Random Thoughts Part XXVII

Bill Lyon of the Philadelphia Inquirer used to write columns with the theme “Random Thoughts and Second Thoughts”.  With apologies to Bill Lyon, this essay is like that- a collage of miscellaneous thoughts.


Was Vincent van Gogh a successful painter?  Of course.  He painted over 900 paintings, and drew  1100 sketches and drawings.  One painting (A portrait of Dr. Gauchet) sold for $82 million dollars in 1990.  Van Gogh paintings are treasured the world over.

But Vincent van Gogh never experienced public recognition as an artist.  Supposedly, he only sold one painting in his lifetime. (There are some disputes about this, but he never made a living from his art work).  He spent much of the last two years of his life in an asylum, where he painted some of his most famous paintings.  In 1890, he committed suicide. He died unknown.


Was Emily Dickinson a successful poet? Of course.  She is one of the most acclaimed poets.  She wrote almost 1800 poems in her lifetime.

And published only a handful, most of them anonymously.

Emily Dickinson never experienced public recognition as a poet. She died unknown.


Can you imagine pursuing your dream for your entire life, without any acclaim at all?  Can you imagine writing, or painting, or poeting (I just made that word up), without any feedback at all?



Do young people wear wristwatches anymore?  Why not?

Neither of my daughters own a watch.

I understand that smartphones have clocks on them.  But still….


This weekend is “clock change” weekend.  Don’t forget to change your clocks at 2am Sunday morning. (Don’t forget to change your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries at the same time.)

How many clocks do you have to change?

I have to change 14.  You probably do, too, and don’t even notice it.  We have three cars, three ovens/microwaves, 3 watches (I have two and Theresa has one), one hanging wall clock, 1 thermostat, and three alarm clocks.  That doesn’t count all of the devices that I gave up on changing a long time ago (DVRs, DVD players, etc.)


How many passwords do you have?

I have 22 user id/password combinations at work, and another 38 at home.  60 in total, but there really are more than that, I just stopped writing down the ones I don’t care about.

One of the ironies of passwords, is that we are instructed to make them very complicated, so that they can’t be hacked.  For example, we are supposed to use a combination of upper and lower case letters,  letters and numbers, special symbols, and non-meaningful letter combinations.

Very good advice.

But now hackers can steal our passwords directly off of a server.  It doesn’t matter how clever I am with passwords, if a hacker can hack into a server and copy it.

How many letters have you received from companies, indicating that their super-secure systems were breached, and that you better change your password anytime in the next 10 minutes or so?



One last random thought, and this one is a doozy….

How many people die every day?


No one really knows, but here is my answer.

Suppose that there are 7 billion people on Earth (that number seems accurate, based on the traffic going into work this morning).

Now suppose that the average life expectancy is 70 years.

7 billion/70 years equals 100,000,000 people a year.

100,000,000 people a year, divided by 365 days in a year, equals 273,972 people dying every day.

That number might be wrong.  Maybe there are 6 billion people on Earth, or 8 billion.  And maybe the life expectancy is 60 years, or 80 years.

The point is…I’m not exactly sure what the point is, but this is what I think about when I am sitting in traffic on Route 1.

That is why I tell the people in my life that I love them every time I say goodbye.  Because I don’t know which day is the day I get called up to the big leagues.

Now before you think I am getting grim, I’m not.  My plan is to be here for another 40 years.  93 years old.  And I am willing to discuss contract extensions after that, if there is a need.

But you never know when your time is up.  Tell the people you love that you love them.

It can’t hurt.



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