Snowfall & Certainty

Winter Swans (by StarbuckGuy)

Once again I had a good overnight sleep, but I didn’t feel very spry this morning. All the sneezing and coughing has tired me. I thought of staying in, but two days inside without any fresh air and exercise is more than I like. I miss my routine when I’m unable to get out. I miss my Starbucks cuppa too.

So this morning I stuffed myself with nostrums and palliatives — two Dristans and a glug of Benylin cough syrup — and headed into the falling snow. It was a slushy, stick-to-everything kind of snow. Pretty to look at and not bad for walking, but difficult for photography.

I took my Panasonic LX3 with a UV filter on to protect the lens, and carried the camera in my coat pocket. I tried, when possible, to find a protected overhang before hauling out the camera to take a shot, but sometimes I had to shoot in the open to get the image I wanted. I returned the camera to my pocket as soon as possible after the shot, and it appears to have weathered the storm.

I felt sorry for drivers today. The snowfall started last night and continued into this morning’s rush hour. The roads are slushy and at times visibility is low.

I followed my usual route to the harbour, passing behind the local library to the Credit River, then down river, under the bridges to the pier. The trumpeter swans are back and they, along with the mute swans, swam towards me hoping for a handout. “Spare bread for out-of-work wildfowl?” The ducks were in on it too. I could see a few pigeons giving me the eye.

Not many moms and nannies around today to toss bread their way while their toddlers giggle and thrill to the ensuing dash. I didn’t see any other pedestrians. Some people use common sense in weather like this and stay indoors.

At Starbucks I keyed in most of this blog, then did a little email and surfing. I had along Sibyl, my new Acer Aspire One netbook. I’ve had it about three weeks now and have come to love it. You can see from the following photo how compact it is in relation to a Starbucks cup and a standard-size ball pen.

Sibyl (by StarbuckGuy)

It took me awhile to adjust to the keyboard, but it’s actually improved my typing, which had become sloppy. I’m a touch typist, having learned to type in high school on manual upright Royals, Underwoods, and Smith Coronas with blank keytops and a large keyboard layout chart on the far classroom wall. You learned to make precise keystrokes on those machines, and over the years my technique had lost some precision. It’s needed again when I type on Sibyl.

The library had some holds that I picked up on the way home, the most interesting of which is the book On Being Certain: Believing You’re Right Even When You’re Not by Robert Burton.

In On Being Certain, neurologist Robert Burton shows that feeling certain—feeling that we know something— is a mental sensation, rather than evidence of fact. An increasing body of evidence suggests that feelings such as certainty stem from primitive areas of the brain and are independent of active, conscious reflection and reasoning. In other words, the feeling of knowing happens to us; we cannot make it happen. [Description on]

I first heard about this book on the excellent Brain Science podcast where podcaster Dr. Ginger Campbell reviewed the book in one episode then interviewed Robert Burton in the next. Worthwhile listening. I suspect On Being Certain will be a good read, and a consideration for my permanent book collection.

5 thoughts on “Snowfall & Certainty

  1. Adam, thanks for the link! Inevitable Illusions looks equally as interesting. So much to read, so little time …

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