an odd collection of tales about learning to do the impossible

Posts tagged ‘Earth’

Review: The Three-Body Problem

I loved the unexpected ideas, the unusual perspective and the way it made me think about issues large and small. I have a fond spot for stories that give me insights into other parts of the world, and for characters who plausibly behave in ways I cannot imagine myself doing. This book has all that and more.

…. this particular passage from the author sticks with me:

But I cannot escape and leave behind reality, just like I cannot leave behind my shadow. Reality brands each of us with its indelible mark. Every era puts invisible shackles on those who have lived through it, and I can only dance in my chains.

Read my full review at Review: The Three-Body Problem.

This Is Not a Garden: Thoughts on Ecology and Immigration

…. we’re not plants. We lack the gift of the plant kingdom, to obtain all we need from the sun and the soil. In return for having to devour other life to stay alive, we get mobility. With that comes the chance to rapidly alter our locations and to shape our environment.

We’ve got these terrific brains that get us in all sorts of trouble, but also allow us to improve our landscape and increase our resources. We can think our way into trouble, but we can also think our way out of it.

 

Read more at This Is Not a Garden: Thoughts on Ecology and Immigration.

As Far Away Places Edge Closer

Is a shrinking world a good thing? We now feel the pain of distant events in new ways. The sorrow they cause is difficult, the increased desire to help is laudable. I was searching for a video of a song to convey that feeling, to stand in contrast to the various videos of “Far Away Places” that I posted on my other blogs.

I found this instead and realized that it was perfect. Maybe that’s because it’s about the way the world could be. Or maybe, it’s about the way it really is and we just tend to forget.

Read the full post at As Far Away Places Edge Closer  and for more thoughts on Far Away Places see Those Far Away Places Could Be Next Door, Leaving a Light Footprint in a Far Away Place, Caring About Far Away Places and The Courage to Embrace Those Far Away Places.

The Courage to Embrace Those Far Away Places

Along with the many tragic aspects of this incident is the side effect of how it serves to further separate the people of this world. No society exists on this planet that does not have its crimes; larger countries have more. Crowding, poverty, stresses from modernization and the integration of different cultures adds to volatility everywhere. But when the awful event occurs in the back yard of somebody else who lives far away from you, it is easy to think  “Oh, that’s the way they are.”

Read more at The Courage to Embrace Those Far Away Places.

(For more thoughts on Far Away Places see Leaving a Light Footprint in a Far Away Place, As Far Away Places Edge Closer, Caring About Far Away Places and Those Far Away Places Could Be Next Door.)

Leaving a Light Footprint in a Far Away Place

I remember visiting Yellowstone as a teenager and being upset that I was not allowed to take even one tiny little insignificant rock home as a souvenir. Up to that time, I always brought a rock home from places I enjoyed. What difference could my little memento make?

Then I looked around. Thousands of people were here with me, and if I was the only one who ever took a pretty stone, there would be no problem. But what if half of them wanted rocks, too?

Read more at Leaving a Light Footprint in a Far Away Place.

(For more thoughts on Far Away Places see As Far Away Places Edge Closer, Caring About Far Away Places, The Courage to Embrace Those Far Away Places, and Those Far Away Places Could Be Next Door.)

Caring About Far Away Places

My stories make it obvious that I love places that require a difficult journey to visit. Greenland. Bhutan. Antarctica. Tierra del Fuego. A small village in Nigeria. A lake in the Mountains of Guatemala. If it’s hard to get to from where I am, I love to write about it.

No place is more remote to a Texan that the island nation of Kiribati. This south pacific country of 100,000 people is made up of 33 low-lying coral atolls with a total land area of about 300 square miles. More spectacularly, it is the only nation on earth to set inside of all four hemispheres, and it covers a million square miles on the globe.

Read more at Caring About Far Away Places.

(For more thoughts on Far Away Places see Those Far Away Places Could Be Next Door, Leaving a Light Footprint in a Far Away PlaceAs Far Away Places Edge Closer and The Courage to Embrace Those Far Away Places.)

Those Far Away Places Could Be Next Door

Two things about far away places appeal to me. One is how different they are. The other is how similar they are. I think I like the second fact even better.

Read more at Those Far Away Places Could Be Next Door

A way to wish you joy and peace in 2017

sunriseI woke up to this sunrise today,  a reminder that every day brings us a fresh chance to embrace, improve and enjoy this wonderful gift we call life.

It’s been a tough couple of months for me, and for others who want to encourage tolerance and empathy. I’m looking for positive ways to deal with my concerns about the direction in which my country is headed, and I hope that you are too. Lucky for me, my sister, who is full of good ideas, had a suggestion for me.

With her encouragement, I reviewed, edited and sorted through the 159 posts on my x0 blog and put the best of them into a new book called “Face Painting for World Peace.” This short (121 page) volume of essays attempts to be both humorous and thought provoking as it examines what I like to call “intra-species harmony” (aka world peace) from a wide variety of angles. Three of my favorites are One Person’s Tourist Destination is Another Person’s Home, My Imaginary Prison Time, and My iPod Works as a Fortune Cookie.

This new eBook is available on Amazon for the least I am allowed to charge (ninety-nine cents), and is similarly available at Barnes and Noble, on Smashwords, and at the iTunes store where it can be found as an iBook by searching on Sherrie Cronin. This is not intended to be a money making project; I have pledged to donate half of all proceeds to “Doctors Without Borders”.

Here is the description:

I am passionate about the cause of the world peace. From early 2012 on I have maintained a blog in which I often write about empathy and peace. I have arranged these short essays in book form, to be published for Christmas 2016. A lot has changed in the world over the past four years, but what has not changed is how I continue to cherish time with those I love, and how others do the same throughout the world. This book is my holiday card; my way of wishing hope, joy and peace to every human on earth, with no exceptions.

Please download, please enjoy, and please share with others. Meanwhile, I will try to wake up every day during this coming year, catch a glimpse of that beautiful dawn, and then seek out positive ways to add my voice to the chorus still being sung by those who believe that kindness should guide our politics, our words and our actions. I invite you to sing along, too.

(You can read the orignal post announcing the book on my x0 blog.)

My Way

This is a post about Aretha Franklin and wearing a hijab and my mother’s funeral, and it comes to you from a cafe in Marrakesh Morocco.

img_3256I’m staring out the window at the crowds of tourists and locals crossing a busy street in front of the Koutoubia Mosque as I write. I’m alone in this city, far out of my comfort zone, and I’ve just ordered my first couscous. I settle into the ornate red pillows, ready for a genuine Moroccan experience, when I recognize the unmistakable voice of Aretha Franklin in the background.

Now I like Aretha as much as anyone and maybe more than most, but she is kind of getting in my way here, and it’s not even one of her better songs. I listen more closely and I feel the ghost of my mother snuggle into the pillows beside me.

Read the entire post on my c3 blog at “My Way.”

I See Ghosts

img_3346I like to find the ghosts when I travel, and learn what I can from them. They’ve always come to me, not as shivers in the nights, or flashes of fear or wails of terror. Rather they waft gently into my imagination, almost always in the daylight, often becoming characters standing in a queue in my brain, waiting to tell me their story.

The ghosts I see are often tired, sometimes sad, but seldom angry and never at me. Not once have they made me afraid. “Listen. This is how it happened,” they begin.

Read the rest of the post of my z2 blog at I See Ghosts.

It’s an angry world in some countries

Okay, I admit it, I’m not in a forgiving, let’s all come together kind of mood and it looks like I’m not going to get there for awhile. It is probably a good thing that I got to run away for a week, and that it was all the way to Morocco.

img_3287This is an ancient land, but one in transition as well. The internet is everywhere, with satellite dishes decorating the top of most of the roofs inside the Medina, the oldest, walled parts of the city. Leaders have worked hard here to eliminate terrorists from their midst, knowing well that it is the peace loving citizenry of a country that suffer the most from its own radicalism.

Read the entire post on my y1 blog at It’s an angry world in some places.

Happy International Day of Peace, Lahcen and Najet

img_3275The Airbnb site says my hosts at the Riad speak English, French and Spanish along with the local Arabic, but it only takes a few minutes for me to realize that the claim regarding English has been exaggerated. Lahcen, the helpful house manager who greets me, probably does know several hundred words of English, compared to my several dozen words of French and two of Arabic, but his ability to answer my questions is limited. Najet, the cook and custodian who assists him, speaks some French and no English at all. Soon the three of us are communicating with gestures, key phrases and facial expressions, and it’s not going as poorly as you might think.

Read the entire post on my X0 blog at Happy International Day of Peace, Lahcen and Najet.

Happy International Day of Peace, Alberto and Maria!

c_norman_rockwell_do_unto_others_2Those of us not in politics have few ways to steer the human race away from the machinery of war. One of those is travel. As we spend time with others who are currently demonized, or who once were, we learn to question the assumptions about other nations, religions, races, continents, and what ever else you have when you describe “those people” in terms vile enough to make the average citizen believe that they must die. Of course, you can’t just get on a bus or plane and go somewhere. You need to interact.

Read the entire post on my x0 blog at Happy International Day of Peace, Alberto and Maria!

Do less harm

wise and quietIs a course of action better if it results in less harm? Most people would say yes, at least until they are confronted with the reality of the choices made by those who struggle to improve the world without making it perfectly right.

What am I talking about here? Well, drug addiction and educating women in Afghanistan and preventing pedophiles from molesting children and female genital mutilation and pretty much everything else I’d rather not discuss or think about. It turns out that there is a lot of icky stuff in the world, and it’s hard to make it any of it go away.

Read the rest of this post on my x0 blog at Do Less Harm.

On the Road

charles-kuraltWhat is your dream vacation? I’m headed out the door on mine, and it is surprising how few of these I have taken. I’m talking about going somewhere I’ve never been; somewhere far enough off well-traveled roads that no one I know has ever been there. Except for my travel companion, I won’t know a soul.

Read the entire post on my z2 blog at On the Road.

It’s a VUCA world out there, people ….

fighting2The supercomputer has a point. When does what you are fighting for become irrelevant due to the amount of carnage and pain you have inflicted? Is the answer really “never”?

… You don’t think you agree? If your life, or your freedom, required you to push a button and wipe out every living creature in Australia, would you do it? Would you let someone else do it for you? How about just half of Australia? Just a quarter of it? Okay, exactly how much of Australia are you willing to destroy?

Read the entire post on my xo blog at It’s a VUCA world out there, people …

If you want to be happy move to a cold country?

raising ecstacy 1It is hard to believe. Whatever happened to the idea that the ultimate in happiness was lounging on a tropical beach, umbrella drink in hand, while island music wafted by on a soft ocean breeze? Wait, that was the ideal vacation. What about the ideal life?

Read the entire post at on my y1 blog at If you want to be happy move to a cold country?

Planning for Peace

My interest in world peace began five years when I wrote a book about telepathy. Today, it is something of an obsession, along with the related topics of compassion and empathy. I like to look up every once in awhile from my writing and see who else is fascinated by the question of “can we really learn to respect each other and get along?”

Read the rest of this post at Planning for Peace.

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Christmas is Not about “love, but …”

Look people.Two thousand years ago, a child was born. He went on to say things that translated roughly as “love one another” and “whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me.” He even went so far as to suggest that “if anyone wants to take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” Yes, your whole coat. Whether you believe he was the Son of God, a great prophet, or just a wise man who was well quoted, his message of generosity, concern and love is quite clear. In my heart of hearts, that message is what I celebrate every Christmas. This is a holiday about love.

Read the entire post at Christmas is Not about “love, but …”

beautiful life7

For other slightly offbeat thoughts about Christmas, see my posts “The Future of Christmas,”Duct Tape and Christmas Cards”and “The Women of Christmas.”

What the hell happened in 1968? (World Peace Edition)

Yes. Of course. The older Sherrie knows that history will eventually say “What a mistake. What were we thinking?” She knows that it will be decades before any leader sends another half million men to Asia to meddle into the internal affairs of another nation. But she also knows that it will happen again.

Read the entire post, inspired by the Wichita Eagle of August 23, 1968, at What the hell happened in 1968? (World Peace Edition).

 

Poverty is sexist

March 8 was International Women’s Day. On my x0 blog I wrote about a report by Maria Shriver that noted that in the U.S. (1) Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women,  (2) The average woman is paid 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, and African American women earn only 64 cents and Hispanic women only 55 cents for every dollar made by a white man and (3) men make more money than women who have the same level of educational achievement, from high school diplomas to advanced graduate degrees.

You can read my original post on the X0 blog called Poverty is sexist.

I praised the group One for encouraging Chancellor Angela Merkel to select women’s economic empowerment as one of the key issues for the 2015 agenda at the G7 summit meeting being held in Germany.

Well, the summit has come and gone, and I was delighted to read recently that Angela Merkel did include women’s economic empowerment as one of those key issues.  The G7 committed to “increasing the number of women and girls in developing countries receiving technical and vocational training through G7 measures by one third by 2030”, noted the need to improve working conditions that allow women and men to balance family life and employment, and agreed to the G7 Principles on Women’s Entrepreneurship including encouraging girls’ participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. More broadly, the G7 stated support for UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, and encouraged companies around the world to incorporate them into their practices.

High level conferences such as this don’t yield immediate policy changes anywhere, much less immediate results. None-the-less by placing a focus on the disproportionate financial burdens placed on women throughout the world, the G-7 summit took a step in the right direction. Good news is good.

 

Face Painting for World Peace

A few of my tales, however, happened almost the way I tell them. One such narrative is Lola’s realizing how running the face painting booth at her children’s grade school changed her life.

Read the rest of this post at Face Painting for World Peace.

Also check out Kurt Brindley’s blog Relating to Humans. You’ll find a more personal account of this story here on his page on Race Issues.

World Peace Update

There is a third reason I can’t get this song out of my head and I know what it is. As I move d4, my fun novel about the future, on to beta readers and my editor, I am letting go emotionally of beautiful Ariel and her wild adventures and turning my heart and mind to the next book, the last one in the collection.

Read the rest of this post at World Peace Update.

 

My iPod works as a fortune cookie

My tiny nano iPod works like a Chinese fortune cookie. It’s so small that I only use it with my alarm clock, and every morning it greets me with a random song that has an uncanny way of setting the stage for my day. You know, just like how you are thinking of maybe going to visit some old friend in another town and the little piece of paper in your dessert says “You are about to embark on a wonderful journey”. So you go. Well, from the Supremes singing to me to “Stop! In the Name of Love” on the day I almost had a car wreck to Arcade Fire’s “Sprawl II” on the day that I got hopelessly lost in a previously unexplored suburb of Houston, I’ve decided that it’s eerie how these little things know so much.

Read the rest of this post at My iPod works as a fortune cookie.

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