Wednesday, May 15, 2013

You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral

I saw this circulating a popular facebook page espousing love of science. Apparently, the original text comes from Aaron Freeman during an NPR bit. It's the most comforting thing I've read about death since Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep.

"You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Amen."

Monday, May 6, 2013

Travel vs. Minimalist Lifestyle

The path to minimalism is filled with struggles. Not because being a minimalist is punishment, but because this path to "enlightenment" requires letting go of your subconscious death grip on previously understood ideas. I'm seeing minimalism work its way more and more into culture, and seeing more and more people unsatisfied and disillusioned with our nation's (and many parts of the world's) consumerism.

For many people, minimalism is just practical. Everyday Minimalist* comes to mind when I think of the practicality. She travels a ton, so minimalism just makes sense. She can't afford to take everything and the kitchen sink with her. However, for others, it's a long process of realizing we have way too much Stuff. I fall somewhere in between the two. The closer you arrive towards a comfortable minimalist lifestyle yourself, the more it becomes practical.

A minimalist lifestyle is perfect for traveling. However, in reducing the consumerist and wasteful lifestyle, we're met with a challenge: the cost of travel on our world. Yes, we may get rid of everything and carry our life's belongings in a backpack, but what's the cost of flying around the country? Around the world? What's the cost of our privilege?

I know flying has a tremendous impact on our environment. However, we are able to see so many parts of the world that were untouchable even as recent as 50 years ago. I hear so many people return from traveling with a huge shift in perspective. Their ingrained Western-centric mindset has been adjusted. There is a world outside of our bubble. That kind of perspective is invaluable. I try to retain perspective, but I haven't seen these things myself. One day.

By reducing our consumerism, we can reduce the huge impacts on the environment that all our plastic crap and disposable stuff have. Purchasing carbon offsets may not eliminate this effect, but it's a good start.

Some may argue that with the internet, we're connected throughout the whole world and can see many things we've been shielded from. That is true. However, experiencing the world in person just isn't the same. You can look at pictures of the beaches and ocean in Hawaii, but until you've heard the ocean, smelled it, listened to it, you can't truly grasp it. Our privilege means we have a duty to embrace it and protect it. We're lucky that we live somewhere where we have the freedom to travel. We should take advantage of it.

*Everyday Minimalist is now over at Save. Spend. Splurge. where she continues to post matter-of-fact manifestos on life and consumerism. Love her posts!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Regaining Your Voice

I've always been a writer. I grew up solving puzzles while listening to my mom click away on her old Mac. She would shake her head back and forth, much like Stevie Wonder does when he's really into a song (I mean that as the best compliment to both my mom and Mr. Wonder, who are both inspirational and vibrant). She instilled her love of the written word, both in reading it and creating it, in me.

It's been years since I completed my English degree, and I have not written for fun nearly as much as I should. I write a lot at my job, but it's a very specific style. Great for factual analysis and professionalism, but not nearly as juicy or decadent. But writing, much like reading, quenches a thirst you didn't even know you had. In rebooting this blog, I feel like someone clearing their throat after not having spoken in so long. I'm finding my place and regaining voice.

So, I appreciate you sticking with me while I clear my throat. I may jump around from minimalism and consumerism talks to travel to crafting (both Pinterest successes and pinstrosities). As we go along for this ride together, I promise that while it may be random, disjointed, and foggy, it will never be boring.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In Which I'm Super Crafty

I'm a hopeless romantic. I love crafting. The two combined can be dangerous. Luckily, I'm pretty selective about my crafts.

I saw this amazing, adorable, must-do idea for a restaurant passport on The Spotted Fox. It seems the original link is down right now, but you might be able to see what she did on Google's cached version.

Austin has an unreal selection of cheap and tasty food options. We have our favorites, but we're always pointing out ones we've wanted to try. Since R does not have a birthday or Christmas coming up soon, I thought this idea would be wonderful as a pre-versary present. Yes, we're getting married in a year, and yes, I'm celebrating this pre-milestone.

The best part? When I told R I was making a present for him for this momentous occasion, I expected him to roll his eyes and say it was dumb. His response? "I was going to try to surprise you by taking you out to a nice dinner like it was nothing special and then saying 'Hooray! Happy Pre-versary!'". He may not be able to surprise me with dinner, but his similar romantic dorkiness pleasantly surprised me.

I made a list of the restaurants off the top of my head, and added to it over a few weeks. Then, I had credit card points available to use on Amazon like cash, so I was able to "purchase" this Moleskine notebook for free.

I started out drawing the restaurants with cutesy font ideas. However, I couldn't come up with that many cutesy font ideas. And I had over 50 restaurants to list.

So, I started looking at each restaurant's webpage and imitating whatever logo they had. While some look like a third grader drew them, others turned out pretty good. It took longer than I thought it would--about 3 hours spread over two evenings. However, I enjoyed the process. Having a few episodes of Family Guy running in the background didn't hurt, either.

I decided to also code each restaurant by price. Restaurants that are $10 or less per person per entree receive one $, $10-20 receive $$, and greater than $20 receive $$$.

The original poster used colored sticker dots to rank restaurants. We're just using hearts, smiley faces, and slant faces (:-/) to indicate our Love It, Like It, and Meh ratings. Plus, I'm still in shopping ban mode, so I wouldn't purchase stickers anyway.

While we try to limit our dining out (a budget category that can easily get out of control), we do like to go out on occasion. I think this passport will help keep our dining under control because we'll be excited about trying new places. Instead of just defaulting to our favorites when we can't figure out what to eat and don't want to make food, we'll have something to look forward to. It gives us motivation to make dinner at home Monday - Thursday in anticipation of trying something new on Friday.


Edit: The restaurants with an asterisk * are ones that one of us has been to before.