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Dielectric Here is a strange simile: God is like the parallel plates of a capacitor, and we are the molecules of dielectric between them.

On Science (November 2022)

Persistence Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) is a major military base on the island where I live. One of the noisiest planes in the world is stationed here, the EA-18G Growler. When deployed during bombing missions, the Growler works from an aircraft carrier deck and provides electronic jamming of enemy radar. While stationed on Whidbey, Growler pilots practice their maneuvers for landing on aircraft carriers. This practice involves multiple approaches to a small landing strip in central Whidbey, where the planes do touch-and-go exercises, sometimes for hours at a time, both night and day.

On Conflict (January 2023)

Esther This late summer we welcomed a new resident into our home. She came in through the kitchen window, where she built her own abode. The day eventually came when we needed to close the window due to excessive heat. Our guest moved from the opening to the inside of the sliding panel. She incorporated the curtain and a bit of the houseplant on the windowsill into her dwelling-place, which is an edifice of beauty. We call her Esther.

On Conflict (January 2023)

The Commodification of Quakers Quakers of the early 1800s would not have approved of the flamboyant lifestyle of the poet Lord Byron. But they might have approved of his poem “To a Beautiful Quaker” (1806), in which he associates Quakers with the attributes of peace and virtue. And although Harriet Beecher Stowe’s best-selling anti-slavery book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), was written in a genre not approved by Friends – a novel – Friends would not have objected to Stowe’s portrayal of heroic efforts by Quakers to help their fellow man. When Quakers are portrayed by others as positive role models, depending on the circumstances, such portrayals might deserve praise, sufferance, or condemnation.

On Perception (March 2023)

What I’ve Been Trying to Say I believe that we may – likely do – have new Friends, especially young Friends and Friends who live isolated or far away, schooled by the pandemic years, who have never attended a Quaker meeting for worship in person, but only online. Rather than simply rejoice that they found us at all, we need to invite such newcomers to attend meeting for worship somewhere, sometime, in person.

On Loss (May 2023)

Loss in Two Voices In November 2018, my family physician, Travis Abbott, who had known me for many years, referred me for a cognitive impairment screening. It was very helpful that Dorsey accompanied me to that screening. It was helpful for her to see what happened and for her to ask questions that I did not think of. I clearly had some areas that were not so good, but I was not formally diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment until January 2020.

On Loss (May 2023)

Nuclear Waste and States Rights On March 17, 2023, the last evening of the state’s legislative session this year, the New Mexico House passed Senate Bill 53 (SB 53), sponsored by State Senator Jeff Steinborn and State Representative Matthew McQueen. This bill concerns state oversight of a private company – Holtec – and prevents state agencies from issuing permits for a “temporary” nuclear-waste storage facility in southeast New Mexico, a facility that Holtec wants to build to hold all the nation’s high-level nuclear waste, even though zero nuclear energy plants are sited in New Mexico.

On Dignity (July 2023)

On Heelers In the world of working dogs, there is a breed called Blue Heeler or Australian Cattle Dog. The names derive from these dogs’ inborn tendency to work cattle from behind, their origins in Australia, and the typical “blue” coloring of their fur. They are often somewhat aggressive and may need to be approached with caution.

On Healers (August 2023)