philosophy

Is it today yet?

Yesterday is uncertain,
distorted by memory and the
unreliability of eyewitness reports.

Tomorrow is unpredictable,
a glittery bauble dangling
like a carrot on a string.

Today is all we are assured,
so pay attention and
make it count for something.

Is it today yet?

…Time… (by ĐāżŦ {mostly absent}) on Flickr – (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Today’s rant was a piece of philosophical nonsense that had snuck its way into a story I was writing. I was about to erase it into the ether of the delete key when I decided that it sounded slightly poetic. Rather than delete I should post it as a sappy poem here instead.  But the question remains.

Is it today yet?

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The Golden Ratio

Euphorbia

Euphorbia

There are lots of cool things about nature geometry, but one of my favorite patterns is the spiral. The Golden Ratio and Fibonacci sequence have been used to try to describe this natural pattern that most people consider very pleasing to the eye. The Golden ratio is represented by the symbol Phi (φ), which is roughly equal to 1.618033988… Phi is considered an irrational number because it cannot be expressed as a simple fraction, and its precise calculation requires an infinite number of decimal places and has no repeating pattern of numbers. Irrational numbers are not unusual in nature math. Phi’s better known cousin Pi (π = 3.14159…) is also irrational, and is used to calculate the various intricacies of arches and perfect circles. The natural logarithm is another irrational number used to explain many natural phenomena —
e = 2.71828182845904523536028747135266249775724709369995… I don’t know enough about mathematics to try to explain how these numbers are calculated. I just know that I’ve always found them confusing whenever I tried to wrap my brain around them in math class. 

These irrational numbers are responsible for explaining the shapes and patterns taken by the natural world around us. I find it completely appropriate that those things we find most pleasing to the eye seem to defy a neat mathematical explanation. If all the patterns found in nature can only be explained through the use of irrational numbers, it leaves me wondering. Is it the world around us that is naturally irrational, or Homo sapiens quest to define every little phenomenon with a neat mathematical equation?

Some things may beyond the realm of the rational brain. Some things are just irrational. Some things we should just take a step back from and appreciate without trying to explain.

Spirals are twists of nature. Photos of plants twisting.

DP Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

What price will you pay for play?

I made these digital art pieces way back when I was taking Digital Media classes at Cabrillo College. I used to love to play around on photoshop and illustrator, but that was back when I had way more time than money. Now that I am a busyness professional (yes, I get paid to be busy) I barely have time to play around at all anymore. I thought that having a real job that paid all the bills and then some would make me happy, but I find myself looking back on those poor days of studentdom and missing all the free time I had. Which is better, having no time and extra money, or extra time and no money?

How valuable is your time while on your short vacation to this lifetime?

What price will you pay for play?

Posted for the DP Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

The Need For Speed

I’ve always liked going fast. It started on my Big Wheel way back when I was about the size of a garden gnome, and continued on to numerous other manner of moving objects. If it had potential for locomotion, then I wanted to ride it as fast as possible. It became bicycles, rollerskates, skateboards, or snowboards. One of my first near death experiences involved putting skateboard trucks and wheels on one of my dad’s old skis and plummeting down the hill in front of my house. I started bombing ever steeper paved surfaces on my rolling devices, searching for velocities capable of reducing me to a tumbling meatball had I lost my balance or hit an obstacle. Soon I started jumping off of things like cliffs, trees, and roofs, flinging myself into things like lakes, oceans, and the shallow ends of pools. As I got older it turned into motorcycles, surfboards, and fast cars, but I was never too picky. Shopping carts, sleds, wheelbarrows, mopeds, handcarts, ice skates, wheeled luggage. Barrel-rolling down hills in garbage cans. Cardboard surfing down grassy hillsides. If it had potential to go downhill fast then I wanted to race it.

Some assumed that my love of going fast equated to reckless abandon, and that my need for speed would leave me either paralyzed or permanently covered in road rash. But considering the amount of time I spent racing toward terminal velocity in my pursuit of the extreme, my injuries were not all that extreme. Some minor scrapes and bruises, a few broken fingers and various other non-essential bones, a couple concussions that probably gave me dain bramage. Every time I fell I wanted to get right back up and try again. Many assumed that my desire to tear myself away from gravity’s smack down and immediately re-attempt whatever maneuver had slammed me into the Earth was a sign of mental instability. But I saw it as a sign of mental toughness, my red badge of courage. I told myself falling down was not failure Refusing to get up  and try again was failure. Fall down seven times, get up eight, I said. I think I can, I know I can, oh shit I’m going down, I said. But no matter how many times I fell, no matter how many times I hit the ground like a deflated basketball, I wasn’t a failure until I stopped getting up and trying again. I realize that eventually we’ll all hit the ground one last time and never stand back up, but until then I’m going to keep on getting back up and coming back for more.

Now fast forward to my current state of middle age. I still like going fast, but hitting the ground is far more painful these days. I don’t feel the need for speed as deeply as I feel the need to avoid falling. How fast can I go without risking personal injury has become my new mantra. When I was younger I’d hit the ground and bounce back up to my feet before I felt the pain. These day I stick to ground like I am covered in velcro. It is getting harder and harder to fight against the relentless pull of the Earth. Some might view middle age as the beginning of the end. A  person is said to be over the hill, implying that it is all downhill from here and life will soon become a meaningless burden as you plummet toward touch down. Does that mean when you are younger it is all uphill? Do we spend our entire youths laboring against some metaphorical gravitational impediment?

If there is one thing that I’ve learned while racing through life on unorthodox vehicles of all sizes — the downhill is supposed to be the fun part. Enjoy the ride.

Posted for the DP Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Move

Give Me Leaves or Give Me Death

plant orgy in progress

When most people think of spring and plants they immediately think of flowers. How disgusting.  Did you know that a flower is the sexual organ of a plant? Most 7th graders don’t know this, and you should see the look on their faces when they find out. Priceless. I tell them that every time they sniff a flower the plant is using them to perform its sexual biddings. I tell them there are unmentionable things happening between the plants and their little “friends” the birds and bees. I make sure to use air quotes when I say “friends.” Really it’s a depraved nature orgy. And people like to cut the flowers off and display these colorful and pungent reproductive sculptures in their homes. How sick are we?

Personally when I think of spring I think of young, green leaves filling in on the trees and other plants. The leaves are the true workhorse of the plant, creating sugar money in their little chloroplast factories. Sure, they get some help from the stem and the roots as they help collect resources and deliver them, but really the true magic happens in the leaves. They are turning sunlight into food, storing the sun’s energy in their bodies until those calories can trickle down the food chain to all us hungry heterotrophs downstream. Keep your filthy flowers. Give me leaves, and I will know the world will be fed for at least one more trip around the sun.

Compiled for the DP Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

and, DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Student, Teacher


* disclaimer #1 – this is meant to be humorous and sarcastic. I do not tell my students that sex is disgusting and depraved. I tell them it is wonderful and life affirming and they should all go home after school and engage in it immediately.

One step at a time…

Screen shot 2014-05-03 at 10.42.28 AMI sometimes like to draw a box on the whiteboard in my classroom and write Everything written in this box is false, just to give the kiddos something to think about. Some of them get it and say I see what you did there, while others wear that blank, confused expression so common in middle school. Honestly some might never get it. But such Catch-22s and logical fallacies can exercise kids brains and train them in critical thinking.

Screen shot 2014-05-03 at 10.58.05 AMAnother thing I like to share is the Socratic paradox–the only thing I know is that I know nothing. Most kids are silenced by the logical loopty-loops their brains immediately undergo. I think it’s hilarious that when they understand what it means they are even more confused than when they don’t understand.

But recently when I said this a student flung a logical fallacy back in my face by responding, knowing that you know nothing is knowing something. It amazed me how quickly he was able to get to the point. When he said it the kid sitting next to him nodded his head piped in Yea. I felt speechless and a little humiliated. At least that’s a start, I told him finally. One step at a time.

So let’s all just remember to take things one step at a time, and not forget what we know. Or in the words of Mark Twain:

Mark Twain “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” ― Mark Twain (via Goodreads)


Read more teacherly posts HERE

DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Student, Teacher