Are Times a-Changing?

What soil type is your house sitting on? Clay, loam, sand? What does that tell you about the likely location? By a river, inland? You don't know what soil type? Don't feel bad. Most Americans probably don't know anymore. A century ago, and longer, a lot of people lived on the farm and they certainly knew! Beyond our American heritage, think about what the British found coming to America. Going south of Virginia they found marshes, pretty well unknown in England. Those marshes needed to be drained, vegetation cut down, making it usable for farming. That mentality is still deeply ingrained in American society. Maybe not farming, but land should be put to good economical use.

 The deepening of the St. John's River in Jacksonville Florida, will allow bigger vessels to enter. Hopefully an economic boon, but environmentally? Salt water will get deeper into the river, changing the environment. It is not only about whether it is good or bad, but more about: have we adequately considered the consequences? Who will pay for these? Our tax dollar, or the shipping industry? In the same vein, what about the elaborate homes built along the Pacific Ocean by people who can afford it? Should our tax dollars pay for the break-off of a cliff in front of their house?

Hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes are all short-term challenges that have been around for ages. For the last 450 years, the temperature has been very steady, making it possible to build up an economy as we know it today. 

About the year 1000, it shows a similar rise in temperature as we see today. The Medieval Climate Anomaly, also known as the Medieval Warm Period, was a significant climatic event that occurred roughly between the 9th and 14th centuries. This period was characterized by relatively warmer temperatures in various regions around the globe, leading to notable impacts on ecosystems and human societies. Several factors contributed to the warming observed during the Medieval Climate Anomaly. One prominent driver was natural climate variability, including fluctuations in solar radiation and volcanic activity. Changes in solar output, such as increased solar irradiance, could have played a role in driving warmer temperatures during this period. Additionally, reduced volcanic activity, which tends to have a cooling effect on the climate by releasing ash and aerosols into the atmosphere, may have contributed to the relative warmth experienced during the Medieval Warm Period. 

The effects of the Medieval Climate Anomaly were diverse and varied across different regions. In Europe, for example, the warmer temperatures led to an extension of the growing season, allowing for increased agricultural productivity in some areas. This period saw the expansion of vineyards into regions that were previously too cool for grape cultivation, indicating the favorable conditions for agriculture during this time.

Conversely, other regions experienced different impacts. For instance, parts of North America saw shifts in precipitation patterns, with some areas becoming drier while others received more rainfall. These changes in moisture availability could have influenced ecosystems and affected the livelihoods of indigenous populations in those areas.  

The warmer climate during the Medieval Climate Anomaly influenced human societies in various ways. In Europe, the agricultural boom resulting from the extended growing season led to increased food production and population growth. This period also coincided with the rise of medieval civilizations and the flourishing of trade networks, contributing to cultural and economic developments.

Moreover, the warmer temperatures likely influenced exploration and migration patterns. The Norse colonization of Greenland and the discovery of Vinland (believed to be part of North America) by the Vikings are examples of how climatic conditions may have facilitated or incentivized exploration during the Medieval Warm Period.

When examining the Medieval Climate Anomaly in the context of modern climate trends, it is essential to note the differences and similarities. While both periods have experienced warming temperatures, the drivers of climate change today, such as anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, differ significantly from the natural factors that influenced the Medieval Warm Period. Really? Or is this conclusion based on more recently constructed computer simulations? Do we see more impact because the world is more populated and consequences affect more people after a hurricane or tornado? 

A Jump to Today

It feels like I'm in Shanghai or Mexico City, with traffic going in all directions. Does anyone know where they are going? My routines look like that: washing dishes, sorting out medicines and how frequently to take them, doctor's appointments of all kinds, cleaning up emails, stuff to read, stuff to file, ... and on it goes. Isn't the purpose of this retirement community to relax, as depicted in the picture below? This is the ground level

Turtle Lake at WWJC

It is the proverbial time to make our New Year's resolutions, which most often only last a couple of months. David Allen, one of the time management gurus, wrote this book of Getting Things Done.   He talks about different levels, which sounds pretty theoretical to me, but I found a more understandable way to explain. Each level expands the time frame further out, but that ground level refers to the routine activities we have to do, no matter what ideals we have. Washing dishes may not be our greatest desire, but it has to be done. 

The next level, say 2,000 ft, is a bit calmer, but still overwhelming. It is a list of projects; commitments that take more than one action step. Maybe it is organizing a party for aunt Mary, or putting in a bid for the Acme Brick Co. Most of us have anywhere from 30 to 100 of those. If you fully define that list, it undoubtedly will generate different actions than you currently have identified. I am involved in three committees on campus, and one at teaching English as a second language. Then there are the Memoirs Writers, for which I am trying the solution of writing a blog every week. That means upgrading this Posthaven blog site. The Environment committee involves following at least two websites, and then there are the times of checking out for sound and video presentations as part of the Tech Team. All those require time and trying not to get distracted by other websites or computer-related activities. 

Let's rise to the 5,000 ft. level. Upon accepting a new job, you receive goals and expectations, plus the accountability that comes with it. It does not end there. I gained skills while working in a tomato cannery, but even on a retirement campus, I have opportunities to benefit others, projects to undertake, and actions to clarify. Areas of accountability include being a husband, a job or career to bring home the money to make a living, church or other spiritual responsibility, exercise activities, and others. 

We rise another 4,000 ft to the next level. Over the next 2-3 years, our goals and objectives change. They require different skills and add responsibilities. For me, it goes from tomato variety selections and quality testing to supervising a shift of 400 people in the cannery. As a supervisor, I was also responsible for communication between the corporate engineers 400 miles away and the contractors on-site of new equipment installations in the off-season. 

Reaching the Dutch coast

Where am I going to be 5, 10, 25 years from now? How do dramatic changes affect my plans? Like when Marise, my wife, finds out she has M.S.? How does that affect our dream of going on an overseas mission after retirement? This is a whole different level, like another 4,000 ft higher. New action steps are needed. I find myself as an accounting manager of a one and one half million $$ budget sports mission, consisting of offices in Los Angeles, Charlotte NC, Chicago, a new HQ in Colorado Springs, an office in Bolton, England, and a new project in Prague. Accounting is a whole differrent field than Supervisor in a cannery... but both require attention to detail, and that I could do! Next, we get an assignment to be part of a team going to Pisek, Czech Republic. There the church we attend wants us to teach conversational English to the older generation who had to learn Russian when going to school. What to do for retirement? I am not ready for any retirement campus, right? Maybe not ready, like I was not ready for many things in life!

Now I have reached 15,000 ft. I go up one more level, to 20,000 ft, where I ask: What am I on earth for to accomplish in my life? Do I have the lifestyle I am looking for? It deals with concepts like: purpose, principles, vision, and mission statements. Am I spending enough time with my family, my health, spiritual life? I still have "incompletes" to deal with, projects and actions to take; things that are not completely clear. 

Retired? yes, but as I go through each level, adjustments become obvious. 

Way above the clouds


lt was 1954. Opa and Oma came to visit us in Caracas, Venezuela, from the Netherlands. We went on a vacation trip to the Andes mountains with oma. Opa, a visiting professor from the University of Utrecht, went to the Veterinary University in Maracai. His field focussed on big farm animals; mostly cows and horses. I still remember our trip to the Andes, where we stayed just east of the big Lago de Maracaibo, where they drill for oil. Venezuela lacked sufficient refinery capacity, so a significant amount was sent to refineries on the Dutch West Indies islands of Aruba and Curaçao. In the Andes, we stayed in a cottage, much like in the Swiss Alps. We went on horses into the valley on a steep trail one day. My face showed tense in an old photograph! The trip was very impressive, driving southward and back east through the llanos to Caracas. 

My opa had an enormous influence on my career choice of agriculture and animal husbandry. I remember little of visiting the university, but he always went on his bicycle, even after he purchased their first car when he was in his late fifties. The car was for trips and convenience as needed. The university had their own vehicles for business trips. When we came on furlough from Surabaya, or later, Caracas, we always stayed at opa and oma's on the Oudwijkerlaan 37 in Utrecht. I inherited my mother's old room in the attic. Back then, every bedroom had a sink that could freeze over in winter during extended periods of frost. Looking out the window, I spotted men carrying bags of coal and storing them in a brick bin. To reach the maintenance shack in the backyard, they covered the hallway, kitchen, and created a path through the house from the front. The brick bin opened along the bottom to fill the coal shuttle and take it to the cellar under the kitchen where the coal heater was. 

                                                          Opa (on the left) and colleagues inspecting a milk cow

Inseminating cows involved leading the steer to the pasture until after WW II. The university developed a method for artificial insemination. By doing this, there was no need to transport the steer back and forth. Additionally, when there were multiple cows in the pasture, the farmer could choose the exact cow that required insemination from a specific steer. They kept accurate records so they could identify the offspring later. In short: A.I. artificial insemination. Today, they still perform artificial insemination in that manner, but the current generation consumes milk from a plastic or carton container. Unless they are in the livestock business, they have no idea what A.I. means. 

Moving forward 60 years and A.I. gets a different meaning. The focus shifted from creating artificial life to intelligence. Artificial intelligence is the science of making machines that can think like humans. It has the ability to perform "smart" actions. AI aims to perform tasks like pattern recognition, decision-making, and human-like judgment. (Sep 16, 2021 Wikipedia) 

Although experts list AI's ability to free people from repetitive and mundane tasks as a positive, some believe this benefit comes with a downside: a loss of skills in people. (Jun 16, 2023 Wikipedia) 

Alan Turing published his work “Computer Machinery and Intelligence” which became The Turing Test, which experts used to measure computer intelligence. Someone coined the term "artificial intelligence" and it became popular. 

Examples of AI in everyday life
  • Face recognition. Most people use the face recognition feature in their Android or iPhone, as it is one of the best safety features available on your device. ...
  • Smart cars. ...
  • Digital assistants. ...
  • Entertainment and social apps. ...
  • Banking. ...
  • Google predictive search algorithm. ...
  • E-commerce.

(Mar 24, 2023 Wikipedia)

So, there you have it! Yet, people are afraid of it. It is a fast-growing technology. Like everything else, people can use it for good and bad purposes.

Creativity Requires Constraint

Cheetahs, how  70 mph chasing can run prey while many?

That is pretty good for a non-English speaker to know that many words. How do they do that? 
  1. Immerse Yourself In New Experiences. ...
  2. Learn Something New. ...
  3. Ask More Questions. ...
  • Curious. Creative people enjoy learning new things, so their free time may include reading books or watching videos about topics they find interesting. ...
  • Playful. ...
  • Open-minded. ...
  • Flexible. ...
  • Sensitive. ...
  • Independent. ...
  • Risk-taking. ...
  • Intuitive.
Am I creative or logical?

Logic uses reasoning and analytical abilities. It seeks to identify the cause and effect. Creativity involves elements of innovation, emotion, and chance. It seeks to discover new solutions.

How are creative brains different?

There is a difference in brain structure between artists and non-artists, which accounts for the difference in ability. Artists view the world differently, focusing on the whole visual field rather than individual objects. This allows them to see shadows and contours that non-artists would miss.

That is Wikipedia so far, differentiating between creative and logic. Maybe you are more comfortable with logic than creativity, but that does not mean you can use it as an excuse. I am co-teaching in a beginners TESOL class. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Learning another language is not the same as a math class; a chemistry or history class. In those classes you learn something new; how to apply calculus, or learn the table of elements. In language study you learn to say something you already know, in a different way. Grammar? Yes, but that is just part of it. In our native tongue, we all express ourself different, depending on our upbringing, the environment we live in - our culture - and how we relate to others. 

I lived in five different cultures; really six, because California and Florida are not the same even though they speak (more or less...) the same language. California is to the far left and Florida is to the far right... geographically. By "lived in", I mean at least five years in each. Not having spoken Spanish for ten years, I picked it up again in California with our sanitation foreman at the tomato cannery. He noticed I spoke more of Castillano, rather than the more common Spanglish spoken in California. He came from southern Mexico where Castillano is more prevalent as it is in Venezuela. 

Going back to our first phrase: Cheetahs, how 70 mph chasing can run prey while many? To make this more understandable, we need some constraints, best explained in the following table:                 


Five columns, in grammatical order, start with an amount or kind, followed by who or what; in other words, the subject. This is followed by the verb, or action word. Next is a pronoun or adverb describing what, which can be followed by a when where, what, how description. There are exceptions, but this order will give a complete thought or sentence. 

Next are a bunch of words. Here is where the creative part comes in. You can create a sentence with the appropriate word for each column. We need some constraints before we can be creative. Our phrase should read: How many cheetahs can run 70 mph while chasing prey? 

Have fun and be creative with this table :-)

Panic Attack or Dementia?

 "From the text, write a comment," is the teacher's instruction. What text? Where am I supposed to write the comment? I try to get an answer, but get ignored, while the rest of the class seems to get it. I wake up in panic. What was the teacher's instruction? Am I getting dementia? 

Just read an article the other day about Alzheimers, and how to delay its development. Maybe I need to read it again. How come everybody else in the class seems to get it? Maybe I am not smart enough. Why does the teacher ignore me? Can't get rid of the thought. It's like the police officer, who clocked a driver speeding 84 mph in a 45 mph zone and prepares to chase him and give him a ticket. But his cruiser won't start. Fining the speeder is an un-enforceable rule, just as understanding the teacher's assignment in my dream. C.S. Lewis states we are always trying to be somewhere we are not, trying to be inside the inner ring. Instead, do what you love to do and create your own inner ring. 

 I get out of bed to work on a computer project for a while. I can't find the project! More frustration. 

In looking for my project, I find a podcast about "not giving up". Stop listening to that voice of not understanding the teacher; that is only a feeling left over from a dream, but it is not necessarily true. Look for the facts. Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly. He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame. 

I follow "Storyworthy" by Matthew Dicks. The purpose of this course is to help you find stories. Even if you never want to tell a story to another person in the world, you should be actively, aggressively, relentlessly looking for stories in your life to tell yourself. You are the most important audience you will ever have for your stories. And as you start to collect stories in the ways that I'm going to teach you over the course of the next several lessons, you're going to discover that you lead a life that you never understood before. You'll discover that your life is filled with stories, and the more stories you start to see, collect, and hold on to, the better you'll feel about your life. 

Looking for facts requires knowing how to Google them, or looking them up in my Brain app. Not exactly do-able if you have dementia. We all have scary dreams from time to time. What do we do with them?  

Matthew Dicks continues with: We're here to collect stories. We're here to find them. hold on to them, and speak them, maybe to other people, but first to ourselves. But my promise to you is this. At the end of this course, you will have many strategies to find new stories in your life.

With those thoughts I went back to bed, fell asleep and woke up in the morning ready to face the day.