Author Archives: Mike

2018-02-27: Reality Is Not What It Seems

Reality Is Not What It Seems

The Journey To Quantum Gravity (2014, tr 2016)

by Carlo Rovelli (1956-), tr Simon Carnell and Erica Segre

Rovelli is not only a popularizer of science, but a leading physics theorist. This book conveys both his mastery of the subject, and his humility toward its correctness.

Part One, Roots, begins twenty-six centuries ago, in the Greek city of Miletus around 450 BCE. That is when Leucippus went from Miletus to Abdera. He was a student in Anaximander’s tradition, and in turn Democritus was his student. This tradition was the dawn of scientific thought. The concept that Rovelli emphasizes is granularity – the notion that things cannot be infinitely subdivided, but there is a smallest unit. Though Democritus is sometimes credited with the notion of atoms of matter, Rovelli’s discussion reveals additional forms of granularity. Clearly an admirer of Einstein, Rovelli shows how the first proof of atoms, Einstein’s 1905 paper on Brownian motion, in principle could have been discovered centuries earlier. (One of Rovelli’s charms is his habit of mentioning the key characters in the chapter titles by their first names: Isaac, Michael, Albert, Niels, Werner, Paul, Matvei, John.)

Rovelli moves on to other giants: Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton. His description of Newton’s recognition of universal gravitation was unfamiliar to me. Galileo had shown that freely falling bodies accelerate at 9.8 meters per second per second. Kepler had found the relation between the time for a planet or satellite to complete an orbit and its distance from its primary body (sun or planet). Newton imagined a satellite orbiting just above the surface of the earth. The radius of the earth, and the period and radius of the moon’s orbit had been measured in antiquity. Newton applied Kepler’s relation and determined the period of his imaginary satellite and found its period to be an hour and a half. Calculating the acceleration of an object in such circular motion, he found it to be 9.8 meters per second per second. In other words, the same gravity that caused a falling body to accelerate downward at earth’s surface moved the planets and their satellites.

Rovelli uses a little diagram to illustrate the developing notions of what the world is made of. In Newton’s system, the components are Space, Time, and Particles. Rovelli quotes a passage that shows Newton didn’t believe this was a satisfactory world-view, which included a force between two pieces of matter acting over the distance of their separation:

It is inconceivable that inanimate brute matter should, without the intervention of something else which is not material, operate upon and affect other matter, and have an effect on it, without mutual contact …

That Gravity should be innate, inherent and essential to Matter, so that one Body may act upon another at a Distance thro’ a vacuum, without the Mediation of any thing else, by and through which their Action and Force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an Absurdity, that I believe no Man who has in philosophical Matters a competent Faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it. Gravity must be caused by an Agent acting constantly according to certain Laws; but whether this Agent be material or immaterial, I have left to the Consideration of my Readers.

Rovelli moves on to Faraday’s and Maxwell’s conception and formulation electric and magnetic forces as based on fields, and updates the Faraday-Maxwell world’s components, splitting Newton’s Particles into Fields and Particles. That ends Part One.

Part Two, The Beginning of the Revolution, addresses Special Relativity, and updates the Einstein 1905 world’s components by combining Space and Time into a single entity: Spacetime, along with Fields and Particles. He then describes how Einstein extended the Faraday-Maxwell notion of fields described by equations to gravity. The Einstein 1915 world view combines the Spacetime and Fields components into a single (extended) notion of Fields, along with Particles. While describing Einstein’s application of General Relativity to cosmology, Rovelli takes a longish detour through Dante, perhaps excusable for an Italian.

Turning to quantum theory, Rovelli begins with Einstein’s other 1905 paper, on the photoelectric effect, then turns to the notion of discrete spectra for the electromagnetic interactions of atoms. He discusses the contributions of Bohr, Heisenberg and Dirac, and summarizes with three key features of the world:

 – Granularity. The information in the state of a system is finite, and limited by Planck’s constant.

 – Indeterminacy. The future is not determined unequivocally by the past. Even the more rigid regularities we see are ultimately statistical.

 – Relationality. The events of nature are always interactions. All events of a system occur in relation to another system.

Relationality was not part of my education in quantum mechanics, being developed in the 1980s and 1990s. Rovelli is credited with the current approach. Rovelli’s summary of the components of the Quantum mechanics world-view has Spacetime and Quantum fields, combining the Fields and Particles components of Einstein’s 1905 theory. (General relativity doesn’t enter into quantum mechanics.)

Part Three, Quantum Space and Relational Time, is the main content of the book. Rovelli also developed this theory of quantum gravity, and it remains challenging. The key concept is that at the Planck Length (~1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cm), space must be quantized. Specifically, there is a spectrum of volumes and areas, establishing a granular nature of space. As I understand what he says, space is subdivided like a foam of soap bubbles, with each the volume of each bubble and the area of each face of each bubble quantized in multiples of the square and cube of the Planck length. The grains of this foam are connected at their faces, and a path from one grain to another can be defined. If such a path is closed by ending at its starting grain, the path forms a loop. Calculations made on these loops determine the effective gravitational field, and the theory is sometimes called “loop quantum gravity”. The key point is that the gravitational field is not quantized on spacetime, as gravitons were once expected to be. Instead, the geometry of space itself, which is the gravitational field, is quantized.

From here the theory gets harder to grasp, but the most interesting aspect to me is that it is only space (gravity) that is quantized, and time doesn’t directly appear in the theory. The explanation of how this difference with the preceding theories was not clear to me. One aspect of this is to change perspective from a classical view of a process involving, e.g., particles colliding. In quantum theory, only the end states of the particles before and after their interaction can be considered observable, and able to be calculated (in probabilistic terms). There is no concept of continuous change “in time”. Also, instead of a trajectory for the particles, there is a sort of sum over all possible paths between end states. In the end, the components of the Quantum gravity worldview collapse to a single kind of component, Covariant quantum fields.

In Part Four, Beyond Space and Time, Rovelli addresses consequences of the theory he has described. He brings in the concept of information (Shannon’s theory), and how modern physics incorporates it. This leads to discussion of thermodynamics, and the notion of thermodynamic time. The connections are not clear to me, but it seems like a plausible sequence of developments can be made to re-create the intuitive sense of time from the new time-less theory.

One of the seldom-mentioned peculiarities of the study of physics is the way it begins with simple concepts as Newton used them, and relatively simple algebra for the equations describing mechanics. Then the mathematics is elaborated with calculus in its various forms, and Newton’s formulations are replaced with other forms (Lagrangian, Hamiltonian, etc.) that are at the same time more esoteric and more simple. When fields are introduced, the elaboration continues. When quantum theory is introduced, the student is shown the simplest forms from the 1920s, then more elaborate forms in the order they were developed. (At some point, I got lost.) The whole process is like studying the history of physics, I don’t think the study of other sciences (e.g., biology, geology, chemistry) proceeds this way. I wonder what physics would be like if it started with loop quantum gravity, and derived the necessary special cases from the more general equations.




2018-02: Monthly review

Settlement on our house took place on schedule, February 16. The proceeds from the sale were deposited in our account on February 20.

I’m about as ready for the Chilly Hilly as I can get. I’ve only had three longish rides: rides of 20 and 32 miles on the Interurban Trail, and 25 miles on the Burke-Gilman with Grant and Benton. Besides those, I’ve ridden the loop that includes the Innis Arden Hill climb and 175th St climb several times. Grant and Benton assure me that I won’t have any problem.

I’m hoping the weather isn’t too cold and wet. I have a rear fender installed, but couldn’t get the front fender on; the screws don’t seem to fit the holes in the fork ends. I received the jersey on February 17, as I was getting for a ride, so I wore it, unwashed (gasp!).

The weather on the 25th was about as good as you could hope for. When we started riding, the temperature was about 40, but wind was not much of a factor, and we had no precipitation. At the same time we were riding, Susan, Chris and Ren (and Billy and Batu) took part in a 5k in Shoreline. They had rain.

I felt that I did well. The distance wasn’t a problem, and the hills were mostly less steep than I’ve trained on, or quite a bit shorter. I probably could have gone faster over all, but I was happy to let Grant and Benton set the pace. I certainly wouldn’t have tried the ride without their encouragement, as I was pretty intimidated by the potential weather conditions. Plus they knew where to eat afterward.

I’ve been reading quite a bit from the library; I really like their “For later” shelf and the breadth of their collection. I’ve only written one book report, for Rovelli’s book on loop quantum gravity.


2018-01: Monthly review

We’re settling into Shoreline. This involves developing isolated activities into patterns. For instance, we’ve shopped at several food markets, and now Susan has an idea of which stores to go to for various types of provisions (e.g., meat, produce, good prices on staples). We’ve also begun getting appointments with various doctors. And of course we’ve been spending a lot of time with Ren, Chris and Grant.

I’ve been riding my bicycle, at last! In Maryland, I practically never rode outside in the winter. Here, I’m trying to ride like a local. I spent a significant amount on clothing suitable for the weather, and I’m hopeful of doing the famous Chilly Hilly ride on February 25. I’ve found a couple of routes I can ride from home, including some fairly steep segments. I’ve been on a longer ride with Grant and Benton. I’ve also started recording some of my rides on Strava.

We have a contract to sell our house in Edgewater, with settlement planned for February 16. If this goes through, it will be the last formal tie to Maryland. Our agent, Chip, has been very good about handling the details and keeping us informed. I’m looking forward to converting a substantial fraction of our assets from the illiquid real estate form to cash. There will still be some expense to correct issues found during the home inspection.

On the project side, not much progress on Neal’s Story or WN. However, I put together a first draft of Susan’s Camino, and gave her a proof copy. This was a project I imagined back in the fall, when I realized it was the tenth anniversary of her 500 mile pilgrimage. I’ve also updated the website for her Camino commentary and pictures; it needs her attention to refine it. Once that is done, we can add some pictures to her book and publish it.

The unpacking process is taking longer than anticipated, even with Chris prodding us. There are boxes we haven’t opened, and things we’ve looked for that we can’t find. We are making progress.



0000-00: Monthly review template

yyyy-mm: Monthly review

Date in title refers to the month being reviewed

  • Work I got done
  • Projects I’ve moved forward
  • Personal learning I’ve been working on
  • Health and fitness challenges I’ve been doing
  • Other big life events (some of them unexpected)
  • Things I’ve learned and want to remember
  • Hopes for the next month

1980-00-00: Chris

Perhaps the most important project of my life has been raising Chris. Happily, she is turning out very well. Nonetheless, this is an unfinished project. Don’t expect regular status updates.


2017-11: Monthly review

A little late this month, and skipped the previous review, so more than usual to cover.

Much of October was spent in sorting our stuff, to keep, sell, or donate, and packing the portion to keep. A few items were sold on, quite a bit was donated to Good Will, or placed at the street where many items were taken in a matter of hours. We also worked on minor repairs and cleaning of the house, though the cleaning was mostly wasted effort as the painters and repairmen came through and made a mess in the process.

On October 30, the moving van came and took waaay more stuff away than we should have packed. Downsizing after 39 years in one house is hard! We spent the next two weeks at Carl/Renee/Chad’s house, while we did what we could to get the house ready to sell. Then we handed off to our agent to supervise the rest of the repairs/renovations, loaded Billy into the car and drove across the country. We hadn’t settled on a route ahead of time, as the weather could be a problem along the shortest, most northerly, route. We ended up going through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. We made a short side trip to Hastings, NE, where my great-great-grandfather had been mayor in the 1880s. We also stopped briefly at the Messenger Old West Museum in Cheyenne, WY. We generally made good time, except in Wyoming. There we were forced off I-80 by a closure, and had to sit in a parking area with about 50 trucks and 25 cars for around five hours. When finally allowed on the road, we had to backtrack, and made a net progress of only 34 miles that day.

Our stuff arrived while we were still in Maryland, but Chris took care of meeting the movers and directing placement of furniture, boxes and loose items. On December 5 we spent our first night in the house, still surrounded by numerous boxes, and still wondering which box held the most urgent item at any given moment. Moving in is a work in progress.

I accomplished nothing on my projects, except for two sentences for TYHE: The first chapter will describe the various jobs the narrator took after leaving school, before deciding to try space-work. The chapter will end with the sentence: “I hate plumbing.” Chapter two will begin with the sentence: “A spaceship is mostly plumbing.”

I also had an idea for a new project, but haven’t been able to do anything about (tangible) about it: while updating the website for Susan’s Camino (fixing the picture albums), I can collect the material into a book, similar to what I did for Chris’s blog.


2017-09-17: I, Replicant

This is a notion for a novel based on the concept of replicants in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Blade Runner. The story would be a first-person semi-memoir of a replicant, beginning with the first glimmering of realization that he isn’t human, and dealing with the differences between replicants and humans. Various sorts of drama might make it interesting, if I can think of any.

This might be an interesting project to develop with the research version of Cyc.



2017-08: Monthly review

Busy month. August was dominated by our trip, which was in four parts: Colorado and Wyoming for research; Seattle pre-eclipse; Oregon camping in the vanagon named Butter for the eclipse; Seattle post-eclipse.

Before our trip, we met with the recommended handyman, Scott, to get an estimate on repairs prior to selling the house. We also had modest success selling a few items on Craigslist.

On the 8th we flew to Denver and drove to Fort Collins. On a whim, we stopped at the welcome center. The friendly folks there asked what we were looking for, and when they heard we were researching family history, they summoned the manager. After telling them a bit about Harry Gant, they got more excited and said I needed to talk to Wayne, who was due to arrive any minute (around 11:00). They showed me his book about 150 years of FC history. I went out to the car to get copies of ISTRA/MISTRA, just as Wayne arrived. I ended up giving them those copies, and later sent a couple more. They hope I can return some time and talk to their local history group. We walked from the Best Western University Inn to the Fort Collins Museum Of Discovery (FCMOD). The archives are free and the woman on duty looked up Nellie Gant, finding a beautiful studio photo of six people, one named Nellie Sheffield Grant. The photo is not dated, but is obviously after she married Gant in 1901. Four of the other names are Sheffields but not familiar to me. We also looked at a brand book for 1912 or 1914. We found a brand, S Bar, registered to the Tenney Brothers; this cast doubt on my hypothesis that the Gant T Cross brand had been obtained from them. We also saw a brand, 6 T Bar, registered to Jonathan Gant of Rifle, in Garfield County; this is quite a bit west of FC.

We walked around FC looking at the addresses we have for Harry and John E Gant. It’s doubtful any of the buildings are the ones they lived in.

On the 9th, we walked across the street to the CSU library archives and looked at a brand book from 1894. This also had the Tenney Bros S Bar. Susan and were both astounded to find the T Cross brand, registered to J. Armstrong, Jr, of Fort Collins, probably Jacob Armstrong, father of George Armstrong, Gant’s friend and grandfather of my friend Ken Armstrong of Maple Creek, SK. As Susan said, it sent chills up and down our spines. There was also a linked A and J brand registered to Jac’b Armstrong, Jr of Larimer Co. This book also had advertising for the Denver Union Stock Yard, including a bird’s eye view drawing of the area.

We next drove to Greeley. I had corresponded with the archivists there, and they were ready for us with a 1900 Colorado brand book and a 1905 Weld County brand book. The 1900 book has the T Cross brand registered to Jno. E. Gant of Fort Collins. This seems to imply that Gant obtained the Armstrong brand between 1894 and 1900. Maybe Ken Armstrong knows something about it. There is also a brand registered to H. T. Decker of Woods, WY. Another brand, Rocking L, is registered to J. J. Armstrong, Greeley, Weld Co. Another linked A J brand is also registered to Jacob Armstrong of Fort Collins. The book also has two brands registered to E. N. Sheffield, of New Windsor, Weld Co., and E. E. Sheffield of Fort Collins. In order to look at these books, I was required to wear gloves (I chose white cotton, rather than blue latex or blue non-latex). These made turning pages a bit difficult, and I was tempted to remove them to turn pages. We listed the pages that interested us, and the staff photocopied them for us. They were very interested in our story and the success of our visit.

After lunch we drove around looking for the ranch locations I had found for Tenney and Decker. The dirt county roads made us feel justified in getting a SUV rather than a sedan. On one road we met a “Dust Suppression Application” operation.

On the 10th, we drove to Cheyenne. The Old West Museum associated with Cheyenne Frontier Days was disappointing. At the state museum archives, I was shown a collection of programs from CFD. The 1907 program had a photo of a potato race, which was one of Gant’s best events. (He won in 1909, with Tom Mix on his team.) The Messenger Old West Museum was fantastic. We were ready to leave and stopped to tell the caretaker how much we liked it, when a thunderstorm moved in. Rather than go out in the rain we said we’d keep looking, so he came along with us and pointed out some of his favorite bits. When Susan asked if they had any books to buy, he said no, but maybe he could find something. He went somewhere for a minute and came back with a DVD, which he gave us, declining our offer to pay the $20 listed on its case! We then drove to Chugwater, to check the terrain in which I’m setting Neal’s Story. It was kind of funny to announce the creeks we would cross while Susan drove; I’ve pored over enough maps that I knew them pretty well, better than I know our own neighborhood, according to Susan. The land is mostly flat, only lightly dissected by shallow canyons for most creeks (at least where the highway crosses them), until you get to Chugwater. That creek has carved significant steep-sided bluffs, perfectly suited to the events I’d already written. In Chugwater, we stayed at the Buffalo Lodge and Grill. The woman in the fringed buckskin jacket said she could make us some chili or a burger, but suggested the Stampede Saloon and Eatery, for the Thursday Jam Session. She also told us that she’s charging $450 per night with a two-night minimum for the eclipse. Chugwater is not in the path of totality; other places in Wyoming are charging $1,000. We walked past the Chugwater Chili Company store, which was closed, the Chugwater Soda Fountain (“Wyoming’s Oldest Operating Soda Fountain”), and the Chugwater Museum, also closed. The jam session included about eight enthusiastic performers.

On the 11th, we bought some chili products, then got chocolate shakes and prairie pies for the road to Fort Laramie. We stopped at the Wheatland visitor center, just barely within the totality path. Despite a lot of eclipse-related souvenirs, the woman there was not enthusiastic, anticipating many problems such as gridlock, brush fires ignited by catalytic converters, inability of volunteer fire fighters to get to their stations and then to fires, and bank robberies. We didn’t see much of interest around Fort Laramie, then went back to Wheatland for dinner. On this trip in cattle country, we expected to find decent steaks; we were disappointed. In fact, we were somewhat appalled at the way cattle and sheep are crowded into pens. After dinner, we drove to the Elk Mountain Hotel. This is a slightly bizarre hotel with a dozen rooms or so. The proprietors are characters, and the Eliza Swaine room is decorated with nine photos and paintings of naked ladies (probably not Eliza Swaine).

On the 12th, we drove to the Snowy Range of the Medicine Bow mountains, up to Libby Flats at 10,847 feet elevation. We walked a couple of miles, then drove to Laramie. At around 4 am, someone pounded on our hotel room window. It took a while to figure out the phone to call the front desk, and I don’t think they ever found out what was going on. Probably someone went out for a smoke, and couldn’t get back in.

On the 13th we, we drove through Fort collins and got mini-donuts for the road from Peace, Love, and Little Donuts (Feed your inner hippie), then on to Denver. Due to te Colorado Classic bike race ending in Denver that day, we didn’t try to see the location of Gant’s livery stable. Then on to Seattle, where Chris and Ren picked us up at the airport.

The next few days were generally getting ready for the eclipse trip, Chris and Grant had reserved campsites at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, within the path of totality. We hiked around the park, and saw nine of the ten waterfalls, some of which you can walk behind. On the  21st, we staked out a spot in a meadow with a good view toward the sun, and waited along with a few hundred others. As Chris later said, she knew what she’d see, but not how she’d feel. It was an amazing experience, which I recommend to anyone who has the chance to see it.

After the eclipse, we looked online at some properties Chris had identified, both apartments and houses. While driving around, we came across a sign for one, and called to arrange to look at it. As it turned out, this was the only one we actually looked at, and we signed a lease before coming home. We expect to move in November.

With all this activity, I haven’t made much progress on my personal projects.





2017-08-02: Story Structure

Apparently Don Harmon has a good reputation for advising on how to structure a story. Here’s the meat of his advice, in eight parts:

  1.  A character is in a zone of comfort,
  2. But they want something.
  3. They enter an unfamiliar situation,
  4. Adapt to it,
  5. Get what they wanted,
  6. Pay a heavy price for it,
  7. Then return to their familiar situation,
  8. Having changed.

2017-07: Monthly review

On July 3rd we bought a new car. We bought our previous car, a 2016 Mazda CX-5, in August 2015 from FitzMall Mazda in Annapolis. In June we received a mailing that described incentives and low interest rates, suggesting they could put in a 2017 CX-5 for the same payment. Skeptical, I called Anthony Johnson, the salesman we had dealt with before, to see if that was actually realistic. He was encouraging (surprise!), so we went in to talk, and ended up buying the car. The 2016 model ws version 1.0 of the CX-5, and the newer model has better suspension, better sound insulation, and a few new features. Among the features we like are: two-driver seat position memory, auto-hold brake, heads-up display shows digital speed, and recognizes certain traffic signs (speed limits and stop signs).

We’ve completed most of the planning for our August research trip, prior to the eclipse expedition. I’ve also been in touch with Ken Armstrong; he won’t be able to meet up with us on this trip, but we’ll try some other time.

My Social Security benefit has started, so we’re now reaching all of our regular retirement income. The remainder will consist of Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from IRA/401k accounts. These will vary each year, based on an IRS table and the year-end balance in the accounts.

We’ve also met with the realtor and his recommended interior designer, and have a fairly good idea of the changes they think we should make for selling the house.

We’ve also had advice on where to look for a place when we move: Edmonds. We’ll see.


2017-06: Monthly review

Chris and Ren came to visit in June, and we did a lot to get ready for a yard sale and to meet a real estate agent.

The yard sale netted over $200, and resulted in donation of a lot of metal for recycling, and usable items for Good Will, the Senior Center, and friends.

The agent advised us on people to do various tasks around the house, and things we should do. He recommended we prepare the house with minor tasks, then move out and allow major work to go forward without disrupting us. He also said the last few years sales have been best in Dec-Feb, rather than in the spring.

So, at last we have a strategy! We have “commitments” through October, but might be able to move to Seattle before Christmas. C has said we are welcome to stay up to six months with them.

On NS, added chapters 69-76 (Gunnar’s death).

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2017-06-29: The Lives of Arthur

Geoffrey Ashe’s The Discovery of King Arthur connects a historical person named Riothamus with the legendary King Arthur. When I read the book (late 1980s) I thought it might be interesting to incorporate the ideas into a novel-like structure where the historical aspects are recorded in some monastery after the death of Riothamus, then elaborated by accreting legendary aspects, and becomes the source material leading to Geoffrey of Monmouth and beyond.

2007-07-00: Road Warriors

Susan and I have long enjoyed attending minor league baseball, and have tried to attend every minor league stadium within a two-hour drive of home, as well as games when we travel. We often buy t-shirts to support teams we see.

Most of the nearby teams are clubs in the Minor League Baseball association, where each team is affiliated with a Major League Baseball team. The team we’ve seen most is the Bowie Baysox, the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. However there is also an independent league within reach, the Atlantic League. This league provides opportunities for players who haven’t been able to get contracts with Major/Minor League Baseball teams, and play in towns that don’t have minor league teams. The stadiums are comparable to AA/AAA level stadiums.

In 2007, we attended a game in York, PA where the Revolution was playing the Road Warriors. The league was supposed to have eight teams, but one of them folded in 2006. In order to maintain the eight-team schedule, the league established the Road Warriors, a team with no home field that played all of its games on the road. Naturally they were underdogs everywhere they went. Naturally we rooted for them and bought the t-shirt for sale in the York stadium store.

In 2008, a new field was established in Waldorf, MD and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs filled out the league, and the Road Warriors players dispersed. However, it turns out that there were other years where Road Warriors were needed as teams failed. The first were in 2002-2004, then 2006-2007, and most recently in 2011.

The players on the roster in July 2007 are listed below. Many also played on Minor or Major League teams.

Pos#NameB/TDOBHtWtLast ClubHighest
P23Benito BaezL/L1977-05-066-1160Road WarriorsMLB
P9Casey CahillR/R1982-03-156-3197SomersetAAA
P35Carlos CastilloR/R1975-04-016-3245MexicoMLB
P--Randy DickenR/R1982-08-196-2198CamdenA
P15Chris EickhorstR/R1975-12-196-4215Road WarriorsA
P24Bernie GonzalezR/R1980-05-106-2200Road WarriorsA
P32Julio GuerreroR/R1981-01-046-4180Road WarriorsA
P14Cody HarkcomR/R1983-12-156-1180BurlingtonA
P30Trevor MarcotteR/R1978-05-036-2170Road WarriorsIND
P18Damien MyersL/L1980-10-036-0180CamdenA
P25Darwin SotoR/R1982-01-156-2180Road WarriorsAAA
P16Emmanuel UlloaR/R1978-11-266-2180Colorado SpringsAAA
C27Sandy AracenaR/R1981-01-036-0180Road WarriorsA
C31Manuel MejiaR/R1978-10-056-2220Road WarriorsA
C28Nick ValdezR/R1986-10-36-1215Diamond Backs (Rookie)R
IF22Josh ArteagaR/R1980-03-145-9170NewarkAAA
IF21Ian BladergroenL/L1983-02-236-5210WilmingtonA
IF13Vito ChiaravallotiR/R1980-10-266-3225FrederickAA
IF8Ron FenwickL/R1978-12-195-11185ShreveportIND
IF36Omar GarciaR/R1971-11-166-2220Nashua (04)AAA
IF2David HouselS/R1981-09-066-2160Road WarriorsA
IF6Jorge MejiaS/R1982-08-156-1165Rio GrandA
IF11Gabe SuarezR/R1984-12-146-0170Tri-CitiesA
OF7Jason BryanR/R1981-11-186-2190Road WarriorsA
OF19Steve DoetschR/R1983-12-026-2200Myrtle BeachA
OF12Travis EziS/L1981-09-056-0175YorkAA
OF3Estee HarrisL/R1985-01-085-11170LI/Road WarriorsA
DL--Chris FlinnR/R1980-08-186-2180DurhamAAA
DL--Kevin MannixR/R1980-12-206-1205Long IslandA
DL26Jeff TamR/R1970-08-196-1202Syracuse (03)MLB
Mgr34Jeff Scott
Coach33D.J. Boston
Trainer--Mia Del Hierro

2017-04-04: Mom’s death

Around 4:15 am on April 4th, Dina called to say that we should go to Seattle, as Mom was in the hospital and had been told she could expect to survive only a couple of days if she didn’t have surgery, which she was refusing. Susan and I arrived at Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon that afternoon/evening (separate flights). Dina and Laura were with her. Mom had seen Chris, Grant, and Ren, apparently a very good visit.

Mom was entirely lucid, and determined that she was ready to die. It turned out that the prognosis was a bit pessimistic, and when she appeared to be lingering on Wednesday, we were told that she would be discharged from the hospital on Thursday; home hospice arrangements were made for her to be moved to Dina’s. It was not possible to move her to a formal hospice institution because of her determination to invoke Washington’s Death With Dignity law. This would entail her taking a prescription that would end her life, and no institution would allow this on their premises. However, on Thursday morning, her medications were not stabilized, so they did not discharge her. On Friday, the “hospitalist” told us that she wouldn’t be discharged before Monday; he also said she would probably not last that long.

Through Friday, when she awoke, she would sometimes make a comment like “That’s all folks”, or “Still here?”. She said also that she was sorry to be a burden to us. Once, she said “Be sure and tell your friends this isn’t easy.”

Through it all, she was very brave. She didn’t complain, except to request adjustments to her position or an ice pack for her forehead. She was in some pain, and apparently Fentanyl wasn’t as effective on her as expected. Sometime on Sunday they turned off her pacemaker (though it wasn’t thought to be having any effect). She passed more or less peacefully Sunday evening, April 9th, with Dina and me at her side.

She was cremated, and her remains were mixed with those of Terry (died 1996-07-07) and Gary (died 2008-05-19). Together, they were sent over Snoqualmie Falls, a spot which had been meaningful to Terry and Mom.


2017-05: Monthly review

NS is up to chapter 69.

No progress on WN.

Activated SS benefits; first payment expected July 26 (payments are scheduled for fourth Wednesday of each month).

Planned CO/WY part of August trip. Will locate Harry Gant’s house location (307 S Sherwood St, Fort Collins) and the street where John E Gant lived (number came up 1, but probably incorrect). In Greeley, hope to find some info about the Tenney ranch and brand, and maybe the Gant brand in 1905 Colorado Brand Book. Still need to refine questions for Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.

Saw Orioles/Yankees game with Barbara/John and Phyllis/Jim, in suite 62.

Had a quiet birthday, mostly to be celebrated when Chris/Ren arrive mid-June.

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2017-05-13: As I Knew Him

As I Knew Him

My Dad, Rod Serling (2013)

by Anne Serling (1965-)

I was always a fan and admirer of Rod Serling, but there is much I didn’t know in this book. It is a well-written description of a good relationship between a daughter and her father, and of the father himself. It also describes the grief Anne dealt with after her 50-year father died when she was just 20.

In the last chapter, she sums up:

The gifts and lessons my father left me will last forever: Never take yourself too seriously, never miss a chance to laugh long and hard, speak out about political and social issues you believe in, use the written word as often as you can to make yourself and the world a better place, and love your children with all you’ve got.

The book is full of anecdotes illustrating these themes.

2017-04: Monthly review

I didn’t write a review of March, due to a major distraction in early April: I was summoned to Mom’s deathbed on 4/4. She died 4/9, and we held a ceremony to commemorate her, Gary and Terry on 4/23. See the post: 2017-04-04: Mom’s death.

Aside from those significant events, March and April included the following.

Ended my trial run with and deleted my account. There were numerous problems with connecting to certain financial institutions, requiring me to repeatedly enter login credentials. Also (maybe not caused by mint) a credit card was fraudulently used (fortunately caught by Chase).

NS is up to chapter 61.

Little progress on WN.

While in Seattle, we attended the PBR at the Tacoma Dome. We visited the exhibition of China’s Terra-cotta Army; the exhibit was very good, and I have recommended it to others when it moves to Philadelphia.

Retirement: applied for SS benefits, payments should start in July.

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2002-01-03: GTD – Quarterly reviews

The quarterly review helps keep priorities aligned with goals. The list below is a snapshot of one of my quarterly reviews from early 2015.

These serve one or more of my life goals. Whenever I undertake a specific project (or one-time activity) it should be possible to relate it to one or more of these goals. Most of these Project Goals don’t have a definite end-state (and so technically aren’t projects); simply finding ways to work toward them is the goal. Ideally, every project or other activity supports one of these goals. (Note that these are in alphabetical order, not priority.)

Create: Creative activities in various media (such as writing, software, artwork) can leave a “footprint in the sands of time”. Acts of creation support the life goal of maintaining a sound mind. Ideally, the results of these creative acts support the life goal of influencing others.

Castle Knob: Castle Knob is a way to organize my creative endeavors, and supports my life goal to influence others. It would be nice to hand it on to someone else.

Effective Processes: A lot of life is just doing the day-to-day stuff we need to do, in the limited time and with the limited resources available to us. Effective processes and procedures help minimize the time and effort required for the mundane stuff, leaving more time and energy for the more interesting or challenging stuff. The goal of improving processes and procedures directly supports the Work/Life goal, and also leaves more time and energy for the other life goals.

Finances: Income from work and saving for future needs is necessary; managing money can make it more valuable, and move the possibility of retirement closer.

Fitness: Regular exercise in a variety of forms supports the life goal of maintaining a sound body.

Fun: Everyone should enjoy a reasonable amount of fun, supporting the life goal of enjoying life.

Habits: Good is better than Bad, for a sound mind and body. Monitor the bad to discourage them, and actively pursue development of good habits.

Health: Health depends on expert knowledge and assistance, supporting the life goal of a sound mind and body.

Household: A household (including house, yard, car, furnishings, appliances, and occupants) should operate smoothly, at reasonable cost and effort, supporting the life goal of maintaining a work/life balance.

Memetics: Understanding the working of memes should be able to promote a better social fabric, to everyone’s benefit (except for sociopaths). Making this understanding explicit and accessible to a broad audience supports the life goal of having a good influence on others.

Mental Challenges: Meeting mental challenges (e.g., learning a new skill, solving puzzles) is a part of keeping the mind sharp.

Relationships: Happiness comes from having good relationships with relatives, friends, casual acquaintances, and others. Creating and maintaining good relationships supports the life goals of influencing others, maintaining a good work/life balance, and enjoying life.

Work: Until retirement is possible, work is the primary source of income to support all other activities.

2002-01: GTD – Monthly reviews