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 >

Reading: Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. KendiNarrated by Ibram X. Kendi

Using his own journey from anti-black racism to anti-white racism and, finally, to antiracism as a backdrop, Kendi passionately explores the realities of racism and the reasons it exists. These are challenging and at times painful ideas to confront, but it is vitally necessary for all of us to try to understand and absorb them.

The final chapter is both the most intimate and the most globally important. In it, Kendi compares racism to his own stage 4 metastatic colon cancer: "I have cancer, the most serious stage. Cancer is likely to kill me. I can survive cancer against all odds. My society has racism, the most serious stage. Racism is likely to kill my society. My society can survive racism against all odds."

Like fighting an addiction, being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.

Random House Audio, 2019, Downpour⩘ 

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Contemplating: Until the End of the World

Cover of the new Criterion Collection release of Until the End of the World by Wim Wenders

This is fun!

Until the End of the World, the 1991 film by Wim Wenders, is my all-time favorite. Beautiful cinematography and an incredible soundtrack (U2, Talking Heads, Elvis Presley, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, Jane Siberry with k.d. lang, and on and on) frame an awesome story starring an amazing cast including the enthralling Solveig Dommartin (who also co-authored the story with Wenders) as Claire Tourneur, William Hurt, Jeanne Moreau, Sam Neill, Max von Sydow, Ernie Dingo, Rüdiger Volgler, and many others.

Taking place in the near future (now the past!) in exotic locations across the world, the film opens in the French countryside, travels to Paris, Berlin, Moscow, then along the Trans-Siberian Railway through China, followed by visits to Japan and San Francisco, before landing in the Central Australian Outback, and even finally launching to the International Space Station. Even as its depiction of cutting edge sci-fi tech has aged, I've still been enthralled every time I have watched it.

Years ago, I heard a rumor that a Criterion Collection release was in the works. Ever since then, I've been checking their website periodically to see if there was any update, and was at last rewarded to find information about the upcoming release of the restored 4K, 287-minute director's cut (by comparison, the U.S. version currently available on iTunes is 157 minutes). I can't wait to experience what the additional two hours will reveal. Pre-order placed!

Until the End of the World⩘ , a Wim Wenders Film, 1991, The Criterion Collection, December 10, 2019 release.

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Living in the Rockies

When I reach the halfway point of my daily walk and turn around, this is the view that greets me. A bit different every day, it almost always invites me to pause for a few moments.

View across South St. Vrain Creek

A few minutes later, I pass alongside this beautiful overhanging cliffside.

View along Old South St. Vrain Road

If I don't get too lost in my thoughts and stay aware of my surroundings, I also see this beautiful moss covered boulder nestled in the wild grasses along the way.

Moss covered boulder nestled in wild grasses

Higher res version of this photo >
More recent photos >

Woodworking: Windtraveler lamp

The Windtraveler shoji 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 >
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Tool reviews: Window tools

For someone like me, owning a home for twenty years means I've done just about every kind of handyperson remodeling and repair job imaginable, from plumbing to electrical, painting to insulation, and on and on. But one thing I had never needed to do, thank goodness, was to replace a large double-pane piece of glass. We did replace all of the windows in the house when we first moved here, but never the glass in an installed window.

Then one day I was out doing something I've done for many years, using a grass trimmer to cut down the tall grasses growing where we hang our clothes, and suddenly I heard a crack followed by a very strange sound. I took off my ear protectors and discovered that the sound I was hearing was of a large sheet of tempered glass forming thousands of cracked pieces spidering outward from where a stone my trimmer had kicked up had struck it. See the large vinyl windows in the background of the following photo? It was one of them. Oh shit!

New clothesline in our backyard

More of this tool review >
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Ham radio: Reflections of an amateur⩘ 

My HT: Kenwood TH-D74A

Although I'm still relatively new to the universe of amateur radio, where there are active hams who have been playing around with it since the 1950s, I've already enjoyed enough interesting learning experiences as well as stubbed my toes enough times to have gained a few insights. I'm a non-technical user figuring things out as I go along, and I'm writing these articles as my way to keep track of what I'm learning (and also just for fun, as I love writing as much as learning). Basically, this is info I wish I had found online when I was browsing for insights:⩘ .

Playing with Pi-Star⩘ 
More amateur radio⩘ 


Sharks kill an average of 10 people per year. People kill around 100,000,000 sharks per year 1. People also kill approximately 425,000 people per year, topped only by mosquitoes, which kill about 725,000 people per year 2.

And we worry about sharks?

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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.
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 6,000,000,000,000 miles. The Milky Way has a diameter between 150,000 and 200,000 light-years, and contains between 100,000,000,000 - 400,000,000,000 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 2,500,000 years to travel just to the nearby Andromeda galaxy.
Andromeda. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The observable universe is estimated to contain somewhere between 200,000,000,000 - 2,000,000,000,000 galaxies.
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

And we worry about anything?

All distances and times are approximate.
Inspiration: "New 3D map of the Milky Way shows we live in a warped galaxy," NBC News, Feb 5, 2019.
A related video: Hubble Legacy Field Zoom-Out.
Another related video: The Exhilarating Peace of Freediving by Guillaume Néry (really, it's related).
Related project: A team of five French amateur astrophotographers has assembled an amazing gallery of deep space images from their observatory in Chile: Ciel Austral, which means Southern Sky.

Image credits: