Searching for contentment

This is what fascinates me most in existence:
the peculiar necessity of imagining what is, in fact, real.
– Philip Gourevitch
epigraph to Blindsight by Peter Watts⩘ 
The basic problem
is that one believes that everything is real,
and thus everything is treated as such.
– Kalu Rinpoche

The flag of Ukraine
My heart is with the people of Ukraine



Deon Meyer, The Last Hunt

The Last Hunt by Deon MeyerTranslated by K.L. Seegers; well narrated by Simon Vance

Deon Meyer's sixth novel featuring Captain Benny Griessel, a detective working in Cape Town, South Africa. Though he stays mostly clean in the novels, Benny struggles with alcoholism, which ended his marriage, damaged his relationship with his children, almost destroyed his career, and adds a humanity to his story as well as creating a tremendous underlying tension.

This book revolves around the corruption that has tarnished post-apartheid South Africa. As with all the books in this series, Meyer paints a vivid picture of life in South Africa and the challenges of trying to build a new society.

One of the factors that has made this such an enjoyable series is the performance by Simon Vance, one of my all-time favorite narrators. He creates unique voices for the considerable cast of characters that resonates across the first six novels and one novella in the series. Unfortunately, for some reason they have decided to engage a different narrator for the most recent, just released seventh book in the series, The Dark Flood. No matter how good the new narrator may be, the change will certainly create an awkward discontinuity in the series.

HighBridge Audio, 2020, Downpour⩘ ; Atlantic Monthly Press, 2020,⩘ 

Living in the Rockies

Yesterday afternoon, just 24 hours ago, it was in the mid-80s. Our forecast is calling for up to 7″ by tomorrow. But we really welcome the moisture!

Snow falling on our deck

By the next morning, we had 6″ of very dense snow, but the sun was shining and the snow quickly disappeared. Crazy!

Next day's sunshine

Larger version of these photos >
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Embrace inclusivity and diversity

Keith Magee

I've been trying to process the deep sadness I feel about the senseless killing that happened in Buffalo. Keith Magee, a theologian, political adviser, and social justice scholar for whom Buffalo is his community, published an opinion piece today that expresses both the related pain and empathy better than anything else I've read.

   I am a middle-aged African American father, reeling from the sheer horror of what happened to members of my community in Buffalo. Through my pain, I am praying for all the victims and their traumatized families, friends and neighbors—and for all the minority Americans who are feeling even more afraid now than they did before.
   And if you, like the alleged shooter, are a White, teenage male, I want you to know that I am also praying for you.

He goes on to share three vital truths with our nation's young, White males, and invites them to be part of making our national community better.

Societies that embrace inclusivity and diversity are much stronger and more stable than those that do not.

Opinion: I'm a middle-aged Black father. I want to ask White teen males this question⩘  by Keith Magee, May 7, 2022.

More recent contemplations >


The Windtraveler shoji lamp

Windtraveler lamp

Dedicated to my good friend Thomas Hey'l
who has inspired me to look at design more deeply
and to take even more care about precision.

More about this project >
More woodworking >


People walk at an average pace of about 2.5 miles per hour.
Trail winding up Cow Creek valley by Toshen
Meanwhile, light travels about 186,000 miles per second, or about 11,160,000 miles per hour. It would take light about 0.13 seconds to travel around the Earth,
Blue Marble, 2012. Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring
1.3 seconds to travel the 238,900 miles from the moon to the Earth,
Big end-of-year moon by Toshen
8.3 minutes to travel the 93,000,000 miles from the sun to Earth, and 1.3 hours to travel the 890,000,000 miles from the sun to Saturn. To get a glimpse of an idea of just how far away Saturn is, see If the Moon were only 1 pixel⩘  by Josh Worth.
Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
At the scale of the solar system, the Earth is a spec of dust. 1,300,000 Earths could fit within our sun.
Sun, from the video Fiery Looping Rain on the Sun. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO
Our sun, as big as it is, is just a tiny twinkle of light in a suburb of the Milky Way galaxy. Its light takes about 27,000 years to travel to the center of our galaxy.
The Milky Way in Yosemite by bgwashburn is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
One light year is just short of six trillion miles (5,878,625,000,000). The Milky Way has a diameter of about 100,000 light-years, and contains as many as 400 billion stars.
The Milky Way: VL test PSP8 by gjdonatiello is licensed under CC CC0 1.0 (cropped) The Milky Way, as vast as it is, creates just a smidgen of light in our local group of galaxies. Its light takes about 2,300,000 years to travel just to the Andromeda galaxy, the nearest large spiral galaxy. Isn't it amazing that by using our inherent art of visualization, we can be there, instantly, in this moment.
Andromeda. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The observable universe is estimated to contain as many as two trillion galaxies, a tiny fraction of which are visible in this eXtreme Deep Field Hubble image.
Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF). Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team
The light from the furthest reaches of the observable universe, near the dawn of our universe, takes 13,400,000,000 years to reach us. We are part of something that is near infinitely vast and incredibly beautiful. Such a gift.

To get more perspective on the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) Hubble image, see the short video: Hubble Legacy Field Zoom-Out⩘ . Make sure to read the notes, too. See also The Hubble Ultra Deep Field in Light and Sound⩘  at Astronomy Picture of the Day, which adds a pointer you can use to see just how far away a galaxy or star is, as well as hear a note play that corresponds to its redshift.

To get a glimpse of an idea of just how big our observable universe is, see Neal Agarwal's fun website, The Size of Space⩘ ; the BBC video by Professor Brian Cox, How big is our Universe?⩘ ; and CGP Gray's Metric Paper & Everything in the Universe⩘ . Here's another glimpse: What does two trillion galaxies mean?⩘ 

By the way, because of the Earth's spin, if we're standing still at the equator, we're actually moving at about 1,667 km/hour (1,037 miles/hour). The Earth is orbiting our sun at approximately 30 km/sec (67,108 miles/hour). Our sun is orbiting the center of our Milky Way Galaxy at approximately 250 km/sec (560,000 miles/hour). And our galaxy is moving through our universe at approximately 600 km/sec (1,340,000 miles/hour). Hang on!

If you'd like to move through time as quickly as you're moving through our universe, you might enjoy watching this TED talk by David Christian, one of the founders of the Big History Project: The history of our world in 18 minutes⩘ 

All distances and times are approximate.

Image credits:

  1. Hiking trail in Cow Creek valley⩘  by Toshen, CC by NC-SA 4.0⩘ 
  2. Blue Marble, 2012, Earth image⩘  by NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring
  3. Full moon image⩘  by Toshen, CC by NC-SA 4.0⩘ 
  4. Saturn⩘  by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
  5. Sun, from the video Fiery Looping Rain on the Sun⩘  by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO
  6. The Milky Way in Yosemite⩘  by bgwashburn⩘  is licensed under CC BY 2.0⩘  (cropped)
  7. Milky Way in Summer: VL test PSP8 by gjdonatiello⩘  is licensed under CC CC0 1.0⩘  (cropped)
  8. Andromeda⩘  by NASA/JPL-Caltech
  9. Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF)⩘ : NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team