Sitting in the silence

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The power went out sometime around 2am, and has been out for about the last two and a half hours. I have to do everything by candlelight to get ready for work. I have six burning right now. The tealights won’t burn as long, but are better than the votive in the kitchen that keeps pooling wax and drowning it’s flame.

It’s kind of nice not having the 60hz buzz of the electricity and everything that is plugged in. I can just hear the storm and whatever traffic is going by outside. Other than not having cedar floors and a wood-burning stove it reminds me a little of the cabin at King’s Canyon National Park in California.

This is in no way similar to the days- and weeks-long outages that many suffer under every year. I remember it being out for over 24 hours a few years ago, but that’s been the worst I’ve experienced living in Austin. I wish I could sit here until sunrise, but my shift starts at about that time. So we’ll have to end our hour of camping here.

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A billion years as a day

My existential and cosmological ramblings with a little dab of Zen and science.

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Betelgeuse, Credit ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin.

Stars are a good reminder of how the universe is all one and there is only now. This is a photograph of the star Betelgeuse, the 2nd brightest star in the constellation of Orion. It’s nearing the end of its life and has been showing signs that it’s ejecting matter from its surface. It’s a red supergiant nearly 12 times the mass of the Sun, and it is roughly 650ly from us. Light takes 650 years to reach us. Changes on its surface are that old. Astrophysicists are watching for evidence of a supernova.

So let’s forget all that for a moment and look at it from the perspective of 18th Century astronomy. We’re out at night looking at Orion. We’re tracing lines from the feet up to the belt, up the tunic to the shoulder of the  arm that’s drawing the bow. And up at the left at the shoulder of the huntsman we see a star that can look pinkish at times.

And a minute later the star explodes.

We take out a notebook and make notes. We describe what we see in every way we can. We write about it for days until it stops being visible in daylight. From where we are in the 1700s the star just blew up. We don’t know about c, or concepts like light-years. We don’t understand that the actual explosion happened sometime in the 11th century during the crusades. This is all happening ‘now.’

And even today, with all our understanding of theoretical astrophysics, whatever we observe, in a sense, is happening in real time…because now is all there is.

Teacher ‘performance’

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I’m don’t know which clown or clowns, and they’re all clowns…elected officials enjoy an expectation of unearned respect due simply to being in office…and it’s something I refuse to grant them. But I digress. I don’t know which representative or senator thought this up. The thinking seems to be that under such a system some teachers would be paid less than others based on results. So the intent of the meme simply says, “Okay, Mr./Ms. Congressperson, we’ll pay you on results instead of an annual salary for your position.” 
 
Instead of that, how about we cut their pay based on how many votes they cast that benefit the corporations lobbying them instead of the people? Because really, on every vote, it’s us against the numerous, and very well-resourced, lobbyists that companies and special interests assign to each member of the House and Senate.