Magic is what you make of it.  Superstitions only count if you believe in them.  The omens you notice and their interpretations are mostly a way of talking to yourself.  So I do not view Friday the thirteenth with trepidation.  Thirteen is not an unlucky number for me.  It's just a step beyond twelve.  I recognize that in the the language of symbols, that puts it beyond the totality of things, so in that sense, "supernatural," but that doesn't make it bad.  In a way, it's like going beyond the door, like breaking into a new adventure.

This past Friday the thirteenth, I arrived at work as normal, started my computer and made myself a cup of tea.  The day before, we had celebrated National Library Week with Chinese food for lunch, and there was a bowl of leftover fortune cookies in the lounge.  I pocketed one to take back to my desk and enjoy with my Earl Grey.  Not long after I started into building a supply order, my cell phone started vibrating.

My mom has been …


We've all heard it's not polite to discuss politics or religion.  If you're trying to avoid conflict, (and it's generally a good thing in polite conversation,) it makes sense.  People have very strong opinions on those subjects, and despite what you hear about the modern trend of political polarization in America, this is nothing new.  People have always been passionate about the subject, and some have started arguments, riots, or wars over political opinion all through history.  The same goes for matters of religion.  Why do you think we developed that rule for polite conversation?

The problem is not that people have become more extreme about their positions but that we have become more aware of others' positions.  Without our social media tableaux of opinion, we might blithely go about assuming that our friends, neighbours, or even family must think the way we do.  Because the rules of social media etiquette are less solid than those of conventional small talk an…

Aloft on Wings of Our Own Making

On August 7, 1913, Samuel F. Cody fell out of the sky.  Despite having done so before on several occasions and generally being thought of as indestructible, his luck had run out this time.  Investigations concluded that a bamboo strut in his biplane's wing snapped under pressure due to the sustained heat wave in England at the time.  Immediately, stories circulated about sabotage and murder.  People were convinced that some nefarious plot had played out that summer day.  A mere accident could not have been the end of Cody, adventurer, inventor, and showman.

Now, unless you're interested in the history of aviation, you probably haven't even heard of Samuel F. Cody, much less the controversy at the time of his death.  I wouldn't have known, myself, were it not the subject of a book my father pressed me to read.  This exchange was fortified with stories about Cody's career in Wild West shows (and the inevitable conflict with Buffalo Bill,) the use of aircraft in purs…

The Lines

How do you feel about colouring within the lines?  What about thinking outside the box?  What about stopping at a red light?  Waiting your turn?  Seizing an opportunity?

It's complicated.  Chances are, you're some kind of mix between following the rules and going your own way.  Don't worry.  I'm no psychologist, but I think that's probably healthier than either extreme.  Still, these distinctions and the conflicts that arise when individuals disagree on the approach to any given situation can cause all kinds of trouble.

For any society to function, there must be rules, and they must be obeyed.  Since prehistoric times, people have grouped together for protection and to combine their skills and strength.  It's just easier to survive when you don't have to do everything on your own.  But actions like hogging all of the mammoth meat or bludgeoning Grog because you want to steal his wife have a way of eroding the foundation of trust that makes a group function.…

Still Here

Things may look different as you come to this blog, but I'm still here.  To be sure, there's been a lack of posts here over the past year.  Things have been rough and the political situation as we worked our way through the election process did not put me in mind to write anything uplifting.   I could have used the space to stew on the disappointing news that emerged day after day as we trudged toward our current political morass.  I could have spent more time warning people about the dangers of political manipulation like the piece I posted last March before I fell off the face of the earth (or at least the face of this blog).  I could have pushed myself to write something light.  Who knows?  That might have made me feel better.  But, as always, I wanted the posts on this blog to be meaningful, thoughtful, and positive.  Just couldn't sustain that.

So, now-

I've come back and given the blog a fresh new face (mostly because Blogger suggested I look at their fancy new t…

New Year

Common belief holds that what you do at the new year sets the pattern for the year ahead.  This is why people throw parties to welcome the new year, why they try to spend New Year's Eve with the ones they love, and why some are determined to make that midnight kiss happen.  There are superstitions about wearing new clothes, starting off debt-free, and generally declaring your intent to be a better you starting January 1.  New Year's Day is a time of omens for the coming year.  Everyone hopes that good luck on the first day will presage good luck through the year.

And we really needed that hope in 2017.

It's pretty well accepted that 2016 sucked.  Whether you were saddened by the many deaths of beloved celebrities, shocked by various disasters and humanitarian crises, or disgusted by political developments, chances are you've had a rough time lately.

I was a little overwhelmed by the politics, myself, which is part of the reason I fell off posting to this blog for a whi…

Buyer Beware

It's political season here in the United States.  I'm sure you noticed.  It seems like it's been that way for an unnaturally long time already, and it's not even close to done yet.  That's a presidential election year for you.  We need time to get to know each and every character who's running for the highest office, and I guess that would be wise except that the process gets so clouded with money and lies until most people don't really have a clue who they can believe.  The battle for the presidency has been honed over the years, and the candidates have only gotten better at their feints and parries.  Almost nothing can be taken at face value.
Like many, I'm sick of it.  It's the only system we've got, so I have a duty to be aware and involved, but by this stage in the game, all the shine has worn off.  I'm sure much of the world has been watching our primary debates with the same kind of disbelief and horror I have.  What a pool of candida…