Why do we leave the lights on all night?

Why do we leave lights on at night? I understand the concept of lights very well. You turn them on for a time to drive away the darkness that scared our ancestors. Fire brought safety as few large animals would approach a roaring fire. The natural instinct of animals is to run away from fire. My dogs being companions love fire, but that is a thousands of years of humans changing the evolutionary path of what is now the dog.

So why do we leave them on, lights, when we are asleep?

What predators other than other humans do we fear now? Fire was our advantage once as we struggled up right and realizing that tools were our only skill began evolving towards a dominate predator. A dominant predator of the early days of man, realized there was more scraps with the human pack than an entire dog pack hunting. Fire was the first weapon and tool humans mastered that made them formidable. Certainly we were good hunters before fire, but fire gave us a safe base. Fire let us expand the pack safely.

I guess the answer to my question lies within the fire itself. We made fire, we brought fire into our homes and over time we simply left fire on. Certainly we evolved fire to include different colors and types. Fire moved further and further into the darkness we created and drove that darkness out. We were venerable in the darkness but with the light we were powerful.

We sent astronauts in a lighted space capsule to the moon. For the majority of the journey they could have been in darkness, it wouldn’t have mattered. But we lit the capsule. Space is dark. It is huge and vast and extends beyond our understanding. But we in venturing just a little tiny way into the inky blackness lit our way.

Fire is the power we humans have harnessed. We brought a piece of the sun into our world. In harnessing that power we became safe and by extension more powerful. No longer did we sleep with one eye open, the other animals had to.

I guess to answer my initial question we leave the lights on because of thousands of years of conditioning. The fire burning keeps away the other predators. Although now I suspect the walls of our houses and the fear of humans keeps most predators away. There are still a few desperate predators that will seek humans as food. But they are quickly dispatched after their 12 minutes of fame on television. Shark kills man off North Carolina Coast. Lion kills man in Kenya. There are thousands if not millions of sharks in the ocean and few shark deaths world wide. Although interestingly fire does not work in water.

We leave the lights on to drive way the things that we are scared of. But after thousands of years they are more scared of us than we are of them. Now the thing we should be afraid of walks and talks just like us. We have in leaving some darkness allowed our greatest enemy to exist in and out of the light.


Family Historian

Time a mystery, a gift and a wonder

The expectations of time. Time waits for no one person. It marches on. What once was a spring day rapidly becomes summer, fall and then winter. It happens to each of us and it happens to all of us. Father time, or mother time or whatever aspect time takes perhaps based on the way it acts one that we cannot understand it.

I’ve heard people buying and selling beatify products declare time the enemey. The destroyer of beauty time is called. But then we turn around and we relish works of art that are 100’s and 1000s of years old. As if art is allowed to age, to show lines and cracks but the human that created the art is not.

Time creates beatify also. Think of the Grand Canyon. A work of art made by nature over the course of several million years. Carving the rock into formations and canyons that are spectacular. Time changes mountains into mole hills. Cutting down great mountains into nothing. Digging holes in the ground making rock formations like butter seeking equilibrium with the sea.

Time is a part of the human condition. Yesterday we were talking about dogs. It was stated “They are only on the earth for a short time so they have to love you so much more.” Dogs know the beginnings and edges of their time on the planet. They come into the world needing all the help of their mother and the humans around them. When it is their time to go, the try to go off to be alone, to not affect the pack.

I think about the mortality of dogs sometimes. In my life I have expressed the sadness of a lost friend many times. Each of them took a piece of me with them that I will never see again. Each of them gave me something though, that I could carry forward. I learned sympathy of the fears of others from my dogs. Fear of thunderstorms is one I had as a child until my dad told me it was just giants bowling. I can’t say if it was the image of giants bowling or simply my dad making it all right (and I wish he could still I miss that). The first dog I had that was afraid of thunderstorms was a creature I could understand. I to had been afraid. Now I could take the role of my father and be the one comforting the other.

Time takes dogs away from us. Time takes a lot of things away from us. It is however a great gift to see the world pass you by and reflect on the wonderful ride. The friends you have and had. The time you spent. The things you’ve seen. There is a wonder in the passage of time that can only be enjoyed with the passage of time.


Family Historian.z

Survival of the social construct of a hand shake..

I posted yesterday about the social devolution that I see taking place. Where eventually people will no longer meet, shake hands and exchange business cards.  I am not saying that this is an absolute, so to answer the reader who wrote me no I do not foresee humans devolving back to hunched over creatures with knuckles close to the ground. I was making a point.

It is more that I think we are losing some of the once grand social niceties. The things that sometimes made a difference. The wave hello to someone you had met before. Rather than checking your device. Having already done a quick visual scan of the room and recognizing everyone there. Facial recognition and the casual camera swipe becoming the new normal in social scenarios.

That would be a good thing for me. I am terrible with names. My camera speaking into my ear piece reminding me of everyone’s name. I remember details about people, how many kids they had and did they like the Cowboys. Their name escapes me virtually every time. So that would help me.

It is often joked that there is a generation that gets up and walks to the person’s desk to ask a question. There is a generation that IM’s the question. There is a generation that grabs the cell phone call calls the person. There is a generation that texts the person. Now a generation that posts it on Facebook.

The act of posting becoming not the simple end all be all, but instead the only. Certainly the other generations also post on Facebook. Their posts tend to be shorter and don’t include information about locations. You can follow daily medications and various other religious feeds on Facebook now. Dial your religion to the internet and away you go.

So as I posted yesterday and have a couple of times in the past we become hunched over our phones. Held out like flashlights in a cave. The connection to the world is person to device and device to other device and then to the other person.  A change in the very interaction of humans. Will we become less human or will we simply accept that potential as advancement and move on.


Internet wonderer

Sometimes the questions are more than questions. Sometimes it is just a leaky bag of rice…

Time is an interesting problem. You never have enough time. It is like the bag of rice carried from the store to your home, but the bag has a hole. On your journey you feed a lot of birds. But upon arriving home have only a handful of rice to eat. That in the end is time. Not some grand huge picture in front of you that has doors and hallways. Time is a bag of rice with a hole in it.

Slipping away from you as fast as the rice can leave the bag.

Things we assume to be permanent in the end are not permanent. All things succumb to time. Time waits for no person, ever. So we hold on to our time jealously. We answer requests with “just a second,” “I will get to that in a second.” Pausing before speaking to add effect. We are wound around the time we guard. Even that guarded time like the rice leaves the bag.

Sandler Boggs once wrote “regrets fill paper bags” not with rice I would tell him. That we self-medicate to forget or dull the pain. The pain that the moment we held so tightly like the rice is now gone. A handful of rice makes one meal. What then would we have with that one meal of rice. What can we make that brings back all the things we lost and forgot?

It in the end is not the rice’s fault. It did not pour itself in our bag with a hole. There is no fault or blame here. Merely time that is lost. Grains of rice alone on a piece of concrete baking in the sun. Hopefully no birds see it and swoop down. Raw rice is bad for birds. Expanding and causing them problems as they digest their ill gotten meal.

Does the hole get bigger the further on life’s path you walk?

The longest trails of rice heading away from the store lead off into the beyond. Beyond simply that they leave the parking lot and can’t be seen. What of the one’s that end in the parking lot? Did they realize their rice leaking and find a way to for a time patch the bag? Or stepping into a vehicle laid the rice down upon the hole so gravity that cruel mistress could not steal from them?

Or does that merely delay the inevitable.

How much rice is left in my bag?


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow?

Sometimes when you travel you end up going the wrong way.

In the course of traveling all the years I’ve traveled I have learned three things about traveling. The first thing is that in the end it is not as much fun as you would believe. I cannot tell you how many times I have panicked as I sat in traffic 25 and 30 minutes away from the airport ticking down to the time of my flight. In my now 45 years of air travel I have missed my flight 4 times. More than 1400 total flights and I have only missed 4. That isn’t a horrible percentage. It in the end has cost me 1 night in Washington DC. I also missed a flight in Seattle one time and ended up traveling in the redeye. I’ve also missed flights in Indianapolis Indiana – made me a day late for an event and finally I missed a flight in Cincinnati Ohio. I have personally missed 4 segments or less than 1% of all flights booked and ridden on were missed by me.pic0005

Now when you start talking weather and ATC flow delays that number gets bigger fast. I suspect over the years I probably had 10% of all my flights delayed by ATC and weather. The longest I ever sat in an airplane staring out the window was 6 hours. 8 times weather canceled the last flight from Chicago Illinois to Indianapolis and I got in a rental car and drove through the middle of the night to get home. Weather delays had me sit in an airport in Frankfurt Germany, Kuala Lumpor Malaysia, Tokyo Japan over the years. as well as dozens of US airports. The best ones are being stuck in an international airport because normally based on my airline status I would get free entry into the Red Carpet club. US ones were bad and I ended up buying a Red Carpet membership so I wasn’t stuck seeking power outlets in the airport.

1,000,000 miles flown. I have the little plaque in my home office. People are always impressed by that. I am not. Personally it just represents the hours of boredom, the house of waiting and the hours spent inside a tin can heading away from home. Certainly in all of that there were great and memorable vacations that the family got to take. Disney was a great week. Cancun Mexico was a blast. Puerto Vallarta was a fantastic time. Going to Bangkok and taking Barb to Paris all wonderful.

Now a fun vacation is find a beach on the East coast that let’s you have your dogs there. Book the place and then go and relax on the beach. We don’t fly as much anymore. I am personally down to 1-2 business trips per year. In the end it is a lot easier for me. I suspect it is a lot easier for the kids as well. Dad isn’t gone all the time.pic0009

People ask me sometimes do you miss all that travel? In the end I do not. I can’t imagine how my father did it. He traveled before cellular phones and didn’t get to contact or hear from us for a week or two weeks. He would be gone for 1-2 months each time. So that had to be extremely hard on him. Me the worst case would be calling home once a day.

I guess in the end you live in the time you are. You can’t live in the time you wish for. All you can see from a plane window is the ground you are leaving or approaching. Riding above the clouds in the end simply means you are heading away from home. It isn’t in the end magical. It is a simple process. Sitting in that seat staring out across the horizon as you head away from home. The quiet sound of the engines humming. The horizon pulling toward you yet always just out of reach.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Images of yesterday…mostly the recent past…


My personal favorite museum. I first had a chance to visit the Smithsonian’s air and space museum in 1970 on our very first trip to Washington DC. I’ve been there a number of times since. It is as stated my very favorite of the museums.

This was taken in the summer of 2012 from the 2nd floor looking down towards the main entrance/lobby of the museum.

I wonder sometimes if 2000 years from now humans excavating WDC, Paris and London etc. will come to the conclusion that human beings of this era worshipped old things. That we collected them and placed them in special places where people could come and see them.

Or of course they could simply be starting over and wonder at the marvels of technology buried beneath the sea.


This moment in history/time made me feel so proud. My eldest child Jakki graduating from high school. It was an amazing day 4 years ago.

You spend your life raising children and then suddenly in one second they go from child to adult. It is a struggle at first then to let go. To let your child spread their wings and become the person they were meant to be. Childhood is as my favorite educational movie talks abut (Paddle to the Sea) a journey fraught at times with everything that could go wrong around you and everything that could go right.

The smile alone in this picture makes me happy because that is my smile. I make the same embarrassed smile when I walk by people in a parade like that. It doesn’t happen often and it is truly an awkward smile but it is the same one I have.


The colorful shirt was Luke. He loves color and loves shirts that have a lot of moving pieces. Well he did at least for a long time.

He is more into red and black now.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Family history project–restoring memories I don’t have…

My Amazon author page!!!!

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This picture is a little grainy. It is however from 1961. Like a prize in the bottom of a cracker jack box the kids found this one put in a box that was sealed for a long time. In fact, I know the box was sealed for a very long time because it was sealed when mom and dad moved to the farm in late 1979. The box was sealed for more than 34 years and at the bottom of that box was pictures of me – when I was a baby.

In this one my parents starting on the left with my mother, my aunt patty rocking the cool sunglasses and my dad on the far right of the picture as you look at it.

My grandfather took this picture I suspect 53 years ago.

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As if presenting me to the world. This would probably be early 1961 most likely April or May. Dad is holding me in the air. It is hard now to think I once was that small. But I was lucky. I had the two best parents you could ask for raising me.

Dad had that same haircut from the mid-to-early 1950’s when he was in the army until well into the 1970’s. As a youngster I was often encouraged to get the same haircut. By encouraged I mean told. As in the barber was told cut it short by my dad when he took me.

My favorite barber was in Cambridge Wisconsin. Mostly my head hurt when I got my hair cut. That was the first time that my head didn’t hurt, that day in Cambridge.

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Ah dad – he bore me oft upon his back. A blurry non-centered photo. Both of these from the early 1960’s. Both now price family treasures. Images from so long ago.

These were sealed in a box and stored in the garage on the farm for the 10 years they had the farm. Then left in that box and stored in the garage when they moved back into the city. Inside that box were the images of me and my sister lynne when we were really little. I will post more of these older slides tomorrow and through Thanksgiving.

Just amazing.



Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.