About

I thought I had filled this part out, but apparently I haven’t.  All these people have been wondering what I’m all about.  What’s my deal?  Who is this guy?  And why should I believe anything he has to say?  For that I can think of no good arguments as to why you would, but I hope you visit my blog anyway. 🙂

I am a Canadian.  I am biracial.  I live in the U.S.  I am a professor of atmospheric and earth science.  I am an atheist, a humanist, and I love having discussions about the common experiences we all share in life.  I love to learn, I love to grow.  The power of the internet can sometimes feel like a double-edged sword but I believe it to be ultimately a powerful tool that can allow us to see the world through the eyes of others like never before.  As we all journey through life, the internet allows us to intersect with so many more paths and since we learn so much from others in our world, I believe that we can only benefit from anything that makes the world smaller and more accessible.

So I’m putting myself out there in the internet to see who I intersect with, and where else I can possibly go. 🙂

Pay attention to the journey folks, in case it only happens once. 🙂

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51 thoughts on “About

        1. I have never found appreciation lacking degrees, but it can be hard to quantify. But if you find that appreciation lacks degrees for you, I still don’t think that’s any reason to get disappointed. 🙂

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          1. Let me tell you that nowadays I never get disappointed, as – really – I actually have no expectations. And I have a hard time to quantify anything according to prevalent measure…:-??

            We try, we experiment., we err…- we learn.

            Mistakes are many times much more fun than ” the final outcome”…

            Agree…?:)

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            1. I do agree. 🙂 But I think that it is also natural for us to seek safety and comfort. We go through life walking the line between the safety of what we know and the unknown. In the former we are rooted and bound. Not all is bad, because there is kinship and togetherness, but also there are many traps that can prevent us from experiencing all this world has to offer. In the unknown there are new challenges to overcome, adversity to face, things to learn. And all the mistakes along the way. This leads to growth and change. You can live a life of ultimate safety because the unknown always finds you. It is better to accept that there is no predictability to life and embrace change. Over time I have found that I have become more comfortable with change. The worst mistake I think a person can make is to think that they can stay static in this world. And therefore it is the most important mistake learn from. 🙂

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            2. I came to understand that true kinship and togetherness happens between the ones who dare to explore what is “outside the fence”. That makes the whole trip worthwhile and truly exhilarating…

              As you say, no one can fool the Unknown staying static. And woe betide those, who keep due distance to the impending Mystery of life… – What we don´t dare to see and live, compensates itself through misfortune…

              Everything is change…second by second…and that makes Life really awesome. Impenetrably dilemmatic – so to say.

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  1. Great About page Swarn Gill! *apologies for mispelling your blog-name at the other blog!* :/

    Yes, I shall peruse around here more. Journey on Sir! And you may or may not understand why we have “intersected”… but perhaps this will illuminate more:

    I am very much a “Marco Polo” kindred soul. Warm regards Swarn!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the compliment and no problem on the misspelling. It’s not the first and won’t be the last. lol I’ve sentenced my son the same fate too by giving him an Indian name. lol I hope you do like my blog and look forward to more discussions! I followed your blog as well as it definitely looks like there are many topics I will enjoy. I wish though that I could say I will have the time to be an avid reader. I’m only finding time to write once a month lately and very little time to read anybody’s blog, but I will do my best! This 15 month old is already spinning up into a tornado and he’s only going to get more destructive. lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL…oh Swarn, if this is your first child, you are IN FOR A RIDE, thrill-ride or otherwise! 😉 Have two of my own but they are 21 (daughter) and 14 (son) — daughter is getting married this May. Yikes! If you haven’t already figured it out, a child & children change your life forever… I said FOR-EVER! 😛

        If your visits are infrequent, I totally get it. If they’re mega-infrequent, I’ll just assume you’ve been committed into a long-term “institution”. 😉 *kidding*

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  2. Hi Swarn,

    It’s very nice to meet you. Thank you for subbing to my blog. I have subbed to yours as well and look forward to reading your posts as time permits. You have a very refreshing outlook, based on some of the comments I read of your on other blogs. You also have a very calming effect on me. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Victoria

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    1. It is lovely to meet you too Victoria. “As time allows”. That’s always the rub isn’t. It’s my only real big beef with the universe that it gives us minds that are capable of much more than the finite amount of time we’re given. I’d be on a quest for the fountain of youth, but to be quite honest it all sounds a bit tiring. 🙂

      I read your About page as well and I was hooked immediately because I’ve realized that I am often drawn to people who have transformed from conservative upbringings to secular points of view. Not only does it mirror my own journey (although to be honest I was not raised as conservatively as many than I have met), but I feel there is something special about people who are willing to uproot their belief system and become dynamic instead of static. The only truth in the universe I can find is change and people who are willing to change and grow are the type of people one should surround themselves with. Before I ramble on too long though I will say, I look forward to reading your writings, and thank you or your compliment. I think being calming is quite a good thing. I will take it as the compliment of the day with a good chance of it winning compliment of the week. 🙂

      Cheers,
      Swarn

      P.S. I am also really pleased to meet people who sign off the same way I do. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “The only truth in the universe I can find is change and people who are willing to change and grow are the type of people one should surround themselves with.

        Swarn, this is a powerful statement. I couldn’t agree more. Because of the environment I live in, primarily surrounded by Christian fundamentalists who tend to fear anyone different from them, I’ve had to grow a tough skin. I’ve also had to endure a lot of pain from biting my tongue, lol. I didn’t find my voice until I started getting involved online, and I had no idea how many like-minded people there were who had traveled a very similar path as mine. At the time I went through my deconversion, I had never met an atheist and/or humanist. I’ve been an unbeliever for 10 years, and still (with exception to my daughter) I’ve yet to meet an atheist/humanist in person. They are scarce in my neck of the woods, or just cautious to make themselves known because it often comes at a great cost, like losing jobs, a partner, etc. We are, after all, considered the least trusted in America according to studies. This is due to indoctrination. I remember being indoctrinated to believe that atheist were “evil” and to not keep company with them. I had also been indoctrinated to be that because they didn’t believe in the Judeo-Christian god, they were also unable to be moral. What I learned bout myself was that the more I shed indoctrination, the more empathy and compassion I had.

        Thank goodness I’m the curious type and have a thirst for knowledge and to understand, otherwise, I’d probably still be thumping that Bible. 😀

        Btw, what part of Canada are you from? All my family on my dad’s side are from Quebec.

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        1. Thank you for more details about your deconversion. Maybe that’s why I’ve always loved the university environment. An institution that allows you to be yourself (for the most part) and combines that with learning. I think the fact that I had to parents from two different cultures ingrained in me that one belief system is not the only answer to producing goodness. I remember my mother one time told me that without Christ in her life she’d be a very angry person. But what I always saw, when she was doing good (because some people just give lip service to goodness), she wasn’t preaching or quoting bible verses. She didn’t look conflicted like she really wanted to be angry and sin, but the teachings of the bible told her she should. It was natural to her. She saw the value in being kind to other people. She gave me a great deal of forgiveness and compassion and that’s something a lot of mainstream Christians in the U.S. aren’t very good at. And there were many good people on Indian side of the family, even my dad, although alcoholism has gotten the better of him. I think it just planted that seed of doubt, that if goodness can be reached through multiple belief systems, maybe nobody has got it quite right. And maybe in the end what it really is, that people are just doing the best they can. We’re all imperfect. But I think as a whole we might actually be improving. The journey sure is rough though.

          So I’m on the other side. Grew up in Edmonton, AB. I love Montreal and Quebec City. Montreal is my favorite city in North America, but I can’t claim to have visited them all of course. 🙂

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          1. ” It was natural to her. She saw the value in being kind to other people.”

            This was my favorite part of your comment. I can understand your mother believing that if it wasn’t for Christ in her life she’d be angry. Her own personal belief system appears to have given her a tool to help her make since of the world.

            My grandmother never opened a Bible in her life, but she was a devout believer and one of the most awesome, caring, compassionate people I’d ever known. But it had little to do with her being a Christian and everything to do with being nurtured in a loving family.

            Reading science books opened my world to understanding the importance of nurture and love, and how that wires the brain to be prosocial. But there are many reasons that cause antisocial behavior and it was through science books, not the Bible, that I came to have a greater understanding about human behavior. It was empowering and restored my faith in humanity.

            I agree with you. I think as a whole, things (we) are improving. 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much Linden for the nomination! I’ll get back to your questions later this week as today has been rather hectic and am looking forward to just doing a little vegetating! 🙂 Your sweetness, however, has made my day. 🙂

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    1. This morning when I was in a rush for work I mean to copy and paste stuff I had been writing into word and then save as draft. Apparently I accidentally hit publish. That blog post was nowhere near done! lol I mean I know I’m not a great writer, but you had to think something was wrong with that post. LOL

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        1. Haha…I guess I should have done so. Don’t worry, there will be lots of questions still and I will still love all you have to say, just as much!! Sorry to be such a tease! Even though I know you like it. 😉

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  3. Oooh, a fellow humanist! You mean the Carl Rogers/Laing/Maslow kind? Or the Husserl/Heidegger sort? Or another … Your bio sounds fun. Atmospheric and earth science is much needed in these changing planetary times. Glad to connect. Hariod? Not sure. Anyhow, glad.

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    1. I don’t know any of those names really…Heidegger sounds familiar. I’m not really married to any specific label, but from what I understand of the category that is most closely where I’d fit. lol

      And thank you for your comment here. I do think Atmospheric and earth science is fascinating. I have a hard time understand when people don’t think so (which seems to be a good proportion of my students). For me it’s like…you step outside and it’s the world you see…how can you not wonder about it!? How can you not have a million questions!? lol

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      1. Exactly. I returned to college in my early 40’s and haven’t stopped since! (haha) I love to learn, especially when it’s something I WANT to know more about. I wonder do you teach undergrad or grad students? And do you feel as though that might have something to do with the disinterest? It’s sad your students feel their time wasted, as may be or not, as I’d likely gobble it all up. You might find Husserl’s concept of Phenomenology interesting. If he’s too heavy, Robert Romanyshyn’s “Technology as Symptom and Dream” is brilliant. In your spare time – HA! Why do I mention these guys? Your line about stepping outside and meeting the world you see. I see that in nature, for sure, and also in human beings. One on one works well for me 😉

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        1. I do teach only undergrads, and I would say that the apathy they might have to extends to earth science, likely extends elsewhere also. The word science immediately triggers their psyche into sort turning off. The amount of times I have had a student come up to me and say “I’m not good at science” or “I can’t do science” is too numerous to count. My response is “Well you should think about getting better at it, because it’s really important.” I am sure they aren’t pleased by that answer. lol

          I feel their disinterest has a lot to do with the way education is done before entering college. That’s a whole long set of problems, but basically we all see the lack of critical thinking skills and the loss of inquisitiveness in general about anything they learn.

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          1. Yes, I don’t know what ‘the problem’ is with education in general, but it’s unfortunate on so many levels. For the US to have someone like Trump in the position he’s currently parlaying into Presidency speaks somewhat to The Problem aforementioned, as I see it. I went to amazing schools, growing up, before budget cuts were enacted and quality of education in that state began to plummet. My daughters likewise had amazing schools. My husband, not so much.

            All that being said, I wonder if part of this lack of interest in earth science has to do with a general apathy of the upcoming generations with regards to the readily available science on environmental degradation. Maybe they feel overwhelmed, or many of them do. And it’s easier to zone out on their iPhones and social media rather than to dig in and be part of the solution. Even the political movements like Occupy Wall Street seem undirected when compared with the Civil Rights and Feminist movements of the 60’s and early 70’s. Soooo … the world these ‘kids’ inherit will be the world they cocreate, I’m afraid – and they’ve got a Lot of help in the apathy department.

            Fortunately, I think there are some brilliant minds out there that are eager to embrace the challenges. Read just the other day about these stick (bladeless) wind turbines, which thrill me, really. And some great ideas on ocean clean-up, though that problem is beyond vast. New technology ought not to be confined to the newest smartphone or computer or TV, whose ‘old’ models end up in toxic scrap heaps (let’s not get into where recycling efforts fall short). Thanks for hanging in there. The hope is that the tide will begin turning, at that you will begin to encounter (yea, teach!) students who are interested (and passionate!) about your course material. (Btw, I’d have had a similar response to yours re: importance. Truth is a powerful medicine to apathy.) Aloha!

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            1. I think the larger societal problem is anti-intellectualism. The fact that nobody sees education as having any value outside of the job it gets you. In a consumerist society, schools now run on a business model in which the student is a manufactured good. Education isn’t always supposed to have direct tangible results and is valuable beyond what career it can give you. We have massive educational inequality among public schools, and a large group of people convinced they shouldn’t have to pay taxes to educate someone else’s kid. That’s the short version of my rant. lol

              I mean I don’t really blame the young people. They are what we’ve made them to be and they enter a world with far less opportunity than we had, and their dollar doesn’t stretch nearly as far.

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    1. Thank you for visiting. 🙂

      It’s not so much me believing we only go through once… I consider one life as the the null hypothesis. There is no substantial evidence that demonstrates this otherwise. Plus it really doesn’t bother me that this is a one time journey. I’m thankful to exist at all.

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            1. I guess I always joke I have a hair short because of my cultural heritage which is quite hairy. lol But looking up the expression hair shirt I see the definition “austere and self-sacrificing.” Not sure what to make of that. I do not find my views to be that at all, in fact I find the world to be completely the opposite of austere.

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  4. Nice bio. And nice to meet you Swarn over GC’s, if in very irritating circumstances which I am trying not to engage with. But then there’s always an upside, isn’t there. I’m especially intrigued that you are a professor of atmospheric and earth science – the kind of expertise that the poor old planet is sorely in need of. As a mostly organic gardener I spend a lot of time thinking about soil. This takes so much of my time in fact, it saves me from doing much writing. Anyway, cheers for the kind intervention. I shall now go back to sitting on my hands and biting my desk, and so not say another word in response to great silliness 🙂

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    1. Thank you Tish! And welcome. 🙂 I am currently trying to develop my gardening skills and had limited luck this years as some sort of insect went to town on my cucumbers and zucchini. My jalapenos did well though. lol

      Indeed with the the Republicans at the helm, I am most worried about the environmental damage that they can do. Privatizing national parks, increasing fossil fuel consumption, pulling out of the Paris Agreement. It’s frightening. I feel we will be more successful in fighting against changes to social justice issues, but the environment seems likely a battle we won’t be able to win, especially when the entire party stance is that human-induced climate change is a hoax. 😦

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      1. Shame about the zucchini. (My other half is a plant pathologist btw if you require further pest identification). But sad, sad, sad about the state of the earth. And climate change aside – it’s all the other abuse we’ve been inflicting on the place in the post ww2 era. Though the Chinese with the World Bank have been doing some pretty brilliant wasteland reclamation by the look of it – The Loess Plateau – there’s a great YouTube vid if you haven’t seen it already.

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        1. Thank you! I’ll check it out. We definitely have the means to live a lot greener as societies. It’s shame that as a whole we aren’t doing more to take care of the planet that sustains us all.

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  5. Pingback: 2D or Not 2D: Transcending Barriers In Virtual Reality | Victoria NeuroNotes

    1. Haha…thank you John. You know, I started looking at his site, and I’m like who the fuck is this guy? I started reading some of his posts and he’s a complete dick and after his little poem defending Nazi’s, I’m like he might also be a big racist too. I thought about outing him on twitter, but given that he only has a handful of people liking and retweeting his posts, I figure it’s better to keep his notoriety to a minimum. I’m only likely to boost his career at this point! lol

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        1. Yeah, I wasn’t sure whether he was being sarcastic so I checked out his blog. It wasn’t obvious what he was about until I read more carefully and I was like Jesus….a ColorStorm who is trying to be comical. In my last response I asked if they’d met. Lol

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