Apples and Winter

We recently made our annual fall trip to the apple orchards at nearby Cosby. We have visited several in the area over the years, but usually end up stopping at Carver’s, as well, for their wide selection.


My wife is partial to Rome apples, particularly for cooking, and so we bought our usual bushel. A friend had mentioned that we needed to check out a new Carousel apple, and so we bought one and included it in a small bag of samples. Later, when we tried it, it was crisp and sweet and had a particularly good flavor – so we may have to return and¬†free a half bushel or so of them as well ūüôā

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Candy Pizza

My wife made this colorful pizza for a quilt retreat with friends, but its colors certainly fit the season. None, sadly, for any youngsters though, who happen by our door… they’ll have to be satisfied with Snickers. ūüôā

Challenge (and Define) What you Think

For those with the occasional thoughtful bent as winter comes on, check out the description below from Open Culture.¬† It’s work, but an occasional video makes for a great evening discussion with a group of good friends. Best of all, it’s free.

The Philosophy section of our big Free Online Courses collection just went through another update, and it now features 100 courses. Enough to give you a soup-to-nuts introduction to a timeless discipline. You can start with one of several introductory courses.

  • Philosophy for Beginners¬†‚ÄstiTunes¬†‚ÄstWeb Video¬†‚Äď Marianne Talbot, Oxford

  • Critical Reasoning for Beginners¬†–¬†iTunes Video¬†‚ÄstiTunes Audio¬†‚ÄstWeb Video¬†‚Äď Oxford

  • A Romp through Ethics for Complete Beginners¬†‚ÄstiTunes Video¬†‚ÄstWeb Video¬†‚Äď Oxford

  • Introduction to Political Philosophy¬†‚ÄstYouTube¬†‚ÄstiTunes¬†‚ÄstWeb Video¬†‚ÄstSteven B. Smith, Yale

  • The Art of Living¬†‚ÄstWeb Video¬†‚Äď Stanford

  • The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps¬†–¬†Multiple Formats‚Äď Peter Adamson,¬†King‚Äôs College London

Our worldviews form the basis for what our thinking preferences, emotional IQs, personalities and communications styles share with the world around us. That journey continues to challenge me…and yet it also frees me, when I let it.

Tagore, Delight, my Brain – and Memory

The sandBox

On a personal note, Tagore‚Äôs early letters have been a delight of late. Something moves me in his early, reflective writing ‚Äď the discovery by youth of something of the mystery of self, perception and the world around it. On an extended, lazy river trip he writes ‚Äď

There must have been some sudden excitement in the night which sent the current racing away. I rose and sat by the window. A hazy kind of light made the turbulent river look madder than ever. The sky was spotted with clouds. The reflection of a great big star quivered on the waters in a long streak, like a burning gash of pain. Both banks were vague with the dimness of slumber, and between them was this wild, sleepless unrest, running and running regardless of consequences.

To watch a scene like this in the middle of the night makes one feel altogether…

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Fall at Norris Lake

Fall leaves have begun to show their colors in East Tennessee. The rangers at Norris Dam State Park offer an inexpensive, hour-long excursion on Norris Lake in October via pontoon boat, and though gray and a bit drizzly when we went this week, the early hint of color made the hour drive worthwhile.

Long cedar clings to a rock ledge
Long cedar clings to a rock ledge
Vertical white blaze against the green
Vertical white blaze against the green


Norris Dam was constructed in 1933 as the first project of the Tennessee Valley Authority to bring electricity and economic development to the area



On Freedom and Bicycles

I grew up in the generation that knew bicycles and the¬†unparalleled freedom that they offered during those years before¬†we were¬†old enough to drive a car. Streets were safer. Towns more easily accessible, and I spent many a summer gone from dawn to dusk on those mysterious adventures common to boys of¬†a certain¬†age. My mother didn’t have to worry and I was free to explore beaches and waterways and neighborhoods as the day moved me.

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Regret, Social Standing, and Loss

I’ve read that¬†brain imaging studies show that when¬†we think about other people, parts of¬†our frontal cortex become active. Advocates of the social brain hypothesis say the frontal cortex expanded in our ancestors because natural selection favored social intelligence.¬†I suppose social media continues that trend.

Research also suggests that before we risk something, we need to feel assured that our potential gain is twice the possible loss, as loss feels twice as bad as gain feels good. So we have a greater sensitivity to losses than to equivalent gains when making decisions. In trading situations, we will most likely opt to keep what we have because we place a larger value on things that we already possess.

And we will make many of these decisions in light of social standing.

I’ve¬†heard that when people are¬†asked if they would rather¬†earn $50,000 a year while other people¬†make $25,000, or earn $100,000 a year while other people¬†receive $250,000, the majority¬†of us choose¬†the 50k.¬†We would rather make twice as much as others even if¬†it¬†means earning half as much as¬†we¬†might otherwise. Social standing¬†trumps simple¬†economics.

Does this suggest anything about¬†my regrets, which¬†the dictionary¬†defines¬†as “thinking and feeling with a sense of loss.”

If my losses feel twice as bad as my gains, then perhaps¬†I feel my regrets more keenly than my victories…


I would have triumphed,

Had but to try,


          I was so afraid of failure.

And in this fear, hesitation won,

          Though so briefly.

And now, the results of that barest pause,

They resonate with me yet.

No conquest has silenced the pain of that loss,

No prize has tamed its gnawing.

And the regrets of that long ago moment

Continue¬†their taint¬†¬†of my¬†victories today…


Til we see Awe

I would¬†you awe…

Not the tiny, nor small,

Nor restless profane,

Not the mundane that soul saps

The spirit to blister and crack in sorrow.

I would your eyes rise from that endless void

That levels the heights even as it fills the valleys.

If there be exaltation,

If there be wonder,

If there be yearnings that spring from our souls,

Let them be sublime in their seeking,

Believe in their knowing,

Secure in their journey

And awash in their wonder

Till heaven and earth are one…