Category: Just thoughts


After my treatments ended, I was asked to speak at the Survivor’s Day Picnic at GT Commons that May.  I just stumbled upon the speech and was struck by the last paragraph.  

And that’s exactly why they call us “survivors.”  The outcome doesn’t matter, but rather what emerges within us:  A renewed sense of courage, a desire to reach out to others, the realization that we are in this together and that no cancer can destroy our hope for the future.  

In a way, cancer is not just a disease, but a state of mind.  It’s a negative energy that permeates the body.  In these difficult times, as our nation struggles with its own form of self-depreciating warfare, I still hold out hope.  And I know we’ll get through this together for the better and with that renewed sense of courage that will enable us to make positive changes in a new, forward-thinking direction.  

In wellness, Samantha

I was reading this morning about Galaxy 4C60.07 – a very distant, early galaxy whose light has traveled some 12 billion years (two years post Big Bang).  I’m always fascinated that we’re able to glance into space and see events unfold in the fancy camera work of the universe from long before our earth was even a twinkle in our galaxy’s eye.  This got me thinking about what it means that the information reaching us is billions of years old and how our place in the universe heading away from origin and other objects alters our perceptions of those events.  

Without the science, if we looked into the sky and were able to see the same images, captured by the Spitzer infrared space telescope, it would be easy to assume the events were unfolding in present time.  Of course, our understanding of trajectory and the speed and flexibility of light has resulted in some complicated, but comprehensible measurements which help us define our place in the universe.

 We watch old movies and reminisce about the way things were.  What is it we feel when we look deep into our universal past and see black wholes and white light blobs forming at such a distance from our own existence as not visitable in our own life-times?  We may not reminisce, but perhaps what is captured is something akin to the magic we feel whenever we watch performances by the late screen stars Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire or Betty Davis alive and well on-screen, immortalized on magnetic tape.  Notice the similar movements as we float light as air round a light post in the rain photos recorded in sequence on magnetic tape on a planet spinning around an ancient star spinning in a spiral galaxy among billions of other stars.


Recently at a McCain rally, a woman said she didn’t trust Obama because “He’s an Arab.”

McCain was quick to address the crowd, telling them amid boos that Obama was a “decent family man and not an Arab.”  

Firstly, I’ve been to two Obama rallies and whenever McCain is brought up, it’s usually in regards to a policy and the crowd listens and maybe cheers Obama and more importantly whenever Obama states boldy that we need to come together as a nation – Democrats AND Republicans – he is cheered loudly.  Nobody yells, “Kill him” or “terrorist” or “traitor” or “off with his head.”  I can’t even believe McCain tried to suggest this was normal.  I’m also irritated that McCain, through his disjoined logic, apparently believes you can’t be both Arab and a good family man. 

We need a president who can UNITE the parties, not further divide them.  And this is one more reason I support Sen. Barack Obama.

From the man who resurrected Amedeus, comes Equus.

Sunday mornings are always quiet in Uptown.  The business folk are home and the more playful bunch is sleeping off the night before; few people, if any, walk the streets.  This morning is no exception – except it is quieter.  And an eerie haze filters sunlight between buildings, casting odd shadows everywhere.  While walking Celli, I imagine I have slept through an alien invasion.  As I walk along the vacant tracks of the light rail, past abandoned construction equipment and vacant parking-lots, I can hear the voice of a man who has witnessed the terror.  He calls from the balcony of the Arlington, “What are you doing?  Get off the street; they’re coming, they’re coming!”  I see movement through the chain-link fence that separates our building from the site of the future condo development, but I think it is only my imagination.  Really, it’s the multi-dimensional space invaders, but it will be too late before I realize.  

So, that’s how I began my day – imaging an exciting, albeit morbid adventure that could be at any moment, and yet remains far enough away from reality, that I can still enjoy my peaceful morning walk.

We made it to Michigan (and through Michigan taking a more scenic, albeit much longer route winding our way through forests, farmland and little towns).  Total duration: 18 hours.

I forgot to mention a previous adventure which subsequently made for a lot of fun had on the longer trip north.  Friday morning, Erick woke the whole family and hurried us out the door and down to the Apple Store to wait in line for the new iPhone.  I thought he was insane – the line was hundreds of people long (five-hundred during our six hours) and the wait was boring, but the reward well worth it.  I’ve never before been so enthralled with technology (you know, the word that means magic). 

At first glance, the unassuming little device appears to be little more than an iPod, but spend some time surfing the internet and email photos while driving through a mountain tunnel and you’ll know the little iPod-GPS-camera-phone has super-powers.  Rather than using satellites to locate your position on the map, it triangulates your position by bouncing signals off nearby towers.  Maybe not as cool as satellites, but someone had to come up with the idea and I’m impressed.  I’m also impressed that Erick needed only stand near his computer while his personal data was uploaded “magically” to his iPhone.  And that during our trip, I snapped a photo of the “Welcome to Michigan” sign, attached it in an email and sent it to Erick’s family awaiting our arrival up north with the message, “We’re here.”  Me, a simple human being, capable of wielding such power!  Bwah-ha-ha!

Anyway, wow.  Again, wow.  Cooler even than the personal computer.

The word paranormal combines two words “para” or beyond and normal.  It’s the study of things that seem to defy scientific explanation.  Really, there are plenty of things in science this heading might encompass – For decades, the neutrino, a subatomic particle with little to no mass, defied our human understanding of how particles function, but you didn’t see scientists labeling the activity “beyond normal.”  Paranormal research began in at the turn of the last century as a way to study extra-sensory perception, or ESP.  Today paranormal research groups study everything from psychic phenomena like telepathy to channeling to ghosts to astrology.  In other words, literally anything beyond normal.  

I had always thought of the word differently: para as in parallel or a world or concept parallel to our laws of binding our physical universe.  I thought of paranormal as the research enveloping all things non-physical.  I’d still like to think of it as a science with the same approach to all things scientific – using hypothesis, conducting experiments, gathering evidence, conjecturing, debunking, etc.  

Poltergeist phenomena is my favorite.  Found in nearly all cultures and religious groups, the activity of the “noisy ghost” is widely reported and documented.  So are hallucinations.  And yet, a single poltergeist event can be witnessed/encountered by multiple people, so I put more validity into claims of this activity.  As a child, I experienced something that would be defined as poltergeist activity.  I don’t feel silly admitting this because I believe strongly there is a valid explanation for these experiences.  

In my opinion, we don’t have to believe in the supernatural, to better understand the paranormal.   In talking with people, I’ve found most have some story to share – even the skeptics – of something they just can’t explain.  And yet, they all share a desire to find some explanation.

Modern day ghost-hunters invest a good deal of time and money into capturing evidence of paranormal activity.  Whether actual ghosts or residual energy, these pseudo scientists employee EMF meters to measure electric-magnetic fields, recording devices to record “EVPs” or electronic-voice phenomena, infrared and thermal cameras to measure and capture movements or sudden changes in temperature in a room and other tools to assist the investigators with seeing in the dark.  

When I first met a “ghost-hunter,” I had a lot of questions and I wasn’t very polite about asking.  Questions like, “Isn’t hanging around grave-yards cliche?” or “Don’t you think walking around houses in the dark is a good way to scare up experiences that might not occur in broad daylight?”  

These questions were quickly answered.  Graveyards tend to make people uncomfortable at night so investigators take new people there to see how they handle fear.  Okay, makes sense, but why the dark?  I was told this was the quiet time and it was more likely you would capture genuine activity than during the day.  There are just too many noises during the day and investigators prefer to turn off any unnecessary electronics to avoid EMF interference. Hence, dark places at night.

I’m actually more impressed than anything getting to know people who study ghosts on the side.  They’re not crazy as I expected.  They’re not charging people money to do bogus investigations.  I was told if someone charges for their work, beware.  Most investigators will do anything to discredit their own findings because they know these findings will be equally scrutinized by any skeptic.  Still, the fact remains, if you haven’t experienced the paranormal, can you ever really believe it?

Then again, I’ve never seen a neutrino, but I am no less a believer.  

This city smells good.  I mean it’s just delicious.  And in total contrast to my high-anxiety mode entered into each time I step into the crowded streets, this week, I feel calm as the scent mimics the effect of lilac or lavender.  Could it be the crepe myrtle in full bloom?  

In today’s news:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Americans drove 1.4 billion fewer highway miles in April than they did in April 2007, the Department of Transportation said Wednesday.

I met a woman who quit her job with a 22-mile commute each way because on days when she only worked a few hours, it was costing her more to drive to work than the $7/hr she was earning.  It was the first time I had heard someone in the middle class tell me they cannot afford to drive to work.  

On the plus side, fewer miles means less CO2 in our atmosphere and more focus and energy being spent on solving our energy crisis than ever before.

Erick and I were having an argument earlier over time-travel.  I was arguing that one cannot go back in time prior to the exact moment the time-machine was turned on, but Erick countered that if one could travel about time it would not matter when the time-machine was built because at any moment you would be present inside the time-machine whether in 1988 or 2008.

If testing my time-machine, I would travel first to 1984.  Great year, good music, good movies and fun fashion – plus it’s a safe distance from the present and yet with many modern conveniences.  Following a visit to 1984, I’d pull back to 1884 for a reference and then I’d come back to the 1940s and bounce back and forth down the space-time continuum until I found a prehistoric animal or Atlantis or something that couldn’t be outdone.  

Erick is obviously bored with coming home from work and not working, so he’s now reading about wormhole propulsion and bending space-time:

Special relativity only applies locally. Wormholes allow superluminal (faster-than-light) travel by ensuring that the speed of light is not exceeded locally at any time. While traveling through a wormhole, subluminal (slower-than-light) speeds are used. If two points are connected by a wormhole, the time taken to traverse it would be less than the time it would take a light beam to make the journey if it took a path through the space outside the wormhole. However, a light beam traveling through the wormhole would always beat the traveler. As an analogy, running around to the opposite side of a mountain at maximum speed may take longer than walking through a tunnel crossing it. You can walk slowly while reaching your destination more quickly because the length of your path is shorter.

That said, my mind has wondered to another wormy topic…  Has anyone been reading about these feet washing up on shore in British Columbia?  I blame Ogopogo.  Would you eat sneakers?