Questions and Chaos

Life in the 21st Century

I Like Living

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” —Agatha Christie


Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky.

–Kahil Gibran

Light in the Dark

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.
— Walt Whitman

More Virtual Reality

Sunday, June 19, 2016

I tried out HTC Vive Virtual Reality and couldn’t stay away.

Tilt Brush is a 3-D drawing program. It’s difficult to make it look interesting with 2-D screen shots. It was an unusual experience to draw a campfire and then walk around it. I could draw stars overhead and snowflakes falling all around me. In a screenshot it loses all effect and just looks like a five year old’s drawing so I’m not going to show you my efforts. It’s possible to save the drawings for other people to experience later. Here is a saved drawing.

Here is a sample drawing in the gallery, to show us what’s possible.
Again, it completely loses its effect in the screen shot. These are drawings that you can walk around and, in some cases, walk through.  A three dimensional drawing is something the brain doesn’t really understand until you actually experience it.

In Waltz of the Wizard  I am throwing potions into the cauldron to create spells. Each spell creates a  different super power. Super powers such as throwing fireballs, attracting objects with my hands or turning myself into a giant are available. This game  has great visual effects, but I found it a little disconcerting to find that objects could be put, not just onto the table, but also into the table.
Butterfly in Walz of the Wizard Waltz of the Wizard
Irrational Exuberance involves shattering the rocks that and boulders that float past me and shattering the rock wall that surrounds me.  Eventually I am  left standing on a small platform  floating in a star filled galaxy. If I lean too far the blue lines of  the VR boundary appear making me feel safe. Now I know no matter how far I lean I won’t fall  into the abyss.  It doesn’t mimic any real life experience and I think this makes it more fascinating.  Screen shots don’t show the details in the darkness.  Like TheBlu,  it’s a beautiful game for introducing a non-gamer to virtual reality.

Hover Junkers is an on line game that looks fascinating. I was told “You wouldn’t like it Mom.” Of coures, this means I have to try.  In this game you have a choice of various post apocalyptic space ships to drive through the desert scene, collecting treasure and avoiding death.   I admit, I did refrain from going on line so I wouldn’t get shot at, but I definitely wanted to drive a ship and go for a ride.
Here are my hands.
Hover Junkers
Loading the gun.
Hover Junkers 2

Taking a a drive around the scenery. 
Hover Junkers 3

Apparently even video game players are highly impressed. “OMG”, “No Way!  “This is the coolest shit ever!”
Take a tour.







Virtual Reality is Here

Friday, June 3, 2016

Virtual Reality

A few days ago I was able to try out the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. Yes, the future is here and available in your living room. Put on the headset and adjust to fit. Add ear buds and I enter another world.

I find myself in a big warehouse space with white furniture while a talking basketball gives me instructions about how things work in virtual reality. The controllers become my hands. The blue lines show the edges of the virtual  reality. Don’t step past the blue lines or I may hit my shins on the furniture.

When I push a button on the controller it blows up a balloon that floats  to the ceiling. I can blow up red, green, yellow or blue balloons from the ends of my finger tips. The balloons float slowly upwards and when I pull the trigger I  shoot them down. I’m reminded not to push the controllers past the blue lines. My son is worried I may punch a hole in his television screen.

In another module, I  practice using my controller hands by throwing sticks  for a robotic dog. He fetches them and drops them at my feet.

Virtual Reality

My favourite program so far is TheBlu. The floor doesn’t move. Yes, this is where you introduce your grandmother to virtual reality. It’s fascinating first time around but could be boring without more interaction. TheBlu has three modules. The first is called Reef Migration. I’m standing on the ocean floor with sea anemones beside me  and various sea creatures above and all around me.  When I touch the sea anemones with the controller they close themselves up.

Click on photo to see better details

Click on photo to see better details

I am surrounded by schools of small fishes flitting everywhere. It feels like a little fish might go right up my nose. And then there are the jellyfish.
Jellyfish 1
Luminescent orange jellyfish everywhere.
Jellyfish 2
And gigantic jellyfish.
Jellyfish 3

I was so enamoured with jellyfish I almost missed the sea turtle completely.

The second module is Whale Encounter. Instead of standing on the sea bottom I am standing on the deck of a sunken ship.
A whale swims in from the distance.  It swims past the platform and looks me right in the eye. I’ve never been face to face with a whale, so perhaps I shouldn’t judge, but the whale somehow didn’t seem real. Still, it was a really good 3D movie whale.
And the stingrays floating overhead were beautiful.
The third module is called Luminous Abyss. I am walking on the sea floor littered with old whale bones. It is dark and I need to use the controller as a flashlight. Many scary things could happen when surrounded by darkness.  I am nervous but, here, it’s perfectly safe. Nothing jumps out at me.  I use the flashlight to look around the sea bed at the bones and the crabs, as small luminous jellyfish float by.
Small Jellyfish

I have to confess, on  the drive home the streets looked a little drab and ugly.  Really, with all of modern technology,  is this the best we can do?

When I went to sleep that night I was still seeing schools of orange jellyfish in my head.

There’s so much more to see.


Plucked from the Earth

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Plucked from the Earth

This is what is the matter with us, we are bleeding at the roots, because we are cut off from the earth and the sun and the stars, and love is a grinning mockery, because poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the tree of life, and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized vase on the table.

— D.H. Lawrence


Friday, May 20, 2016


homeless city
i stand
bare feet
on rocky ground




Your children are not your children

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Your children are not your children,
they are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
for they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their soul,
for their soul belongs in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite and he bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness,
for even as he loves the arrow that flies,
so he loves also the bow that is stable

–Kahil Gibran

Criticism Doesn’t Construct

Friday, May 13, 2016

Not Constructive


Anyone who wants to write, especially on the internet, is supposed to have a thick skin. Criticism, and dealing with it, is  something everyone accepts as a fact of life. Unfortunately,  I don’t have that thick skin. Not only I am afraid of criticism but I’m also afraid of being afraid of criticism.

Sometimes Google provides the most appropriate answers to the strangest question. One night I typed “Why does criticism destroy me?” into the machine. The very first result was Proverbs 13:18 from the Bible:

If you ignore criticism your will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.

Wow! What a way to powerfully inhibit creativity and social change. Here I found a new perspective.  I was raised on the Bible and,  for sure,  I don’t want to  to end up in poverty and disgrace.  But then, which criticism do you live by to prevent this disintegration into poverty and disgrace?    I was seven years old when  I was hit with a leather strap for talking in school.  Then in  high school, I was told I would never be successful in life because I was “too quiet”.  There’s no way to win this game. I know, I’ve  spent fifty years trying.

The second Google result in my experiment was a quote on the website  of psychologist  Dr. Bill Crawford.

Constructive Criticism = An Oxymoron
Criticism can be effective when there is something that must be destroyed or dissolved, but it is capable only of harm when there is something to be built. -Adapted from Carl Jung

I’m inclined to agree with Carl Jung.  Do you notice how you feel when someone says, “Can I offer you  feedback about that?”   You can feel the enthusiasm for your project sink  even though nothing critical has  yet been said.

My take home message from the wisdom of Google  is:

Constructive criticism isn’t real.

I won’t end up in poverty and disgrace.

Fear monster vanquished….. at least for the next few minutes.

Addendum – May 21, 2016

Here is a great video that talks about dealing with criticism:



Ecotourism for Jaguars

Friday, April 22, 2016

jaguar -2

photos by Petr Kratochvil from

photos by Petr Kratochvil from

I had the privilege of attending a talk sponsored by the Alberta Wilderness Association Biologist, Jim Butler was speaking about his trip through the Pantanal in Brazil and Bolivia.  The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland and is teeming with wildlife. Among this wildlife is the largest population of jaguars on earth. 

The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest in the world – following the lion and the tiger.  It is large enough to pluck a good sized crocodile out of the river for lunch which, apparently,  is  something it does quite often.

Jim Butler came back with amazing photographs of jaguars taken while on a boat tour riding the river through jaguar country. After watching this National Geographic video I’m not sure how safe I would feel on a boat, but I have to admit I’d like a few jaguar photos of my own.

Ecotourism is providing income for the people living in the Pantanal and helping to preserve jaguar populations. In some areas jaguars are now worth more money alive than dead as they provide income for thriving tourist lodges instead of being killed to protect cattle ranching.

This was the first time I had heard about safaris to the Pantanal. These trips are as exciting, or maybe more so, considering the abundance of species,  as any safari in Africa. Numerous organizations are working to create intimate wildlife observations for travellers.  Arcana Mundi Expeditions operate the Jaguar Flotel and guarantee that if you do not see a jaguar they will refund you $1,000.  Jaguars even walk in broad daylight on the riverbank within 5 meters of the flotels.  

It is my hope that these magnificent creatures continue to grow and thrive through future centuries. 




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