Guest Blogger: My Late Father, George

 

On this day, 29 years ago, my father died at dawn. For 37 years, he had been the consummate educator… delivering his Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Mathematics lectures to two generations of teenage students residing in Minnesota and Michigan.

As a sophomore and junior I had answered, “Here” during each of Dad’s Monday – Friday morning role calls… as a senior I had been his lab assistant. Of course, I had also benefited from his home schooling, which encompassed life’s lessons.

As most of us know, historically, public school teachers have been underpaid and under-appreciated. So, to supplement his meager income, Dad expanded his lecture circuit… his byline appearing beneath our weekly, local newspaper’s front page column: “The Science Corner”.

Had Dad been born a bit later and lived longer than his 75 years, I’m positive he’d now be an enthusiastic blogger… perhaps even setting up his “lectern” right here @WordPress. I know he’d be thrilled by the prospects of his wisdom and wit spreading outward… at the speed of light… to all four corners of the Earth.

Keeping all the above in mind and with my saved and cherished, time-yellowed, brittle, actual hard copy newspaper propped up before me, I’ve decided to transcribe one of Dad’s lectures. And since 23 of my 46 chromosomes are my father’s… in a sense… 5 of my 10 fingers are his as I… no strike that… as we both… type it out.

I cannot think of a more fitting way to honor my father this day… than to afford him a bit of Internet immortality… resurrect his thoughts… restore his “voice”…  allow him to mind-meld with countless other minds, anew.

 

The Science Corner

DATELINE Thursday, July 2, 1953

 

The age old question – which was first, the chicken or the egg – has been used as a debate-ender, a counter dilemma, and even as a joke. If one discounts the dissertations of the debaters and philosophers and the quips of the comedians and truly strives for a scientific answer, then both the meaning and answer become crystal clear.

All living things, both plants and animals, are made up of tiny bits of protoplasm (living matter which looks very much like raw eggwhite). These bits of protoplasm are called cells. In animals, including the chicken, there are skin cells, muscle cells, bone cells, sperm cells and egg cells – to name just a few. All of the types of cells mentioned above except sperm and egg cells are ordinary body cells and are called somatic cells. The sperm and egg cells (collectively called germ cells) differ from the somatic cells in that the former are used to perpetuate life.

When a sperm cell unites with an egg cell, fertilization takes place. All cells, including new somatic cells and new sperm or egg cells, originate from the fertilized egg cell through processes of division and differentiation. In keeping with these principles, both the new chicken (somatic cells) and all of the eggs (germ cells) that the new chicken will ever lay come from the same egg. To put it still another way, the fertilized egg produces both the body cells which will make up the new chicken and all of the new eggs which the new chicken will lay during its lifetime.

The answer, then, to the original question is: the egg must have been first, because it came necessarily from the previous egg and not from the new chicken.

This concept, first enunciated by the German biologist – August Weismann, is known as the continuity of germplasm theory. According to this concept, the germ cells are immortal if reproduction takes place.

Next Week: Why Does Smoke Rise in a Chimney?

 

 

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My Word Document / Nightlight Website?

 

Typically I don’t obsess over my WordPress daily statistical reports. However… what they’ve been telling me has been baffling and I need to make some sense out of this. So here goes.

I do know the vast majority of you, my readers, are arriving at my homepage. Now, unless you’re merely using my layout’s white background as a brilliant nightlight… that means you’re here to read. And I do thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for deeming me worthy of your precious time.

While that’s the good news, the bad can be summed up thusly…

I’ve been experiencing a lack of “blog likes” disproportional to my fairly respectable posting day traffic.

Recently, it occurred to me how readers could wind up scrolling down my entire homepage… viewing hundreds of my posts… without ever seeing even one clickable “like button”.

While it’s common knowledge that one must click onto each blog’s title to even find that “button”, in the first place, is everyone remembering to do so? More to the point… is not seeing that “like button” not prompting that reaction?

Perhaps another technical issue exists, too? If my understanding is correct, it’s impossible for readers, sans WordPress accounts, to register such “likes”. Additionally, professionals, who’ve opened business accounts on this platform, cannot interact in this manner, either.

Now that we’ve quickly brushed aside the nuts and bolts aspects, let’s explore some possible flesh and blood explanations…

  1. Sociability Factor: Social networks are no different than real world communities. To make and maintain good friendships you must be a good friend. Admittedly, I’ve not been the best WordPress neighbor. I’ve not been viewing and liking my followers’ posts as much as I’d really like to. For that… I am truly sorry. All I can offer, in my feeble defense, is that not all is going well in my real world… and being a private person, I guess I’ll just have to leave it at that. It’s not that I don’t care or have lost interest in you. I’ve been impressed by your limitless talents… appropriately laughed and cried… even audibly whispered my “oh wows”… while experiencing your eloquent prose, poetry and stunning imagery. Trust me, your blogs have far more to offer than mine.
  2. Longwinded Factor: In short, in our say it on a bumper sticker… say it in 140 characters or less world… my posts do run long. Even so, I’ve got to believe that somebody, somewhere out there can still savor a long read.
  3. Shifting Winds Factor: In short, the dinosaur… a.k.a. liberalism… is likely headed for extinction. In short… if mainly right leaning readers are stopping by to visit, they’re finding my left leaning content unappealing and unlikeable.
  4. Fear Factor: My stats also indicate my readership includes many, who reside in far less democratic societies… where my politics would undoubtedly rub the glowering, intolerant powers-that-be the wrong way. Might some of my readers fear top-down reprisal… ranging from their tyrannical leaders to their likeminded next-door neighbors? If that were the case, it’d be best for them not to “like” me… I’d not want my readers to ever wind up pummeled, punished and/or imprisoned.

And I do feel their pain, too. Stunningly, my homeland is finding out, too late, how rapidly a once-upon-a-time free society deteriorates when misled by an avaricious, vengeful, ill-tempered, capricious, so-called leader who eggs on his rabid devotees to commit deadly acts of violence… emboldens them to embrace all of humanity’s worst possible, character flaws.

Hell, even my own sibling, a successful, independent businesswoman, has confided that while she shares my liberal POV, she oft refrains from openly “liking” my blogs out of her all too legitimate concerns that she’ll lose clientele.

 

SIDEBAR: I might as well mention another related phenomenon, which no stats could ever begin to help me figure out. Almost invariably, when someone first starts following me, they don’t click any blog “likes”. Ergo… I’m totally clueless as to why they’ve opted to follow me (don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for their doing so). Anyway, I’ll oft pay them a visit, too… in some cases, even clicking some likes on their posts. Then I wait and wait… never to hear from them again.

 

Well, I believe I’ve explored this issue honestly, inclusive of taking some personal responsibility for my lack of “likes”. Not that two wrongs would ever make one right, but…

I’ve got to wonder about the sites that boast multiple thousands of followers. There’s no way those webmasters could ever, possibly, give sufficient, personal attention to each and every one of their followers… yet… their readership thrives.

To wrap up this lack of “likes” , still unresolved conundrum…

I’ll now turn to the world of music to feed my soul, sort out and shed some light on my feelings. Specifically, I’ll be paraphrasing the following lyrical couplet to excise some mild, seventies era, male chauvinism from the otherwise wisely penned song, Every Kind of People.

Each and every one of us is the same… we want the sunshine in our name.

Folks, here at WordPress that’s the sunshine, which streams onto bloggers courtesy of those “like stars”.

Forgive me if my long-windedness, once again, has persisted. I’m just trying to figure out why, typically, my blogs cannot even muster enough stars to form the bowl of the Big Dipper… while some my blogging colleagues wind up with enough to create a virtual galaxy.

Most Importantly: You, my readers, must never feel any obligation to click a “like”… or worse yet, to do so out of pity. Click “like” only if you’ve truly found my blogs elevating, enlightening, entertaining and/or enjoyable.

Your honest appraisals are what will help me figure out what topics are of interest to you and to hone my subject matter accordingly. Perhaps, I’ll even wind up growing my audience and following? Increase those “like” responses, too?

So, what if I still wind up with a lack of “likes”?

I’ll either have to pack it all in or be content that my website has been and, perhaps, shall forever be little more than an online word document and/or nightlight.

While I’ve said this before, it does bear repeating…

I am neither God’s gift to the www nor do I ever expect to be. But… with your help… with your honest feedback as my guide, I just might become a wee bit better?

 

Message in a Bottle

 

John Donne (1572-1631) once said, “No man is an island.” Indeed, it is damned near impossible for humans to thrive when isolated from one another.

Since it’s inception, our worldwide web’s ability to draw humanity closer together has been nothing short of a miracle. And I wholeheartedly ditto such sentiments when describing the intriguing and extraordinary experience of my blogging here @WordPress.

Each and every time each of us clicks that azure “publish button”, our thoughts instantaneously rush outward, all across our global social network. We’re potentially touching the minds, hearts and souls of our followers as well as the folks who we’ve yet to meet.

As most of us would concur, some of our followers wind up being causal acquaintances while others, in time, may even drift off… to never pass our way again… two ships that pass in the night as it were. Only those of us who wind up mind melding with a kindred spirit or two can truly claim our lives have been enriched… (or for the religiously minded) perhaps even blessed.

Until such virtual meetings occur, what are we bloggers but castaways all… shipwrecked and stranded on our small, uncharted virtual islands… each of us repeatedly tossing our proverbial message in a bottle onto the vast, azure ocean… fully knowing the odds are slim to none that anyone will ever find and read our words… yet still feeling that glimmer of hope that someone, someday, will come to our rescue.

Such rescues begin every time we train our “spyglasses” onto that “little red dot” in the upper right hand corner of our screens. We can take comfort… perhaps even feel jubilation that someone is responding… be it with their LIKE… be it with their FOLLOW.

That on-top-of-the-world moment is akin to seeing the tall ship appearing over the horizon… it’s billowing white sails fluttering in the tropical breezes.

As I frantically wave to you, aboard your approaching virtual vessels, I want to shout out my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has ever reacted to my posts with a LIKE and/or a FOLLOW! Each time this obscure blogger / castaway, lost in the vast sea of humanity, receives such responses to my tossed “message in a bottle” I do feel rescued.

Now, to momentarily set aside all metaphors… I find such input invaluable in helping me figure out what subject matter most interests you. After all, consistently presenting good quality blog content is the best way for any blogger to build and retain one’s following. Without your help, how could I ever expect to become a better blogger?

On a technical note, those of you, who arrive at my site’s homepage won’t automatically be finding any LIKE buttons and comment boxes unless you first click onto each of my blog titles. BUT…

It’s most important that you NEVER, EVER feel any sense of obligation to click any LIKE, or worse yet, do so out of pity. Your honest reaction is paramount, here, so click LIKE ONLY if you’ve really, Really, REALLY found my blogs elevating, enlightening, entertaining and/or enjoyable.

To keep it entirely real… I am neither God’s gift to the blogosphere nor do I ever expect to be. But… with your help, I just might become a wee bit better?

 

 

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

 

Two days ago, I read and viewed a WordPress essay where the blogger had been unduly critical in evaluating some accompanying self-portrait photographs.

True, I could’ve used the blog comment section to express how this wonderfully talented writer’s excessively harsh critique had profoundly saddened me… BUT

  1. My reaction could’ve easily been dismissed (e.g., “Oh, he’s just being nice”).
  2. Within this massive social network, comments do tend to get buried even faster than the blogs, themselves.
  3. I felt that such commentary, in my own blog venue, might be better received.
  4. Because nearly everyone (inclusive of yours truly), at some point in our lives, has been hypercritical re our own physical appearance, I deemed this matter worthy of presentation to the entire WordPress blogging community… i.e., in hopes that we might get a long overdue discussion going?

Working towards that goal…

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with us trying to look our best, we must never succumb to embracing the entertainment industry’s narrow parameters of beauty. We must never accept how their odious, meat market mindset negatively impacts humankind… targets and objectifies females far more frequently than males.

Merriam-Webster defines “meat market” thusly…

A depersonalizing environment in which people are treated as sexual or economic resources.

Oh, btw, the first known use of this expression dates back to 1896, which just goes to show us how warped and deeply entrenched this devaluation of human beings is. And to be sure, here, this dates back to the dawn of humankind!

I’d love to believe that we could blame this sorry state of affairs on our genes… i.e., the forces of nature have programmed us into being beauty biased just to ensure that only “attractive”, “desirable” traits will breed true… BUT

How could such mindlessness ever take into account how pretty faces do not automatically ensure pretty minds lurk directly behind them? To be sure, here, possessing / being possessed by “Hollywood good looks” is rarely, if ever, a prerequisite for thinking attractive, desirable thoughts.

Furthermore, do not ugly thoughts also breed true?

Hell… for that answer, we need look no further than the entertainment industry’s corporate big shots who’ve been needlessly instilling inferiority complexes amongst the masses.

AND THAT’S NOT ENTERTAINMENT!!!

I welcome your comments.

My Greetings to WordPress Bloggers… Everywhere!

I don’t normally spend much time stewing over my blog stats, but earlier this afternoon (just for the heck of it) I did do some exploring.

Upon clicking onto the “all time” option atop the map of our world… I was quite stunned to notice all of those yellow, orange and red hues, which WordPress uses to indicate every nation where our readers reside. It turns out the only major geographical locale my blogs have yet to reach is Greenland.

As I stared intently at the big picture gracing my screen… admittedly in a state of disbelief… it all started to sink in. In a little over one year, my thoughts have reached out to folks residing all over our world! Now… I’d call that a mind blowing, “Oh Wow” moment!

And then, in a flash, something else hit me…

There’ll never be a better time to wholeheartedly thank all of you for spending your precious time reading, listening to, liking, commenting on and following my blogs. I especially treasure our comment box conversations.

Thanks to your posts featuring your prose and poetry, podcasts, paintings, drawings, cartoons, lithography and photography, I’ve also experienced many, far more profound “Oh Wow” moments. Your blogs have been fun, philosophical and everything in between. Your ideas and ideals can be so powerful and profound that there’ll be times you’ll evoke my smiles and chuckles… on other occasions tears have welled up in my eyes.

Some of you have taken me on guided tours of your homelands and vacation stops. Your words and accompanying, breathtaking photography have helped this armchair traveller learn so much more about our world’s natural and manmade wonders. Thanks to you, I’ve even been able to pay virtual visits to California (my home away from home) as well as to Croatia, my distant, ancestral homeland.

And… looking at the truly Big Picture, many of you have confirmed what I’ve always surmised. Even though our cultures may differ, we still share far more in common than the unenlightened xenophobes of our world would ever choose to believe.

So, once again, my thanks to all who I’ve met these past 15 months. I hope to connect (someday soon) with those of you, who I’ve yet to meet, too.

 

 

Our Cues Are Found Where and When Least Expected

 

Writer’s / Blogger’s Block… UGH! Most of us, inclusive of yours truly, have experienced this frustration. And while WordPress does offer up Daily Prompts to help cure this problem, I’ve found that such cues can and do exist in many other settings… oft where and when least expected.

Key here is staying attuned to our surroundings… keeping all of our sensory pathways unblocked. For example…

A major heat wave (a week in advance of the summer solstice) has rendered many of us Michiganders sweltering.

Being ever mindful of methods to downsize my carbon footprint and tame my monthly electricity bills, to boot, I haven’t been running my “eons old”, energy pig AC unit. Instead, I’ve been throwing open my windows to allow the (so far) significantly lower, overnight temperatures to cool off my home.

It was those very, open windows, which prompted me to open my mind… thusly…

I awoke at daybreak to the chorus of hundreds of chirping, tweeting birds. While preparing breakfast, I watched a flock of robins hopping all over my backyard ISO their own morning meal, which prompted me to free-associate Bobby Day’s 1958 hit song, Rockin’ Robin. The robin being Michigan’s state bird, this prompted me to think about state government and then the federal government… prompting me to think about Pennsylvania Avenue’s resident, Tweeting birdbrain.

In short, that’s the lenghty creative process… the backstory to my Tweet-sized post from earlier this day… as reblogged below…

 

Tweet! Tweet!! Tweet Tweet!!!

It’d not be going out on a limb to say…

Far more pleasant and smarter sounding tweets emanate from densely leaved shade trees than from out of the dense, shady White House.

 

So, let’s recap…

A good way to overcome and avoid writer’s block is to keep all five of our sensory paths unblocked.

It works for me… hopefully you’ll be able to echo a similar sentiment.