Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 2.21

On my way home from errands today, I saw a pair of bald eagles. This isn’t unusual around here, as they’ve really been thriving over the past few years. In fact, in Red Wing, where I’ve been working, it isn’t unheard of for me to spot a dozen in one day. No matter how ubiquitous they’re becoming, I’m still completely captivated by them.

Is there something you see or experience in your day to day life that never fails to capture your attention and hold you in awe of the natural world?

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  1. I live in what technically counts as a suburb. My lot, however is about 80% trees and backs up onto a creek. I regularly see raccoons, opossums, frogs, bats and especially deer. A pack of deer loitering in my back yard is a common occurrence. They also frequently dodge in front of my car when I come home from work.

    I wouldn’t so much say that it captures my attention or holds me in awe. It’s more like, “Oh look, I just stepped in a pile of nature again.”

  2. Clouds. Colorado’s front range has awesome orographic clouds which make for many lovely days and spectacular sunsets.

    I’ll also almost always watch if my wife is dressing or undressing near me. This happens once or twice a day yet I still admire. I don’t care if this is hardwired into my reptilian brain or just perviness. Women are pretty.

  3. Birds, in general. They’re just…amazing. It’s one of the things I really dislike about living in town, there are so few birds.

    Also, I’m from the Midwest and recently moved to New England. Driving to work every day, I see mountains. There are no mountains where I grew up. Even after a year and a half, it’s still amazing.

  4. Pretty much anything celestial: great cloud patterns, great sunsets, the milky way and trying to pick out those few astronomical objects I know. The sky is just a huge work of natural art in constant flux, trite as that sounds. (hey, I’m good at trite). I’m just always looking up, which may explain why I keep twisting my ankle…

  5. Children. The idea that they can grow inside of us from nothing more than tiny little strands of DNA… that they can be so complex and yet have such a “small” beginning…. it truly is amazing. They grew within us, feed off of our bodies, use our nutrients and our immunities to live and grow. They go from being tiny little lumps of fast-growing bean-shaped tissue to faces, hands, feet, etc. It never ceases to amaze me how complex life can be, no matter what stage it’s at.

  6. Long-time reader, first-time poster, etc.

    The night sky. Every time I look up at the sky at night I feel like crying. It’s just such a beautiful sight. The moon, the sky, the stars, which are probably already dead and are/were millions of light-years away from us, and the way the trees and clouds appear to cover up the moon and stars just seems so magnificently beautiful.

  7. Every clear evening just after sunset, a purple raises in the east; the shadow of the earth.

    The first time I noticed it was under canopy on a sunset skydive.

    Ever since, I look for it every night. It’s always followed by a stary night which is whole ‘nother post.

  8. Stars, the moon, sunsets, and probably sunrises if I ever saw them. Whenever I come home late at night, I spend a few minutes just staring up at the sky (on a clear night) marvelling at the stars, trying to find the few constellations I know, and wishing my eyesight was better.

  9. Almost every aspect of nature that I encounter!

    Clouds, trees, flowers, birds, ants.

    Today I was leaving an art exhibit and the branches of a tree outside the gallery were far more beautiful than anything I’d seen inside.

  10. The stars (and planets). It always knocks me flat to contemplate the vastness of space, the sheer size of an object like Jupiter, and how far away it must be in order to appear so small, AND to see photos up close from Galileo, Voyager, and the Express.

  11. This may sound a bit off the beaten path, but I always marvel at the minor musical scales. If I am not mistaken, they are not “natural,” in the sense that animals do not use them. I understand that birds will sing using major scales. The idea that the human brain essentially plucked a minor scale out of nature, even though it doesn’t exist in nature, is pretty amazing. It’s all the more amazing when you think of the emotions the minor scales can induce. See, e.g., the Moonlight Sonata, in C-sharp minor.

  12. Okay, now for the real answer. Stars, I can’t see a clear starry sky without stpping to look at tit. I can stand and stare until my knees hurt. The thought of the vastness of space. The didstance from here to Alpha Centauri or Barnard’s Star. Hell the distance from here to the moon.

    And Tittys, just love the tittys.

    titties?

    boobs

    boobies

    breasts

    sweater puppies

    chest melons

    tshirt pillows

    tits

    sweet sweet tits.

  13. Oh the stars…. I am in love with renderings and photos of nebulas.

    I love knowing that I am made of the same stuff that makes these so beautiful! It reminds me that the new-age idea that we are all one, and connected, is really not that untrue. :]

  14. I’m amazed by my kids everyday. I love to watch their brains develop and learn how the world works.

    I also love to watch a thunderstorm approach. I love to watch the huge thunder heads boil and the lightening going from cloud to cloud. It’s especially beautiful when it’s close to sunset and you can see all wonderful colors along with the lightening. The low rumbling of an approaching storm is really cool, too.

  15. If I have to pick just one, its probably water. It is good and useful and fascinating in so many ways. I am very conscious of it around the clock.

    Ok, I’ll also mention that I constantly look upwards. Both the day and night sky (there’s a comet going by as we talk!) are inspiring.

  16. Geez, that would be a long list for me. But to list a few, I like watching the various birds that fly around in the summer, especially the crows and hawks. To look up at the stars at night (not tonight however, as it is cloudy and snowing). To watch the snow fall (during the day mostly, it’s rather more fun than one might expect). Sight of trees as they change in the fall, sight of trees as they sprout in the spring, sight of trees after a particularly nasty ice storm, trees in general, especially deciduous, but coniferous trees are neat too. Anything oceanographic is in my opinion cool, but I don’t really see much of that in my daily life.

  17. The various wildlife i come across from day to day give me a sense of awe. Birds, squirrels, wasps, possums and bees all fascinate me.

    I’m also fascinated by the idea of owning pets. The relationships humans have with pets seems so weird to me and yet at the same time i totally understand it. If there’s a cat or a dog walking through our house we have no problem with that but if there’s a rat or a llama we’d be a bit freaked. We love our pets even though they’re so different from us. Most of them could survive just fine without us, and us without them. But we both find something beneficial in our friendships with them.

    I look at an animal and think about everything i know about it’s life cycle and behaviors and other things about it. Then i think about the millions of years of evolution that lead to it being in it’s present form. Then my thoughts turn to myself and I think about all the millions of years of evolution that lead to me being about to look at a bee and think about all i know about bees and how they evolved.

  18. Picking one thing is so hard, but for me its the whales I see so often just off the cliff where I live. It is so amazing to look up from a book, Tv whatever, to see a whale just off the shore.

    This never, ever becomes boring.

  19. My brain, especially the things it does when I’m not thinking.

    Reading Susan Blackmores “Counsciousness: An introduction” really made me aware of how amazing and inscrutable this thing that sometimes thinks it’s me is.

  20. Oh, the Moon! Of course! Sometimes I’ll look up at that and think, here’s a whole world, just hanging over our heads. A whole world so close that not only can you see that it’s a sphere but you can even make out its features. A whole world just a few days’ journey away. I bet there aren’t many Earth-like planets that can boast that.

  21. @davew: I’m jealous. I’m an amateur meteorologist and I love to watch the sky. The things the Rockies do to clouds are just phenomenal.
    Sunrises
    Sunsets
    Clear, dark nights full of the moon, stars and planets
    Puppies
    Kittens
    Birds, especially soaring birds like hawks, albatross, frigate bird, etc. that fly for hours with no apparent effort…
    Music – This can entrance me for hours, especially when coupled with the sky, the stars, etc.
    Conversation with well-educated, intelligent people
    Attractive women (Hey, I’m married, not dead!)
    Watching fish in an aquarium – the bigger the aquarium, the better…
    Trees swaying in the wind
    Storms of all kinds
    Aircraft of all kinds – Sorry, I just love to watch them…

    This last one is going to sound really, really hokey…but when I see a really good visual effects shot of a ship like the USS Enterprise heading out into deep space, I get all misty. I want to go, too.
    I came from the movie generation where spaceships were held up over plaster planets with fishing line…To see something that looks real heading out into space tugs at me somehow…

  22. There are so many things, but the one I think of most often is wind. I like to walk in all kinds of weather and the feeling of wind wrapping around me and pushing things here and there makes me feel like I’m standing in a large fast running river. then I think about the size of that river how I couldn’t possible see from one side to the other, or that the surface is hundreds of feet above me. I feel a part of this amazing flow that wiggles and pushes it’s ways through every building, tree, house or car. It’s nearly everywhere and it gives me a sense of scale that makes me feel small. I like it when nature makes me feel small.

    I don’t know why but it’s common. Whether it’s a starry sky, mountains, a huge panoramic vista or a rainstorm the earth reminds me how small and insignificant I really am. If I were differently inclined I’d think it’s be my reason for believing in god, instead I believe in wind.

    @Gabrielbrawley: I like those too.

  23. The sheer open-eyed curiosity of the world in general, the feeling of standing on a hill in England and that first breeze hitting my face as I look out onto the ocean only to realize how vast and complex this world is.

    The sounds of birds chirping their familiar songs when I first wake up in the morning, or the seemingly-random-yet-hypnotic sounds of the rain-drops hitting the ground.

  24. Very very quickly counted the posts up to 38 and in a very general way the break down is:
    Sky stuff – 14 votes
    Animals – 7
    People – 6
    Nature – 6
    Moutains – 2
    Music – 2
    Alcohol – 2
    Plants – 1
    Fossils – 1
    Poop – 1
    Bad Driving – 1
    Wind – 1
    Water – 1
    USS Enterprise – 1
    Air planes – 1
    Titties – 5
    Really, only 5? Come on. I know we all like the titties. More votes for titties, I suspect that many of the skepchicks are even fascinated by the boobies. It’s okay to admit it. Boobies rule. Well, they rule me anyway.

  25. I’m a west coast girl, so the things I see every day include the ocean and giant cedars. And they’re still amazing. And the way moist soil smells after rain. And windstorms that knock over trees.
    Earthquakes. Not a daily event, but one I have to think about on a semi-regular basis. Terrifying but incredible – the earth moves around, relative to itself, like muscles in an animal.
    Baby rabbits. There’s a population of feral bunnies on my university campus, and seriously, if there is anything cuter than a baby rabbit with little floppy ears and a tiny twitching nose I will eat my own foot.
    And, yeah, breasts. Squishy!

  26. The place where I bartend has a bald eagle nest just next door, so I see them quite frequently, and it never ceases to turn me into a small, excitable child.

    One day I was out back taking a smoke break, and watched the two massive bald eagles chasing a hawk through the sky. I watched them fly around for about thirty seconds, then the hawk dipped towards the restaurant with the eagles in pursuit.

    All three of them streaked just over my head, maybe twenty feet at the most.

    If I was standing on the roof, I could’ve jumped up and snatched a bald eagle right out of the sky.

    Otherwise, my old homestead in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia is in an area that, for some reason, sees an inordinate amount of pouring rain from a clear blue sky.

    One minute, my friends and I were playing basketball on a gorgeous summer day, and the next minute, the bottom would fall out. And there wouldn’t be a cloud in sight.

    It’s absolutely beautiful. And odd. But beautiful. And odd.

  27. Sunsets here in Arizona can be completely insane.

    And while visiting my family in my home town recently, it rained and rained and rained, an odd thing in the desert. It was cold, wet, and MUDDY. But I got to see a full double rainbow. The second rainbow above the first full one was faint but 100% there. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was amazing. My friend and I stood out in the cold mud for 10 min. taking pictures and just staring. It was amaaaaaaaazing.

  28. *sniff*

    I have never felt as close to you all as I do right now. I am also in constant awe of boobs, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why! I mean, they are literally pouches hanging off of a chest that are filled with fat and glands. But if I were about to go blind and someone said “what’s the last thing you would like to see before the blindness sets in?” my answer would of course be “More boobs, please.”

  29. Being a bum-man I don’t really get the boob thing.

    However I’ve always been a looker-upper – stars, planets, the clouds etc. I was taking a walk around the hothouse at the botanical gardens yesterday and it’s interesting that I absolutely don’t react to plants in the same way as I do to celestial wonders. Intellectually I can appreciate that the diversity of such life is just as amazing and impressive as the sky at night, but emotionally I don’t respond in the same way.

  30. Several things: the softest part behind a cat’s ear where the fur is more like down than anything else. Also puppy bellies and puppy paws.

    Once in a while we here in the midwest get a brief view of the Aurora Borealis and it just blows me away. I’ve also seen them in Alaska where they wave in curtains above your head. When I think about it too hard, it freaks me out a bit. But it completely makes me thankful for our magnetic poles that keep us from burning up.

    Oh yeah-and men’s asses. In jeans.

  31. No question: THE NIGHT SKY!!! It’s so beautiful, amazing, awe-inspiring, dumbfounding… Unfortunately I live in Vancouver, which 1) is a big city with lots of light pollution, and 2) is rainy as hell. Every single night sky event this year has been hidden behind the clouds! (Despite every other night being perfectly clear…)

    My favourite (regular) night-sky moment is at dusk, when the moon is a crescent, but Earthshine is reflecting off its dark side… That’s when you can really tell that the moon isn’t just a disc, but a sphere, just… hanging there. Freaky!

    Last night was a perfect example, AND it was paired with Venus! What a lovely sight to behold!

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