Archive for the ‘rambles’ Category

It’s late and I should be in bed, so I’ll just throw out a random hodgepodge of brain spew.

Finding myself back in my old company, which I left several years ago right after a merger/acquisition, I am somewhat amused to be plopped right back into a newly-announced merger/acquisition. If I hadn’t left, I could say I’ve worked in the same building for 12.5 years, yet have worked for three different companies. Not too unoriginal in this day and age of consolidation and the death of small companies. Sad. Interesting. Could be good. Good be bad. We shall see.

I learned of the death today of Senator Ted Stevens and, among other things, thought of the blog I wrote a few years ago about Senators Larry Craig and Ted Stevens. I can’t say that Mr. Stevens was someone I admired in any way, shape, or form. But tragic accidental deaths are sad, and I send my condolences into the ether in the general direction of his family and friends. I feel almost bad that I ended that blog referring to another anti-environment Congressperson who died tragically in a moving-vehicle accident. But only as bad as either one of them ever felt about the eradication of many many species of animals living on Earth.

Am I the only one that noted that last week, during the exact same time we had a large solar flare hit the planet, we have 6 earthquakes over 6.0 in magnitude in less than 36 hours? I check the USGS site almost every day. That is not quite normal. But don’t worry. My co-worker who specializes in geology, hydrology, and hazards just laughed at me when I mentioned the correlation to her.

It’s August 10 (yesterday was 8-9-10) and I’m pretty sure I’ve spent over half the year apart from my husband. *sigh* Even for us, that’s quite a large percentage. But I spent a bunch of time in California looking for a job while he was working in Hawai’i. Then, we both moved over here in July and he has spent half of July in another state working. He just left tonight for a 2-day class in the Bay Area. I should be used to saying goodbye. And I shouldn’t worry because I can easily spend 12+ hours at work the next couple of days. But you know what? It still sucks.

I know I’m pretty bad about spending time on this blog updating y’all about what is really going on with me. That was the original intent of the blog. But I haven’t been very good at it. Here’s an update – Sweetie and I are home-shopping. It’s fun. And slightly exhausting. And nerve-wracking. I’ve discovered what I’m sure every other house-hunter in the world has – at this point in time, I wish my Super Power was “Being Able to Mix and Match All the Best Things from Several Different Houses Into the PERFECT House for Me.”

*sigh* Tis not to be. This one has a fabulous kitchen but crap construction. This one has a pool but an ugly backyard. This one is sooooooo cute and soooooo unique, but there is no way I can fit more than one piece of furniture in the living room. This one has great inner space but is in a less-than-desirable-location. And on and on and on. Right now, I think our favorite candidate house is one with: some awesome space inside (large living area); some super-awesome funky-cool details (70’s-like entryway, room partition and fireplace (looks way better than it sounds); and an incredible backyard; but also has a small very outdated kitchen and location issues (a little too close to the freeway). I’m thinking we can live with the drawbacks. Assuming we buy new appliances. But I don’t know. Do we throw out an offer to nab it now? Or do we keep shopping around in hopes of finding something better?

Don’t know. We’ll figure it out. I’m going to do more recon – try and drive around during different times of the day and get a better feel for the neighborhood and noise. Sweetie does NOT understand me when I try and explain that I get “feelings” from houses. I’m not talking ghost-of-your-dead-dog-in-the-backyard or anything like that. I just get feelings about the general flow of a house. Dare I say energy? No, I better not. But I get feelings as to whether or not *I* would be happy in a space. And I need to listen to those feelings because, as much as I liked many things about the house my parents moved into after I went to college, I could NEVER EVER sleep well in it. Even for me, it was bad. But I would only visit. I can’t live in a house that is like that every day. Anyway. Feelings. Sweetie doesn’t get it. But it’s another check-mark in my brain. And this house may get a positive mark.

The search is still young. I’m sure I’ll have a different story to tell in a week. There’s your update for now.

Aloha and good-night.

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Stream of Consciousness

So, I think the only way I can even attempt to explain my slightly sporadic blogging is just to split a seam in my brain and see what comes out.  I warn you, it may lean towards the ranty and bummerish.



January back in Maui.  Need work.  Drag work out of my California co-workers.

Grumble about the chronic health issues I’ve been trying to ignore and self manage. 

Side Ramble:    What can I say about my opinion of the medical community?  Ummmmm…..they are mostly useless.  Now, if I split my forehead open (which I’ve been told I did once), I will gladly welcome the ministrations of a doctor.  If I ever actually have a baby, I will be seeking the expertise of an MD.  But – as far as quality of diagnosis, I can tell you my experience in over 30 years has been – how shall I put it? – piss poor.  Going all the way back to biopsies taken at Stanford medical center that never figured out a thing, to a doctor who kept lecturing me about stress when I was lactose intolerant, to a dermatologist who smirked at me when I asked him to help me figure out what was wrong instead of just giving me a prescription to mask the symptoms and who told me “My other patients don’t care about that.”  And on.  And on.  I kid you not.  I have more examples. 

Mini-meltdown with Sweetie.  What are we doing?  Where are we going?

Finally acquiesce to Sweetie and follow up on the several referrals my doctor gave me back in November. 

Deal with the car.  Needs a safety check?  ok.  $$  What?  Needs a repair?  Crap. 

Get x-rays.

Sweetie takes me back to Dr.  I get a useless endoscopy.  Can I stay awake?  No?  Why the hell not?  Frak.  Spend the rest of the day and night throwing up from the anesthesia. 

Got some work.  Thank goodness.  Buckle down a little.

What?  You want me to see another Doctor?  Holy Crap!! That would be awesome!! My brain short-circuits and I agree.  Wow.  Someone listens to me.  Says things like “You’re not crazy.”  and “You know your body better than anyone else.”  We agree to try some dietary solutions instead of pill solutions.  Which is, by the way, EXACTLY what I suggested to my Dr. back in November.  Why exactly do I and my insurance carrier pay you people all this money?

Take the car in for repairs.  What?  You broke it while fixing it?  Frak.  $$  What?  I just put over $800 into a $3,000 car?  Egads.

Mom and my aunt arrive in Maui.  Hooray!!  Fun times ensue.  Beach.  Sun.  Whales.  Beach.  Volcano.  Lahaina.  Shopping.  Beach. The weather mostly cooperates.  We have a few days with higher-than-normal waves.

And – a slight mishap with the car.  That car.  You remember – the car we just shoveled over $800 of work into?  Yeah – that car. 

Good news – occupants of all cars were…mostly ok.  Some bruises.  Hopefully no whiplash.  Bad news – our car is essentially totaled.  We won’t be seeing it again after the insurance folks picked it up and dragged it away. 

What?  This sounds familiar?  Yes, it’s the second car that has been totalled while we’ve lived here, thanks for asking. 

Get a rental car for a month while we try and decide whether to get a new used car or not.

My sister asks me “Are you sad?”  And I have to think about it.  At that moment – no.  I wasn’t sad.  I said: “It happened.  We need to deal with it.”  I told her I thought maybe God is trying to tell me to just pack it up and move back to California now.  She said she was thinking it was too much to pile on me.  But I thought to myself – “No.  There are a lot of things that could happen that would feel overwhelming.  Losing my car isn’t the worst of those things.” But there are other things on the edge of my life that could feel more overwhelming than losing a car.  I’m trying to formulate a plan of action against those.

And so – we go on. 

The rest of Mom’s trip was good.  My aunt had several moments she said she would “Keep in her heart” and that is inspiring.  We all enjoyed each other’s company immensely. 

And I clean my house in anticipation of our next house guest who is arriving this Thursday. 

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a brain to stitch up.  Aloha, and I hope to be back to a more normal blogging schedule. 

Oh – and by the way – I am trying to finish a couple of books this month for my RYOB Challenge.  Including “The Tao of Inner Peace” which just quoted this line from the Tao Te Ching:

“To keep your center is to endure.”

So say we all.

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My green beans were tasty and the family enjoyed them.

My cold is mild and I’m stuffy but I don’t feel like I’ve been run over with a truck even though I was hoping that I wasn’t really sick, that it was just my chronic throat pain, but why would I think that because I always seem to get sick when I come back to California in winter.

The house was warm.

Sweetie’s family is together.

Only one of my presents coming in the mail will probably be late and Sweetie already has something to open tomorrow. 

I followed my mother’s lead and wrapped a couple presents a day the past week and didn’t spend all day today wrapping gifts. 

The sun was shining today.

Sweetie and I are in the same state!

My mom spoiled me with a wonderful dinner this past weekend and we will get to see her, Big Sibs and the nephews soon to celebrate post-Christmas.

All of our travelers arrived safely.

Tomorrow there will be more food and catching up and definitely at least one game of Settlers of Catan.

Tomorrow there will be homemade apple pies and butter-soaked rolls.

If I stop writing now and stop retrospecting so hard, I won’t feel sad about some things that are too hard to explain anyway.

Did I mention my green beans were tasty and the family enjoyed them??

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I ventured out today for some Christmas shopping.  Yes, all those people who converged on malls and stores this weekend who I was making fun of Friday night?  That was me today.  Amazon has served me pretty well but there are still some outstanding items on my list.  I checked it twice.  So out I went today because really, if you are going to leave the house to go shopping amid crowds of people, you need to make sure you pick a cold, wet, miserable day to do it.

I”m driving Sweetie’s car.  Though I suppose I should identify it as “our” car since we are married.  But this car has been in Sweetie’s life waaaaaaay longer than I have and he usually leaves it as his mom’s house in California.  Last time we were here he paid for the registration and I took it in for a smog check.  I called my mom-in-law a couple of weeks ago to see if the registration sticker came to her house.  Nope.  She had not seen it.  I bugged Sweetie to check on it.  He bugged me to check on it.  I bugged him some more (yes, we go through this routine quite a lot).  He checked on it and got an e-mail confirmation the registration material is on the way.  Mom-in-law promptly mailed it to me. 

I was driving the car around last week worrying about my lack of sticker.  I wondered it CHP (California Highway Patrol) officers would pull someone over merely for a lack of current sticker.  Surely they have more important reasons to pull people over and if you happen to have out-of-date registration – well, then you may get an additional ticket for that.

Well, guess what?

Yes, on my oh-so-jolly adventure through the bleak haze, I saw today behind me – flashing blue and red lights amidst the grey. 

“Hells bells and arggghhh!” And “Where is there a shoulder to pull over on?”  And “F! me, I tried to slow down when I saw there was a CHP car behind me and I do *not* need this, and we so much CANNOT afford a ticket right now and WHY ME?”

And………..heyyyyyyyy……*mindflash!*……….I have my reg sticker!  I threw the contents of the envelope from my MIL straight into the glove compartment so that I wouldn’t forget about it.  Then I forgot about it.

I pulled onto the shoulder and dove across the front seats to open the glove compartment (Why do we still call them glove compartments?  Does anyone store gloves there?  Do people call it something different these days?).  I pulled out the paperwork, rolled down my window and put on my most sheepish smile. 

“Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“uhhhhh….because I was going 10 miles over the speed limit?”  No! Don’t say that out loud.  Look sheepish and keep your mouth shut.

“Your registration is expired.”

“Oh officer!  This is so embarrassing!  I’ve had it right here in the car (for only a few days not the extra couple of months it needed to be here but I’ll keep my mouth shut about that also).  And I just keep forgetting to put it on!”

I was going to say something about the fact that my husband would be so upset with me, but really? – Sweetie doesn’t get upset about that sort of thing.  And hell if I’m going to come across as a browbeaten wife even if it does get me out of a ticket. 

I just smiled and waved my sticker at him.

“OK, can I see your license and insurance?”

Thank goodness I remembered to throw the latest insurance card in Sweetie’s car also.

He grabbed my license and the car insurance paperwork and wrote something down on a pad of paper.  He walked around to the front of the car. 

And then, what does the CHP officer do?  On this dreary cold day with the gray skies and spitting clouds and frigid air?  He walks around to the back of the car and PUTS THE STICKER ON FOR ME.  He walks back to the passenger side window and hands me a clump of sticky foil and tells me he scraped the old ones off because the new sticker probably wouldn’t stick, there were so many old ones still on.  Then, he tells me to wait until it is safe and pull back out into traffic. 

End of story.  Have a nice day.  No mention of my speed.  No lecture about letting my reg sticker sit in my glove compartment.  He does me a favor and sends me off on my way.  I couldn’t stop grinning at him as I flustered my way through a “Thank you!”  Really?  That’s it?!  I was at least expecting a lecture. 

Probably standard procedure when someone actually has a new reg sticker.  Or maybe not.  Maybe this guy had an extra bit of the holiday spirit in him today.   And after that encounter, I did too.   Who’d a thunk it?

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Notes from a Tired Traveler

Remember the days when flight attendants helped you while you were boarding the plane?  These days, the two in front tell you what aisle to walk down and that’s it.   The rest stand in the middle and back of the plane gossiping with each other, reading the newspaper, or talking on their cell phone.  If a passenger is having a hard time getting something into the overhead compartment, tough.  If a passenger is dawdling in the aisle backing up the whole line like a clogged drain, tough.  So what if the rest of us have to stand still for 10 minutes while Mr. Indecisive puts a bag up, then grabs something from it, then brings it down, then puts it up again.  I’ve seen a flight attendant holler at the line – What’s taking so long!?! – but does she move to help?  No.  Is there something new in airline liability insurance that forbids flight attendants from helping with bags? 

I don’t understand why anyone would pay more for a business class seat for a 30-minute flight.  If it’s part of whole series of flights, then yes.  But who needs a few inches of extra leg space for 30 minutes? 

Don’t you love it when you’re sitting at the gate and you hear the screaming kid start up already?  I’m not talking about babies who are going to cry.  I feel sorry for any parent with loud kids during long flights and I’m pretty tolerant of them.  I’ve even gone out of my way to reassure a mother who was scolded by another passenger for her loud kids.  Which was crap – the kids weren’t screaming or whining or crying.  I, and another passenger, told her the kids were fine during the flight.  Mostly, I’m talking about kids who throw tantrums without the parent saying boo to them.  Regardless of your opinion though – you know when you’re sitting in the terminal , whether you feel bad for, or mad at, the parents, you are thinking: “PLEASE let these kids be far far away from me on the flight.”  Lots of times, these kids board first.  Then it’s your turn to board.  You walk on the plane looking for your seat with one eye out for the bratty kids.  You pass them on the way to your seat and think: “Whew! Dodged that bullet.”  Last time I flew I sat at the gate across from a woman and her son – he must have been about 11 or 12.  He was talking back to her and running around and she kept telling him “You are NOT getting your game.”  So, he dug into her purse on his own and pulled out a little Gameboy and proceeded to play it.  Oh yeah.  Great kid.  Guess where they ended up?  Right behind me on the flight.  She had no idea how to discipline this kid.  She kept whining at him to be quiet during the flight.  Then she threatened him with: “You’re going to get in trouble and the police are going to get you when we get off the plane and take you away” and things of that nature.  Really?  That’s how you get your kid to behave? 

Speaking of kids, don’t you love it when they play around the luggage carousel while the automated terminal voice is warning everyone not to let their kids play on the luggage carousel?  Don’t you have a secret wish that a big piece of luggage will snag onto that kid’s pants and whisk him/her away and down the carousel?  Not to cause great injury, of course.  But maybe a little undignified drag by the rump will teach other parents not to let their kids play on the carousel and take up valuable carousel real estate when whole crowds of weary travelers are trying to make their way up to heft bags home.

Speaking of that valuable real estate, standing there trying to hold my tiny sliver of space next to an airport luggage carousel hearkens me back to the great “general admission” concert days of old.  No, I will not move.  Yes lady, you can walk right up to me and expect me to step back away from you but I won’t.  In fact, I’ll inch closer to your face until *you* step away from *me* when I am standing here first.  Yes, thank you, go hide behind your boyfriend.

No, I don’t feel particularly cranky right now.  I’m in a good mood and had a relatively uneventful flight.  Why do you ask? 

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  • Does it make you nervous when your webcam “winks” at you?  Sometimes I’ll be sitting at my computer minding my own business when the little blue light of my webcam blinks on and off.  I’m not sure why.  My mouse and I are nowhere near the webcam shortcut.  I never even use my webcam.  But there it goes.  *blink* *blink*  Hello?  Are you trying to tell me something?  Are you recording me while I am not looking?  Is my scowling yawning face being broadcast out to the world without my knowledge?  What is going on????
  • A couple of weeks ago I thought I would have no problem getting ready for Christmas.  But then, a couple of weeks ago I still thought Christmas was about 4 months away.  Time takes on new dimensions for self-employed people, I think.  I sometimes lose track of days and suddenly it’s a whole different month.  If I don’t have a bunch of deadlines to pay attention to, I can’t seem to figure out time at all.
  • I jumped on the scale this week and was delighted to discover that I finally lost the extra pounds that I put on during my last trip to California.  I always manage to gain weight in California.  And now it is off.  Hooray!  Guess what?  It’s off just in time for me to fly back to California. 
  • Yup, I’m flying back to California in less than a week.  Again, I feel like time has been sneaking up behind my oblivious back.  I like to have my home organized and clean before I leave.  Why?  I have no idea.  I guess I just feel the need to pile some tasks onto my to-do list.  So, I am trying to clean my house and organize my work files at the same time I am shopping for gifts and writing out 50-something Christmas cards.
  • One thing I can tell you – I will always always lug about extra 15 pounds more work files back and forth between Maui and California.  That means I lug about 20 pounds of files and only work on 5 pounds worth.  In October, I mailed files back to myself with a USPS Flat-rate box and the darn thing weighed more than 10 pounds.  Sweetie keeps yammering at me to keep my files electronically and to stop carting around the hard copies.  I tell him that I already have many of these printouts electronically.  But I still use my printouts.  I’m old fashioned.  Plus, hey – I’m trying to work off those extra pounds I always gain in California.

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New Guinea is a country in Oceania, a group of islands between the Coral Sea and the South Pacific Ocean, east of Indonesia.

In New Guinea, there can be found many members of the family Paradisaeidae.  Birds of Paradise. 

From a 2007 National Geographic article “Birds of Paradise:”

Birds of paradise perch on an improbable branch of the avian family tree, the flashy cousins of straitlaced ravens and crows. They began splitting off from their bland kin millions of years ago, evolving into today’s 38 eclectic species. Of these, 34 live only on New Guinea and its satellite islands.

Fruit and insects abound all year in the forests of New Guinea, the largest tropical island in the world, and natural threats are few. Linked to Australia until about 8,000 years ago, the 1,500-mile-long (2,400 kilometers) island shared much of its neighbor’s fauna. Marsupials and birds were plentiful, but placental mammals were entirely absent, meaning no monkeys and squirrels to compete with birds for food, and no cats to prey on them. The result: an avian paradise that today is home to more than 700 species of birds.

Freed of other pressures, birds of paradise began to specialize for sexual competition. Traits that made one bird more attractive than another were passed on and enhanced over time. Known as sexual selection, this process “is to birds of paradise what natural selection is to Darwin’s finches—the prime mover,” says Scholes. “The usual rules of survival aren’t as important here as the rules of successful mating.”

Mating.  Male Birds of Paradise are all about the mating.  The colors of their feathers.  The behavior they display.  The songs they sing.  For a time in their lives – it is all about attracting a mate.  These birds put on their best plumage, strut their best dances, and sing their best songs in hopes of becoming the lucky male who is picked by the lovely but drab little female chicks.  Take this guy – the Six-Plumed Bird of Paradise. 

What extremes will he go to to impress a potential mate?  He sings.  He dances.  Would you believe he even makes the effort to clean up his home turf before strutting his stuff?

If any of you have watched the enthralling, enchanting, gorgeous, amazing series “Planet Earth”, then you have seen this guy in action.  They even have footage of him cleaning up before any lady friends arrive. 

Hmmmm….does that sound like any other creatures we know? 

Pretty impressive behavior.  Unfortunately for the lucky lady who picks this fancy bird to start a family with, it appears that most of the work and effort end with the act of mating.   The Six-plumed Bird of Paradise is polygamous and does not take part in raising the young.  All that work to make a good impression.  And then, an entirely different creature.

Does *that* sound like any other creatures we know?

I for one worked very hard to make a good impression on my Sweetie when we first got together.  I guess I did a good job because here we are – married and committed to each other for the rest of our lives.  Now, a few years into our relationship, when I go through my bad days and my low points, I still sometimes think to myself: “Don’t screw this up. ”  I worry that my bad points are too too off-putting for anyone to bear.  I wonder if Sweetie really knew what he was getting himself into when he married me.  Did I dazzle him with my bright plumage into thinking I was some kind of woman that I am not?

Which is a ridiculous thought because I went through plenty of low points during our dating time.  And he knew everything about me before he asked me to marry him.  Because, eventually, the newness of our time together wore off and we became comfortable enough with each other to display behavior that was less-than-prime courting behavior.  The burping.  The tears.  Leaving dishes in the sink.  The grumpiness. The insecurity.  His inability to remember to pull the shower curtain to ward off the damp buildup.  My inability to shut my brain off in the middle of the night.  All of it.  He knew.  I knew.  We did a little more in-depth research and soul searching than those six-plumed birdies. 

For many humans, our instincts have evolved beyond the basic “make a copy of yourself before you die” tic.  And with more complicated wants and needs comes the complications of human relationships.  I don’t know if I can ever completely shut off my occasional insecurity in relationships.    And Sweetie may get frustrated by my inability to swallow my own feelings and my endless need to talk things through with him, but I’m not like the housewives of yore – who smoothed their aprons and plastered smiles on their faces for their husbands, no matter what.   And I don’t imagine that’s what he wanted, or thought he was getting. 

At least I am able to reassure myself that I tried not to puff myself up to an illusion of something I am not.  When my feathers come down, I am an ordinary woman with ordinary foibles.  That can’t be too surprising to him, can it?  He knew what he was getting into. 

I think, for us humans, if we want our mates to actually stick around past the mating act itself, we do ourselves a favor by exposing our flaws along with our fine feathers.  In the long run, we are better able to adapt in the future if we see the real people behind our loved ones’ faces.  No guarantees, of course.  But it helps. 

But really, check this guy out –

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I have this urge…

….when I am in the Taco Bell drive-through to say “To go!” at the end of my order.

Uhhhh…..I’m in my car in the drive-through.  Obviously, my order is to go.



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No surprise, probably, but my brain is all over the place right now. This is a totally random thought, but I think my half-a**ed attempt at the South Beach diet is working. I can give up eating sugar. I can even give up fruit for two weeks (though it is very very hard). But I think it’s near impossible for me to give up rice and bread completely. Especially when we have such good Thai and Chinese food on the island. So, I cheat where those two things are concerned. But I am trying to stick to South Beach breakfasts and snacks. And I am back on an exercise routine. And I am about four pounds lighter than I was a couple weeks ago in California. Hoorah! Could all be water weight, but I’m gonna keep this wanna-be-healthy routine and make sure it sticks.

Today was a good day. I will blog and talk about seeing the Dalai Lama today. I watched yesterday’s public talk on our local cable channel and I, hopefully, recorded today’s talk. He is amazing, He is jolly. He is very wise.

On Saturday, when I was sitting at the main intersection closest to the War Memorial Stadium (where his talks were held), I saw the butterfly and thought of my father. The butterfly was fluttering across the street, in the direction of the stadium. And Saturday was a good day. Yesterday was not so great, and it ended with me trying to cry quietly at the end of the day. But my “I’m ok” was no match for my Sweetie, and I ended up in a small crying heap wailing about how I wanted to talk to my dad. He said “Why don’t you talk to him?” And I told him “I do.” All the time. What I’ve been learning the last few weeks is that I need to be better at listening. There are all sorts of things I think I can learn from better listening

Today, I was in line at the stadium by 9:30 a.m. (the Dalai Lama’s lecture started at 2:00 p.m.) I was in the stadium by 10:20, and I walked straight to a booth to buy water, knowing I would be sitting out in the sun for a long time. I walked under the stadium seats to the grass field and walked to the unreserved seats, as far forward and center as I could find. I sat down in between one woman sitting by herself and another woman saving about seven seats. I put my book down on the seat beside me (for my guy). And then I, one of the least social people I know (outside of my own gang of pals*), surprised myself today. I started talking to the woman next to me. She had a book also, but once we started talking, we couldn’t seem to stop. All sorts of things – talked about the Dalai Lama, the state of the world, kids, the environment, medicine, her family, my family, and on and on. She was well educated, married to a man who knew he loved her at first sight, had traveled to see the Pope in Rome (both John Paul and Benedict), and lived in Iowa and Connecticut.

And she told me “You will see your father again.” And she was pretty sure. As she was sure about many things. As she was sure in her desire to see the Dalai Lama. Even though her doctor had told her she could not go. Could not travel to Maui to see him (her platelets were way too low). Bu there she was. I don’t know how much time this lovely woman has left (she said not long), but she said she has made her peace and is not afraid to die. So, why would she be worried to travel and spend hours in the hot sun, though she cannot sweat? Why would she be worried to talk about all manner of things to a strange woman sitting beside her? She was not. And I am glad. For I did a lot of listening today. I listened to her. I listened to the Dalai Lama. Both of these people brought me a sense of peace today, in their own way. That is a big advantage of listening, I suppose.

And now, I must eat. More on His Holiness later.

* I didn’t mean that my pals are less social than me. I meant that I am very social with my pals, but tend to be more reserved (dare I say misanthropic?) with strangers.

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So, this is a crazy idea that popped into my head. Bear with me here.

In their September 4, 2006 issue, Time magazine printed an article by Michael D. Lemonick about the Big Bang. (Let There be Light: 400,000 years after the Big Bang, the cosmos went black. Here’s what happened next.)

Very interesting stuff there. It talks about the period of time between 13.7 billion years ago (the Big Bang) up to the first 200 millions years. It has been labeled The Dark Ages of the universe. According to the article, the cosmos went dark half a million years after the Big Bang.

The Dark Ages of the Cosmos were also dark because those huge hydrogen-gas clouds were nearly opaque to visible light and no ordinary telescope would be able to see what happened afterward.

Then, two hundred million years later, baby galaxies began to shine. What happened in between laid the foundations for the modern universe. Somehow, during the Dark Ages the primordial hydrogen and helium produced carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements we know today. How? Who knows. One idea is that the first cluster of hydrogen clouds became too dense and ignited. The nuclear fusion reaction “spiked” the surrounding gas clouds with elements like oxygen and carbon, which had never existed before. Those first big dense hydrogen clouds were at least 25 times as big as our Sun, but also much more short-lived. They lived to be only about a million years, whereas our Sun is about 5 billion years old.

Seems to me, there is a consistency there with many objects living today on Earth. Within a specific species – the bigger you are, the shorter your lifespan. Look at the average age of a St. Bernard (5 to 9) versus a Toy Poodle (15+). I won’t comment too much on humans, but there is a reason why the obesity issue is a concern for doctors.

But I digress. How did light, and the elements that provide life today, come to be in the Universe?

Some say the ultraviolet radiation from hot, newly formed stars reionized the remaining hydrogen. Some think the process may have been powered by black holes spewing out X-rays and ultraviolet light. Or it may have been a combination of hot stars and black holes (quoting from the article here).

And my random brain started to twirl.

I think about how frustrating it must be to researchers to not know about those missing years in between. And how they are searching for those answers. And I wonder how long it will take them. And if they figure it out, what would it mean for astronomy research. And then I think, how much does it matter? Even if answering the question of the Universe’s beginnings helps us to answer questions about how it will end, does that really affect whether or not I get up in the morning and feed myself, kiss my loved ones, and do my work? Science for the sake of science can be a worthwhile pursuit, but does the lack of this one answer affect how *I* interact with the universe, right here and now? Would my actions change when these questions are answered? Probably not.

So, I’m reading this article, thinking what a cool bunch of theories these are, and wondering if they will be solved conclusively in my lifetime. And I read this quote from Avi Loeb, a theoretical astrophysicist at Harvard University. He says “We have a photo album of the universe, but it”s missing pages – as though you had pictures of a child as an infant and then as a teenager with nothing in between.”

And I read that quote, and I thought……..good analogy…….but what does that remind me of??

Well, Jesus Christ, of course.

Much has been made, in books and in movies, about the “lost years” of Jesus. There are narratives about his life up to about age 12. Then, there is a leap in the narrative to about age 30. The Bible pretty much leaves out what happened in between. If you watch Dogma, read The Da Vinci Code, or any of a million other books, you’ll hear people speculate about those missing years. What happened? Where did he go? Did he go to India? Did he join the Essenes? Did that prove he was celibate and never fathered children? Or did he have children, and the missing years is a giant religious conspiracy to hide these actions from the rest of the world?

My first thoughts were this:

It sounds vaguely similar. The Dark Ages of the cosmos are the lost years where lots of things happened but no light came out. The narratives of Jesus’ life includes a blank period where, perhaps, important things happened but there is no written history (that we know of). Then I thought, is that just a coincidence? Or is there a coincidence by design? Or just a coincidence that isn’t even a coincidence because the two objects in question are so fundamentally different. Or are they?

So, I thought, wouldn’t it be bizarre if researchers unraveled the mystery of our Universe’s missing time at the same time that historians were able to piece together the missing years of Jesus’ life? What if both discoveries revealed something that fundamentally change the way we look at these events? And of course, I got around to thinking – What if we’re not really meant to know these things? What if some mysteries are destined to remain mysteries?

And in thinking about it today, I wonder: What does it really matter? Ultimately, how would the unraveling of either mystery change who or what we are today? Now don’t get me wrong, as a curious person, and as a Christian, these mysteries probably hold some important information that it would be good for me to know. But would it change the way I live my life? If I learn that the beginnings of space show that our universe will collapse in 3 billion years, instead of 8 billion years – – – will I sell everything I own and run to Rio to party all day and night? Ummm…….no.

Knowing the details of Jesus’ missing years should not change the message of his life, and death. If I learn that Jesus Christ married, fathered children, and studied Hinduism – – – will it change the fact that I believe in his teachings and feel that humankind can live better if they tried a little harder to emulate them? Ummm…..no. Would it contradict the divinity of his life? If his life on earth was one way for God to experience what it feels like to be a human, wouldn’t that experience be richer for having included a spouse and children? But if so, or if not, how does that change his teachings?

Of course, in the endless pursuit of knowledge, you can’t tell historians and scientists to stop looking merely because of any absence of practicality. They may have nothing more to gain than to claim the spot as Discoverer. But to seek answers to unanswered questions is the true mindset of a scientist, and possibly of a theologian also.

To endlessly ask random questions with no possible good answer seems to be the mindset of me. I don’t expect an answer. I sometimes just like posing the question.

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