Theo's Thesis 2

If you have no idea what is going on in this story, asking me will benefit you in no way, because I do not know either. You can, however, check out part 1 if it makes you feel better.

It was Aaron who opened the door and bounded into Theo's office, closely followed by Steve. Theo noted at once that they didn't bear resemblance to each other in any way. Steve was on the heavier side and had short, sandy hair and glasses. Aaron was extremely energetic, and his every movement caused his brown hair to tumble into his eyes.
Uh, Theo, this is Aaron,” Steve said.
Hi!” Aaron smiled widely. “I'm ten. How old are you? You know, your office is really boring. It could use more posters. Maybe a few posters of hamburgers, Star Trek, and race cars. I really like race cars. Do you?”
Haha,” Steve laughed unconvincingly. “Aaron likes to talk.”
So I see,” Theo said. “Did you find your flight?”
Yes. We can leave in an hour,” Steve replied. “I brought some of Aaron's things with me; they're in the car.”
Ah, yes, of course,” Theo said. “I can follow you outside and we can transfer them to my car, unless you want to drop them off at my house.”
Which ever works for you,” Steve shrugged.
I was thinking of working for a little bit longer, so maybe if you put them in my car it will work best.”
Fine,” Steve said. Theo and Aaron followed him out into the hall.
I brought my comforter with me, the one with all of the race cars on it, though you know, most of those cars look pretty lame. If I was a race car driver, I would drive a cool car. You know, one with -”
Yes, Aaron,” Steve interrupted.
Dad, did you remember to pack my Star Trek movies? Not the fifth one; I really don't like that one because it's too confusing and lame, but I'm going to want some of them with me if I'm going to be stuck with a boring grad-student all day.”
Aaron!” Steve exclaimed, turning red with embarrassment.
You're right,” Theo said. “I am an extremely boring person. You'll need more than just Star Trek to help bear the tedium.” He grinned at Steve encouragingly.
Now look, Aaron,” Steve said sternly, “while I'm gone, you must remember to be polite. I'm going to be calling Theo to make sure you're being good.”
Yes, dad,” Aaron said humbly.
When they reached outside, the sun was already beginning to set. The sky was pale blue with a pink glow by the sinking sun. The sun itself shone golden, glinting off of cars in the parking lot. The air was growing chilly, so Steve and Theo worked quickly to transfer Aaron's things into Theo's car. By the time they had finished, the sky was growing dark, and a thin band of color with a rainbow gradient was all that was left of the sunset. Already, the planet Jupiter and several of the brighter stars were becoming visible nearby a full, yellow moon.
Now Aaron, don't talk off Theo's ears,” Steve reminded his son. “Theo is very busy working on his thesis, just like I am at home.”
Yes, dad. I know,” Aaron said. “When will you come back?”
As soon as I can,” Steve said. He hugged Aaron tightly, and squeezed Theo's arm. “Thanks again, Theo! I'll call you when I land in Florida and better know the state of things.”
Right. Have a safe trip.”
Aaron was silent as he watched his father pull away, but he smiled up at Theo as soon as the car was out of sight, and eagerly inquired about dinner.
I really like hamburgers, but I'll eat just about anything, so if you want Chinese food or something, I'm ok with that too.”
How kind of you,” Theo commented sarcastically as they entered the building again. “I hope you don't mind waiting a little bit, though, because I'm trying to finish up a few things before I go.”
Oh, that's ok,” Aaron said. “Do you have a computer I can use? I like looking up race cars and things online. My dad set up a racing simulator on our computer at home, and I like seeing if I can beat the other drivers in the simulator. Of course the other drivers are just computer-generated, but -”
I'm afraid I don't have any extra computers,” Theo admitted.
Shucks!” Aaron exclaimed. “This is turning out worse than I thought it would!”

(C) Copyright Curious Cognitive Content (CCC) - November 2010


Theo's Thesis 1

 I promised you that if I finished my story for NaNo WriMo this year, I would consider posting it here. Sadly, I did not get that far in my story, and left off at something like 7,000 words, but I decided to post the beginning of it anyways, and maybe that will motivate me to finish it....
Anyhow, here is part 1. Since it is a first draft I am afraid that some of it may not be parsed right, or have simple errors that need editing and/or research, so any comments or constructive criticism you would like to offer will be greatly appreciated. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy it!

The sunlight filtered in through the shade in the window, creating linear shadows across Theo's desk. He was poring over an article for the third time, trying to comprehend the meaning of the information written in it. He sighed and ran his fingers through his dark, wavy hair. There was a slight tap at the door, and Theo looked up to see his friend Mark at the door.
Hi, Theo! Mind if I come in?” the young man asked, walking into the small room without waiting for an answer.
Oh, hullo, Mark! What is it?” Theo began to put his pen down, but it dropped from his hand and fell on the floor.
Mark grinned. “You've been studying again, haven't you?”
Uh, yes,” Theo said. “How can you tell?”
You always get clumsy when your mind is on other things,” Mark replied. He reached down to pick up Theo's pen, and stood up quickly with a grimace on his face and a half-eaten sandwich in his hand.
Oh, sorry,” Theo laughed, taking the sandwich from Mark. It slipped through his fingers and fell to the floor again, the peanut butter and jelly spilling out.
Mark shook his head hopelessly. “Theo, are you alright?”
Um, yeah, why wouldn't I be?” Theo asked.
You've been acting more and more...distant lately. Me and the guys tried calling you five times last night, and you never picked up the phone,” Mark said.
I was out grocery shopping and I forgot to take my phone with me.”
Look, I can believe that you were busy. I can even believe that you were out shopping at 11:00 at night. But seriously, it feels like you're avoiding us, because it hasn't just been an occasional night – it's been every night for the past 365 days! Or is it months by now?” Mark sighed.
Mark,” Theo said, looking at him pityingly. “You know how much I love hanging out with you and the guys. We've always been best friends, haven't we?”
Or used to,” Mark said sullenly.
Nothing's changed – on my part,” Theo said. “I've just been so busy, that-”
Busy with what, Theo?” Mark asked. “I know you're working on your doctorate, but heck, Theo, we all are! Steve and Paul are both in mathematics, and I'm going for English literature. Can biology be all that different?”
Theo looked at him strangely. “Biology is very different from English literature.”
Theo!” Mark was perplexed. “You missed the point entirely! If the rest of us can juggle a doctorate and still have a life on the side, so can you, right? Get a life, Theo!”
Theo sighed and ran his finger along the edge of one of his books. For a little while, he was quiet, staring at the floor. “I'm trying Mark,” he said at last. “This paper is turning out much harder than anything I ever anticipated.”
Mark was about to retort, but he caught something in Theo's voice that made him stop and bite his tongue. He looked up sharply and studied Theo's pale face.
Come on, Theo,” he said, “You didn't expect your thesis to be easy, did you?”
Theo shrugged. “Easier,” he said. He sighed and pulled his laptop open for Mark to read the email that had just arrived.
Your advisor's retiring?” Mark asked incredulously.
He's been battling cancer ever since last fall,” Theo explained. “I guess he decided that he just couldn't go on with his work.”
But Theo, you'll have to get a new advisor right while you're in the middle of your work!” Mark protested.
I know that,” Theo said. “Now you know part of what's been bothering me.”
I'm sorry,” Mark sighed. He put his hand on Theo's shoulder. “Let me know how things turn out, ok? And if me or the guys can do anything to help you out, just shoot us an email or call us up. It would be good to know every once in a while that you're still alive.”
Oh, I wouldn't worry,” Theo grinned. “If you don't see my obituary in the newspaper, then you'll know I'm still breathing.”
He watched Mark leave the room, then turned back to his work, a frown settling in his forehead.

Steve was cheerfully contemplating his next paragraph. He was explaining the Galileo-Einstein field equation, and was was feeling quite pleased with the results. He took a huge bite out of his donut and bemoaned the fact that it was too small. His large coffee cup was empty, too. Maybe it was time to stop by the cafe again. He heaved himself out of his chair and picked up his jacket.
Alpha Cafe was a newly established coffee shop only two blocks away from Steve's office. The front of the shop had huge windows with short, green curtains, and a huge sign that read, “our pi is beta than most!” Best of all, it served fresh donuts and coffee daily.
Steve stepped inside the cafe and breathed the smells in deeply. He studied the different kinds of donuts before finally deciding on the biggest, a giant chocolate one with vanilla frosting. He took a large bite out of it and was just beginning to chew when his phone rang loudly. Several customers eyed him with annoyance as he rummaged through his pockets, searching for it.
Hi,” he said, flipping it open quickly the moment he held it in his hands.
Steve?” a worried voice said at the other end.
Angie! What's wrong?” Steve asked, stuffing the rest of his donut into his pocket, and walking rapidly to where he had parked his car.
Look, I just received a call from your parents. Your Grampa has been taken to the hospital, and they're not sure what's wrong with him. They want us to fly down as soon as we can,” Angie said, her voice breaking as she spoke.
I'm on my way home right this moment. Don't worry, honey! You start looking up flights to Florida.”
But, Steve,” Angie said, “Who will watch Aaron? We can't possibly take him with us!”
We can...uh.... Aaron's growing up. He'll be alright,” Steve stammered.
He'll be alright, maybe, but he won't be happy. And at any rate, he's still in school.... Oh, Steve, it won't work!”
Steve sighed audibly. “I'll be there as soon as I can, honey. Meanwhile, I'll start thinking about who we can get to babysit....”

The door slammed open so hard that a poster fell off the wall. Theo looked up in amazement as Steve burst into the room.
What on Earth...?”
Theo!” Steve exclaimed. “I was hoping I'd find you here!”
I'm here. What's going on?” Theo asked, watching him with wary eyes.
Oh, Theo, I'm at my wits end!” Steve said. “Look, can you do me a favor?”
Um, I don't know.”
My grandfather's in the ICU down in Florida, and we have no idea what's going on with him. Me and Angie have to fly down as soon as possible, and we need someone to watch Aaron for us. Please, Theo!” Steve begged as he saw Theo begin to shake his head. “I've called Mark and Paul, and I can't get a hold of either of them. You're the only one I can get right now!”
Steve, I don't know how to take care of children!” Theo protested. “I wish I could help you out, but-”
Come on, Theo! You're my last hope!”
Theo sighed and studied his pen thoughtfully. “How long would I have to watch him?”
Two days maybe? I won't really know until I get down there,” Steve replied regretfully. “Look, I'll call you when I get to Florida, and if it will be longer than two days, I'm sure I can arrange for someone else to watch him. Please?”
Ok,” Theo shrugged. “I'll watch Aaron for you for a little while – but just until you can find someone else.”
Oh, thanks a million, Theo!” Steve exclaimed, shaking his friend's hand hardily. “I'll drop Aaron off, and oh! You'll need my phone number!”
Steve, I have your phone number!”
Oh, uh, right,” Steve said, acting flustered. “Um, just call me if you have any questions, ok?” Steve turned to leave the room, but stopped at the door as Theo called him back. “Something wrong?”
No, I'm just.... I'm sorry about your grandfather. I hope everything turns out alright.”
Thanks, Theo,” Steve smiled. He closed the door quietly behind him.
Now what have I done?” Theo put his head in his hands and tried think clearly. His mind could now longer comprehend the papers before him (if it ever could). Instead of meditating on the delicate process of RNA copying DNA, he found himself wondering how in the world he was to care for a 10-year-old in the midst of his mounting concerns about his data....

(C) Copyright Curious Cognitive Content (CCC) - November 2010


Veterans Day

I am certain that I am not the only one to have observed the ironic contradiction of emotions one may feel when remembering soldiers who have fought for us. In one sense, one feels deeply saddened as one remembers the men who left their homes to defend their homes; who spilled out their blood, watched many of their friends and comrades die before their eyes, and experienced countless hardships that we have only heard in name: the soldier with a scarf around his head in the horrible heat of the desert, trying to keep the sandy dust out of his lungs; the soldier who trudged for hours in the snow, leaving blood in his foot prints because he had no shoes; the soldier lying wounded in a hospital, or captured by the enemy, or watching helplessly as some atrocity occurs before his eyes, and knowing that there was nothing he could do, or ever can do to reverse the event....

Yet even as one feels sad, there is a joy that comes as well, and even pride. Those who lived after the wars, and experienced trama or carried memories that will haunt them for ever after, carried those memories because they fought for us. Those who came back wounded, mutilated, incapacitated, sick - who sacrificed their lives in another sense - were so hurt for our sake. And finally, for those who died, they died to save us, that we might live in peace and security and freedom - all good things which ought to inspire joy, and not grief. I am sure that they would not wish us to mourn.

And so I end this post in the best manner that I know how:
Thank you to all of the soldiers out there who have fought, will fight, and are fighting now! "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." ~Numbers 6:24-26



It is hard work being a Christian. I have to pray, go to Church, love my neighbour, and in general, be a good person if I am ever to achieve eternal life. Right? Wrong.

How dreadfully easy it is to think that being a Christian consists of simply being a good person, and how ironic that, in trying to simplify things by ignoring the gospel and just "doing good," we have actually made things a great deal harder! We are attempting to accomplish that which no man has ever accomplished, For "as it is written, 'none is righteous, no not one'" (Romans 1:10).

Does good works save a man? Then no man is saved. Does going to church, reading the Bible, loving our neighbour, and so on and so on save a man? Then again, no man is saved. "For...'none is righteous, no not one.'"

What then? Have we no hope? Will we perish in a wretched state of always trying harder and never winning our goal? Or will we even blindly pursue the world, knowing that it is utterly hopeless to ever attain salvation? By no means! If Christians do exist, and good works do not make a Christian who he is, then something else does.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17, emphasis mine).

Therefore, it is faith in the gospel that makes man a Christian. It is believing that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became a substitute for us by living the good life that no one else could and dying the death everyone deserved thereby imputing or giving his righteousness to us if we believe. And this is what saves us.

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God." (Romans 5:6-9).

This is the gospel; man is sinful, God is holy, and the only way of reconciliation - the only bridge between the two - is Jesus Christ.


When one tries to procrastinate in school...

...one takes artistic photos of one's school, because surely such photos must count for something?


Autumn and NaNo-WriMo

The middle of October is always a funny time of the year. All through September and the beginning of October, the splendor and glory of autumn appears - trees are on fire with golden, crimson, and orange leaves, and the apples ripen and pumpkins fall off the vine.

But by the middle of Autumn, the leaves have faded into a muddy-brown color, and many of the tree branches are sadly forlorn, stripped of all their leaves. It is too early for Thanksgiving (the happy beginning of the holidays), and seems to be stuck in an insignificant rut in-between things.

Happily, however, it is also the time when one begins planning for NaNo WriMo. What is NaNo WriMo? It is, quite simply, National Novel Writing Month. On November 1st, the writing begins and doesn't end until 30 days and (hopefully) 50,000 words later. In October, one begins to map out the basic plot one's story will follow, and sign up to be a participant of NaNo WriMo on the NaNo WriMo website (see link above).

This is my second official year of NaNo WriMo. Unfortunately, I only got 15,000 words last year. But it is one of those things that is more fun to actually do than "win" necessarily. Maybe if [this being a very big if] I am extremely good this year in my story writing, I will consider posting the complete story here. :)


Another Astronomy Diversion

Three posts in practically a week! Am I good or what? ;)

Anyways, today the discovery of an Earth-like planet was announced. This planet, Gliese 581g, is several times the mass of our planet and orbits a red dwarf star. The planet is locked into position, one side always baking in the oven, and the other side always sitting in the freezer, but the line where the oven and the freezer start and end respectively offers the hospitable temperature of a cold winter (averaging -24 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit). Not only is this planet hopefully habitable, it is a mere 20 light years away....

The evidence is overwhelming. We need to develop a faster, more efficient means of space travel. Maybe it will take years - generations - but in the end, the possibility of space colonies and manned interplanetary travel outside of our solar system can become a reality.


From the Notebook....

I saw it first in the rough rugged mountainside,
In the trees and rocks that the blue shadows hide -
I caught a glimpse of beauty and I could not let it go,
So I'd cling to it and chase it, although it pained me so.

I knew that pain of longing when I saw the ocean blue;
Blue deeper than the sky that fades into a grayish hue,
I caught a glimpse of beauty and I could not let it go,
So I'd cling to it and chase it, although it pained me so.

The awe of galaxies so great and stars beyond the sun,
The somber thrills of nebulae - they left me all undone
For I'd caught a glimpse of beauty which I could not let go,
And I'd cling to it and chase it, although it pained me so.

I read of the laws of physics, such as F equals M times A,
And I wondered at the order of the universe that day;
...I'd caught a glimpse of beauty which I could not let go,
And I'd cling to it and chase it, although it pained me so.

Then through misty eyes I saw a cross, the middle one of three,
And I saw my sins on a Saviour who had born them all for me;
I caught a glimpse of beauty and I could not let it go,
So I'd cling to it and chase it although it pained me so.

Then I knew the world I saw here was just the fading shadow,
And I knew the joy I'd sought so long I finally did know,
For I'd seen a glimpse of Heaven in each thing I had longed for,
And I'd see it all so clearly when I passed through Death's dark door.

Christ's open arms are stretched to me and, full of joy, I run;
My God who loved and saved me by His only, precious Son....
Oh, I see this glimpse of beauty and I cannot let it go,
So I'll cling to it and chase it, because I love it so.

(C) Copyright September 27, 2010 - Curious Cognitive Content (CCC)


On Dinosaurs and a Neglected Blog

I am posting today primarily to try out this updated blogging editor thing that blogger initiated simply to confuse people like me who dislike changes to anything that has become nice and familiar. To be fair, the only problem I have had with it so far is that it is slow, and that isn't blogger's problem but my old computer's. :)

I was also feeling just a touch ashamed for leaving my blog without a new post for almost a month and decided to post something even if it meant opening up the dictionary and choosing a word at random. However, although I have resorted to that in the past, today a subject offered itself to my attention.

A couple of new dinosaurs were recently discovered in North America,the most intriguing of these being the Kosmoceratops (Kosmo: "to ornate" ceratops: "horn-face"). Apparently, this particular dinosaur definitely has an ornate horny-skull - the most elaborate of all known dinosaurs.

Sadly, as I am not a dinosaur enthusiast, I cannot elaborate, being slightly muddled (an understatement) by the technical words of classification and genus. Perhaps the only thing I know about dinosaurs comes from second hand knowledge of Jurassic Park. In any case, this sad semblance of a post will have to do for now....


Science fiction story (of sorts)

My posts have been awfully silly lately, but I hope that will change as I start school again and become more serious. In the meantime, here is another silly post to grace the first page of my blog....
“Hullo, Peter!” Frank came in cheerfully.
“Oh, there you are, Frank! What have you been doing all morning?” Peter put aside his tools and looked up expectantly.
“I wrote a story!”
“That's nice.”
“I hope it will be a best-seller someday.”
“Really? You have to have a big audience, then.”
“Yeah; I'm a little afraid it won't sell that well. It's a science fiction book, you see, and only Greeks read those nowadays.”
“Greeks?” Peter asked.
“Yes. Listen to this first part:
When that spaceship first flew through space like a bird that takes to its wings and soars on the wind, many were the number of men who gazed upon it with wondrous awe. In particular was one, Jean Marcus, son of Paul Marcus, renowned for his piloting skills. So great was the legend of Paul Marcus that men held him long after his passing as the leader among pilots.
“But Frank -” Peter protested.
“Wait! There's more:
Jean Marcus knew the longing to follow after his father, and ever he pursued it as a fox that hungers will search on and on for food until at last he finds it. On that day as he saw the spaceship pass overhead, gradually fading into space as a twinkling star will fade in the morning when night has passed, he finally made his decision.
“'O Tyler, thou engineer, so skilled in the making of metal works, and unsurpassed in your understanding of mathematical equations, which some say the very universe is composed of; O Tyler, thou ever present friend, I have determined something.' Thus said Jean to his dearest friend, Tyler.
“'Ah, Jean, what is this -'”
“Hold on a moment, what sort of story is this?”
“I just told you! Hang on:
“'Ah, Jean, what is this strong determination of which thou speak so forcefully?'At these words, Jean expressed his desire, and even as he spoke, the tears came to his eyes as dew drops that fall on the rose petal, 'O Tyler, mine ever faithful friend, my determination is thus so firmly set that naught could move me to remain. If not for the sorrow I feel I may cause you at my going, I should have left long ere now. I shall away to that vast sea of space, that black sky that knows not mere clouds, but gaseous nebulae and great galaxies. Ah, Tyler! I shall sail in a space ship and follow after my father's steps, till I may even hope to rival him in his skill. And finally, I shall avenge his death that he died at the hands of our fierce-some foe!'”
“But Frank -”
“What?” Frank said, giving in with a sigh.
“Don't you mean geeks, not Greeks?”
“Uh.... It's, um....” Frank appeared flustered.
“Don't worry,” Peter said with a laugh, “I'm sure it will sell for it's originality. After all, I've never heard of a sci-fi story written in Greek prose before....”

(c) Copyright August 24, 2010 - Curious Cognitive Content


Ode to Ice Cream

Woke up this morning
with a terrible longing -
I wanted ice cream for breakfast,
Oh, chocolate ice cream!

Oh, ice cream sliding down my throat,
Feels like an antidote -
And, oh chocolate ice cream!

Pulled out that ice cream
But mom, she let out a scream
"Ice cream ain't healthy!
Now eat your cereal!"

And isn't it a shame,
but I know you're not to blame,
Oh, Ice cream.

Cereal is good for you, though
Mom, why did you have to know?
Ice cream tastes better,
Oh, chocolate ice cream.

And if you've got a bit of stealth,
Convince one of ice cream's health,
Oh, chocolate ice cream.

Ice cream's got dairy
And fruit if it is cherry,
Though chocolate's the one I want,
And chocolate's made of beans.

Ice cream has sugar, fat,
And we all need a bit of that,
Oh, chocolate ice cream!

Sweet, creamy ice cream!

Copyright - August 21, 2010 - Curious Cognitive Content


Astronomy Diversion

It's only been recently that I realized what a mix of things I had posted on this blog: stories, poems, silly things, serious things, space travel, etc. What it was considerably lacking, however, was astronomy.

Perhaps I didn't even notice this lack until an opportunity presented itself this morning. When I brought up the news today, I was thrilled to discover the headline: "Scientists find most massive star ever discovered." According to the article, scientists in the UK found a star (R136a1) believed to be approximately 265 times more massive than our sun, and which burns about 10 million times as brightly.

Because a star begins with all of the mass it will ever have, and slowly shrinks as it ages due to its "self-consumption" or burning of its components to sustain itself, even though R136a1 is the most massive star yet discovered, it was even more massive when it was first created.



The 4th of July, Independence Day, was this past week. Unfortunately, I was unable to write anything for the occasion, being temporarily without internet for about ten days. To be exact, I was in Connecticut with my sister.

Our catch phrase during the trip became "like home, but not home." In other words, Connecticut has aspects that aren't much different, and other aspects that are soooo not New York. For instance, we walked into a crowded Walmart and were beginning to feel right at home until we spotted a sign in the store advertising fireworks. Beneath, strange boxes of the combustible items were stacked neatly, ready for the average customer. As a native New Yorker, I have always viewed selling fireworks to just anybody as being against the law. Thus the Walmart there was "like home, but really not home."

Anyways, my trip to CT left me favourably impressed. The ocean we visited was stunningly beautiful, and if my camera batteries hadn't decided to die, I would have loaded my hard drive with so many pictures that my computer would have crashed. I saw two impressive displays of fireworks (which one can never take a picture of to do it justice), and I watched Toy Story 3 in 3D (my first 3D movie ever).

Now I really am home. It has been one of those hot, quiet afternoons in the middle of summer vacation that makes one feel as though something unexpected should happen - but unexpected thing rarely does come along - and I'm not convinced that such days are unpleasant things....


The End of the Shuttle

"What is it? It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...a SPACE SHUTTLE!"

It's hard to know where to begin with a story when one is facing the end of it. Nevertheless, some effort must be made to acknowledge the retirement of the space shuttle - and the end of space travel as we know it. Scheduled to take off sometime mid-November of this year, the Endeavour will mark NASA's final shuttle mission.

Although NASA will continue to work on things such as Mars exploration (using robotic craft), and the study of stars and planets both in our galaxy and beyond, the future of manned space-craft is so uncertain and unlikely that it could be up to 10 or 20 years before an American astronaut again steps out onto the dusty soil of the moon's surface - and possibly longer before he can stand on Mars and see the red planet with his own eyes.

To be fair, none of the shuttles ever made it to the moon, but that only makes the retirement all the more saddening. If the government cared so little about landing on the moon in recent years, how much does it care about the exploration of space at all, now that the one connector between the Earth and the vacuum has been discarded without a replacement?

Therefore, we remember the shuttle as we remember the Apollo missions. Perhaps the shuttle's accomplishments were comparatively insignificant. Perhaps it's experiments weren't as ground-breaking as those during the Apollo period. Nevertheless, the symbol that it stands for: the delight of exploration, the importance of technological advance, and most notably, the self-sacrifice and bravery of those men and women who risked their lives - and of those who died, most notably those of the Challenger and the Colombia - for the furthering of our understanding of natural phenomenons and the physical universe - is no less great than past achievements. Thus we see the conclusion of this chapter in history come to an end.


Contemplations on Death, Part II

It seems several months since I posted the first part to this series, though in reality it has only been weeks. I had started working on this section a while ago, and stopped because I was having difficulty expressing my thoughts clearly while providing a strong logical foundation, and at the same time stay on topic and keep the post from running to a length of 50 paragraphs. Here I have returned to the problem at hand, at last, hopefully able to both hold my readers attention and other him a reasonable explanation of my beliefs and the reasons for them.

Unfortunately, due to the lengthy content of this post, I will have to gradually lead up to a conclusion, but leave the reader once more in suspense as I split up my series into further divisions. This post will look at the existence of the eternal, which I believe offers the only real reason for life, and will go no further.

First of all, there is something inside of everyone that accepts a definite right and a definite wrong. Some will dispute this fact, and might even claim that it is wrong of me to say so, because isn't that legalism? Isn't that forcing everyone to accept my sense of morals? Yet, their very claim is proving my point; they are accusing me of being wrong, but if there is no right or wrong, than I cannot possibly be in the wrong. They are making the assumption that legalism is a bad thing.

I recently read a section of The Octopus by Frank Norris. To be fair, I didn't read all that much, but I think I have the basic gist of the plot. In the story, humans are portrayed as helpless pawns in the hand of an unsympathetic Nature. Written by a notable naturalist, the story makes it clear that the only reason for life offered by the naturalist view is that of self-survival. There is no sense of right or wrong, but merely the work of trying to stay alive in spite of many forces working against you. Yet, the railroad owner, a particularly annoying and cruel man, dies a slow and painful death that the reader is forced to look upon as being just and fitting as a result for the man's actions. Here, too, there is an unspoken sense of what is right and wrong.

Where did this sense of right and wrong come from? If man can deny it so emphatically and yet unconciously support it, it must be a part of man that is so ingrained in him that it cannot be discarded. Is it really possible that even if a man could be assembled randomly by mud and slime in an evolutionary process, that he could also have an unspoken list of no-no's placed inside of him, making him guilty when he goes against it and commending him when he follows it? It seems highly inprobably to me. It points to something - or someone - eternal; something outside of man.

Moreover, a study of physics will reveal an even more baffling problem to those who deny the existence of the eternal. According to the laws of thermodynamics, matter can neither be created or destroyed. How then could the Big Bang happen without either matter or energy or both? There are two kinds of energy: potential energy and kinetic energy. If I were to set a ball on a shelf, that ball would hold potential energy, because it holds the capacity to fall or roll. If I were to push the ball off the shelf, my application of force would transform that potential energy into kinetic energy, a state of activity.

Now supposing that there was nothing - not even space. Absolutely nothing. Trying to picture nothing would leave one with the impression of an empty space or an empty darkness. But both of these are not nothings; they are, in fact, somethings. Respectively, they are "space" and "darkness." We can not fathom a state of nothingness, because it would have no conceivable quality - it has no color, no form (not even emptiness), no volume, no measurable quantity - it has nothing because it is nothing.

Very clearly, a nothing has no energy or matter. If it had the slightest trace of any of these things, it would instantly become a something, and we would immediately be confronted with the question, "where did that something come from?" Obviously, with no potential energy, and no force of kinetic energy to trigger the potential energy into more kinetic energy, which could very possibly turn into something similar to the concept of the Big Bang Theory, we would be left with an infinite nothingness. I say infinite, because nothing could break its state of nothingness at any time, but I am assuming that it is still holding to the rules of time. Nothing would be outside of time, because time is a something.

So how did we get from a state of Nothingness to a state of Somethingness? There is no possible way. The only way we could exist today is if something had always been - had always existed. Whether this something was a great store of energy that exploded into the universe, or else something else - I leave it to the reader to make his choice.


Contemplations on Death, Part I

"Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity."
~Ecclesiastes 1:2
The room was cold and still. On one side of the room was a casket, and in the casket lay a pale form, its familiar face expressionless with seeming-sleep. Who has said that a dead face appears peaceful - or even beautiful? They were wrong. The face of death is awful; pale and cold and spine-chilling so quickly become overused adjectives.

If I hadn't known the dead before - if I had never seen him alive and happy, with his eyes smiling at me - everything would have been easy. But I had. And often after this scene, I lay in bed wondering what the point of life was if it all ended in death.

I wasn't the only one who had wondered this, and I'm not the only one to write about it. Well-known authors such as Jack London often wrote about the futility of life. There was one author in particular that stood out to me - an ancient fellow from before the time of Christ. He wrote a book called Ecclesiastes.

"What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises....
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun."
~Ecclesiastes 1:3-5, 8-9
This is only a part of chapter one. The book runs on in this manner for several chapters. If I had felt depressed before, I should surely feel depressed now, having read this. But there was a section of the book that suddenly jumped out at me, being so entirely different from the tone and mood of the rest of the book:

"What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man." ~Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 [emphasis mine]

If this is the answer, it seems to be an incomplete answer. It tells us what we should do, but not why we can do it. For instance, why should we be joyful and do good if we know that the inevitability of death hangs over us? And why should we take pleasure in our toil if we know that in the end our works are nothing? The paragraph concludes that "this is God's gift to man." But what does that mean?

Unfortunately this post is rather long already, and I have homework to do, so I'll have to leave you pondering these questions until I can come back and write part 2. Perhaps you already know the answers; it is always good to remind yourself of them. :)


Q and A: Interview with Rodney Richards

Rodney Richards is at it again with the upcoming release of his new book, Hidden In Snow! This delightful sequel to Hidden On the Prairie series outlining the lives of animals who dwell in cold, snowy regions is full of colorful, vivid descriptions and strong, convincing examples. Today, Rodney has graciously agreed to take part in an interview about his new book.

Tell us, Rodney, what was the inspiration for Hidden In Snow?

Richards: I was on a vacation in Hawaii when I suddenly realised that all of my previous books had focussed on animals in warmer climates. So I was talking with a friend of mine and he said, "Rodney, why don't you write about Antarctica?"

Interesting. I seem to remember from past interviews that you like being on the exact location you are writing about. Did you settle down in Antarctica for a few months while you wrote your book?

Richards: No, I hate cold weather. I visited the San Francisco Zoo instead, because I figured that most of the animals would be the same anyways. It was a lot cheaper, too.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book?

Richards: You see, I've always admired alligators - their impressive wingspan, and sharp beaks - so I thought it was only fitting to make them sort of like the main characters in my book. I designed Hidden In Snow with more of a plot than my previous books, so that children would be more drawn into it and possibly pick up a few more scientific facts than they would have otherwise.

You mentioned a story plot.

Richards: The basic plot involves an alligator who is sad because he hasn't grown his wings yet. He goes around and meets other animals who are sad too, including a frog that hasn't grown his tongue yet, a rabbit that hasn't grown its scales yet, and an anaconda that is sad because he's the only one in his family who hasn't grown a fur coat yet. By the end of the story, children will have met every kind of species existing in Antarctica, as well as the species' habitat, eating habits, lifestyle, etc.

It sounds like a classic plot many writers have used to teach children about animals. Did you feel bad about using a stereotype?

Richards: [laughs] I'm not a typist or anything, so I wasn't worried about what font my book would use.

Uh, right. Do you do have any plans for writing books to follow this one?

Richards: Well, you see, I've been thinking about the other books I've written and how they all have to do with animals in natural settings, but there are so many other animals out there that live in unnatural settings, and I figured they needed some recognition, too. This book was a step towards that direction, because snow can be created artificially, but plants - real, living plants - can't be. So when I chose a setting like a prairie or a forest, I surrounding my characters with natural things. When I'm writing about a snowy region, it could mean anything from Antarctica to the pile of artificial snow outside of an ice-hockey rink.

So you want your next book to take place outside of a hockey rink?

Richards: I've been thinking about doing something like that. After all, I'm sure hardly anyone pays any attention to what lives in the snow outside their hockey rinks; I'm sure that a book on the topic would instantly become a best-seller, because it would be the only book on the topic.

What does live in discarded hockey-rink snow?

Richards: Well, in order to determine that, we would have to go talk about the sport a little bit, and I'll tell you why in a moment. In a hockey rink, one team throws a ball into a big basket hanging from the wall, and the other team whacks it with a bat. For some reason, people get very excited when this happens and drop the popcorn they're eating all over the rink. When the rink is cleaned later on, the discarded popcorn and a pile of injured bats are pushed outside with the snow. Therefore -

Excuse me a moment; where are the injured bats from?

Richards: From the game. After all, do you expect a bat to survive a whack against a huge ball? Most of the bats end up with broken wings, at the very least.

I see. Go on.

Richards: Therefore, bats and anything that eats popcorn - from whales to mosquitoes - can be found burrowing in the snow outside of a hockey rink. As you might imagine, this wide range of animals offers a good platform for a book.

I understand. We're running low on time here, so perhaps you should state your mission to my readers and say goodbye.

Richards: Somehow I think I'm being pushed out of here.... My mission is to educate the young and the old on matters concerning zoology and other sciences that are necessarily involved with my stories. My mission is to show the world that research is only an option, that so much can be achieved in a matter of months.

Rodney Richards is a brilliant author of books about science for elementary school-aged children. Among his many works is his most famous book, Hidden on a Prairie, a book about prairie life. The thirty-two year old claims to have written it in only two months, with absolutely no research. The quality of the writing is unbelievably excellent, and has won him a place in every child's heart, besides nationally acclaimed fame from teachers all across the country.

Disclaimer: Please note that all content above is fictional; any resemblance to reality is accidental. Thank you!


A Letter to the White House....

Dear Mr. President Obama,

It is highly improbable that you will ever read this, much less know of its existence, but if by some odd chance you do see this, I hope, that as a young American and one of the uprising generation, my opinion will not be overlooked.

My letter to you involves the topic of space travel and the way in which it is achieved. I realise that there are two ways of confronting this subject, the first being the emotional sob-story way, and the other being the hard-worn path of logic. Since I can not make up my mind which to use, I will use them both.

First, for as long as I can remember, I have held a certain fascination for outer space, and it has been a constant dream of mine to become an astronaut and some day walk on other planets. It was only recently that I discovered that not only has the future of an astronaut become a series of monotonous missions to the ISS, but that even this routine task is to become accomplished by an expensive contract with a foreign power.

Mr. President, where is the joy of exploration and the thrill of doing that which no man before has done when one is performing experiments in a crowded satellite with no assurance that the knowledge being gained will ever be put to use in the capacity it is meant for - namely, the exploration of outer space? And now, even the excitement of doing something for America is dashed in view of the fact that it is done in utter reliance upon a foreign power.

Secondly - and this view I will break up into several different points - there is the logical view. There are several components to this view, including that of national security and - on a more global scale - that of the good of humanity.

The first point, that of national security, refers back to the total dependence on foreign powers. While I am fully aware that a contract with another nation may be more cost effective, I am also aware of the risk involved in such a venture. If, and I say if, our relations with the other nation became other than friendly, not only is our entire means of transportation in outer space obliterated, but also the lives of American astronauts could be endangered, and the other nation would hold a high military advantage over us.

I say the latter because if space travel is possible, why not a moonbase? And if a nation has no qualms about breaking a contract, what is to prevent them from building a large piece of military equipment capable of firing at any point in the USA from outer space? I realise, of course, that this is a very politically incorrect possibility to discuss, but even if it is not discussed, is it wise to dismiss it as impossible?

Secondly, on the grounds of the good of humanity, it has been suggested by some that the over-population of planet Earth, or some global tragedy such as an epidemic, could threaten our home planet and make it unable to sustain life. Although I have my own reasons to believe that such a things are highly improbable, they are, nonetheless, possibilities I think a world leader ought to consider.

If such a tragedy were to occur, would it not be logical to have another place to go that the human race be preserved? And if so, then the fact remains that we need to find that place. If planet Earth were to be destroyed, the only other logical place would be another planet, and the only means of discovering such a planet and learning to survive on it is to send manned-missions to other planets and conducting experiments there.

As a Christian, which I believe you have professed to be, you must know that one of the great things about being a Christian is the assurance that such a global tragedy will not occur unless it be the will of God. You will also know, however, that as we make new scientific discoveries, we learn more about our God - His orderly organization of creation and His love of beauty. He has told us to "subdue the earth," and by delving into the mysteries of creation, on this planet and beyond, we learn more principles of the universe, and thus practical applications of those principles, thereby subduing the earth more fully.

Lastly, I appeal to your sense of national pride. America has a history of people repeatedly demonstrating perseverance and determination; it became a world power as a result. You have proven your own perseverance in many ways throughout your term in office. How can you simply sign over one of our nations greatest achievements to a foreign power and tell NASA to do something other than the space travel it was created to do?

Thank you for taking the time to read through this lengthy note, and thank you for your continued leadership of this nation. Although I personally do not agree with all of your policies and ideals, I am grateful for your efforts and will continue to pray for you.



Dear Pop,

Tell me, how long did you long
To finally see your Savior?
How often did you wish
That this life would soon be over?

Tell me, what was it like to die?
A brief moment when you saw
Your life go flashing by -
Your confusion suddenly gone?

Tell me, what is Heaven like?
That sweet, blessed place...
We have whispers here on Earth
In every moment of joy.

Tell me, what is our Savior like?
Did you stand in awe of His glory?
Did you finally feel satisfied
As you cried with the angels, "Holy! Holy!"?

I know you're gone for now...
I know you're ever so happy
And some day I'll see you again.
How long will I long for that day?

Copyright Curious Cognitive Content - April 5, 2010


Finding Our Identity in Christ

If there is one thing I have always wanted for as long as I could want anything, it was to be popular. If only I could do something truly great - be someone extremely awesome and cool - then surely I would be happy.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that encourages the sentiment that there is an elite group of Someones, and if you can only become one of these Someones, you will be happy. The definition of a Someone is very vague; some people say you need money, others a good talent that you can use to gain a good following, and still others the ability to distinguish between gourmet and common food. No one knows what a real Someone looks like, but everyone wants to be a Someone.

What a wasteful pursuit!

That was my first mistake, thinking that being a Someone in the eyes of the world would be satisfying. As soon as I saw that this was, indeed, a mistake, I sat down to write this post. That was when I noticed my second mistake.

I intended on writing about how silly being a Someone looked when one contrasted it to the Christian view of being adopted sons of God. And indeed, being the son/daughter of the Maker of the universe is a very wonderful thing. But was that the end?

I had completely missed the point. I was ready to boast about my position, when, in fact, the last thing I should be doing is sticking out my chest with prideful confidence. I still had the worldly view of being a Someone - only I had transferred it elsewhere; I was still finding fulfilment in myself.

How could I boast that I was a child of the King when my very conversion could not have taken place without help from Him? Sin had so separated me from God that there was no way my heart could suddenly "chose" to follow Christ (2 Cor. 4:3-4, John 6:63). Christ had to first choose me, and begin a work in my heart before I would even attempt to give Him a second glance.

The only reason I can stand up today and testify as a witness for Christ is because Jesus gave his life for me - I was so evil that only the Son of God could save me. If that isn't humbling, I don't know what is.

And thus, we find our identity in the work of Jesus Christ, not in ourselves. We find our worth and our value not in our rank or status, or rather, those things that only serve to increase our pride; but in humility, knowing that there is no way we could save ourselves, and rejoicing in the fact that God loved us so much that He was willing to save us (John 3:16).

"26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
~ I Corinthians 1:26-31


Chasing Shadows

"17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ." Colossians 2:17
Picture a sunny room. In the center of the room is a beautiful vase - so beautiful and delicate that no one can resist gazing upon it and reaching out to touch its smooth surface. Stretching far behind this vase is a distorted shadow of it.

If you have ever seen a shadow (which I'm assuming you have), it only vaguely represents the object that casts the shadow. Sometimes a shadow is an extremely long version of the object, and sometimes it is an extremely short version. Either way, it is a distortion of the real object, and has no substance, being but an absence of light.

If, as this passage from Colossians seems to suggest, all things in this world are but shadows, and all substance is found in Christ, it is fruitless to pursue things of this world such as riches and fame, as they are but shadows that pass and change as the day goes by.
"6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!"
Psalm 39:6
Why then do we so often fall in love with the world? Why then do we seek fulfilment and joy in passing, changing, flighty shadows, when we have before us the true object, steady, unchanging and full of a beauty the shadow can never match?

The analogy we began with can be broken up as follows: the room is a day, the vase is Truth, and the shadows are the world. Everyday, we are faced with the choice of grasping the vase, or chasing shadows as they move throughout the day. What will you choose?