide someone younger than yourself – I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day, and leave you with this thought on motherhood from Oprah Winfrey:

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.”

Image of summer flowers from http://all-free-download.com/free-photos/flower-images.html

For what it’s worth…

As I was commenting on the EPA website in regard to the rolling back of the regulations that have been protecting our air and water since the Nixon administration, I was reminded of a quote from Theodore Roosevelt about the dangers of allowing corporations to do whatever they want to for the sake of profit. I’ve used it before, and fear that I’ll have to repeat it again as the current administration, and our congress, allows profit to overcome sensibility.

“To permit every lawless capitalist, every law-defying corporation, to take any action, no matter how iniquitous, in the effort to secure an improper profit and to build up privilege, would be ruinous to the Republic and would mark the abandonment of the effort to secure in the industrial world the spirit of democratic fair dealing.”

— Theodore Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, December 8, 1908

Just some food for thought as we wrap up another politically overwhelming week.

Pax.

Photo of the Rio Grande Gorge, taken July 2015, in northern New Mexico – an area now at risk as the interior department looks to potentially eliminate or reduce the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument, along with 20+ other National Monuments under the terms of  President Trump’s April 26th Executive Order.

Tuesday’s Quotes – May 9, 2017 – On opinions & thought

“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

— John F. Kennedy

I’ve been increasingly dismayed at how many people espouse extremely strong positions based on something akin to ether. In conversation, it often becomes obvious that those strongly held opinions are at odds with what the speaker really thinks about the topic. Although this phenomena is certainly not new – the desire to follow a path laid by others is innate to us humans because joining together is how we survive – but our world has become more crowded with information, accurate or not, and everyone’s opinions (even mine – isn’t that the point of this blog?), that we frequently do not take the time to think the things that we are hearing through. Ironic that in the information age, many of us seem reluctant to look into a claim before we allow ourselves to react, or before we help to spread it via social media. I’ve even seen things posted by people who I know would never have shared an article had they read it – because the article itself was opposition to the headline. And these are not isolated incidents, not are they limited to individuals of any one political persuasion (or even nationality), or any particular age group. The spanning of generations reinforces my own, anecdotally based, opinion that this is not an educational issue, or a matter of upbringing. I think it is a by-product of having too much available to take in – it is just easier to let someone else tell us what the truth is than to reason it out for ourselves.

So, I’m taking this opportunity, once again, to share the 10 Commandments of Logic:

IMG_0595

JFK photo from insidegov.com

Originally posted May 19, 2015.

Wandering minds – New York addition

Many years ago, when I was barely out of my teens, and still resided in the Garden State, I started on a photo essay idea I’d had on the wide variations contained within New Jersey that I cleverly called “State of Change”. I lived, for a good portion of my life, in the northern New Jersey suburbs, and was working at the time in Newark, but I’d also lived in the Central Jersey shore area, surrounded by farms, and I’d always been intrigued how a relatively small state could have so much geographic, and demographic, diversity.  Alas, that project was abandoned, and due to the passage of time, most of those pictures are now gone.

And I have long been living in an quasi-rural/exurban area of New York state (and commuting back into New Jersey). If I were to have the time, or energy, for such a grand undertaking, the Empire State would certainly be deserving of a photo essay documenting an astounding array of differences. From New York City north to the Canadian border – from the Atlantic Ocean west to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, it has wide variations in population density, terrain, arability. I found myself reflecting on all of this last weekend, as we made a (long) day trip to visit a college campus located in Oswego, quite literally on the shores on Lake Ontario (I think they said that have a mile and a half of shoreline). I took the nearly 4 hour stint to the campus, my husband took the return trip – seven and half hours in a car leaves a lot of time for reflecting. And I found myself reflecting on how much of this state, indeed this part of the US, I really do love and enjoy. Few things are more stunning in the fall than New York state. I always enjoyed showing my foreign exchange students how much of New York was nothing like ‘the city’ – or, in fact, how little of the city makes up what they envision New York City to be.

Yet, when I imagine my retirement, although that imagining has altered significantly over the years, it has never included the possibility of staying permanently in New York, New Jersey, or anywhere else in the Northeastern US. Certainly whether I retire, change careers, or stay where I am, New York is almost certainly where I’ll be for the next few years unless my daughter chooses a school outside of the State University system – the tuition savings by staying in state would be too great to ignore. And if I stay here, continuing to work is also a near certainty. But longer term? No, tempted though I often am by the sheer beauty of rural New York, I’m equally put off by the cold. And with each passing winter, it becomes clearer to me that I am not at all in love with the cold, damp weather that comes as a part of winter here in the Northeast. New York is also not an inexpensive area, but some things in the places I’d like to move to are also quite expensive. Particularly if we move first to Arizona. As we likely will if I need to keep working. Life is full of trade-offs. And, obviously, the mountains of New Mexico are not without cold or snow, but the season is shorter than it is here. And the summers are much less hot and very much less humid. But then, again, I looked out on that ocean of a lake from the campus (in the cold, damp, wind), and had the fleeting “I could live here” thought, and thought the same thought a few times looking out on the farms and small towns that we drove past. Realistically, though, I probably couldn’t, and in the end, really don’t want to.

As my younger daughter edges closer to her college years, and my older one becomes more entrenched in her life in Japan, it becomes clear how close my husband and I are to becoming empty-nesters. Soon, we will begin the process, in earnest, of getting the house ready to sell (something we will do regardless of college choice – it’s just too big for 3 people and an aging dog). It’s both sobering and exciting.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”   — Lao Tzu

 

Photo of Lake Ontario taken from the rooftop of the science center at SUNY Oswego, April 29, 2017.

Friday

Another week winding down – it’s raining, and apparently will continue raining tomorrow, which means I will likely be house-bound all weekend. Which is maybe a good thing because I have many, many things that I should be doing that involve not leaving the house (& also not curling up with a book or Netflix). So I will get (some of) those things done, and maybe start on some others. And we really do need the rain (but perhaps a lighter, steadier rain would do more good). With all of this ‘stuck inside’ time, I should have a longer, infinitely more profound, post on Sunday.

In the meantime – enjoy your own weekend – and this bit of profoundness from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

— Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

I’m sure that this is true.

Photo of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Himalayas in the distance, Nagarkot, Nepal, October 1991

Tuesday’s Quotes – May 2, 2017 –

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”

— James Madison

Our founders understood science, technology, and the acquisition of knowledge to be critical to our country’s survival.  All of them supported public education, under the premise that only an educated populace could safeguard our liberty and prevent us from falling into tyranny.

Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution specifies that one of the things that Congress has the power to do is to ‘promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts‘. They were given that power to encourage technological growth an innovation by protecting the rights of those that did the work. It was, in fact, the basis for Copyright law, and Patents. And it should not be lost that Thomas Jefferson considered himself a scientist first and foremost, and even the military leader that brought us to victory, George Washington, said, in his first address to Congress:

There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of Science and Literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of publick happiness.

We seem to have lost sight of that somewhere along the way. Our future depends upon resetting our bearings.

Photo of the US Capitol, Washington DC circa 2014.