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Houston Mission Control 1970

If you are like me when you hear the word, “Houston….” your mind immediately finishes with, “…we have a problem.” The actual words are “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” The past perfect sounds so much better to me. Contrast those five words, starkly and ever more darkly, with these four, spoken to me by a dear friend, “The Challenger has exploded.” And, I’m fighting back tears as I write this because it still hurts.

Why I’m writing:

Reading Mark Manson’s book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”, I’ve come to a chapter titled, “Happiness Comes from Solving Problems.” Course correction is a kind of constant problem-solving exercise and it should be beneficial to anyone who is on a journey. Seeing myself as being on a journey that is my life, and constantly seeking guidance (and growth) along the way, I count that as success. If you believe success leads to happiness, you may have it backward. Happiness leads to success. If you ever feel as if you’ve arrived, begin again. Reinventing yourself is the easiest way to create new problems.

For me, being on this journey is success. Ending my travels would be, well, the end for me.

  • Looking back at where I’ve been and gleaning insight from things in my past (especially found solutions and unsolved problems) helps me remember to leave the pain behind and keep the lessons.

  • Thinking that I’m often perfect just as I am in the present allows me to sleep well.

  • Knowing there are new problems to solve, and there is progress to be made in the near and distant future wakes me up.

    All is well.

You may recall the problem reported to Houston was solved, and the problem with the Challenger lives on in my spirit and in my heart. The serenity prayer comes to mind as I realize I’ve come to accept the pain. The pain of being a “Highly Sensitive Person” is not a problem, wanting to not be that would create one. A lesson may be that giving a f*ck about every single minute detail is important to space travel, but it may not be so for your walk through life. “Let it go” comes up often along the way.

Back to the idea posited by Manson, on happiness, I’ve been a problem solver for so long, I should be overjoyed by now! Enter “Disappointment Panda” – who says, the solution to a problem creates a new problem. So, simply, if you always have problems to solve, you will always be happy.

Because, Words, That’s Why

Because, Words, That’s Why

20,000 Words

My sister gave me a book with this title. And I thought my vocabulary was already quite good, until I opened to the first page and found that I had never heard of the word, “abaft.” It is the second entry on the first page, right after abacus, which I suppose I could use to count how many words I’ve never seen are in this book!

The next one is abattoir, then abbe’, with that accented “e” at the end. Lest we fall behind, abaft means to the rear of specifically : toward the stern from so if you are moving away from the aft of a ship you are going abaft.

Definition of abattoir

a place where animals are butchered

Definition of abbé

a member of the French secular clergy in major or minor orders —used as a title

So, yes, there may be little use for these new words in everyday conversation, but that is not the point. What I’m saying is that I didn’t expect to find many words in this little book that I didn’t already know. And now I’m wondering just how much I don’t know. That stinks!

I am usually clear about how the more I know the more I understand how much I don’t know. But I was not expecting to have to take that lesson again from this little book. Full disclosure, it had belonged to my mother, and was left to my oldest sister, and now I have it. I have this book, along with a 2nd edition of “China Flight” by Pearl S. Buck.

I’ll write more about this later. And I’m going to catalog every formerly unknown word in this little lexicon. Another labor of love this will be.

When the Stars Align

When the Stars Align

Orion (The Hunter) Constellation

When the Stars Align

Spoiler alert, the stars have been aligned for some time. And yet, we know, if we trust observation and science, that they are constantly moving toward new alignment.

There is always a bit of research to support that point:

From National Geographic –

Even now the universe is expanding, and to astronomers’ surprise, the pace of expansion is accelerating. It’s thought that this acceleration is driven by a force that repels gravity called dark energy. We still don’t know what dark energy is, but it’s thought that it makes up 68 percent of the universe’s total matter and energy. Dark matter makes up another 27 percent. In essence, all the matter you’ve ever seen—from your first love to the stars overhead—makes up less than five percent of the universe.

The key phrases there are, “It’s thought that” and “We still don’t know.” Then they add percentages because math makes their assumption seem ever more likely to be true. Truthiness, anyone?

So, let’s just make stuff up, or guess in a scientific way. The people will have to believe us, because we’ll use math and sciency-sounding words like hypothesis and theory. If you refuse to agree with our theories, we will label you heretic, and regard you as uneducated or ill-informed. Somehow, the word “pontificate” comes to mind!

Freedom of choice allows you to decide on astrology or astronomy. If you want to believe that your life is predetermined by the position of stars in the sky, at birth, or at whatever time mercury is in retrograde, you are free to do so. If you want to study astronomy so you’ll know the position of Halley’s comet relative to constellations or other celestial bodies, you can do that, too.

You may also wish to consider phrases like “star-crossed lovers” and ponder the fate of Romeo and Juliet had things been just slightly different in the night sky. Seriously, now, if you don’t see what I’m saying, let me just say this:

If you stay up late, look up and enjoy the night sky. On a clear night, the starlight can be so inspiring. If you get up early, as I most often do, look up and enjoy the wonder of a new day under a starlit sky. Either way, you are free to completely dismiss any influence science or belief systems have had on your understanding of beauty as you see it.

One last thing, in case you are lost. For centuries, explorers have used the position of stars to understand where they are or where they are going. You may wish to consider this carefully as you make your way in the world.

Image source:

WOTD – placability

WOTD – placability

That is the noun, and the adjective is placable. If you are feeling angry, uptight, out of sorts, perhaps today’s word just doesn’t apply to you and your situation. It is my wish for you to somehow find equanimity, as I wish you peace.


In the past, I’ve been the kind of person who might take some time to cool down. With a bit of work and an attitude adjustment, I came to realize that holding that heat was akin to saying “No, I’m fine with my rage, and my elevated blood pressure, and my willingness to snap at the next person who speaks to me.” Does that sound insane to you? There were times when I actually had to try to remember what had mad me so mad, like I was just looking for a reason to stay miserable for as long as possible. Crazy, right?

If you see yourself in any of that, just ask yourself one question. What do I want to have happen next? Follow that with this one. What can I do or say to make that happen? It gets easier with practice. And, that’s just it. It is a practice. Your placability will improve as a result. At least it has for me – it has led to a higher level of equanimity. I’ve been known to say, “You can’t hurt me.” It’s not a tough guy thing. It is a knowing that my response is my responsibility. What does it mean to be placable?

Do your own research, and practice.

WOTD – highfalutin

WOTD – highfalutin

I’ve heard this word and may have even said it once or twice, but I’ve never written it and today it came up in my Toastmasters meeting. I’m writing this late – very late – to meet my word-a-day requirement and put in the work. I’ll do some make up work tomorrow as penance.


We do know that “highfalutin” is an American coinage and first appeared in the mid-1800s. “Highfalutin” was one of a number of popular epithets of the day, including “stuffed shirt” and “stuck-up,” with which 19th century Americans expressed their disrespect for those who flaunted their wealth and power.

While the origin of “highfalutin” may be a mystery, there are two generally accepted hunches, either of which might be true. The “high” in “highfalutin” is almost certainly our common adjective, signifying either physical height or, figuratively, magnitude.

Some authorities suggest that the “falutin” in “highfalutin” is a modification of “fluting,” meaning to play a flute or produce sounds similar to those made by a flute. Perhaps, goes this theory, “highfalutin” was inspired by the airy, delicate speech tones of hoity-toity rich folks. There’s no evidence to support this theory, but it’s not implausible.

The other popular theory traces the “falutin” to “flying” or “flown,” making “highfalutin” the equivalent of “high-flown,” meaning “exaggerated” or “elevated.” What makes this theory the more plausible of the two is the fact that “high-flown” has been used as an adjective meaning “extravagant or bombastic” since the mid-1600s (“Sentiments, which are occasionally too high-flown and overstrained, 1784), so this theory is actually grounded in an existing idiom.

— Quote Source –