Yesterday a 7th-grader came up to my desk and asked, "What's metaphysics?"
Although I believed I had a vague idea, I had to Google it to give him an answer -- "the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, identity, time, and space."
"What's epidemiology?" he asked. This one I knew from my work in the Peace Corps. It's the study of public health, more or less.
"And what's epistemology?" he asked. I realized he was reading these terms from the list of Dewey Decimal subject ranges posted on my desk. Once again I had to resort to Google -- epistemology is the theory of knowledge.
"As you can tell, I never studied much philosophy," I told the kid.
"That's OK," he said, comfortingly. He went to the shelves and checked out a book called "Discourse on Metaphysics: Correspondence with Arnauld, and Monadology."
Good luck with that. I will stick to my Tasmanian murder mystery.
The mushroom crop in our back garden has continued to be rather spectacular. I'm not sure that's a good thing, though. I started Googling around to figure out what kind of mushrooms they are, and I landed on something called Honey Fungus -- which sounds like a serious problem. It sure looks similar to me.
(I can just hear that student: "What's mycology?")
Based on what I've read online, if we have that in the garden we're moving. I am not dealing with excavating large quantities of soil. I suppose I should get a professional opinion and/or alert the landlords.
On a brighter note, our Thanksgiving cacti are budding. It looks like we should have a nice display this year. In addition to this one, the salmon-colored one and a white one sent to me as a cutting by blog reader Frances are also both in bud. I haven't seen the white one bloom yet -- last year it dropped its few buds as it was still quite small -- so hopefully this year we'll get some flowers.
(Top photo: A very autumnal-looking house on Finchley Road.)