Friday, October 22, 2021

It's Coming & I'm Looking for Ideas

I just realized that National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) begins in just ten days. November is where bloggers that don't post on the daily are encouraged to do so for the entire month. Since Out of My Hat isn't a themed blog that posts on a specific topic, I pretty much just write and post as my inner spirit moves me. Although I've participated in NaBloPoMo for several years, posting every day without something to guide me is a challenge. 
Sure--I can fill Mondays with Monday Motivation memes and Wednesdays with Wednesday Wisdom quotes, but that still leaves a whole bunch of days without something to say. 

I'm sure there will those folks that use November to be thankful by daily posts of thankfulness leading up to Thanksgiving, but I don't think I want that for the blog, nor do I think daily pics of cigars or the views from my deck are what I'll be posting (maybe a few).

So--what have you got?
I'm looking for ideas.
Do you have questions about John?
Topics you'd like me to address?
Food recipes/reviews?
What?

Hopefully, I'll be checking back here for post ideas during the month of November.

John

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Perks of Retirement (and a little Astronomy)

Last night was the peak night for the Orionids meteor shower. The early clouds cleared as I dozed on the deck futon. Although the full moon was not ideal for meteor watching, I managed to see several from around 2-3AM. I went in to watch a little TV with Chris and then gave it one more look a little after 4AM.
It's pretty amazing (and a bit terrifying) that the meteor shower is caused by the earth's orbit intersecting with the orbit of Halley's Comet and the debris it loses as it passes close to the sun. The Orionids shower is one of two annual showers caused by intersecting Halley's Comet's orbit. Halley's Comet won't make another pass near the sun until I'm 100 years old, should I live that long.

The full moon was bright and casting moon shadows. (Are you singing, "I'm being followed by a moon shadow?") While a full moon is beautiful to see, it does over power much of the night sky. The early morning fall sky will be the early evening winter sky and it is a beautiful starry sky. It was nice to be able to observe it when it wasn't freezing cold.

Even when I was working, I would often spend a few moments watching for meteors in the middle of the night. The simple complexities (see what I did there?) of the solar system and our universe are worth sacrificing a little sleep. I'm a little sad for people that never take the time to watch a lunar eclipse, a seasonal meteor shower, or just to know the differences in the night skies from one season to the next.

Pretty much everyone knows their sun sign--mine is Gemini. 
Can you find your sign's constellation in the night sky?

The sun is in Gemini--or more correctly, Gemini is behind the sun from around mid-May to mid-June. You can't see your sun sign on or near your birthday. But six months later, your sign will be rising in the east as the sun sets in the west. Astronomically speaking, it will be in opposition. Right now you can still see Scorpio in the western sky at sunset (the reddish star near Venus is Antares, the heart of the scorpion) and Taurus is rising in the east. The rest of the zodiac constellations follow along the equatorial path that the sun travels along throughout the year.
The Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux, are the two bright stars above and slightly east of the constellation Orion. Trace a line using the three stars of Orion's belt continuing up and to the west to a bright red star. That is the red giant Aldebaran and is the red eye of Taurus the bull. Just west of Aldebaran is the small cluster of stars known as The Pleiades. You might recognize them by the shape of the logo that bears their Japanese name--Subaru. 

I enjoyed observing the night sky and reacquainting myself with my old starry friends. I can't say that I'm looking forward to the colder temperatures that their appearance brings. The summer constellations like the Scorpion are bidding us farewell, and the fall/winter constellations are making their annual entrance.
It is the way of the universe--both simple and complex--and it is beautiful.

John

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Books

It looks like I'm on pace to finish around 50 books this year. I just finished The Knowledge Machine. It's a book about scientific method and how we have advanced in science to this point. Compared to the history of humankind, modern science methods are relatively young. It was an interesting book, but definitely not a page turner.
While at the library to return it and one other book (Life Maps which I wrote about here), I ordered a book that my friend and fellow blogger Mike posted a few days ago. It sounded like an interesting read so I'm waiting for my local library to get it from one of its neighbors.

I'll let you know in a couple of weeks. The local library should have it in a week or so and I'll pick it up and give it look.

I'm currently finishing up This Life or the Next by Demian Vitanza. It's a novel about a young man's radicalization into the violence of the Muslim holy wars.  I find it interesting because while the Middle Eastern Muslim world has been engaged in violence for millennia, western Christianity has stepped away from it in the past hundred years or so. It is easy to see the scenarios where contemporary and radical American Christians would again (and in some cases are) take up arms and declare their own holy war. I think the only thing that has prevented it in the US is the separation of church and state. If we were to allow the government to be a religious government, we would see the violent divisions within the Christian faith as well as the fighting with those of other beliefs.
It is terrifying to see how easily our minds and core beliefs can be manipulated by the people we are supposed to trust.

Be a skeptic.
Question every thing.
And read.

What are you reading?

John 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Morning Coffee ☕

It's a little cool in the Ozarks this morning. I'm not a fan of having to wear sweatpants, a sweater, and socks to enjoy my coffee and quiet time on the deck. The view is nice and peaceful with only the sounds of birds and the not too distant highway.

Here is the view of our property after a fresh mowing.



It won't be long before the trees at the tree line lose their leaves and a couple of the houses directly behind us will be visible through the trunks and branches. I need to plant some evergreens out there.

Last winter we talked about using clear plastic to enclose the screened in deck so that it's more comfortable to use during the winter. Maybe this year, maybe not.


Something fixed would be the easiest way to go, but since many days are nice enough to sit out during the day, I'd rather have something that can be raised and lowered or open and closed. I'm just not sure I'm up to that kind of planning and work.
Just looking at it and thinking about it is giving me some ideas. I'll get back to you on it.
Just what I need--another project!
Of course, if I do enclose the porch, I won't need to build a separate mini-greenhouse. I can just pot and plant stuff on the deck. Hmmm...
Something else to think about.

Or I can just plan on morning coffee inside by the fireplace--my winter morning Plan B.
Have a grand day!

John

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Mi Familia y Mis Amigos

My family and my friends.
I spend part of my road trip yesterday listening to a Spanish lesson (la leccion de EspaƱol). Actually, I was re-listening to a lesson. An advantage of online courses is being able to hear them more than once. It helps us slow learners.

My nephew, Andrew, is a student at Saint Louis University. I had a nice drive to St. Louis and a good visit with him. We took a brief walk around campus and then walked to the nearby Pappy's BBQ for lunch. Since it was a sunny afternoon, we opted to eat outdoors. Andrew is getting more of a typical college year this year. Last year wasn't a lot of fun as far as available activities on campus and around St. Louis.
His on campus housing is pretty sweet. He shares a 2-bdrm apartment with a roommate and has a balcony that looks out over the city. That's way better than typical dormitory housing.

The time went pretty quickly. I was only there for about two hours, but it was a nice visit. I think Andrew has some tough classes. He is looking to the medical field, though not yet certain of an area of specializing. Anyway you slice it, that's going to be a lot of science.

After leaving the SLU campus, I phoned one of my blogging friends and met him at Ted Drewe's. 
Mike and I spent a couple of hours visiting in the parking lot before I headed home. It's a little weird to consider someone you basically only know from the internet as a friend, but we have met in person on a few occasions and I always enjoy those times.  

So after 4 hours of visiting, about 7.5 hours of driving and a little time added for gas stops and bathroom breaks, I arrived home almost exactly 12 hours after leaving. I had a brief phone conversation with my son, Aaron, while driving home and listened to the Boston/Houston ballgame on the ESPN app on my phone. 
Chris stayed home and had a friend over for the afternoon. I think they had planned on a craft day, but ended up just visiting and having dinner. Her friend was leaving about the time I got home.
All-in-all, I'd say it was a good day.

I think I'm going to have to be around people this afternoon (church activity), but I'm prepared for a couple of hours of interaction. 

Adios, amigos!
Hasta pronto!
John

Friday, October 15, 2021

Social Situations

I'm not socially awkward. I wouldn't even say that I'm uncomfortable in most social situations. They're just not my thing. I think they tend to drain energy from me and sometimes it's just too much.

Last week we went out to dinner with friends on Monday and met with our small group on Tuesday. When Thursday night barchurch rolled around, I decided that I had already had enough people interaction for the week and stayed home. This week's barchurch was a planned social event that I considered skipping. We walked down to a local brewery, had pizza, beer, and just visited with each other--ugh.

Although the group is relatively small, there are people that I really don't know. I spent some time in conversation with people that I've talked with before and also made it a point to spend a little time getting to know someone new.
I'd say that an introvert's - "It wasn't bad," is a pretty good rating when it comes to social get togethers.
There is another church fall event on Sunday. I'll have about eight hours of solo time in the car tomorrow to gear up for it. 

It's a little weird that churches and other groups plan events that are generally geared toward reaching extroverts and expect the introverts to deal with the discomfort of such gatherings. I will say that The Venues does a fair job with small groups. Including introverts is not an easy task. If you are one of the introverts, I feel your discomfort. 
And I feel like The Venues is a safe place -- for everyone.

John

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Living with Fall

Have I mentioned -- I'm not a fan of fall?
This morning (as I sit on the deck in sweat pants and a long sleeved shirt) I'm wondering how long it will be until I'm having my morning coffee inside by the fireplace. I'm not there yet and hopefully won't be for a little while, but it's coming and I'm not thrilled about it. In a couple of weeks the time change will move sunset to the early evening hours. Ugh! 

On the plus side,
The windows are open and the a/c if off for the year. The new question is - How long be fore we turn on the furnace?
Another plus is the daytime temps make working outside more bearable. It's not too big of a deal, but it is a plus worth mentioning.
There are a few good meteor showers. The Draconids were last week and the Orionids are next week. The Leonids will be next month.

That's about it.
But life goes on.
Maybe that's another good thing and perhaps the thing for me to keep in mind -- Life goes on.
The fall and coming winter are a necessary part of the cycle. Things have to die, the land has to rest, and the long nights are necessary to produce the colors, and the glory of the spring and summer.

Oh wait...
Fall baseball!
I've probably watched as much baseball through the early postseason as I've watched all year. Although the Cardinals' season has ended (and they're in that dying, resting, rebuilding season), post season baseball is fun to watch--three games today (I won't watch all three)!
And hockey season begins.

170 days until the Cardinals' 2022 opening day.

John

Note to Facebook friends: I've decided not to continue posting by daily journal from my Healthy Living (by an unhealthy guy) blog. I'm still writing daily, but will only share on FB weekly. Feel free to check it out on Twitter (@Magicianary) or subscribe directly,...or not.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Adult Peer Pressure

It's time.
I've put it off as long as I can.
I'm beginning to feel the peer pressure of my neighbors.
Hopefully it will be the last mowing of the season.
Maybe I'll throw some seed down in the thin areas after this final mowing. I think there is still enough time for it to germinate and get established before the first freeze. I'll have to check on that. I may need to wait until spring.

What peer pressure is in your life?

John

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Knowledge Machine

The Knowledge Machine by Michael Strevens is my current book. 
I'm only about a third of the way through it, and although it isn't a compelling page turner, it is very interesting. At this point I'd say that it is as much a book on philosophy as it is a book of science. Perhaps, it is meant to be that way as philosophy is science and science is a particular kind of philosophy.

It is a little disturbing at how far we have moved away from the scientific analysis of the information that is presented to us today. In a world where information (and misinformation) travels at the speed of a keyboard click, how is it that large parts of our society no longer examine nor evaluate its truthfulness? It would seem that today's standard for truthfulness is based solely on what we want to be true and bears no resemblance to what has scientifically been proved or disproved.

I don't know what can be done to encourage people to educate themselves on how to examine evidence and the credibility of those presenting evidence. Credibility seems to be bestowed based on personal bias rather than scientific fact -- I only believe people and evidence that agree with me.
That's not very scientific, is it?

(heavy sigh)

Some days I no longer wonder if our simple US experiment in democracy will survive. Instead I wonder how long the next form of government will last until there is another revolution.

John 

Friday, October 08, 2021

Old Habits

I suppose some of you that follow both my blog and my Facebook noticed that I haven't exactly been absent from posting or commenting over the past 24 hours or so.
Old habits are indeed difficult to break. To help me in that endeavor, I just removed the Facebook app from my phone. I'll still be able to log in from my phone's browser, but the additional step will give me something to consider. I'm not deleting nor abandoning FB, I just want to use it much less.

Time away from social media and not opening my laptop this morning gave me more contemplative time while enjoying my coffee and it gave me some time to read. I'm not too into The Knowledge Machine. It isn't that it is uninteresting, I'm just not really digging it right now. I'll manage to push through and read it because it does add to my own knowledge base and has already given me things to ponder as I work through life.

Do you have old habits that need to be adjusted or discarded?
What are they and how do you plan to adjust or get rid of them?
It is said that changing habits is easier than just quitting one. So if you stop one, what will you do to replace it?
Do tell!

John