The beholder’s prerogative

Early this morning, I went outside onto my balcony to witness the sunrise. It made me feel good to experience something so beautiful.

Beautiful sunrise in Canada

So, I thought to myself, it must say something about the Creator who creates such beauty, even if it is just for a few fleeting moments. Then it also occurred to me that the Creator probably also instilled in me the ability to appreciate such beauty. It also includes the freedom to choose whether I would find it beautiful or not.

Canada in my garden

The seasons are opposite in the Northern and Southern hemisphere. So, while the Northern hemisphere is moving into autumn (or “fall”), we are having spring down here in the Southern hemisphere.

Therefore, I am glad to see the leaves coming out on the trees. The world is beautiful. It makes the neighborhood looks like an urban jungle.

I have a favorite tree in my garden. Not sure what kind of tree it is. Perhaps some kind of maple tree? In autumn its leave turn red. That makes me remember Canada.

Mu favorite tree

Most trees don’t turn red. Some even remain green right through winter.

For some reason, I was worried that it would die during winter. Therefore, I was very happy to see that it is sprouting new leaves.

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A gracious garden

Let there be no doubt about the matter: I am far from being an avid gardener. Previous attempt in this direction has led to uncontrollable laughter. However things are looking better than it had for a while.

Much of the improvement in my garden is thanks to my gardener who keeps a hand on plants and makes sure the weeds don’t take over. It is not that much that needs to be done, but somebody needs to do it and that person is not me.

Then of course there’s the rain. I tend to use water sparingly due to the dry climate and my fear that our taps may run dry at some point. Fortunately, it has rained copiously a few weeks ago and the garden just loved it. Everything is green and there are flowers everywhere.

It is a pleasure to be in such a garden. Sometimes I would take my book and sit there reading. If only I can do something about all the bugs.

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Garlic and tomatoes

It cannot be said, with any stretch of the imagination, that I am afflicted with green fingers. In fact, many years ago when I told my friends about my gardening attempts, they would burst out laughing. So, for years, prior to being presented with the opportunity to employ a gardener, I would think of that place outside my backdoor as a tortured garden. It is challenging to have a nice garden in a water scarce country.

So, why I decided to venture into this direction again, I don’t know. But it is fun, sort of.

I decided to harvest the pips of an overripe tomato and put them in some soil. Amazingly enough, they germinated. As they got bigger, I transferred them to individual containers. Now they are starting to become big enough to put into a big pot where they can stay until they would (hopefully) produce tomatoes.

I also had a garlic pod that started to look a bit sad. Although I like garlic in my food, I don’t seem to use it at a fast enough rate. So the garlic does not last. The thing made it quite clear that it wishes to burst forth and … grow. So, I relented and planted the thing. Now you wouldn’t believe just how must life there is in that pod. It sprouted leaves, all bunched together, like there’s no tomorrow. Soon I’ll have to find a bigger container and separate the thing into different pods, I guess.

Anyway, it would be a proud day, some time in the hopefully not too distant future, if I can harvest my own tomatoes and garlic and prepare some dish with them. It would mark a personal triumph, but I guess I still would not tell my friends, lest they laugh at me again.

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Hermitian existence

South Africa has the dubious honour to be among the top ten countries in the world with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Of these ten countries, South Africa has the highest rate of daily increase in cases, over 4%.

Why? Perhaps one can blame the existing culture of disdain for the government’s regulations. It doesn’t matter that the government is trying to impose regulations to curb the spread of the virus. People ignore it and try to life as they like. One can understand why the government has lost it credibility looking at the recent history of corruption, state capture, and general incompetence.

I’m a scientist and not a politician. So I don’t want to discuss politics. Any reasonable person that sees the statistics can decide for themselves that it makes sense to isolate oneself as far as possible. So, what the government is trying to do makes sense, even if it is sometimes a bit too little too late.

The bottom line is, here I’m sitting in my house like a hermit. The hermitic existence is not so bad. The idea of living as a hermit has been part of western culture for centuries. It is intend to improve spiritual growth. I guess, it very much depends on the kind of person that you are. Not everybody can handle such seclusion for an extended period of time.

Charles Hermite
Charles Hermite

As a theoretical physicist, one can perhaps take some inspiration from Charles Hermite, whose last name sounds like hermit. He was a French mathematician who made significant contributions that are still widely used in quantum mechanics, among other fields. For example, a Hermitian operator is one that equals it Hermitian adjoint. It always has real eigenvalues. All physical states are represented by Hermitian operators

It this sound like twaddle to you. Don’t worry. What I’m try to get at is that if you currently also experience a “Hermitian “existence (as opposed a hermetic existence), then you can know that you are a real (valued) physical person. (Haha – just kidding. Perhaps only the mathematically inclined would find that funny.)

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