Saturday, September 1, 2018

Message in a Bottle

As I walk to work every day at dawn, I listen to the neighborhood sounds as it begins to wake up. Fortunately the residential streets are empty, so there are no disturbing fossil fuel sounds.  But I am surrounded by the unique conversation among the birds, and entertained by their flight overhead.  Watching the birds makes me aware of the clouds, which change constantly.  The local dogs and cats talk to me as I pass, each one a friendly stranger.  Most of all, when there is a breeze I struggle to hear the sound of each leaf on the trees as they move against each other.

My journey each day is walking East into the rising sun and, at the end of the day, walking West into the setting sun.  I imagine the Earth rotating under my feet and wonder if my efforts pushing against the sidewalk actually contribute to the energy of its rotation.  The principles of physics, which I was trained in 50 years ago, suggests that force, mass and acceleration are connected.   But then I think of another person, exactly my size, moving in the opposite direction, and everything cancels out...

Kind reader, you may have noticed that I have been absent in posting on this blog this year.  For me, this year has been very busy and I have enjoyed working on large and exciting projects.  The hours of the day are connected by activities which demand my attention.  I have less and less energy for sitting in front of the keyboard and reflecting.  Today I just thought I should stop for a moment and put down what is going through my mind.

Why do I post?  Who am I talking to?  What is the meaning of it all?

I am turning 70 years old soon, and have done the same thing for the past 50 years.  When I say "the same thing" I mean exactly that.  Every day I repeat the motions of the day before.  On one hand there is a comfort in knowing what the day will bring.  On the other hand, there is excitement in approaching the different jobs that sit on my bench at work.  Life is rather easy.  I have achieved all my goals and been successful in my business.  I have good friends and a wonderful, happy family.  My clients trust me and I am able to earn an honest wage.

I have reflected before in my posts about my life.   I was born when TV was invented and went to school when a slide rule was used for calculations.  I worked in physics when IBM punch cards were the standard program, and bought one of the first CPM computers that were made.  I wonder if any kid today would know what a "C>" means?

I had a bit of television experience, when I still believed that TV could be used for educational purposes.  After Reality TV became the norm, I gave up on that idea.  Then the internet was introduced and I became excited about research and communication again.  However, the baser instincts of civilization soon realized that this was a perfect way to spread hatred and jealously.  Emails changed the construction of language into emojis and Twitter finished it off.  No one seriously thinks about what they write any more.  Grammar and spelling have been abandoned.  Coherent thinking is hard to find, and there is even some dispute among us about what a "fact" is...

I was reminded of this yesterday, when I looked at Facebook.  There are always posts which show a mathematical formula and ask "what is the answer?"  Following this post are comments about how to solve the problem, with nasty comments about who is right and who is wrong.  In the middle of this thread, one of the comments was "Just stop.  Seriously, just stop.  It's math!"

I feel that way.  Facts are facts.  Science is important.  We can evolve and improve the world if we only understand the facts, and interpret the research which science is providing.  There can be no dispute that the carbon in the atmosphere is creating greenhouse effects.  There is no future in fossil fuels or nuclear power.  There are more people on this Earth than any time before in history, and just supplying clean water and the minimum requirement of food for everyone is difficult.  People need education and, when it requires enormous debt to get a degree, the world suffers.

I am an old hippie.  I became aware in the 60's and spent a lot of my time thinking about philosophy, history and cosmology.  I still wonder about my place in the world.  How can I contribute, and what will my life change?  I know it is a simple idea, but being kind and honest is still the best way to help others.  Every person is looking for a little happiness.  Avoid personal judgement.  Help them if you can.  The reward is personal satisfaction in knowing you did the right thing.

So, this post is a modern message in a bottle.  I am sending it out into the universe, hoping that on some distant beach another person will open it and think about their place in life.  If it provides them with a positive thought or encourages them to be happy, then my job is done.