On a Beach Walk: No. 18

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I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I recall my first exposure to statistics in college. To me, interesting stuff – but something that takes time to comprehend its usefulness. In those days (1974-75) classes emphasized was on calculations using complex formulas by hand in a world without calculators. One of pencil, paper, a slide rule, and the occasional abacus.

The professor made one particular statement that stuck with me (so I paraphrase) – “In the not-too-distant future, computers will do all the calculations and statistics classes will concentrate on their meaning.”

I believe those Texas Instrument calculators arrived in the late 70s-early 80s. I recall having high school students who were enthusiastically proud of having one of those calculators. I would channel my statistics professor by encouraging those students to keep their cherished calculators forever so they could show their kids an example of archaic.

As I look across the water, I see today’s world as a vast sea of data and statistics. So many numbers that are ripe for picking. As a colleague used to say in our discussions, “Take a stance – any stance – and then go get the numbers to support it because they are available.”

But today’s world is going beyond even that statement. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a data-driven tool designed to scrutinize and apply large amounts of data in order to establish trends that will lead to faster and better decisions.

AI gets the most out of data. Today we marvel at Alexia’s existence, but that is a simpler application than what AI is doing in health care, manufacturing, research, and throughout business.

Dr. Fyffe was the statistic professor who made that statement. I don’t know if he envisioned the coming of AI that day, but that’s where we’ve come and where society is going. Oh what will we see in our daily lives just 10 years from today?

Although I remain an optimist for a positive future, one can find many reasons to have a negative view of tomorrow. Time will deliver the answer – it always does because it always has – but for this place in time – today – walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

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On a Beach Walk: No. 15

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I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The body of knowledge known by the human race is huge – yet most of us know so little – a mere fraction of the total. What each of us know may be equivalent to a handful of sand on a long beach – if that. It is a meager few drops from the water that I see.

As I gaze down this long beach, I recall the day a fellow teacher knocked on my classroom door. She was polling the staff about their knowledge about a topic on a 1-to-10 scale – to which I paused and answered 4.

Given our past conversations and her knowledge about me, she questioned my choice. “How can you say that when I know you taken classes and workshops, and then trying and implementing these strategies?”

I verified her points about me, but then explained my reflective self-evaluation as a relative point. My reference point were the experts in the field (who I named). “Compared to them I am no more than a 4 – but compared to my colleagues I am a 10 – and there is no way most of them an 8, 9, or 10.”

Yes, knowledge is relative. I look out over the vast waters of the Gulf of Mexico, no land is in sight, yet I know land is out there, but far away. Yet, while the gulf is large compared to the small pond in the neighborhood or the nice lake at a state park, it is small compared to the Atlantic Ocean – and even smaller compared to the Pacific Ocean.

I think of all the water found on Earth – in the lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, bays, gulfs, and oceans – let alone in the ground, the air, as glaciers and icecaps, and within living organisms. The seemingly vast water of the Gulf of Mexico now seem so small. No matter how much one knows, it’s actually so little.

Yes, my knowledge is the small amount of sand that touches my feet as I stare across the water then down both directions of the long beach. While water washing ashore signifies changing times, I still like walking the beach as it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 1

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Never a run – very seldom a stroll – but a walk – a good exercise – and as we age, walking keep us moving. My wife and I walk at home. We walk on vacation. We walk on the ship’s deck when cruising. We like to walk.

As we walk, conversations can be short or long – the topics deep or shallow – important or trivial. In times of silence, my mind keeps going – to think – to ponder the world. Thinking is also good exercise. Like the body, the mind must keep moving as we get older.

We walked a lot in January – yes – on the beach as this was our first attempt at being snowbirds from the north who went south for the winter. Walking on the beach as snowbirds facing the difficult daily questions of wondering about the temperatures at home – wondering what’s for dinner – wondering about the day of the week or the date because we aren’t sure. Be

As I walk the beach my contemplations are mental dictations on imaginary paper. Oh the blog post I have created my walking. Yes – the perfect words of never-to-be published gems that never make it outside my mind. Sometimes poetic in the rhythms of Frost, Keats, or Poe – well, at least in my mind.

My thoughts can be simple or complex. Some about wonder – some leading to awe. Others start with awe and lead to wonder. Some are personal, others professional, and others in wide-ranging topic – but fiction is a rare occurrence. All this as water refreshes my feet.

Sometimes after walking I attempt to recreate those insightful words. Usually in a notebook – but it’s never the same as the perfect string of words while walking the beach – yet future posts they will probably be – simple reflections from my mind as I walk on the packed sand along the water’s edge where water retreats to the sea.

There will be more walks in the weeks ahead because we were in the south for 27 days. More walks because I like walking the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing my feet.

Do you like walking the beach? Long distances or short? Do you contemplate or just try to chill?

earlymornwalker

 

On a Speck

Whenever comparing items, we need references as a perspective. A mouse is small to us, but we are small compared to a blue whale, and the mouse is large compared to one of its cells. Yet, that same whale is small compared to Mt. Everest, which is a meager spot on or planet – but Earth is so small compared to Jupiter.

The pattern can continue to the Sun, our solar system, to the Milky Way, all the way to the universe. Oh, the wonders that creation provides.

Wonder continue as we go in the opposite direction by examining our cells, to cell parts, to the molecule, its atoms, the atomic parts, and even to the smaller quarks.

Each microliter of human blood has approximately 5 million red blood cells (RBC). Considering that 1 liter contains 1 million microliters, and humans have 5 liters of blood, the total number of RBCs in each of us is quite large. Toss in the fact that each RBC contains 250 million molecules of hemoglobin that is responsible for transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide through over 60,000 miles of blood vessels – and this is in each of us.

As social beings, each of us know many people – well, we think we do – but compared to the world population, are interactions are limited to a mere few. Encounters of the cyberkind expand our world, but it is still small.

Each of us have countless daily interactions – some positive, others negative, and most have little effect. Sometimes we know when we affect the life of another, but much of the time, we stand in a clueless abyss. After all, we do not know when the effect of that encounter is transferred to others – perhaps even years later.

Toss in the element of time – all the people who passed before me, and all those who lie ahead of my time. People born, people die. A few become notables, most are commoners. Some are giants to societies. Some are giants in their towns, while others are giants in a family – but many are simply everyday people playing a niche in life. Yes, we all have history and in time, forgotten. Of all these people, only a selected few have recognized names of distinction – and only a few of them will make history books.

I am only 1 of over 7 billion people on our planet at this time, and only 1 of about 108 billion humans born to through the ages.

In some way, these thoughts make me feel worthless. On the other hand, science – and yes, my Christian views – allow me to appreciate being a tiny speck living on a particle of dust in the universe that is vast and intricate – thus I impressed and overwhelmed.

From Neil deGrasse Tyson

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From Symphony of Science

On Perspectives

Perspective: the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance
Merriam-Webster

View of a football game or any other sporting event is generally based preferences for the desired outcome. To one group of fans it was a great game, but it was a lousy game to the others. But hey – it was the same game! Ever read about the game from different reporters?

Science, history, philosophy, mathematics, politics, religion, economic, culture, and many others also provide perspectives. How one interprets these depends on their experiences and knowledge.

Artists can provide different perspectives. Visual perspective is based on how we see things based on the special dimensions of the object. The primary factor is the eye position relative to the object. Photographers also capitalize this in their 2-D images.

youngladyoldladycolorThe graphical art perspective uses techniques on a flat surface giving our eyes a certain look. Which do you initially see: the old lady or the young lady? Which ever, can you see the other?

Perhaps to some, nobody captures the graphical perspective better than M.C.Escher, but what if Escher’s 2-D work was transformed into a computer simulation? Would it show each of us something else than I didn’t image? Check it out for yourself and enjoy.

Perspective about Life and Electricity

I was without electricity for 4 days, so this is my transition back into the everyday world.

Life is so much about perspective. A football game is played. Comparing the winner’s and loser’s version, one would think two games were played. An elephant is large compared to a mouse, but is small compared to a planet. Jupiter is large compare to Earth, but small compared to the Sun; which of course is a tiny spec in the universe.

On Sunday (Sept 14th) Hurricane Ike’s remnants blasted much of Ohio with damaging, 70+ miles/hr winds knocking out 90% electricity in greater Cincinnati, let alone the surrounding rural areas and nearby cities Dayton and Columbus. Duke Energy was initially lacked initial help as they sent many local crews to the Texas coast to help with those devastating efforts. The local crews returned and enhanced by a cavalry from North Carolina, full assault on the problem was underway two days later.

The last time Cincinnati had winds of this magnitude was 1900 – ironically, from the massive hurricane that hit Galveston. In other words, downed trees, damaged homes, and general havoc caused by the recent high winds were beyond normal circumstances.

When my power returned Thursday evening, I was thinking about the 100,000+ homes in the area still without electricity. As of today (Saturday morning), 90,000+ homes are still out, and estimates point to another week for some.

The past week was filled with people complaining, focusing themselves, and losing perspective. I’ve collected some of the thoughts and events.

  • (To a town official) Duke should restore power to me because I pay higher property taxes.
  • (To a town official after less than 24 hours) Where is the city distributing ice, water, and food?
  • (Teenagers at a senior citizen center luncheon) My parents sent us here to get something to eat because they are eating the leftovers.
  • People confronting and harassing Duke workers for not arriving sooner; even one incident with an “Air Soft” gun.
  • A radio talk-show host (without power) broadcasting his intention to file a suit against Duke.
  • People mocking Duke reading meters and mailing billing statements; as if other aspects of business should cease.
  • I understand the local talk shows aired numerous whiners, which would lengthen this list.

Although there are a few homes with considerable damage, trees falling on power lines created an abnormal situation. Plus I’m sure Duke hasn’t been perfect in this situation. In the big reality picture, “Thank you” Duke workers for your long hours and diligent work.

On the other hand, the many patient residents use perspective to deal with the situation. The quote below, a comment posted on Cincinnati.com, is the other side of the coin.

SUCK IT UP, people! There are ways to feed your family without going out to dinner every night. You can buy food the same day, and grill it that night. They’ll get to us.

Duke says I may not have power until Tuesday. Am I terribly inconvenienced? Yes. Is it the end of my world? Nope. I have learned how to use a chain saw, hack saw, and build a huge fire to burn the 5 trees which are lying on my power lines.(YEAH-without a permit. Suck it, global warming) I have also gained more patience.

Meanwhile, I’ve been unable to find anyone in this area willing to change places with anyone in Galveston. You see, through all our inconveniences, our issues are minor compared to those in Galveston. After all, it’s just a matter of perspective.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and the responders in Galveston, nearby communities, and areas along the gulf coast affected by Hurricane Ike.