February 5 2016

Yesterday evening we enjoyed participating in the weekly Hyde Park ‘Cafe Society’ dinner and conversation. There was a nominal topic of ‘metaphysics’, but we didn’t get around to it yet, maybe there will be a bit of discussion on that topic next week.  (Almost) every Thursday evening at 6 pm a small group gets together at Valois restaurant (1518 East 53rd Street here in Chicago) for an hour of dinner and conversation. All are welcome. Valois is more like a cafeteria, actually, and the prices are very reasonable. We are usually at a table for 6 to 8 located toward the front of the restaurant and fairly near the door.

Today I dropped by University Church (57th Street and University Avenue) to donate to their monthly rummage sale and also check it out. And purchased some wonderful chocolate cake at the bakery that is now located in University Church.

A thought for your consideration:  What is it about our culture that makes peace seem so unattainable?

February 3 2016

As Chicagoans, today, February 3, we are celebrating the anniversary of the creation of the Territory of Illinois in 1908 by the 10th United States Congress. The Territory of Illinois included what is now the State of Illinois and parts of states to the north of us. Illinois didn’t actually become a state until 1818. Chicago itself   has been around a long time, its recorded history began in the late 17th century, but it wasn’t incorporated as a city until 1837.

This morning, we started out to go bird watching in Jackson Park, on the South Side of Chicago. Not too many birds at this time of the  year, but it’s fun to get out and walk around and look for the winter birds anyway. There is a small birding group that goes out every Wednesday morning (well, almost every Wednesday morning, depending on the weather). Departure is from the south end of the parking lots east of the Museum of Science and Industry, at about 7:30 am. All are welcome! And afterwards, we often go over to the Bakery in the 55th Street shopping center for coffee and pastries and conversation.

Another enjoyable activity on Wednesdays in Hyde Park is at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Wednesday is a day of community gathering at the Divinity School, and Wednesday Lunch is a Divinity School tradition started many decades ago.  At noon on Wednesdays when the quarter is in session a delicious vegetarian meal is made in the Swift Hall kitchen by the student chefs and lunch crew.  This is followed by a talk, sometimes on a religion-related topic but not always, and sometimes by a musical performance.  All are welcome (you do not have to be a Divinity School student or faculty or staff to come).  Cost is a modest $5.  Lunches are in the Common room on the first floor of Swift Hall, located in the main Quads with a street address of 1025 E 58th St, Chicago.

For dinner tonight, we had a delicious Indian meal of palak paneer, with creamed spinach and cheese, and beans, and rice. The conversation turned to how potatoes and wheat products are frequently on the menu in the western hemisphere and northern Europe, but rice seems to be by far the predominant starch in much of Asia. And it takes a lot of water to grow rice. But severe water shortages are anticipated in our planet’s future, Accordingly it would seem to be wise to somehow attempt to bring about changes in Asian diet, by switching away from water-intensive rice.

Here’s  a thought for consideration:  Among the toys of today may be the precursors of the inventions and technologies of tomorrow.

I’m still easing into writing a blog. Bear with me!


I’ve been experiencing difficulties getting back onto the blog site (that was not especially problematic) and with the ability to add content (access here turned out to be difficult, even with assistance from tech help). Anyhow, I’m back, and once I figure out how to replicate the path of getting here, more content will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, on today, February 2, enjoy Candlemas Day.


A poem

I didn’t used to be into poetry, at least not writing it, but here’s my recent poem:
Of Time and Physics – A Poem*
(with apologies to both Shakespeare and James Thomson)

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps on this petty pace from day to day
To the last moment of recorded time
But what is time? you say

We heard the sound of time go by
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock
Was that a kind of tapping that was coming from a clock
Or did we hear the Stalker’s steps
Who seeks us as his prey?
Is Death approaching closer
As he hunts us, day by day?

But as we live, what is this time?
Is time our rush through space to find a way?
Is time our granting of a chance to pray?
Is life a dream that comes our way
With time a measure of its stay?
But when a dream day after day is brought
Throughout a week, and such weeks few or many
Recur each year for several years, can any
Discern that dream from real life in aught?

Can life be but a dream
A passing shadow that is heard no more
From clocks or nothingness?

And yet we live
With active roles
And formulated plans. We try
To work with stationary states
And calculate transition probabilities.
We work with measurements, invoking laws.
Laws about what? you ask.
A dream?

And yet we see
These forms return
Some frequently, some seldom
Some by night and some by day
Some night and day.
While some show change
Yet others vanish quite.
We learn
That while all change in time that many show
In their recurrence with recurrent changes
A certain seeming order; where this ranges
We count things real; such is memory’s might.

But what is memory? you ask
Does memory hold the real behind the mask?
Is memory run forward our new grace?
Can it move so, like any other pace?

Yet Zeno taught us long ago
With paradox, and paradox
The way the world appears to us
Is not a true reality.

Is this then physical reality?
Is physics but a child of memory?
– C. Herzenberg

*(The poem incorporates adapted excerpts from Shakespeare, including from “Macbeth” Act 5, scene 5; and from Scottish poet James Thomson’s poem “The City of Dreadful Night”. James Thomson was a distant family relative.)




Notes on 28 January 2016

Just getting a start on this blog

Some background for context: I’m an alum, PhD in physics, retired from Argonne National Laboratory. I’ve been entertaining myself with a variety of other activities since retirement, some of which I will elaborate about in this blog. For now, I need to sign off, but I will get back to you later.


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