The Ephemeral Delight of a Hot Air Balloon

hot air balloon flying under blue sky during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have you had one arrive suddenly above you?  If you live in an urban environment that can be the feeling.  One day, you are working in your backyard garden and you hear conversation.  Above you.  And there it, floating impossibly above you – it’s colors screaming delight, it’s passengers happy to wave and join your wonder from their, possibly happier, perspective.  And then a sudden muted roar as the flame is ignited to give it some lift and your momentary delight floats away like the happy dream.

How can it still be so wonderful?  Hot air balloons have existed for more than 300 years. Indeed, if you consider the (unmanned) Chinese Sky Lanterns, they’ve been around nearly 2000 years.  They shouldn’t be anymore gawkable than a car or a plane.  And yet they are.  And I think they will be forever.  They have an ineffable quality that makes them continue to inspire awe.

Like all awe inspiring things we create events and images and stories around them.  Most cities of size have some kind of hot air balloon event.  You can buy countless calendars with dedicated to the hot air balloon.  Coffee Table Books, Websites, Pintrest Boards, Balloon Chasers and finally and perhaps most telling – advertisers.

The moment of magic they provide everyone who sees them is one of life’s delights.

 

I was wrong

I was lamenting yesterday about the economy and how badly it was affecting the business I work for.  I wondered why we stopped the world instead of just focusing our efforts on protecting the vulnerable.

But since I wrote that I’ve learned a couple of things.  One was a video by Dr. Campbell on how the virus works and spreads and how cutting off the spread can kill the virus off permanently.  That is what happened with SARS.  I was still a bit skeptical that a virus that has already circumnavigated the world could be killed off permanently, but I just read Rowena’s post.  She’s particularly vulnerable to this virus.  If she catches it, she has a high risk of mortality and certainly will end up in hospital, assuming beds are even available.  She’s a mother with young children.

Her family is going to great lengths to protect her.  They bought a popup camper for her to live in for the duration so the family won’t infect her.  It just suddenly made it all clear to me how hard it is to truly isolate and protect the vulnerable.  The only way to do it is for everyone to participate.

Unless you are a single person living alone like myself, true isolation is impossible. And even now in all this mess, if I were forced to truly self isolate, I would likely still need to leave the apartment to take out the trash or receive a delivery of groceries, which would expose me to surfaces other people in the building have touched. And all of that is complicated and compounded when you live with others, particularly as a parent.

that is why we are all sacrificing. It’s a mess. But we must get through and we must all take it seriously or it will all be for naught. We will lose the vulnerable and have killed the economy, if we don’t do it right.

Broccoli, What a Delight

I’m not being sardonic, ironic or sarcastic.  I truly love Broccoli, although I keep misspelling it, so my delight does not extend to all it’s aspects apparently.  Thank you, Spell Check for your minatory corrections.  I’m frankly also glad for spell check, although I mostly express my annoyance with it.  Having grown up  and lived my young adulthood in a time before it’s existence, I know the suffering, the embarrassment of being a poor speller.

But back to the Broccoli.  I love it.  Raw or cooked.  Frozen or Fresh.  I don’t think I’ve ever had it canned.  I’m mostly not a fan of canned veg so probably wouldn’t love it.  But maybe?

I use broccoli slaw on my sandwiches instead of lettuce.  It provides crunch and a marvelous taste.  And so many more nutrients than lettuce.

I often take mashed potatoes and broccoli to work as my lunch.  It’s marvelous in a soup.  It’s a lovely additive to nearly any casserole.  Particularly those Mid American casseroles that generally feature Campbell soup of some variety.

Of course I love a lot of foods.  But what makes broccoli special is that it’s GOOD FOR ME. This is what makes it delightful.  To love something that is actually good for you is so rare that it’s nearly like finding the Hope Diamond, fully cut, in your backyard.

I felt it had to be celebrated.  Broccoli.  It’s Good.

Image result for broccoli

 

 

It’s startling how fast an economy can go into the toilet

People are talking about a recession, but honestly, it feels more like it might be headed straight for a depression.

Two weeks ago the transportation company I work for was thriving.  On Monday they laid off  half the workforce and pulled more than half of their vehicles off the lot and the insurance.

Small businesses will not survive this.  Or only a few will.  Most transportation companies are facing full on collapse in 30 or so days.  They carry a debt load on their fleet, not to mention the insurance and payroll.  Our company is in a better position than most because we don’t carry any debt but it’s just going make us last a bit longer.  Because without any income you cannot run a business.

Today I wondered what I would do differently if I were in charge of running this disaster.  And I think I would have focused entirely on high risk people.  Just make older people and people with pre-existing conditions self isolate.  Set up ways and means to support that isolation with food delivery and medical care and whatever support was needed.   But stopping the entire world when it seems like 97% of the sick are not going to feel any worse than having a cold, seems like we went at it wrong.

Of course, I’m not a public health expert.  I have no real knowledge on the spread of sickness and it’s consequences.   It’s probably a pipe dream to think it could have run it’s course mostly avoiding the at risk and giving the rest of us a cold to complain about.  But, if any countries are doing that, I would be interested to know if their outcomes are better/ worse on mortality and economy.

Image result for depression era

 

 

Happy Palindrome Day

Also ground hog’s day, but that’s just a silly superstition.

The 02022020 is real.  And it’s rare.

This particular date works in both the US and the European dating customs.  That makes it even rarer.

And today is the 33rd day of the year.  And there are 333 days left in the year.  Palindromes again!

I learned about this magical and rare holiday from Matt Parker, math video educator and presenter and author.

We need more pointless but interesting trivia in our lives.  Or maybe we don’t?  Anyway, it beats learning horrific facts about the coronavirus or the endlessly burning Australia or god forbid, Politics.  So.  I’m OK with it.

 

 

Unintentional Poetry

The Moon Follows you where ever you go.
Hold on to my purse.
Don’t let go of my Purse.
Whereever you are the moon is too.

Tonight in the grocery store parking lot I was followed out by a Mother and heard her saying this to her toddler aged child.  I turned around because it struck me as so beautiful.

The Moon Follows You Whereever you Go.

Followed without pause with the anxious admonishment of a mother with her hands full of grocery bags and unable to hold the hand she so desperately wants to grab.

And then, again without pause, a reiteration of the beautiful idea of the moon being our constant companion.

She never raised her voice.  I, as an adult who has shepherded children in hazardous areas, heard her anxiety.  I don’t think the toddler did.  He was focused on the wonder of the moon.

She covered all of a mother’s nature in that one unintentional poem.  Teaching and Protecting.

 

 

The Rules

Outside my window are children who are in the midst of deciding rules for their game.  Arguments have ensued.  I have been sick for 2 days this week.  I know they will resolve this and eventually play a complicated game of hide and seek that they understand and no one else does.

But everyday they seemed to spend at least 20 minutes arguing over the rules.  Children are very keenly aware of justice.  I think humans are born with an awareness of fairness.  Perhaps many animals are.  Remember being in grade school or younger and  how deeply an unfairness felt?  This is probably the most unfair thing the uncaring universe does to us.  Equip us with a sense of justice in a universe that is essentially indifferent to justice.

The absolute unfairness of the universe has not yet been taught to children. They tattle to any figure of authority that is within their reach because telling the injustice feels like it will resolve it.  Perhaps the unknowable universe will resolve itself and make this injustice go away.  But of course it doesn’t.

Of course, our innate sense of justice is what led to society working.  To the rules and laws that make a civilization work.  But it does warp itself as society gets bigger and more complex.    And as we grow up and realize that justice is only fleeting and rarely applied.  You could almost apply the rule of speeding tickets to all of life.  How often do you speed?  How often do you get a ticket?  One begins to think the injustice is when justice actually targets you.

But the reality is that the universe is indifferent to justice or fairness.  You get a speeding ticket or cancer, not because you did or did not deserve it, but just because the universe is random.  Which feels so unfair, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

Cold Snap

Like large portions of the US, we are about to have a deep cold snap after a bit of warmth, relatively speaking.  ie – warmth is above 32 and raining instead of snowing.

The problem, of course is that this will be followed by subzero weather – so ice.  Lots of cold and ice.

I work for a transportation company, so weather and road conditions are of paramount importance to us

But I find that our company’s obsession is nothing to a woman whose blog I follow.  She’s a farmer.  When it’s cold the water freezes.  She ends up carrying 100 gallons of water to her animals.  And because her farm, not unlike many farms, extends over quite an acreage with many buildings, it means she is hauling water over quite a damn distance in sub zero weather, plus wind, plus that icy layer caused by the warm rain today.  She is constantly in a worry that all the animals will be able find sufficient shelter and warmth in these conditions.  Because animals often die these conditions.

My maternal family is deeply farm embedded.  Even today people I am related to own thousands of acres in Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.  That blood is clear in me that I cannot help but follow farm blogs despite it having only the remotest relationship to my actual lived life.

So I find that rather than worrying about my drive to work, I’m worrying about whether her pigs, or ducks, or cows are going to be OK.  They probably will be.  She’s very focused on planning for their benefit.  But what is heartbreaking for everyone is that sometimes, planning and effort aren’t enough.  Sometimes the weather is just bigger than your efforts.  And farmers face this all winter.  Indeed, all year.

 

 

It was a woman.

Yesterdays post was about a shooting in the pony keg next to my building.  It assumed, wrongly, that the shooter was a man.

But it was a woman.

I’m grappling with that.  My first impulse is all the cultural bias I own about women.  Then I have to re-calibrate.  I assumed without consideration that man did this.  Why?

More to the point was my assumption about her post shooting reaction.  I assumed the man MIGHT have regret at killing a man over money.

But I more  than assume it for a woman and then back it off because she actually did it.

The reality is that some people live, explain and justify their lives through overarching principle rather than outcomes.

So if you live by overarching principle – the person robbing is wrong, the person shooting is right. Then the death of a human being for a few hundred dollar seems worthy.

If you live by outcome – the person killing is wrong.  No amount of money will equal a human life.

If you look at that duality you see the complexity.  I will probably always land on the preserve life side, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t fully get how this happened.

We want to simplify.  And I was all about simplifying until a small tendril of recognition hit my brains.

It was a woman.  How ridiculous and how fortuitous.  It made me realize.  Humans all act in a moment.  We act on all the accumulated beliefs and values that led us that place.  We rarely have the luxury of considering that moment and it’s consequences.

My boss, one of the kindest people I have known, first said “Good”.  He had been robbed many times as a Taxi dispatcher.  His drivers had been robbed and beaten.  He has no sympathy for the robber’s  viewpoint.  This is one of the kindest men I know.  He offered me a job when I was homeless.  He recognizes the hardship of being poor.  As well as the injustice of being robbed.  When I pointed out the absolute values of death vs money he immediately got it.

But. He also got why this robber was shot.  We cannot let the robber rule us.  On the other hand we cannot become the robber – willing to kill for their objective.

That mean ALL OF THE INPUTS WE RECEIVE are crucial to the moment of truth.  Think about them.  Pay attention when the stakes are low.

 

Indoor Hunting Feeder – A Review

I bought this hunter feeder for my cats.

indoor feeder

So.  I got it because I was concerned that the Kitten, whose not a kitten anymore, was bored and starting to act odd as a result.

First you try to show the cats that their food is in the toy by using the little plastic trainer with too many holes.  The trainer has so many holes that any movement will knock out food.

Then you put fill mice up and put them in the place of their food dish.  Then when they figure out how to extract the food, you start to move the mice to other places in the house.  So they have to hunt and play to get it.

Concerns:  Feeding Time is no longer an easy scoop and pour on the dish process.  Putting Food into the mice is annoying at best.  The provide an absolutely useless scoop that appears to be purpose made for the process but make it worse.  I got more food on the counter and floor filling mice than in the mice.  I have finally given up on their scoop.  I used my old scoop, keep the mouse just slightly inside the food bag while I pour into the mouse.   It solves the mess but it’s still more time consuming and involved.

Food is on the floor.  If they don’t eat all of the food they knock out, you may well step in it.  Also you have food on the floor when you don’t step in it.  Which bothers me.  It makes my apartment feel dirty.

I’ve stepped on mice in the middle of the night, twice now.  Not enjoyable.

I’ve been woken up by mice hitting the hardwood floor from the desktop at least once.

My cats are apparently lazy and/or smart.  I put out mice and they yowl like they are starving.  They know the food is in the mice, I have not started hiding the mice although I have been putting them around the house to give them the idea that food is no longer just in one place.  I do it with them following me, so I’m not sure “hiding” will ever be possible.

At least one of them is fully aware of how to manage the mice to get food because yesterday when I came home from work and today when i woke up the mice were empty and the food eaten.  But I don’t know if it’s both of them or just one.  They will not eat from the mice if I’m home and awake.  Apparently hoping I will offer up the buffet style they prefer.

Because I don’t know if both of them know how to use the mice I have a bit of food anxiety for them.

Positives:

Nearly all of the above are concerns from my human perspective.  I bought these for a purpose.  To keep a bored cat more interested in his daily life.  It’s hard to say if it’s working.  He’s not been acting out in obsessive ways, which was the thing that triggered my concern.

I intend to keep using them until or unless it becomes a problem from the cat’s perspective.  Beyond their lazy preference for buffet food.