growing old, health, How To, humor

To Age Gracefully … or Not

While Freud’s quarrelsome trio was speculative and oversimplified, he was onto something: “the” mind may be a loose association of multiple partial minds (I’ll call them “miniminds”) that jostle for conscious attention and sometimes squabble.  Here is a comic misadventure due to one of my own miniminds that segues to another minimind’s way to treat toenail fungus.  BTW, it’s all true.

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history, politics

The REAL Thin Blue Line

While defending the US Capitol on 2021-01-06, police officer Mike Fanone was dragged down its steps, beaten, zapped with a taser, and nearly killed.  Apologists for mob rule (provided the mob is white) were soon rebranding the rioters as tourists who were merely rowdy.  Now Fanone is defending the truth at great personal cost.

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How To, humor

Trust, But Verify

Ronald Reagan’s remark about arms control is not an oxymoron, as I learned while coping with the discovery that my phone-friendly blog was not so friendly after all.  Able to handle mobile calls with a simple flip phone (and unable to type with my thumbs), I had seen no reason to have a smartphone and had trusted the WordPress previewer to warn me if a blog post would look bad there.  But then I bought a smartphone.
– Gray button (upper left corner) reveals widgets, –
– above post (on phone) or beside it (on desktop). –

Until recently, I used a desktop computer for all my online activities.  I surrendered to modernity in 2021-05 and bought a smartphone with a stylus that would make hunt-and-peck typing tolerable in short stints.  Now I use the new phone about 1% of my time online and have backup for coping with hazards like extended power outages.

Aware that many people do use their phones the way I use my desktop, I am careful to preview my blog posts as they would look on a phone.  Previews cannot be perfectly accurate, but I leave some pixels of wiggle room whenever I want everything in a line of text on my desktop to appear as a single line on the narrower screen of a phone.  The WP previewer displays a plausible phone rendering, and I change my draft as needed to make posts look OK on both desktop and phone.

Wanting to get used to my new phone w/o accidentally buying junk or installing malware, I installed my usual browser (Firefox) and browsed some familiar sites, including this blog.  Oops.  The fonts actually used were much larger than what I expected from the WP previews.  My posts were awash in weird line breaks and required absurdly much scrolling.

13204746 - dinosaur and comet, vector illustration

© Evgenii Komissarov | 123RF Stock Photo

I tried the popular Chrome browser and found that it also rendered text much too big.  After much thrashing around, I stumbled onto a simple way to make many of my posts look almost the same on my actual phone as they do in the WP phone preview.  Many, yes.  All, no.  Here is a screenshot of part of a recent post as viewed in phone mode on WP from my desktop:


Here is the corresponding screenshot as viewed on the actual phone:


Yuck.  After comparing the screenshots, I revised the post to avoid rogue line breaks (and demystify how to access my blog’s widgets) on a phone.  Tentatively, I trusted the WP phone preview on my desktop.  When the revision seemed ready to go live, I switched to the phone, tweaked the revision (by hunt-and-peck typing) as needed to work on the actual phone, and only then hit the [Update] button.  Likewise with the [Publish] button for this post.  Trust, but verify.

Is there anybody else who uses a desktop (or tablet) and has been blindsided by a clash between how things should look on a phone and how they do look?  Here is the simple partial fix I stumbled upon.  Us dinosaurs gotta stick together.

The [Appearance] item appears most of the way down in the menu on the left side of WP site pages.  The click sequence


gave me a chance to change font sizes used to display posts.

Both [Headings] and [Base Fonts] had defaulted to [Normal] size.  I set them to [Small].  While this might make text too small in some browsers on some desktops, I am sure that anybody using a desktop has already gotten used to pressing Ctrl-Plus or Ctrl-Minus as needed.

haiga, haiku, philosophy, photography, tanka

Two Slim Chances

While I have never visited the Galapagos Islands, I treasure a framed print of a photo taken there by Laura Zito, who captured a bright red crab against glistening wet black rock.  What chance have I to see something close to home that looks much like that?  Very slim.  But still

Better Than No Chance at All
|Helicopter seed
|lands on shiny new asphalt.
|No chance to grow here.
|I walk away, then go back.
|I move it to damp bare dirt.


– Gray button (upper left corner) reveals widgets, –
– above post (on phone) or beside it (on desktop). –
flowers, haiga, haiku, photography, tanka


Slow shutter needed.
Daffodil and tulip share
early morning light.
~ ~ ~ ~
There is enough for us all,
if we take less than we want.


I considered posting my photo wordlessly, with the post’s title as a hint that I have something beyond a nice image in mind.  Too subtle.  Compulsively explicit, I wrote a haiku.  Then I expanded the haiku to a tanka.

I hesitated.  The tanka’s last 2 lines might be too preachy.  Then I read the Gandhi quote in a great collection of images and quotes: Our Beautiful, Broken World (curated by Mitch Teemley).

Thanks, Mitch.  The time for subtlety is long gone.

history, photography, STEM

Beyond Measuring the Earth

Geometry began with practical measurements over moderate distances.  Boundaries of Egyptian farmers’ fields had to be restored after the Nile’s annual floods.  A taut rope between two posts marked where an edge of the base of a pyramid would be laid.  And so on.  This prosaic technology inspired ancient Greeks to create something weird and wonderful.

People like Pythagoras and Euclid reimagined the pyramid builders’ rope as perfectly straight (not sagging a little), so thin that it had no thickness at all, and extending forever beyond the posts.  Crazy.  They called it a “line” and found that they could reason about such things, proving new statements by deductions from what they already knew.

Those ancient geometers discovered much that was true and good and beautiful in the imagined world of points and lines, and a few of them took the first tentative steps toward using their discoveries to help answer questions about the experienced world of posts and ropes and much else.  Eratosthenes kept the promise made by “geo”+”metry” when he measured the circumference of planet Earth, even tho it was impractical to try to wrap a tape measure around it.

Modern STEM is rooted in ancient geometry (among other things), and a long hard slog has progressed from measuring the Earth to understanding it.  Our understanding is not perfect and never will be, but maybe it is good enough to help us save the Earth.  From us.  I hope we can rise to that challenge, and that I have risen to this one:

Geometry ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #269


Image Sources

  • The colorful frame around the image is upsized from my much smaller diagram for Bhaskara’s elegant proof of Pythagoras’ Theorem.  The resulting fuzziness of the points and line segments is a reminder that we cannot experience the ideal perfection of geometric shapes.  But we can refer to the shapes when we tell each other stories about what we experience!  (Tho often hard to read w/o wrangling equations, scientific theories are among the best stories we can tell.)  The colors of the line segments tie the image to the theorem’s bottom line w/o using letters that would clutter the diagram:
      a² +  b²  c²
  • The Blue Marble image overlaid on the diagram was downloaded from NASA Visible Earth: The Blue Marble.   Making NASA’s image cost a lot more than making mine.  That’s OK.  It was money well spent.
– Gray button (upper left corner) reveals widgets, –
– above post (on phone) or beside it (on desktop). –

language, math, photography

Perpendicular: Upright or Uptight?

Calling 90 degrees a “right” angle is a little misleading.  Yes, spatial coordinates should usually be based on perpendicular lines.  But 90 degrees is often just one angle among many, and perpendicular may not be right for the job.
– Gray button (upper left corner) reveals widgets, –
– above post (on phone) or beside it (on desktop). –

Perpendicular ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #269


The ceiling should be perpendicular to the wall
(and the wall to the floor).



Even the klutz who built my house got it right.



The right angle for slicing a pizza depends on
how many slices are needed.


© sabelnik | 123RF Stock Photo


Willing to count a circle as a “line” perpendicular to any chosen straight line thru the center?  (I am.)  If so, then spatial coordinates should almost always (not just usually) be based on perpendicular lines.  Want to navigate on a really big pizza?  Use polar coordinates.

flowers, haiga, haiku, photography

Haiga with Several Time Scales

Haiku poems commonly deal with events on short time scales.  In a split second, the frog jumps into the pond.  In minutes, the sunset fades.  In days, the cherry blossoms fall.  How about decades?  How about millennia?  They can show up too, along with the split second that a camera’s shutter is open.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)


Sunlit Moment
|Mums are good silk fakes.
|Rock is real and will outlast
|both mums and viewer.

I dithered over whether to respond to

Scale ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #268

with the material above.  With small differences in format, it was posted 2020-04-17.  Tho usually reluctant to repeat myself, I’ve noticed that bloggers I respect sometimes do repost things they feel are still relevant.  I’ve also noticed that 11 months is quite a while on a cyberspace time scale.

Oh well.  It’s rare that I settle on a combination of angle and settings that I really like before the light fades or shifts.  Seize the moment.

haiga, haiku, photography

Rainbow Zen

The rainbow images that illustrate haiku here are in an elite group.  (Wish the images were mine.)  The rainbow does not just coexist with whatever else is in the scene; it works with the other elements and lifts a good image to greatness.  A bonus awaits those willing to read the notes and credits at the end of this post.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)


Arizona Sky
|Wings gliding past arc,
|high above Mogollon Rim:
|raven and rainbow.


Out of Reach
|Hard fingers rise up,
|trying to grasp soft colors
|as the rainbow fades.

No Pots of Gold
|Seek ends of rainbows.
|You will not find them? Okay.
|The quest is enough.

§: Notes and Credits

While there are zillions of fine photos of rainbows, the images used here are in an elite group.  (Wish they were mine.)  The rainbow does not just coexist with whatever else is in the scene; it works with the other elements and lifts a good image to greatness.

Subsection headings below are also links to pages with more detail.

§§: Harvey Stearn’s Photo of Raven and Rainbow

Click on the link above if U have any interest at all in how dramatic skies can contribute to landscape photos.  No interest?  Click anyway and U will soon have one.  The photo I used comes near the end in a long series of splendid examples.

I first saw this photo as a standout among standouts in a collection curated by Mitch Teemley, whose blog has many great collections alongside funny and/or insightful original content.  The idea of a haiku with what became the last line of Arizona Sky came to mind quickly, but writing other lines I liked took longer.  Much longer.

§§: Randy Olson’s Photo of Termite Mound and Rainbow

I wrote No Pots of Gold and later found this splendid photo to illustrate it (and inspire some haibun prose).  The photo proved to be a gift that keeps on giving; it inspired Out of Reach.

§§: Naturalism in Haiku

Rainbows are one kind of spectrum.  There are many other series rather like the somewhat quantitative R-O-Y-G-B-I-V of rainbows, and sometimes it helps to think of those spectra as rainbows.  Two examples follow.

This post’s series of haiku exemplifies the spectrum of naturalism in haiku.  Like Arizona Sky, many haiku are specific descriptions of a momentary observation.  Like No Pots of Gold, some are toward the other extreme: general expressions of attitudes toward life, with at most a metaphorical reference to nature.  Out of Reach is in between.

There is also a spectrum of compliance with the 5-7-5 rule, which is revered by some and reviled by others.  Like most of my own haiku, the ones in this post comply.  Tho I do respect the 5-7-5 rule, I also wrote a haiku that goes 3-2-5 and a haiku with just 2 lines.  No apologies.

Don’t submit blindly to restrictions on
subject matter and nuances of form,
for haiku or any other kind of art.
Let the rainbows glow.
haiga, haiku, photography, seasons

Hope at Sunrise

Patrick Jennings’ challenge #259 salutes the sun in the great outdoors.  Sunlight is both a source of hope and something to hope for.  The same is true in more intimate settings, and the New Year got off to a good start at sunrise on 2021-01-01.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Hope ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #259


Morning Sun on Winter Wreath
|Bird, bow, and berries
|scatter rays of hope to me.
|Today may be good.

(reblog), photography

Ash Trees and Artichokes

Apart from being plants, they have little in common.  But this particular ash tree and this particular collection of artichokes share a kind of solemn beauty in death.  My images respond to the image and words in Patrick Jennings’ challenge #258, which is reblogged (in effect) at the end of this post.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)




© Patrick Jennings | Beauty ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #258

Dead tree & West Mitten Butte_840x560

There is beauty
In all things
Even death

To understand this
Is to master life

To master life
One must master death