• Life

    30 Days of Gratitude, Day 21: Electricity

    by Okay, so I while may have considered fire to be the most important basis for our technology, I might sometimes argue against it in favor of one or two other things, and one of those things is electricity. However you want to look at things, electricity is the absolute foundation of our society. Every light bulb, every television, every smart phone, every microwave, every refrigerator, every washer and dryer, every car, every computer. So many of the things we just take for granted as part of the way things are just chunks of metal and plastic without electricity. Take away the electricity and everything stops working. We instantly lose…

  • Life

    30 Days of Gratitude, Day 20: Gravity

    by Wow, do I love gravity. One of the fundamental forces of the universe, gravity pulls us altogether. Well, I suppose not so much on a day-to-day basis, but gravity does make it possible for us to have a planet to stand on, and it makes it possible for the planet to orbit our star, and the star to circle the galaxy, and all of that to be there in the first place. Gravity is neat; gravity is fun. You can play with gravity, exercising your right to science. If you push fast enough in one direction, you might get your plane or other vehicle to resist gravity for a…

  • Life

    30 Days of Gratitude, Day 19: The Universe

    by I don’t know if they’re still using it, because I don’t have cable anymore, but a few years back, the Discovery Channel made a big thing of the slogan, “The world is just awesome.” It was their catchphrase for a long time, and even had its own theme song and video. Probably several videos, now that I think about it. The world is a chunk of life-covered rock; a very small rock in a large solar system. One planet among many. (As defined by the International Astronomical Union, the solar system has eight worlds. While simplicity is always nice, I do personally prefer the Star Trek definition of what…

  • Life

    30 Days of Gratitude, Day 18: Science

    by So in a little less philosophical vein than in the last few days, I am damned grateful for science. Science is the way we know the world, whether we personally practicing it or not. Science, and its child engineering, have given us everything we take for granted, everything we have ever wanted so far, and they will give us everything more in the future. Science is a challenge. Science is understanding. Science is all kinds of really cool toys. It tells us where we come from, how things work, and shows us ways to create things. Science is the pursuit of truth, of fact, of new things. And it…

  • Life

    30 Days of Gratitude, Day 17: Karate

    by I made a couple of brief forays into the martial arts when I was younger. Early in university, I spent a couple of months feeling around the edges of Shao Lin Kung Fu. But I thought my time might be better spent chasing girls and going to parties. Later, a few months before my son was born, I attended karate classes a couple of times each week until just after he came along. Then I found I didn’t have the time for anything but being a father and providing for my suddenly growing family. In early 2010, as a TV Turn Off Week activity, I took the kids to…

  • Life

    30 Days of Gratitude, Day 16: Earth

    by We stand on the, walk on it, sit on it, ride across it on wheels of varying sizes and shapes, fly above it but always returning. We come from Earth, through 4 billion years of evolution, and however long a path our species has yet to walk, that’s not going to change. Individually, when we die, we are returned to earth, many of us directly. Earth is the cradle of life, and the grave that welcomes us home. The Earth doesn’t care about our ethnic background, point of origin, ideology, or belief system. In a fundamental way, Earth is mother and father to all of the creatures spread across…

  • Life

    30 Days of Gratitude, Day 15: Fire

    by Fire is a glorious, dangerous thing. From a certain point of view, it’s the basis of most modern technology, and was perhaps the first real technology, hardening spear points and cooking our food. In legends, fire is the giver of life and the destroyer of worlds. For the human species, and indeed the species of every form of life on earth, whether they experience it directly or not, the sun is fire incarnate. The sun brings light and life and energy. Without that colossal speck of thermonuclear, incandescent brilliance the earth goes round and round, we would all die, and it wouldn’t take very long. That’s thrilling and depressing…

  • Life

    30 Days of Gratitude, Day 14: Air

    by Air may seem a strange thing to be grateful for, but I don’t know why that should be the case. Next to the short time that humans have been pumping stuff into it, the atmosphere of our planet took a very, very long time to evolve and reach conditions that were suitable for life in general. That life then made it more and more suitable for more and more complex life. Maybe I should be grateful for the oxygen, but not all creatures the have the same requirements. And if we had evolved on Titan, methane would be important and oxygen would likely be poisonous. But, surprise, I’m getting…

  • Life

    30 Days of Gratitude, Day 13: Rain

    by Rain is water. Rain is life. Rain is reminder that things grow and change, and it’s a reminder that some things about our world act like a closed system (don’t be picky—I’m simplifying). I’m not going to go into the ring cycle, or what makes rain happen, or weather patterns, or anything else like that. I’m just going to say that, whether we realize it or not, rain is a reminder that we use the same water over and over again. Rain lets plants grow. Rain gives animals moisture, drink, an environment to swim in. Rain washes things away, moves us past endings. Rain reveals things, shows us wonder…

  • Life

    30 Days of Gratitude, Day 12: Seasons

    by Spring, summer, autumn, winter. Le printemps, l’été, l’automne, l’hiver. Forår, sommer, efterår, vinter. Haru, natsu, aki, fuyu. Bamvua, kiangazi, demani, majira ya baridi. And I hope I’ve spelled all of those properly. However you want to look at it, whatever language you want to look at it in, the seasons are products of transient geometry, if not necessarily transient on a human scale. The seasons give us change and variety, different colors and different sights in different regions, a reminder that life is not always the same. In winter, a lot of life weeks quietly, on the snow, unseen. In spring, everything comes alive again, observing. In summer, there…