My father was a chemist who made the mistake of revealing his skills as an
administrator. I am a graphic artist who lives in a little cottage next to
Mission Creek in Santa Barbara, California. My three well-thumbed paperback
volumes of the Feynman Lectures are in mini-storage till I finish building my
bookcase. Probably next week. I'll probably never finish reading them. I never
cease to enjoy leafing through them. Now they're wearing out, physically.
My best friend's wife's father once entertained Richard Feynman at a dinner party. My aunt Carla once entertained Einstein at a similar event. My sister Marcia and her husband Johnnie hosted Charles Lindberg several times at their tropical island paradise in the Philippines. I mostly host moths, spiders, and raccoons. I counted eleven little brown birds in my fountain yesterday morning. I thought about Richard Feynman's conversation with his father about birds. Maybe that's not in his Lectures.
I'm a volunteer in a Christian prison ministry at the US Penitentiary in Lompoc, California. A few years ago I was there, sitting at a table next to a young white guy with tousled brown hair. He didn't fit my prejudiced stereotype of what an inmate at a federal prison should look like. Also, he was taking notes in Chinese. During a later talk, he looked distracted and started jotting down formulas instead of notes. I asked him, "Do those formulas have anything to do with zero-point energy?" He looked surprised. He was also surprised that I had never heard about his case. His name was Billy Cottrell. Prison is the best place to meet interesting people.
These days I spend my time math-tutoring the teenage son of one of my friends, serving food in a halfway house, trying to publish my sci-fi novel, and helping anyone who seems to need help.
Reading Feynman has made me skeptical. Is that a good thing? Seems like every time I tried to tell my father anything remarkable I had read about, he would deny it. "How is it possible I never heard anything about this?"
Two weeks ago Saturday some words escaped unbidden from my mouth on my way to breakfast with my friend Barney: "Anything you say is remarkable." If that statement wasn't inspired directly from The Feynman Lectures, then I don't know where it came from.