Posted tagged ‘philosophy’


November 2, 2021

tapestryAs I get older (and older!), I find myself more philosophical, thinking about the nature of things and what, if anything, it all means.  Friends who seem to have found faith, or at least a view of life that works for them, say I am an over-thinker.  I plead guilty.  I am a very lucky man, happily married for over 50 years, living in a beautiful community in Utah, financially secure and ten minutes from my grandkids.  But at seventy-seven, it is impossible to ignore the fact that there are substantially fewer years ahead than behind.  Friends suffer senior maladies and sometimes leave this life.   My maladies are relatively minor but bothersome and its easy to imagine that my latest ache or pain will usher in my turn for something serious.   Friends tell me God’s in Charge.  I believe that … but why does God make life so difficult sometimes and require that we say good bye to those that we love?    Other friends say Nothing is Good or Bad.  It is what we think about it that makes it seem good or bad, a notion borrowed from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Sorry.  I can’t buy that losing a friend … or contracting a nasty illness … is neutral, nor is it Good Appearing Bad. (more…)

Starting the Day (Slowly)

March 24, 2019

park sunrise

When I was in my twenties and thirties, I was a morning person. I suppose that was because I (thought) I knew who I was, where I was going and what I wanted from life. And I will admit that is partially because I have been a fortunate man. Although my life hadn’t been trouble free, the good had outweighed the bad by a considerable margin. Being young, I thought my good fortune was entirely self-made. Morning consisted of waking up, getting ready for work (or play on weekends) then diving right in. Yes, there were good days and bad days but it was a formula that seemed to work for Younger Eyes.


Know Thyself ??

December 28, 2014

There are three things extremely hard: steel, diamond and to know one’s self – Benjamin Franklin

knowThe maxim Know Thyself was inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and has been widely quoted … with a variety of meanings … by philosophers.  According to Wikipedia, it can be seen as a warning against false pride, against boasting beyond what you actually are or it can be a warning not to pay attention to the opinion of others.  It can be read as a prescription for true humility, knowing your true place in the universe, by knowing both your strengths and weaknesses.  It can be a warning against hubris, against overbearing pride and comparing oneself to God.   Regardless of how it’s interpreted, I suspect most would agree with Ben Franklin … it’s hard to achieve.  It’s the reason we have aisles of self-help books in Barnes and Noble and the reason we have therapists and philosopher.  It’s the reason religions offer opportunities (sometimes taken) for introspection and why 12-Step programs offer searching and fearless moral inventories (sometimes taken).  Until now, anyway. (more…)

Feverish Over Particles

April 24, 2014

signalSome years ago, we were working on a project to find a very weak sound in a very noisy background using a device known as an adaptive line enhancer.  We were using a spectrograph to determine if we’d been successful.  The display placed a small bright dot at the location of the signal, which did not stand out before we processed the sounds.  If the signal was found, the bright dot would rise above the background.  One afternoon, we finally got the thing working and had quite a little celebration.  The following day, Kevin, a programmer, told us that when his wife had asked him what he did at work, he told her, We got a little white dot to move about half an inch.  Everyone got pretty excited.  Of such descriptions, humility is born.

I felt a bit like our friend Kevin last night when I went to see the film, Particle Fever, at the Artsy-Farsty Theater.  No, it is not about a disco for physicists … it is the story of the initial tests of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva Switzerland told through the eyes of six brilliant … and quite interesting … physicists.  The Collider is the largest and most expensive experiment ever conducted by mankind with a purpose so esoteric that one wonders how the project ever happened.   The fact that it was built by a multi-nationalhlc consortium, including physicists from countries that are mortal enemies makes its completion even more astonishing.  By any standard, the scale of the project is mind-boggling – the cost, number of people involved, the twenty-plus years needed to build it and its size.  The Collider is built in an underground ring 17 miles in circumference with equipment over five stories high, mostly underground.  These are electronics circuits on a grand scale, much of it hand built and soldered.  According to Wikipedia, data collected from proton collisions were also anticipated to be produced at an unprecedented rate of tens of petabytes per year, to be analysed by a grid-based computer network infrastructure connecting 140 computing centers in 35 countries(by 2012 the LHC Computing Grid was the world’s largest computing grid, comprising over 170 computing facilities in a worldwide network across 36 countries. The initial goal of the LHC was to verify the existence of the Higgs boson particle, a cornerstone of what is known as The Standard Model. (more…)


March 30, 2014

park sunriseI used to hate slogans and proverbs.  Bumper Stickers, I called them.  Life … and Older Eyes … are complicated.  Nothing of much use can be expressed in so few words.  I also hated quotes from famous people for the same reason with perhaps some envy and ego thrown in.  Who the heck are YOU to tell me what I should think?  Arrogance is a young man’s disease but it often persists into old age (I won’t speak for the ladies).  Twenty-one years of 12-Step meetings have cured me of my disdain for slogans (though on occasion I do get tired of hearing the same one over and over … or someone else’s incorrect interpretation of its meaning).  And that seems to have made me more open to quotes.  After all, I’ve added a Quote of the Day to my home page (although to be truthful, I don’t update it every day).  This is the latest:

We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get a chance to talk.  The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone  – Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Friday Favorites 3/28/2014

March 28, 2014

The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling Robert M. Pirsig

zenMuri and I have always loved hardcover books, although we have gradually switched to trade paperbacks because of price.  In fact, Muri has started using the public library and more and more I’m reading on my Kindle or Kindle app.  But  when a book really moves me, there is something fitting about having a hardcover version to tuck away on that special shelf in the library to be revisited someday.  Yes, that someday doesn’t always come.   But sometimes, it does.  I have been back to visit my favorite passages in Alice Hoffmann’s Second Nature and laugh along with Yossarian at the inanity of the war in Catch Twenty-Two.   Lately, I’ve been running across quotes from Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, one of the unvisited hardcovers languishing on our bookshelf.   Here’s what I remember about it.   It was the story of a man and his son traveling across the country by motorcycle.  It was told in the first person by the father, a professor who became obsessed with understanding what constituted good writing and more, Quality in general, an obsession that eventually drove him insane and required electroshock therapy.  During the trip, he reconnects with his son and his pre-mental breakdown self, who he refers to as Phaedrus. (more…)


April 25, 2012

In posting my paintings on Wednesdays over the past few weeks, poking through my old sketchbooks has been like running into old friends unexpectedly.  Some are harder to look at than others but I like them all.    Like Rorschach’s famous inkblots, they provide a glimpse of what was going on in my head as I painted them.  This one started with a wash in shades of gray.  I then dabbed brush fulls of grays and touches of red onto the wet paper and allowed the paint to spread where it would.  India ink from a drawing pen and metallic red from a paint pen were added once the watercolors had dried.  Gray was painted on August 1, 2010, probably in the park.  My Dad had passed away in July after hanging on bravely for quite a while.  It wasn’t the best of times but in writing his eulogy with my brother, I had a chance to look fondly back on Dad’s life, to appreciate what he’d taught me and chuckle at his peccadilloes.  I think Gray was my way of saying that even on the grayest of days, there are bright places if I look for them. (more…)

Shades of Gray

March 20, 2011

I volunteer once a week at the business office of a local volunteer organization, helping with clerical tasks, taking phone calls from those in need of help and serving as the IT computer guy.   I started doing this when I was on the organization’s board and responsible for liaison with the paid office staff consisting of one full time employee, we’ll call her S.   S runs the office very efficiently and the organization would be lost without her, although not everyone knows it.   At any rate, S is very direct and honest with people, which sometimes comes across as brusque.   I, on the other hand, find it refreshing.   A year after I started volunteering there, I became Chair of the board and her de facto boss, something that took us both a while to adapt to.   Last week, we were talking about the surprising characteristics we’ve seen emerge in board members when they became Chair.   I swallowed hard and asked what she’d seen  in me.   You have a hard time making a decision, Bud, she said.   You have a tendency to waffle back and forth. (more…)

Being Open Minded

June 12, 2010

I had an interesting comment to my post, Parking Lot Spirituality, a few days ago, one that I responded to not once, but twice.   To start with, the comment suggested a book that might help me begin to share some of (my) young friends enthusiasm for The Celestine Prophecy.   You can read the comment for yourself here, but it seemed to me that the rest of the comment implied that I was less than open minded.   It’s my experience that most times someone suggests I’m not open minded, it’s code for if only you were, you’d see what is so obvious to me.   So, yes, my first response was somewhat defensive.   But (more…)