In a struggle to be happy and free

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Pencil

On a bit of a lark, I bought a pencil for my iPad. I don’t draw so it’s not terribly useful, but when the next iPadOS arrives in the fall, the Notes app will accept handwriting and convert it to text. It strikes me that would be a cool way to take notes at school… if the device can understand the mess you see before you! Because of these questions I didn’t buy an Apple Pencil, but a knock-off for $40. We’ll see how it goes.

For the record, I am extremely curious and skeptical about the handwriting recognition. Trying to view the above chicken-scratch with fresh eyes, the handwriting recognition will have to be exceptional!

On that note, the alt-text is there if you need it.

A strange four months

I’ve been so quiet. It’s partly because my mother has been having some health challenges lately. It’s mostly because the last four months have been just so off-the-wall. First the most serious pandemic in a century and then in the middle of that, all off the black lives matter demonstrations triggered (this time) by the police murder of George Floyd. It’s been amazing and wonderful to see the demonstrations in the US spread all around the world.

My problem is that I have so little to add to this movement beyond my absolute support. Indeed, I’ve done a lot of learning and I will continue to learn.

I can do more in regards to the pandemic. I’ve stayed home and gone out only minimally. As things have opened up I’ve got to Julie’s more but that’s pretty much about it. Restaurants opened Friday but I have no interest in going out to eat at this point. Why risk it? I’ll continue to call ahead and pick up my order, thank you! It just seems too early for things to be getting that much back to normal.

Look at the situation in the southern US. They’re well on their way to having everything open again and are getting slammed with the highest infection numbers since the pandemic started. Florida alone has 8 530 new cases today, while all of Canada claims 178 new cases. I understand wanting to get out, but if we open up too early, these months of self-quarantine will have been for nothing.

It’s not the widespread death of the 1918 influenza pandemic, but people are dying in numbers far higher than necessary through neglect or thinking they’re somehow immune, and that’s tragic.

As of today, the worldwide death toll is 504 078.

New decade thoughts

We’re just two weeks into a new year and a new decade. I’m not about to regale you with all my new year resolutions, because I have none. The change of a number on the calendar doesn’t make me any more likely to make successful changes in my life. In fact, I hold the very thought in disfavour because if you see the need for a change, you should make the change rather than wait for the end of the year to do it. Why wait?

What has me thinking is not the change of the last digit of the year, but the second last. The 2010s have given way to the 2020s. What’s coming?

I’ve been thinking a lot about climate change. I was going to tell you what I think will happen if we continue along the road of lip service to the changes we need to make, and also what will happen if we get down to business and make the changes we really need to make. But frankly, there’s no need to lay out two scenarios because we’re not going to get down to business. Individuals feel inertia in their habits, and the more people you consider, the larger the inertia gets. This is before even considering that our current way of doing things is very profitable to many people. As a result, they’re actively putting the brake on changes. As a result, change is slow.

With our foot-dragging, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing. I’m not sure, but the rate of increase may be increasing as well. The weather is growing more severe, climate is changing, seas are rising. The pleasant inter-ice-age climate in which we developed civilization will soon be over. There will be fewer comfortable places to live and less arable land. Less arable land means less food. Wars will break out over food and water, squandering the precious resources remaining.

A century from now, things will be very different than today. I just can’t decide how different. Either civilization will regress, leaving behind the highest technology we enjoy today, or civilization will completely collapse. Either way, population will drop significantly. I’d suggest the worldwide population will drop by half, with large cities being the most affected. Whether this is a best-case, or a mid-way between the extremes, I can’t decide.

By 2250, I would be absolutely stunned if the world population is significantly greater than 20% of what it is today. And it won’t get better from there. Unless we discover an easy and energy-efficient way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in a deep-time durable form, there won’t be any coming back from this new normal any time soon … and ‘soon’ is geologically speaking. It’ll take millions of years for natural processes to bring the carbon dioxide levels down. The question is whether we can develop the technology to do it ourselves before we lose the technical and manufacturing means to put it into action in a meaningful way.

I would suggest that biggest impediment to taking action today is the average adult’s inertia. Things seem okay so people go about their business. Although most people are in favour of reducing their nation’s carbon footprint, they are not so enthusiastic when confronted with the bill. I really think a few things have to happen before people change. In no particular order, everyone over 40 has to age and die. People currently younger than 40 have far more skin in the game and were therefore more willing to make a greater sacrifice. Also things have to get worse. To my amazement, there are still deniers out there. All but the most hard-core will come around when things get much worse and there’s no denying the truth. At that time, the tide will carry those hard-core, regardless.

It’s our habits and what we consider problematic. No one I know would think of not recycling. At the same time however, most people I know don’t consider the carbon dioxide created by a trip via aircraft. This has to change and it won’t while the older among us are still around. I do wonder how much it will change as you young age, however. When I was very young, the first energy crisis struck. We all learned to turn lights off when we weren’t in the room. A small thing, to be sure, but the young don’t worry about even this any more. And by young, I mean anyone under 30.

I’m thinking things will have to get much worse, far past the point of no return (if we’re not there already) for people to change their habits.

So severe climate change is coming. In my mind, there’s only one question. Will it damage civilization and set technology back a few centuries? Or it destroy civilization and set technology back a millennia or two? Either way, a lot of people are going to die and everything is going to be a hell of a mess for a very long time to come.

So tired…

I’m in the home stretch. This week is my last week of classes for the term. When I leave Friday, I won’t be back until January 7, when I start the second term.

When I left school today, I came home, ate, and promptly slept for an hour. I wouldn’t say the day was hugely demanding, but still I slept. Yesterday I slept for two hours. The only explanation I have is that I sometimes push against going to sleep but I haven’t been entirely unreasonable about that. Reassuringly enough, some of my classmates and even a few in their second year brought up how they’re feeling the same way, entirely without prompting from me. None of us seem to have any explanation for it.

20191203-103745 iPhone8 IMG_2451.jpg: iPhone8, back camera @ 3.99mm, 1/2700, f/1.8, 25 ISO
The Willowbank upper campus was a picture-perfect winter wonderland today.

Perhaps learning and physical activity is just demanding. At least I hope that’s it because I have no other explanation!

As much as I want a shorter Christmas break, I will certainly take the time to rest and make sure I’m ready to attack the second term next month.

Glass

Two weeks ago we had our first glass class. Most of the morning was a lecture about the history of glass right up to the current day. So interesting! Especially how glass was/is manufactured.

Then we went to the glass shop and started an exercise. You know the yin/yang symbol? With the two lobes rotating around a common centre? Our exercise was to draw a three-lobe version of the same thing. Then we were to cut the lobes out of glass. So check out this mess:

20191003-152900 iPhone8 IMG_2197.jpeg: iPhone8, back camera @ 3.99mm, 1/120, f/1.8, 64 ISO
Yin-Yang-Yuck

You can see the three middle pieces form an extremely rough circle with three lobes. The two extra pieces are even more rough so I re-did them. Well, even my best was poor and I left class that day incredibly frustrated.

Today was our second glass class. I tried not to think too much about how I felt at the end of our first class. We were told to have a small stained glass design in mind. I had a rough idea, and you can bet that it did not have nearly as many curves!

20191003-120702 iPhone8 IMG_2192.jpeg: iPhone8, back camera @ 3.99mm, 1/30, f/1.8, 25 ISO

There’s my plan drawn on paper, surrounded by the pieces of glass I selected. You can see the circular centre … it was originally a square on a 45º angle but I suggested to my instructor that I could use a circle. He readily agreed. I thought I should be able to manage it, even though it meant cutting a complete circle, and four matching quarter-circles.

I got started and today was very much a different day, as compared to two weeks ago. I still don’t have the curve-cutting skills some of my classmates demonstrated, but I did a decent job. I made some mistakes of course, and it’s certainly not at a level one should aspire too, but I am very pleased with how it’s going. This is how I left it at the end of the afternoon:

20191003-152103 iPhone8 IMG_2196.jpeg: iPhone8, back camera @ 3.99mm, 1/30, f/1.8, 32 ISO
Progress! Note the lead between the in-place pieces.

It’s not as far along as it looks. Note the square yellow glass, with a quarter of the circle cut out of it. At the point where the yellow, the blue, and the circle meet, you can see the yellow glass has a larger gap than the lead covers. I am going to need to discard that yellow square and cut another, with a better curve.

Note also that the pieces that look black or dark-brown are actually a dark red. It only appears black because it’s a dark colour and no light is going through it. The other colours are much lighter.

I am so pleased. I can’t begin to describe how crestfallen I felt after the first class. I certainly don’t expect to walk into a class for the first time and produce expert results, but I do expect to understand why I broke piece after piece where they should not have broken. After some suggestions, and a completely different design, I think I’m on the right track.

I’m going to stay late some night and replace that yellow piece before the next class.

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