Beginner's Mind

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." - Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Panda's Thumb

From the description of the weblog The Panda's Thumb:

The Panda's Thumb is the virtual pub of the University of Ediacara. The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation.

Lot's of good stuff there, check 'em out!

Classic Feynman

My copy of the new book Classic Feynman, by the late Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman and edited by Ralph Leighton arrived today from Powell's. It includes an audio CD of one of the interviews with Feynman by the editor, as well as a forward by Freeman Dyson (inventor of the Dyson sphere, for you Star Trek fans) and an epilogue by Alan Alda.

Some of the interviews for the book can be downloaded for free from the editor's web site. Check them out here.

Music in my head: I've still got Shawn Colvin bouncing around my skull.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Flying Spaghetti Monster

I can't believe I haven't heard of this before. There's an alternative Intelligent Design theory, that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Did you know global warming has been linked to the decrease in the number of pirates? Check them out.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Kat and a Hat

We had a wonderful visitor for Thanksgiving. Actually, we had seven wonderful visitors, as this year the Shearers hosted Thanksgiving. After decades of hosting meals, there was ample evidence that new Pappa Robert still can't efficiently estimate the amount of food needed to feed a dining room full of celebrants.

Because the turkeys available at our village market (free range organic turkeys - yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I have granola breath) were smaller this year, I got two, which was one and a fraction too many. Lots of leftovers were sent home with the celebrants.

It wasn't just me; my in-laws turned half the entire Maine crop of spuds into a giant vat of mashed potatoes which threatened to disturb the angular momentum of the planet.

There were many pies, and two kinds of stuffing.

My twin nieces were a joy. They now have different length hair, so it's easier to tell them apart. My memory aid was that Maggie has the longer hair, and her name starts with an 'M' which is later in the alphabet than Emily's 'E'. Other than the small meltdown while we attempted to photograph the grandparents with all three grandchildren (even Ethan got cranky), they were fun and smiling and happy.

Having Kat with us was like adding a member of the family. It seemed to me that she and Karen took to each other quite well. We both wish she lived closer so that we could see her more often. We had great conversations which went late into the night. Karen commented that it was like having a sleep-over. It seemed as if there was no shortage of things to talk about, though the biggest subjects were Ethan and Kat's classes. We made promises to each other to speak up if anyone got bored with these subjects. We never did.

Kat even knitted a great, warm cap which looks great on him (picture to follow).

For all you single guys out there who aren't complete dips, you should know that Kat knows how to start a fire, wield a chainsaw, split wood, and is learning how to cook. She's also drop-dead gorgeous. One day she's going to make some fellow a very, very happy man. But right now she's on a college degree quest, which she is performing quite well, so you may have to play second fiddle for awhile.

On other news, yesterday was a fun football day, even though I missed the second half of the Texas-Texas A&M game to take a sick friend to the doctor. Karen was kind enough to let me have the living room, for surround sound fun.

Ethan hasn't wanted Daddy much the last couple of days. He's been making hungry sounds when I hold him, which gets him passed to Momma, but then he just calms down in Karen's arms or laying in her lap. This happens sometimes, but I do get my share of Ethan time, so I don't get too unhappy about it. He almost always smiles when he first sees me, so I think it isn't so much dissatisfaction with me so much as it is preference for his Mom.

It's the holiday season, folks. I hope these days are a wonderful end to your year.

Music in my head: , lots of Shawn Colvin.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


My in-laws game me a button the day Ethan was born. It said "Proud Father."

Intellectually, I understand why a man would feel pride over what he helped bring into the world. If the measure of a man is how many children he's fathered, well, then, the first child gets him on the scoreboard, so to speak.

If I feel any pride, it's towards Karen, who did so well with the pregnancy and actual birth. It's also towards Ethan, who has done so well so far. It's hard to imagine this sweet little boy growing up to be an evil person.

(On a side note, it is almost incomprehensible to me how a person could mistreat a baby. It happens, though.)

But pride is not the biggest emotion. On the top is love. It's amazing how much love I feel for this growing (yeesh - is he growing!) little man. Just when I feel about to burst with love, he learns how to smile. On top of that, once his eyes focus on me, he smiles, because his Daddy makes him smile. I get butterflies tied up in a knot in the middle of my chest every time that happens.

But after love, and running a very close second, is gratitude. I seem to recall somewhere that in some schools of Buddhism, a child chooses his parents. Maybe that's not Buddhism, y'all help me out here. Understand that I have a bit of skepticism surrounding reincarnation, at least in it's traditional definition. Nevertheless, I get this strong feeling that Ethan chose us. Karen has it too. Both my mom and my sister think he is an old soul. Maybe he is. But whether it is choice by some bright energy ball somewhere on The Other Side, or the result of DNA working within the bounds of some sort of organic strange attractor, I feel gratitude that he is here with us.

I'll have to stop right here. I feel this overwhelming urge to go hug my son.

Music in my head: Tenderness on the Block, Shawn Colvin.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

What I Want For My Birthday: World Peace

On Monday I turn 43. Which also means I start my 44th year.

A lot has happened while I was 42. You may remember that 42 is the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

With such a big year coming to a close, it seems fitting to start my next year with something Really Big. And you (yes you) can make it happen, and I'm about to tell you how. Please read the entire next paragraph before you begin.

As you sit in front of your computer, I want you to close your eyes and take two breaths (if you are feeling extravagant, make it five breaths). As you slowly take in these breaths, I want you to feel the air as it comes into your nose and goes down your throat and fills up your lungs. Relax your entire body as you do this; unclench your jaw, relax your shoulders, uncurl your toes. Once you have filled your lungs, let it all out, and let the tension in your body go out with the exhalation.

Ready? OK, go ahead.

Believe it or not, you have just made a contribution towards world peace. Remember this when you are stuck in line at the bank or the grocery store, or in a traffic jam or the waiting room of a doctor or dentist.

However, for right now, you've just given me what I want for my birthday. Thank you!

Music in my head: Monopoly, Shawn Colvin

Friday, November 04, 2005

Friday Evening

It's Friday evening and I have nothing to say. Just thought I'd let you know. Please don't take it personally.