A Letter to God

Exploring Spirituality Beyond Religion

_DSC1503 Dear God

Dear God,

I am writing to ask that through your grace and the efforts of your Holy Spirits that the dark minds of the wicked and selfish be turned toward the light of goodness, love, and compassion. I ask that you give us world leaders and governments that are driven by a strong desire for the happiness, health, and well-being of their people and by a strong desire for a peaceful world.

I realize that transformation is a very slow process and that sometimes it is only through great suffering that change takes place; that sometimes it is only through great injustice that justice can finally be achieved; that sometimes it is only through darkness that the search for light and truth begins.

It appears that you have set into motion circumstances to motivate us to change as individuals and as a civilization. You have pointed the way, but I…

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Do Angels Watch the Clock?

 

Background: Crab Nebula
Composite by Blair Atherton

 

What is time? Does it exist? Most of us would say that it does, but could it be an illusion, construct, or artifact of our physical existence? Perhaps it is all of these.

It is said that the soul/spirit is eternal. Eternity by definition is never-ending. If we place our spirit-self in the context of eternity, does time have any meaning or importance? A period of incarnation of the spirit is vanishingly small on the scale of eternity. In fact, “scale of eternity” would seem to be an oxymoron.

Eternity confounds measurement just like infinity. To try to scale eternity with a measure such as this thing we call time would seem to make no sense. At the same time, during our very brief, finite period of incarnation, time and distance are useful measures within the physical life.

Does the concept of time make any sense or have any utility when we exist purely in spirit form after death? Likely there are many different views relating to this question. In physical form we know our lifespan is finite. Therefore, it seems natural to apply measures to our daily activities on Earth.

However, in spirit form we presumably know that we are eternal. Therefore, the length of any particular lifetime or the sequence or length of events on Earth likely does not matter to the spirit. The only thing that may matter is how the experiences of our physical life inform our spiritual growth and understanding.

You might like to see a related article titled On the Nature of God. The article describes God as enigmatic and paradoxical with attributes beyond our comprehension that conflict with our worldly notions of time, space, and form.

These are difficult topics and no doubt there are many different ways of thinking about them. I would very much like to hear your perspective.

Practical Considerations for Owning an Electric Car

#weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee I would tell you about…

Practical Considerations for Owning an Electric Car

What sorts of things must one consider and of which to be aware before purchasing an electric car (EV)? The main things to know are discussed below. Should you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.

The most common concern is range anxiety; that is, how far can the car go on a full charge of the battery? This is determined only in part by the size of the battery. The published range should be listed in the car specifications. However, the driving conditions upon which the datum is based are usually not given. I would advise that you get the biggest battery available that you can afford assuming various sizes (ranges) are available as an option.

Many variables impinge upon the actual range one can expect for a given battery size. Variables include battery manufacturer and specs, driving style, the load of passengers and cargo, electric equipment in use (e.g., air conditioning or heat, stereo, lights), tire condition and pressure, rear or all-wheel drive, and especially average speed of travel.

It seems likely that battery range values given in the car’s specs are for city driving at relatively low speeds. That’s a useful datum since most of the driving we do is around town locally. But what if you want to go on a road trip at highway speeds? Highway driving can significantly reduce the effective range of the battery because running the electric motor(s) that propels the car at high speeds drains the battery faster than low-speed driving.

On recent road trips, I collected data to determine the effect of average speed on battery usage. Air conditioning and stereo were in use throughout the trips. I was the only passenger and there was no significant cargo load.

The published range of my battery is 310 miles. The calculated range for several estimated  average speeds was as follows:

75 mph: calculated range 238-243 miles (two separate legs).

70 mph: calculated range 250 miles (one leg).

Local driving: calculated range 300 miles or approximately 3 miles for each 1% of battery charge.

Limitations in the data:

It’s important to note that the average speeds above are a rough estimate. Consequently, calculated ranges are also estimates. Speed on the highway is highly variable due to traffic speed fluctuation, passing speeds, etc.

Calculations are based on trip legs of 100 -124 miles. Longer leg distances may give somewhat different results. Ranges above are intended to illustrate the effect of speed versus battery range. They should not be used as firm metrics for trip planning. Because the variables involved, not the least of which is driving style, each driver should estimate their own ranges.

Tesla has a navigation feature called trip planning that will show you the route, Superchargers and destination chargers along the route, and the estimated level of charge upon reaching your destination. It is extremely helpful for planing trips and minimizes any range anxiety.

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Another common concern is the availability of charging stations. This should not be an issue for local driving around town if you install a separate electrical circuit in your home dedicated to charging your car. Generally, this entails hiring an electrician to install a separate 240 volt, 50 amp circuit. Using my car as an example, it takes approximately 10 hours for a full charge, or 30 miles of range per charging hour at 32 amps. Charging from 110 volt, 20 amp circuits provide approximately 3 miles of range per hour. As you can see, charging rate depends on amperage delivered by the charging source. It is also limited by the charging circuitry of the car in question.

Tesla Supercharging stations can deliver very high charging rates and can deliver a full charge in as little as an hour or so depending on how many cars are charging from the same central charging source. As long as your round trip commute and/or daily errands do not exceed say 80% of your battery range, then you simply charge the car at home each night to have it ready for the next day. In my case, I am able to program my car to begin charging at a specific time each day that it is attached to my home charging circuit (e.g., midnight when the electricity rates are lowest).

In addition, more and more public access charging stations may be found around town at locations such as libraries, city or county facilities, some parking garages or certain locations on the street. Availability varies across the country so you will want to research your locality. Here is one website with examples of some charge providers

Tesla has an extensive and expanding network of Superchargers around the country usually located in close proximity to major interstate highways and turnpikes to facilitate recharging during road trips. In addition, there is a network of so-called destination charging stations for Tesla cars that are sponsored primarily by some hotels, restaurants, etc. These are generally similar to home charging circuits in terms of speed. Some destinations may provide the service to guests at no cost, while others may charge a nominal fee.

Tesla charging hook ups are configured specifically for Tesla cars. Tesla cars come with an adapter for connection with most public charging stations.

As more and more electric cars hit the street and more carmakers produce them, we can expect the charging infrastructure to grow accordingly because adequate charging infrastructure is an important element in many buyers’ decision process. Hopefully, in time, car connection receptacles and cables will be standardized across all car makes and charging stations.

EV batteries have a limited lifetime. Just like your smart phone, the EV battery will decline in efficiency over time. Batteries used in today’s EV and hybrid cars are usually warranted for 8 years. Actual battery life will vary according to the owner’s use and charging habits.

Generally, it is recommended that one does not run the battery down below 30% and a full charge should be reserved for long road trips. Keeping the battery charge between 30-80% is recommended for maximum battery life. Conversely, if you run the battery down below 30% and/or charge above 80-90% frequently, battery life will be reduced.

We live in a very exciting time concerning technological progress. The dominance of EVs may come much faster than many expect (my prediction is within the next five years). Concerns about climate change, negative health effects of combustion emissions, technophilia, the advent of the self-driving car, and especially the fun of driving an EV will all be factors contributing to the rapid rise of the electric vehicle. I encourage everyone to take a test drive or ride in an EV so you can discover and plan for what your next vehicle will be.

The Joys of Electric Car Ownership

Tesla Roadster Launched into Space
 Credit Unknown

#weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee I would tell you about…

The Joys of Owning an Electric car

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to fly through space, weightless, in your personal spaceship? That’s in part what it’s like to drive an electric car. You don’t roll down the road; you seem to glide through the void of space without sound or vibration. You are transported to a sort of dream-state. Your space vehicle accelerates effortlessly as you press the throttle. And if you go full throttle, you go into hyper-drive, thrown against the seat by the G forces. The surrounding landscape seems to blur and suddenly the vehicle that was next to you becomes a speck in the distance.

Driving an electric car is unlike any car I have ever driven. My attraction was the advanced technology and zero emissions. I did not anticipate the driving experience of such a car.

I have never been a car guy. I don’t care about how fast a car is or how sporty it looks. For me a car is just for transportation. There has never been any expectation for driving to be fun or joyful; it’s simply a means to an end.

That was then; this is now. Driving an electric car is exhilarating. I find myself driving more than ever before just for the enjoyment it brings. In an electric car you are on the high road. You can drive all you want without compunction with zero emissions. You have an immense amount of speed and power at your disposal. You can beat most internal combustion cars off the line effortlessly due to instant torque and innate power produced by the battery. Consequently, you don’t need to race the guy next to you; you know you have the power to beat him so there’s nothing to prove.

With an electric car, there are no more trips to the gas station, no more gas fumes to breathe, and very little routine maintenance. As far as I know, the only fluids in an electric car are brake fluid and coolant for the battery pack. There is no transmission, differential, spark plugs, timing belt, or tune ups. An electric car has only one gear – Go!

Should you decide to get an electric car, my advice is to make sure the interior is comfortable because you will likely be spending more time driving than you do now just for the fun of it.

My next article will discuss the practical considerations for owning an electric car.

Something Wonderful

Some Thoughts on Relationships

I think we have to allow ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable. How else can we really be genuine? To do so is taking a chance, but how can a relationship, whether friendship or love, really grow if we are not willing to let our guard down and open up?

Letting someone in is a big deal, yes, but more often than not it helps us to grow, assuage our insecurities, and build a stronger relationship. Sometimes we get hurt; sometimes we are ridiculed. But sometimes it opens the door to something wonderful.

An Interesting Take on the Existence of God

The following is an article from livingwithconfidence.net. As a scientist, I find Dan’s view on issues surrounding the existence of God very interesting.

January 2, 2017

I Call B.S. On Atheism

By Dan Pedersen
(Reblogged here)

I have a theory that there are no true atheists. That everyone, somewhere deep inside, believes that God exists. Somewhere in all of us is a flame of hope — hoping that this life is not the whole story. That when we die we will continue to exist as something more than just atoms and a memory in the minds of those we leave behind.

There’s nothing to be lost by acknowledging to ourselves that we know very little about the nature of reality. It’s perfectly reasonable to accept the possibility God exists in some way — in a way that’s hard for us to comprehend. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe the order and intelligence of this universe are no accident. The chances of it being an accident are so low that no one would take that bet if there were consequences for being wrong. If you had to bet your life’s savings on it you wouldn’t.

As Robert Lanza has said:

“The laws of physics seem to be exactly balanced for life to exist. For example, if the Big Bang had been one-part-in-a-million more powerful, the cosmos would have rushed out too fast for the galaxies and stars to have developed. There are over 200 physical parameters like this that could have any value but happen to be exactly right for us to be here. These fundamental constants of the universe aren’t predicted by any theory — all seem to be carefully chosen to allow for the existence of life and consciousness.”

The Big Bang Theory may very well be true (though even this is shrouded in doubt: one example here), but what happened before the Big Bang? Where did the matter come from that caused the Big Bang? How was there once nothing and then there was something? It’s about as easy to comprehend as being attracted to a frog. As neuroscientist David Eagleman has said “there are thoughts you cannot think”.

Everything is a miracle. The mere fact that we’re here, in all our complexity, is a miracle. If it’s all by chance why does chance exist in the first place? Why does Natural Selection exist? Where did that intelligence come from? Why should there be any natural “laws” at all? Why aren’t they random and subject to constant change?

As Einstein once said (about quantum mechanics), “God does not play dice with the universe.” Einstein may have meant that metaphorically, but if God doesn’t exist why doesn’t nature play dice?

The Scientific Aesthetic

Lightning Storm Over the Grand Canyon Copyright by Rolph Maeder, Photography Sedona

Lightning Storm Over the Grand Canyon
Copyright by Rolph Maeder, Photography Sedona

#weekendcoffeeshare 9/17/16

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how I wanted to be a scientist since about the age of ten or eleven. Unlike most children who declare a vocation at such a young age, I never lost sight of the goal and did indeed become a scientist (now retired).

But the other day I was thinking about what it was that kept my dream alive from childhood to fruition as an adult. I mean how many young kids who say they want to be a fireman actually do it? What I realized was that I had an abiding wonder and fascination with all of the mysteries of nature. Science was a tool to reveal its secrets.

As a young boy, I wanted to explore many and varied aspects of the natural world and science. For a time I was an avid mineralogist. I made many expeditions into the creek bed behind the apartments where I lived. My holy grail was to find a geode; I never found one but found some petrified wood instead. I was disappointed at the time, but years later realized how cool and unusual that find was.

I had an inexpensive microscope and peered into the previously unseen details of all sorts of things from hair to bugs and leaves. When the Russians launched Sputnick in 1957, the first satellite, I became fascinated with rockets and space travel. Yes…of course, I fabricated my own rocket. It was a unique home design made from an aluminum pipe with balsa wood tail fins and a crude fuel made with chemicals in my chemistry set. Back then the sets included the components needed to make gun powder—oops.

I realized in retrospect that my design was badly flawed— more like a dangerous firework than a rocket— but it did manage a few flights of maybe 50 feet up before the aluminum could no longer withstand the blast. Thank God my brother and I had the good sense to run like hell when the fuse was lit!

As time went on, I began to develop a pantheistic view of the world. My vision moved beyond practical, objective aspects of my surroundings to a more aesthetic appreciation.

Into middle age, my relationship with science and nature became more inspirational and spiritual, and less investigative. Rather than study and analyze nature, I wanted to experience it. Rather than simply being a refuge from daily life, the natural world became a celebration of the diversity of life—something sacred to be revered, loved, and protected.

Thus, I have come full circle; once again I have that innocent sense of wonder and I am amazed and thrilled by the incredible beauty and complexity of the natural world around me, just as I was as a young boy growing up.

You might like to see the following related articles:

Just So…

The Golden Morning

Nature: A More Expansive Spirituality