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 >

Contemplating

Freedom House Ambulance Service

Freedom House Ambulance Service
Photo credit: University of Pittsburgh, Freedom House paramedics with ambulance.

From 99% Invisible: the inspiring story of the creation of the world's first ambulance service, an all-Black paramedic operation in Pittsburgh during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It's also a tragic story, because this amazing and pioneering service that birthed the EMT and paramedic professions that save so many lives across our country and around the world was destroyed by racism.

At a city council meeting, Safar presented data showing that as many as 1,200 people a year had been dying needlessly while in the care of other emergency services. Freedom House paramedics, by contrast, had saved 200 lives in the first year alone. Doctors and medical directors from around the country flocked to Pittsburgh. Freedom House medics were invited to conferences as far away as Germany. Everyone wanted to see what they were doing and learn how they could copy it.

We should pay tribute to Freedom House Ambulance Service for making it possible for all of us to dial 911 for any medical emergency we may experience.

99% Invisible: Freedom House Ambulance Service⩘ 

Related videos:
Freedom House Ambulance Service – The First Paramedic and EMT Service⩘ 
Freedom House Feature Documentary Trailer⩘ 

More recent contemplations >

Reading

M. R. Carey, The Book of Koli

The Book of Koli by M. R. CareyVery well narrated by Theo Solomon

The past five weeks have been extraordinarily stressful for me. One consequence is that I've had very little time for my favorite pastime: reading, and especially listening to books. I have tried to continue one activity, a daily walk, and most days have managed it. That gives me the opportunity to enjoy at least one hour of listening, and this has been the story I've been listening to for the past couple of weeks. It has been a wonderful escape.

Carey lets the story unfold at a leisurely pace, never rushing the narrative. This gives the listener the space to drop into the main characters, inhabit their post-societal-collapse world, and understand through their experiences their wonder at the few remaining items of technology they have that still remain, some of which are things we take for granted, others which are a bit futuristic.

One of the vivid characters in the story is nature itself, a nature that had been extensively genetically modified by humans prior to the collapse and is now an extremely dangerous force that the remaining humans need to reckon with.

This is the first volume of a trilogy. I look forward to the next book in the series.

I wish publishers made it easier to discover who to credit for cover artwork. This book has a beautiful cover; it would be nice to be able to thank someone.

Orbit, 2020, Downpour⩘ 

More recent reading >

Living in the Rockies

Prickly pear (Opuntia⩘ ) blooming on the first day of summer.

Prickly pear (Opuntia)

Higher res versions of these photos >
More recent photos >

Woodworking

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 >

Perspective

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 28,000 years to travel to the center of the Milky Way.
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, which together create a smidgen of light in our local group of galaxies.
The Milky Way: VL test PSP8 by gjdonatiello is licensed under CC CC0 1.0 (cropped) The light of the Milky Way takes about 2,300,000 years to travel just to the nearby Andromeda 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. To get more perspective on this eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) Hubble image, see the short video: Hubble Legacy Field Zoom-Out⩘ . Make sure to read the notes, too.
To get a glimpse of an idea of just how big the observable universe is, see Neal Agarwal's fun website, The Size of Space⩘ .
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

By the way, because of the Earth's spin, if you're standing still at the equator, you'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!

All distances and times are approximate.

Image credits:

  1. Hiking trail in Cow Creek valley⩘  by Toshen, CC by NCSA⩘ 
  2. Blue Marble, 2012, Earth image⩘  by NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring
  3. Full moon image⩘  by Toshen, CC by NCSA⩘ 
  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