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Posts Tagged ‘Richard P. Feynman’

This morning I’ve added two new entries to my Poems page: Trees and Time Is…
“Trees” is, of course, a wonderful little poem – particularly for re-incarnated “Ents” (like me!).  I believe it was Robert Heinlein who said everyone should plant a tree at some point in their life.  I completely agree.  Planting trees is like having children.  It is a commitment to the future.  It is an expression of hope.  Time passing, seasons turning, growth rings and bark – just like life.
Have you hugged a tree lately?  As ridiculous as hugging trees may seem, it’s my experience that it’s very rare for someone to hug a tree and not leave it without a big smile on their face and usually a laugh (or chuckle) too.
Doesn’t everyone know the best cure for everything wrong with a person is hugs, smiles and laughter?  I think of them as living medicine.
“Time Is…” is actually a quote and not a poem.  But it has always had the “poem” feel to me.  I first read this quote when I was a youngster riding the San Francisco Muni bus to school.  They had a program to bring poetry and quotes to the masses.  I loved looking for the newest entry on each bus and occasionally you’d get on a bus which had multiple poems or all poems (instead of advertising)!  Then you had to move slowly down the length of the bus as you rode along to your destination.  If I ever had the money to do so, that’s one of the ways I’d pay-forward for the joy someone else gave me way back when.
Enjoy!
The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out  —  book review
Yesterday, I completed my fourth book by Richard P. Feynman.  This one is titled: “The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out” (1999©).  The book is a collection of short “works” (speeches, interviews, and writings) by Dr. Feynman and was edited by Jeffrey Robbins.  Some of the stories I’d already read in Feynman’s other books, but the writing is so clear and the thoughts so beautiful you’re not left feeling like you’ve paid for a new book and only got a re-hash.  Of course, there will be many quotes from this book appearing on this blog from time to time.  After all, I’m still working through the quotes from the other three books.
As usual (for this author), this book is book is both highly thought provoking and highly recommended.  I hate to admit it, but I’m really starting to feel compelled to buy and read some of his serious (non-story) books.  I feel as if I’ve met (and lost again) a long lost friend.  It’s a shame he’s passed away (back in 1988).
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Innovation is a very difficult thing in the real world.
  —  Richard P. Feynman, Ph.D
From his book: “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!
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Although my mother didn’t know anything about science, she had a great influence on me as well.  In particular, she had a wonderful sense of humor, and I learned from her that the highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion.
  —  Richard P. Feynman
From his book: “What Do You Care What Other People Think?
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I’ve been caught, so to speak — like someone who was given something wonderful when he was a child, and he’s always looking for it again.  I’m always looking, like a child, for the wonders I know I’m going to find — maybe not every time, but every once in a while.
  —  Richard P. Feynman
from his book: “What Do You Care What Other People Think?
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Everything he read to me he would translate as best he could into some reality.
…I learned from my father to translate: everything I read I try to figure out what it really means, what it’s really saying.
  —  Richard P. Feynman
from his book: “What Do You Care What Other People Think?
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I’ve always been very one-sided about science, and when I was younger I concentrated almost all my effort on it.  In those days, I didn’t have time, and I didn’t have much patience, to learn what’s called the humanities.  Even though there were humanities courses in the university that you had to take in order to graduate, I tried my best to avoid them.  It’s only afterwards, when I’ve gotten older and more relaxed, that I’ve spread out a little bit.  I’ve learned to draw and I read a little bit, but I’m really still a very one-sided person and I don’t know a great deal.  I have a limited intelligence and I use it in a particular direction.
  —  Richard P. Feynman
from his book: “What Do You Care What Other People Think??
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Well, it’s Monday of Labor Day Weekend.  The weekend has flown by, again…
Book Review:
Saturday, I completed my third Richard P. Feynman book:  “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”  The first book was a collection of three lectures.  The second was the sequel to this book.  So, now I’ve read them in completely the wrong order.  It’s not you, Dr. Feynman, it’s me.  Sometimes even when you buy them correct, you end up reading them wrong.  The doctor is still funny and his observations about human nature are still accurate, but this book is referenced in the sequel and some of the ideas are expanded on in the lecture series, so sometimes reading this seemed like it was re-hashed.  Again, this book is a compilation of stories about the life and adventures of Dr. Feynman.  It’s a very fast read because he led an interesting life and because he is able to describe his adventures in a humorous and self-deprecating way. Highly recommended!
Family:
Yesterday, Hil and I went to Sunday Mass and I found, once again, the readings spoke to me personally. They were:
7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.
8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.
9 But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.
— Ezekiel 33:7-9
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
— Psalm 95:2
8 The only thing you should owe to anyone is love for one another, for to love the other person is to fulfil the law.
9 All these: You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and all the other commandments that there are, are summed up in this single phrase: You must love your neighbour as yourself.
10 Love can cause no harm to your neighbour, and so love is the fulfilment of the Law.
— Romans 13:8-10
Ezekiel struck me because it reinforced in me the view that we have a responsibility to each other to tell each other when a person is acting badly (against God’s wishes).  The failure to say anything is enough to warrant your own accountability for the action (you did not do yourself).  Interestingly, it does not say we are compelled to act to prevent an action – only that we must speak out against the action.
The Psalm was actually one of several verses stated, but this was the line which gave me pause.  I’ve been reading a number of posts in Facebook, by various individuals who are against some of the changes in the practice of the Mass since Vatican II.  Among the objections were the music, singing and dancing.  The views seemed to be the music was trivial (folk-song-ie, popular), the singing was about the participants instead of about God, and dancing altogether.  It seems the “current” Mass is “lateral/horizontal” (about the Church members) instead of “vertical” (praise to God).  As a consequence, I’ve been reading the words to the song lyrics more closely instead of just singing along.  Are they more about “me” or about “God”?
To be honest, this view has never entered my mind before and I find it puzzling.  My first reaction was: “You folks seriously need to get a Life!” Last week, I examined the songs and verses from “the other side of mind” and I concluded there may be more to this than I at first gave any credit.  After yesterday, though, I’ve decided – no, my first impression was correct.  Some of what goes on in the service is about “Me” instead of about God, but seriously, does anyone think God cares?  I may feel a little put off by folks dancing (“look at me”), but they may be put off just as much when I sing out loudly.  In other words: “To each their own in the celebration of your faith!”
I wonder if it is possible to “love your neighbor” if you are wrapped up in whether someone else’s dancing or singing in Mass is about them or about praising God?
Family:
After Mass, we picked up Mom and went to visit my sister Carm for a BBQ.  My brother Sean was there with his son, and I got to chat with Art (Carm’s husband), and Patrice (one of Carm’s sons).  I really wanted to discuss learning with my sister – she has a master’s degree in education, but we were only able to have a brief conversation.  Basically, I’m interested in if there is a systematic method of conveying “understanding”, not just memorization of steps in a learning environment.  I explained my goal is to train some folks in the use of a tool for using databases and all I’ve ever been able to come up with are examples and “performance based training” (a training concept I learned back in my Army days).  With PBT, the instructor shows and tells the steps, walks the student through each of the steps and then the student performs the steps.  If they are not able to perform the steps, the instructor goes back to step one (show and tell). My sister was not sure there was any superior way.
Subsequently, on the drive home, I posed the same question to my daughter who works in the California State Dept. of Education.  Her response was there is no such thing as a silver bullet and every class situation and student will be different.  Over dinner we continued the conversation, but it seems with our years of education – classes, apprenticeships, core curriculum – we still don’t have a proven system.
Neither response was very encouraging.
I guess the question is: Can we stimulate curiosity and the ability to apply specific learning to general (new) situations (extrapolation and interpolation) systematically?
At the moment, my response is – I don’t know…
Song Lyrics:
Since I finished a book, I went out an bought another handful.  And – since my local used bookstore was having a sale, I also picked up a DVD series:  “The Greatest American Hero“.  I watched the pilot and the first episode today – and I loved it!!  It’s a Sci-Fi comedy crime series about and odd couple who are handed an alien spacesuit which grants one of the couple superpowers.  Robert Culp plays the FBI Agent (the straight guy) and William Katt plays the superhero (gets the suit and the girl).  The “girl” is played by Connie Sellecca – Katt’s character’s lawyer / girl friend / eventual wife.  The series originally came out in 1981 and I remember watching at least some of it on TV.
Anyway, I found the pilot brilliant!!  It has lots of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” moments in it and it’s funny and reasonably well written and acted (it’s just a superhero show, it’s not meant to be Shakespeare).  I understand it’s also on Netflix and Hulu – so check it out.  The title song is: “Believe It Or Not” and it’s one of those one hit wonders that will stay stuck in you head for a week.  But it’s also fun!  So, who cares?  Check out the lyrics on my poems page and then go listen to it on YouTube.  It’s great!!
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