April 21, 2014

Where the Mountains Meet The Sea

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April 21, 2014

West Coast Forest

West Coast Forest

Ah, Canada

April 21, 2014

Forest For The Trees

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April 21, 2014

West Coast

West Coast

April 7, 2014

I Have Metaphorical Cats

badkitty1(Imagine a lightly drawn picture book goes with this)

I have cats.
I’ve always had cats.

My mom had cats.
My dad too.
Cats seem to run in our family…:)

My cats come in three colors and types:

Niko the ninja cat is black. He sneaks up on you and tries to run (or ruin) your life!
He can be very destructive. My uncle had a cat like him that put him the hospital once.
He likes to jump on your head. I think he thinks he’s a hat!

Katze is a fat brown long haired cat. She is lovable and comfy and demands attention.
She’s like a too-comfy couch or a heavy blanket. Days can go by with her around.
She likes to sit on your chest. She’s a fat cat, and hard to ignore.

Harpo is a weird kitty. Hairless and loud. He comes and goes as he pleases.
He make me feel empathy and compassion, but he scratches too.
He likes to sit in the window, always watching me. He’s sorta helpful though, too, I guess.

Not too many people know I have cats. Some people think having cats is weird, and that people with cats are weird too. I dunno why. I like dogs, too! Dog people are fun, but cat people can be fun too – they just need time to take care of their cats first!

I don’t talk to people about my cats, but maybe I should. My cats are like part of my family. Lots of people have cats, and maybe we can share funny stories about our cats, or ideas for how to take care of them – especially when they drive us crazy!

I have cats…and that’s OK.

:)

(this is just a little something I am working on as an explanation for my life)

February 3, 2014

Simplicity

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I ride the train sometimes, and when I do, I make it a point to stand in this on spot on the platform where the bars of this maintenance ladder line up with each other to form an “M” against the blue sky.

this small thing brings me peace.

i like to think I am not the only one who notices this and takes a moment to refresh themselves in this spot.

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November 5, 2013

Emily Loizeau – Fait battre ton tambour

November 3, 2013

Amira Willighagen (9) Sings Like Heaven

This child makes me believe in heaven. Her voice, delivery, and innocence are transcendent.

For one fine moment, there was no hype, no fakery, just…Puccini.

Beautiful.

October 22, 2013

Skinned Hearts and Cool Water

Despite having more than earned my desperate loner merit badge, I’m not yet ready to play psycho roulette on Craigslist nor post pics of my privates on adult friend finder. Here’s an illuminating glimpse into my naïveté: I actually typed in “adult friend finder” in absolute innocence late one lonely night. Definitely NSFW. I will give them this, they are transparent in their intent.

My god. Thoreau’s “mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation” is online as an ocean of misplaced dreams and misspent youth. And now I join them. My god. How do two hearts skinned raw like knees from a bike crash ever find each other? In the mass…in the crush…in the rush?
And how cool is the meeting of those two, pressed hesitantly together, raw wounds matching coolly against each other like water on dry skin? I cant imagine how unlikely the thread that pulled them together – the strand of fate? That now circles around them in the thinnest of scarlet strands, a spider silk made of compassion and hope and desire to be one. Against all odds.

I can’t believe how rare that seems right now. Like an ember. Like a single firefly in an acre of clover. I stand in the field looking longingly. Those moments of connectedness: they are gems to be protected, cherished.

If so, if there are gems to be mined, I stand at the mouth of the mine, agape at the darkness.

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October 21, 2013

There Is Only One Happiness In Life

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One of things I’ve learned recently is that the things that hold you back struggle the hardest right before they die.

I try not to forget that when things get dark.

I used to give people an opportunity to take advantage of me, and if they did, then made my mind up about them. That’s kind of messed up, I know, but I always thought I was being a nice guy. It wasn’t until marriage counseling that I realized I was really self-centered. It was a really eye opening experience. I am trying to learn compassion as a result.

I also learned recently that hope heated with expectation brews disappointment and bitterness. Better to hope without expectation and be genuinely rewarded.

I thought love was doing nice things for someone, but that’s not the half of it. Love might be better described as synching with someone mentally and emotionally in a mutual and deeply caring way. That moment when you care only for the others’ well-being and you feel an extension of them. That moment when you simultaneously “get it” and each other.

One of my major failings is to believe that others think the way I do, rather than having their own biases constantly at play which are entirely not my own. I have made many, many mistakes, the biggest being the failure to realize that nothing is more important than open, honest, and emotional intimacy. I thought I could make someone happy by doing and giving, but what they needed was my being. I thought my problems were my own to deal with and theirs were mine to fix. What they wanted was for us to share them. I thought my job was to make them happy. It was to make myself theirs.

What one needs in their bed isn’t a warm body but a warm soul.

I suspect what people crave isn’t just touch but connection, and online dating does not help. While you can see just about everything you like online, you cannot feel, and just because you can communicate doesn’t mean you can connect.

How do you type a meaningful pause?

Besides, You cannot replace what you’ve lost, only learn and move on. To try and fill a gap someone used to fill in your life is like pouring wine through a sieve. I laugh at the question of intimacy because it’s like trying to catch a dandelion seed. Try and grab it, and it’s increasingly hard to capture. Make an open cup of your hands, and it’ll rest with you every time.

I am a damned fool when it comes to understanding anyone else but me, so I cannot say more than this: we were made for love, and are descendants of love. Anything else is base. Anything else is less. “There is only one happiness in life,” wrote George Sand, ” to love and be loved.”

October 20, 2013

Is it all just 1, 2, Hey you wanna?

A friend recently related a story of a guy who after a few dates dumped her when she wouldn’t go to bed with him. I think this ball bag of a man illustrates the difference between hope and expectation.
He expected sex. That’s gross and insulting.

I’m not dating but when I do, I hope at some point it leads there. It’s an amazing way to share all the care and energy you have for the person you are with. But hope is neither demanding nor passive. From hope can come desire, and seduction, and one of the things that make an emotional relationship exciting – that tension.

Please tell me if I’m wrong, but I kind of want my date at some point (depending on the connection) to know that I want and desire her, that I’ve grown enamored by her wit, grace, charm, and because she’s smart, and funny, and weird, and cool, and… beautiful. People still do that right? Make the object of their affection feel desired, and desirable?

Or is it all just 1,2, hey, you wanna?

’cause oh man, I don’t think I can deal with that. I don’t think I’m capable of that anymore. The guy that got his future wife in bed was an asshole. I don’t want to go back to that under any circumstances, I don’t care how attractive that confidence and assertiveness was back then. That guy isn’t coming back. He’s been Strangled in the alley behind the temple of self doubt.

It kills me that that I can’t tell when a woman is interested. I’m a train wreck, and I know it. Sexually autistic: the inability to recognize physical or emotional interest in one’s self by another. That’s what I’ll call it.

October 19, 2013

Five Stages Of Middle Aged Dating

The prospect of trying to date again as a middle aged man fill me with terror.

With respect to my desires for a relationship I have noted changes over time:

First was “I’ll show her!” which was horrible and misogynistic and I’m glad I never had a chance to act on it. (Relationship as accomplishment).

Second was “Hey, what’s wrong with me?” which is pitiful and sad and not entirely over. It’s easy to slip back into this feeling sorry for yourself mode. (Relationship as self affirmation.)

Third was “Warm body please!” which felt like sweaty, gross junior high again: all gimme gimme gimme. (Relationship as self satisfaction.)

Fourth was “What a train wreck!” which is when you realize you’ve just run through steps one, two, and three. If you are lucky like me, You have reached this level without harming yourself or others. (Relationship as reward.)

Level Five I’m not sure about, but today I saw a beautiful woman on the street and actually said out loud as I drove by, “Awwwww, she’s beautiful!” like she was some sort of rare tiger. I don’t know what that was all about and asked myself that the rest of the afternoon. (Relationship as the dangerous and untouchable?) Maybe.

Until I can reach a level where the relationship is as mutual enjoyment, it seems unwise to seek one out. If I was trying to prove something, trying to reassure myself of something, or just trying to get something, that’s not healthy or mature. Neither is treating a relationship like a reward for good behavior, or putting it in a glass globe for fear of breaking it.

I’ve done all those, thank you very much, and look where it has led me: sad, tired, worn out, and not quite hopeless. Tired and mostly hopeless. And a little paranoid. And cynical. Oh, and a little bitter. But mostly tired. Annnnd kinda maybe a little helpless? Maybe. I hate that feeling, so put frustrated in there too, but just a jab dab of it. But not like physically frustrated, more like emotionally frustrated, which is different. More like “seriously? What now?” frustrated, you know what I mean? Holy crap that’s a rambling paragraph. Screw it, I’m leaving it in!

October 18, 2013

Teen Sex and IKEA

Building a bed from IKEA is like teenaged sex.

There are no written instructions. Oh sure, there are pictures, but they don’t look like any of the parts YOU have.

Everything in the pictures seems wrongly sized compared to what you have, and some of what the pictures depict just seem physically impossible.

You never seem to have the right tools, and it never seems like you have enough room to actually get at what you are aiming for.

As for the screwing, you can never see the hole you are supposed to put it in, but god help you if you put it in the wrong one! Oh the screaming!

And forget about calling the helpline. Not only do you feel embarrassed, but you end up with some German sounding old lady telling you WAY more than you wanted to know about “technique”.

So you blindly pound away trying to make the pieces fit together, until you’re pouring sweat and swearing like a sailor. You just hope at the end you get what you want without breaking anything.

I mean seriously, who is supposed to be able to pull this off they way it is supposed to be? What? Tall, blonde athletic Scandinavians? Figures.

October 17, 2013

If Only I

Please watch and listen to this

Then go read this: LINK

Then get back to me. I’ll just be sitting quietly over here…..

October 13, 2013

Tao of Management: Verse Twenty

Applying twenty-two hundred year old Chinese philosophy to modern business management – one verse at at time.

Just as there is no single right way to lead, there is no single interpretation of the Tao.
Today we look at number twenty.
First the original verse, translated into English by John C.H. Wu:


Verse Twenty

HAVE done with learning,
And you will have no more vexation.

How great is the difference between “eh” and “o”?
What is the distinction between “good” and “evil”?
Must I fear what others fear?
What abysmal nonsense this is!

All men are joyous and beaming,
As though feasting upon a sacrificial ox,
As though mounting the Spring Terrace;
I alone am placid and give no sign,
Like a babe which has not yet smiled.
I alone am forlorn as one who has no home to retum to.

All men have enough and to spare:
I alone appear to possess nothing.
What a fool I am!
What a muddled mind I have!
All men are bright, bright:
I alone am dim, dim.
All men are sharp, sharp:
I alone am mum, mum!
Bland like the ocean,
Aimless like the wafting gale.

All men settle down in their grooves:
I alone am stubborn and remain outside.
But wherein I am most different from others is
In knowing to take sustenance from my Mother!

My Version
Stop trying to learn everything
And you won’t be so frustrated.

What’s the difference in the end?
Must you think like everyone else?

Look at everybody else – happy and laughing,
While you are glum and serious – and sad and lonely.

Everyone else find their place in the world,
But if you want to, you must cast off all this “learning”
And follow the Tao.

September 29, 2013

Another Life

I’m coming up on a birthday, and this song by NO seems appropriate to me:

I’m going through a big, painful transition in my life right now. So if you see this, please reach out to the ones you love. So many people suffer in silence.

September 21, 2013

Seabird Island View

Seabird Island View

This is the view from Seabird Island First Nation in BC. One of my favorite views.

September 15, 2013

We Were Made To Love

Music, video, CGI all combine for a great, albeit NSFW music video from John Legend

September 12, 2013

Everybody Needs Somebody To Love

…it’s true….

September 9, 2013

Awkward Human Tricks

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My work, (which I love) calls for me to be quite extroverted, friendly, open, and engaging.
But it is work. I have to work at being all these things, and at the end of the day I find myself well exhausted.

I wonder what that says about me. Perhaps I am just an introvert. But maybe I’m just an uptight, old cranky misanthropist. I wonder.

Where I live makes it harder, it seems. Everybody is so damned nice here! I must say that at many times, it just makes me very uncomfortable. It’s like deep down I can’t trust them, or I wonder what they want from me.

There’s one person at my work who is so freaking cheery and nice I just want to smack her. Luckily, we don’t work in the same office, so my interactions are limited to the phone. But the incessant cheerfulness is like a grinding wheel on me. Yeeick.

And then there is the man who I call “The Nicest Man In The World” who is so nice, I feel immediately guilty just talking to him. Seriously, I don’t even want to see him, because he’s going to do something nice for me – something that I can never reciprocate. I feel so obligated to him, just being around him. It’s terrible, but he isn’t desperately nice like my coworker, he’s just naturally nice. It freaks me out a bit, I must say.

Incessantly nice seems a bit desperate and controlling to me, which is why it repulses me.
Naturally nice just seems enlightened, or karmic, or something.
My misbehavior just strikes me as self-centered and lazy.

Do you find it hard to be nice, enthused, open, engaged?

Do you get troubled when people are nice to you?

Trouble is, I’m in a spot when I need to be out and about with people who care, and all I really want to do is spare them my presence, which I feel isn’t always that fit for human interaction. I do want to be, and right now need to be out with the shiny, happy people.

Just maybe a little off to the side, at the edge of the crowd.

September 6, 2013

Are You Human? Here’s How To Prove It:

My two favorite tests to see if someone is human:

First this:

This is the fictional Voight-Kampff Test from Blade Runner, based on the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick. It uses biometric feedback analysis in response to a series of questions meant to elicit an emotional response. It assumes that regardless of intelligence, a machine cannot accurately replicate the biological responses to emotion displayed by humans. It presumes that machines score rather low on the Turing Test.

Here’s the other Voight-Kampff test from Blade Runner:

If you’d like to take the Voight-Kampff Test, you can do so HERE.

And if you’re still not sure if you are human. Watch this. If it doesn’t move you, you ain’t human:

September 6, 2013

Kinnie Starr – Bonfires

Another very powerful performance.

September 6, 2013

UFO Survival Tactics

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According to MUFON, if you have a close encounter with a UFO, here are 10 things you should do:

1. REMAIN CALM, but protect yourself from any hazards real or perceived.

2. Be objective. Not every UFO is extraterrestrial.

3. Use a camcorder or camera to record the event.

4. If you have a tape recorder, record your description of the event as it happens.

5. If other witnesses are present ask them to also write or record their observations.

6. If the UFO left some trace of its presence behind do not disturb the area around it.

7. If the sighting is from a distance, at an arms length, what would it take to cover up the object? A Quarter? A Penny?

8. Try to judge the distance from you to the object, the objects altitude, and its speed.

9. Should you encounter some type extraterrestrial being associated with the craft be prepared to take evasive action to protect yourself.

10. Immediately report the event to a UFO research organization.

September 6, 2013

What Your Time Is Worth

I recall having as many conversations with my staff about what they should NOT be doing, as I ever did telling them what to do – maybe more. As I tried to explain to them, planning and delegation and efficiency were important not so that they could do ever more work, but so that the work they did MATTERED.

Get the B.S. off your desk and do what you’re being paid to do. Your time has value. It is valuable in a monetary sense of course:

Annual salary: $100,000
Total work hours per year: 50 weeks x 5 days x 8 hrs = 2,000
Your work is worth $50 an hour.

September 4, 2013

Loneliness is breaking our hearts – and stopping them

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Admitting you are lonely is like admitting in the sixties that you had cancer. It is never mentioned and if so, only with very close friends in hushed tones.

You probably know how it feels to be alone in a crowded room, surrounded by lots of happy people but feeling isolated from them all due to a lack of comfort or engagement. Chronic loneliness is having that feeling all the time.

Loneliness has doubled in the past twenty years: 40 percent of adults in two recent surveys said they were lonely, up from 20 percent in the 1980s. But there is no treatment I know of, only sympathy and a growing cadre of the over-medicated. It is often labeled “social anxiety”.

But the result is social isolation, and serious health risks like impaired immune function, inflammation, arthritis, type II diabetes, and heart disease. Elders caught in social,isolation die earlier than their peers with robust social networks

In terms of human interactions, the number of people we know is not important. According to the University of Chicago the key is in the quality, not the quantity of those people. We just need several on whom we can depend and who depend on us in return.

“To be loved, and to love, in return.” as the song goes…

July 9, 2013

Mom and Dad Are Real

(reposted from January 9, 2011)

Someone told our daughter that M and I weren’t her “real” parents, just the people who took care of her, and that her “real” mom and dad were her birth parents. This led, inevitably, to heartbreak and tears for both M and our daughter (I was at work).

Here is my response:

Dad gets up at all hours of the night to give you a bottle, change the dirty diaper, and sometimes be the target of an over-enthusiastic “burp”.

Dad runs in to a dark room filled only with fear and tears and makes it all safe and warm.

Dad drives around the city for hours, playing soft music that should put any human to sleep, while you scream out your croupy discomfort.

Dad picks you up, dusts you off and tells you to try again. Dad has tea parties with stuffed animals and dolls. Dad reads books to you until you realize the black squiggles tell you what the pictures mean, then listens to you read the same stories to him over and over again.

Dad circles you like the earth circles the sun, because you are the center of his universe.

Mom fashioned you in her heart and soul and carries you there for the rest of her life.

Mom holds you and bathes you and cuddles and talks sweetly until you giggle with happiness. Mom brings light to your days and warmth to your nights with her smile, and her touch, and her love.

Mom takes you to the emergency room and holds your hand while the doctors try to figure out why you can’t breathe. Mom finds your “Ellie” when you need it the most. Mom fixes your ratty old blanket again and again, adding satin ribbon and hope and love with each new stitch.

Mom teaches you to speak, to sing, to walk, to dance, to play, and to laugh with the joy that you give to her, and she to you.

Mom feeds you, not only food, but wisdom and confidence and grace. Mom makes you part of a family, something greater than all of us individually. Mom makes you both an individual and part of that something greater that a family creates together.

Mom envelops your world like the air you breathe, making each day possible and each new achievement your own.

Dad and Mom are verbs, they are actions, not titles bequeathed by biology or genetics. We are who we become together, we are your parents, you are our daughter, and nothing will ever change that. We have made each other.

July 5, 2013

What a Maroon!

January 1, 2013

“What a Maroon!” I remember Bugs Bunny saying. A dope, a sap, a chump.

And that’s how I feel.

These are the notes of a recently separated middle-aged Maroon. Here’s my story:

Married the girl of my dreams Thought my job was to make her happy. Thought if I could do that, my life would be complete.

But my life didn’t work out like that. To make her happy, I did things I didn’t want to do, took on debt that was too big to take, and stuffed all the fear and frustration deep inside. If there was a part of me that didn’t fit the plan, I killed it.

In the end, there was nothing left. I always said I would die for her, I just didn’t know it would be on the inside.

By the time 20+ years had rolled by and I was a spectre in my own house. No cares, no interests, no hobbies, no friends, no thing to grab onto to have a relationship with.

So, she left.

Today I start to figure out what to do with myself, and who I’ll put into that husk that used to hold the me that must have died a long time ago.

These are my notes.

May 12, 2013

The Myth of Happiness

The myths of happiness

This article originally appeared on the L.A. Review of Books and was written by Natasha Lennard.
This is a heavily edited excerpt.

In “The Myths of Happiness,” Sonja Lyubomirsky identifies several important mistakes that we make in pursuing happiness. Lyubomirsky is a leading contributor to what might be called the science of happiness, and her previous best-selling book, “The How of Happiness,” is a compendium of advice about how to make good lives better. Lyubomirsky has argued that roughly half the variation between people in happiness is genetic and essentially unmodifiable. But that still leaves plenty of room for us to improve our lives. We can improve our lives by changing our life circumstances (e.g., finding a loving mate or a rewarding job). But we can do even more by changing the way we think about or construe our life circumstances as they are.

In the new book, here is some of what we learn:

People think they’ll be happy if only they find the right romantic partner. They don’t realize that they may already have done so, but that, as relationships mature, some of the steam goes out of them — an inevitable result of what is called “hedonic adaptation.” If people are aware that this adaptation is coming, they may be grateful for what is good in their relationships instead of casting about restlessly to replace what seems to have been lost.Just as we adapt to our life partners, we adapt to our work. And here, too, the trick is in knowing to expect adaptation rather than feverishly looking to change jobs in search of that lost excitement.Variety can reduce or forestall adaptation, so that introducing variety into the day-to-dayness of your relationship can boost your satisfaction with it.

Positive emotions are the best antidote to the vicious cycle of negative emotions. Indeed, positivity can create a virtuous circle in which the more positive you are, the better your relationships will be and the better your work will be (much of the research behind this claim was done by Barbara Fredrickson, author of one of the books under review).

Parenting may bring many hours and days of misery. It certainly eats into opportunities to do other things that make you happy. And when children leave the nest, marital satisfaction soars. But having kids seems to be worth it. Almost no parent regrets having had kids. Having and raising children seems to add meaning to a life.

But, the daily hassles matter. Little annoyances that you think ought to be too trivial to care about add up, so it is important to pay attention to the small stuff.And the same goes for small pleasures.

Regular, small pleasures can add up to a lot more than a few big ones. You adapt to that fancy car long before you’ve paid it off. A day at the beach, coffee with a friend, a trip to the spa, a delicious croissant — these small pleasures we don’t adapt to because they are many and varied.People tend to think that material things will make them happy. In fact, experiences do a lot more for our happiness than possessions.

People focus on where they stand in relation to others as a sign of their success. This kind of social comparison undermines happiness.People emphasize the “pursuit of happiness” and undervalue the “happiness of pursuit.” In other words, people focus too much on the goal — the destination — and not enough on the journey.

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May 12, 2013

‘Tears are less important when you are alone because there is no one to witness them’

Why do humans cry? A new reading of the old sob story

Excerpt:

Vingerhoets’s explanation is novel: although in certain situations weeping can be risky, he suggests it is far less risky than screaming or emitting some other loud acoustic signal. This is particularly true in the case of interactions at close quarters, such as occur during the extended period of human childhood, when a tear may be all that is required to alert a mother to her baby’s suffering.“When other animals grow old, most no longer emit distress signals, presumably because it is too dangerous, says Vingerhoets. “By contrast, in humans there is a shift from the acoustic signal, emitted in all directions, toward the visual signal of tears, which especially fit closer, more intimate interactions.

The trouble is that quite often – as when people cry when driving alone, a common phenomenon according to Vingerhoets – our tears catch us unawares, prompting us to become upset where perhaps no upset is called for. In such cases, it seems, tears are mother to the emotion rather than the other way round. More so than any other form of emotional expression, tears are also subject to shifting cultural and historical readings, symbolising piety and sensitivity in one age and hysteria and weakness in another.Whatever the precipitant, however, there is a widespread belief that crying is cathartic. However, even this may be a construct, says Vingerhoets. Although people frequently report feeling better after watching a Hollywood “tearjerker” with a friend, when asked to watch a similar movie in a laboratory setting they usually report no improvement in mood at all.

For Vingerhoets this is further evidence of the social function of crying. “Tears are less important when you are alone because there is no one to witness them,” he says. But while we may prefer to cry in the presence of friends and family, this need not be the case. As the pious tears shed by monks in contemplation of God attest, we can also shed tears for distant and highly symbolic attachment figures.

What counts, it seems, is the feeling that our helplessness is being acknowledged.

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May 5, 2013

Tao of Management Verse Nineteen

Applying twenty-two hundred year old Chinese philosophy to modern business management – one verse at at time.
Just as there is no single right way to lead, there is no single interpretation of the Tao.
Today we look at number nineteen. First the original verse, translated into English by John C.H. Wu:

Verse Nineteen
DROP wisdom, abandon cleverness,
And the people will benefit a hundredfold.
Drop humanity, abandon justice,
And the people will return to their natural affections.
Drop shrewdness, abandon sharpness,
And robbers and thieves will cease to be.
These three are the criss-cross of Tao,
And are not sufficient in themselves.
Therefore, they should be subordinated to the higher principle:
See the Simple and embrace the Primal,
Diminish the self and curb the desires!

My Version:
Stop trying to be “wise” and clever,
Stop trying to be “fair” and “just”
Stop trying to be the “smartest” or the “sharpest”
But above all remember this:
Keep it simple, be humble, you have all you need.

As a child, I wanted to be wise, as a teenager I wanted to be clever.
As a college student I wanted to bring fairness and justice to the world.
And as a young professional, I wanted to be the smartest and sharpest employee.
But cultivating these things in a quest for success or accolades is meaningless.
Make yourself simple and humble, and share this with others,
And you will be rich beyond measure.

April 13, 2013

Whole Lotta Love

what rock and roll should be: raw, sexual, and a little frightening because anything is possible.

A great cover of a great song.

April 1, 2013

Haunted By Love

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Link

March 21, 2013

Blue Lantern Tattoo

Blue Lantern Tattoo

Blue Lantern Tattoo

Blue Lantern Tattoo

March 12, 2013

Shhhh….Brain…shhh

Source

Neuroscience tells us that, to be more productive and creative, we need to give our brains a break. It’s the quiet mind that produces the best insights. But it’s a challenge to take that sort of time off in the midst of a busy day. Here are three specific, quick, and easy ways to build purposeful break time into your day.

Quick Meditation
New research from the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging suggests that people who meditate show more gray matter in certain regions of the brain, show stronger connections between brain regions and show less age-related brain atrophy. In other words, meditation might make your brain bigger, faster, and “younger”. As lead researcher Eileen Luders explains, “it appears to be a powerful mental exercise with the potential to change the physical structure of the brain.”

Tip: If you commute via public transportation (or even if you’re a passenger in a car pool) use the time to close your eyes for 10 minutes. If you drive, leave a little early, park, and spend 10 minutes in the car before you walk into work. Choose a very specific image, such as a waterfall, beach, or tree, and try to focus on it alone. If other thoughts get in the way, gently push them aside. Do this once or twice per day. The goal is to let your mind achieve a sense of relaxed awareness.

Pulsing
Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, renown for his research and theories on expertise, points out that top performers in fields ranging from music to science to sports tend to work in approximately 90-minute cycles and then take a break. We are designed to pulse, to move between spending and renewing energy. Pulsing is the simplest, easiest, most immediate way to build breaks into your day.

Tip: Download a “break-reminder” utility, such as Scirocco or Healthy Hints, and set it to ping you every 90 minutes. Focus hard on a particular task until that cue. And then take a walk, talk to a colleague, doodle, or listen to music. Do anything that renews you and gives you a “second wind,” even if you think you don’t need it. You do. Five minutes later, get back to work.

Daydream Walks
Most people have heard the story about how 3M’s Arthur Fry came up with the idea for the Post-it note: he was daydreaming in church. Jonathan Schooler, a researcher at UC Santa Barbara, has repeatedly shown that people like Fry who daydream and let their minds wander score higher on creativity tests. What separates this from meditation is that, instead of emptying your mind, you’re letting it fill up with random thoughts. The trick is to remain aware enough to recognize a sudden insight when it comes.

Tip: Start by taking 20 minutes, two days a week during your lunch break to take a stroll and daydream. Think about anything you want besides work—a beach vacation, building your dream house, playing shortstop for the Yankees, whatever. Ramp it up to three or four days a week. The next time someone catches you daydreaming on the job and asks you why you’re not working, tell them that in fact you’re tapping into your creative brain.

Matthew E. May is the author of The Laws of Subtraction: 6 Simple Rules for Winning in the Age of Excess Everything. He is a speaker and advisor to companies such as Toyota, Edmunds.com, Intuit, and ADP.

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March 12, 2013

Have Compassion

Source

Compassion is essentially the wish that beings not suffer – from subtle physical and emotional discomfort to agony and anguish – combined with feelings of sympathetic concern.

You could have compassion for an individual (a friend in the hospital, a co-worker passed over for a promotion), groups of people (victims of crime, those displaced by a hurricane, refugee children), animals (your pet, livestock heading for the slaughterhouse), and yourself.

Compassion is not pity, agreement, or a waiving of your rights. You can have compassion for people who’ve wronged you while also insisting that they treat you better.

Compassion by itself opens your heart and nourishes people you care about. Those who receive your compassion are more likely to be patient, forgiving, and compassionate with you. Compassion reflects the wisdom that everything is related to everything else, and it naturally draws you into feeling more connected with all things.

Additionally, compassion can incline you to helpful action. For example, one study showed that motor circuits in the brain lit up when people were feeling compassionate, as if they were getting ready to do something about the suffering they were sensing.

How?

Compassion is natural; you don’t have to force it; just open to the difficulty, the struggle, the stress, the impact of events, the sorrow and strain in the other person; open your heart, let yourself be moved, and let compassion flow through you.

Feel what compassion’s like in your body – in your chest, throat, and face. Sense the way it softens your thoughts, gentles your reactions. Know it so you can find your way back again.

Moments of compassion come in the flow of life – maybe a friend tells you about a loss, or you can see the hurt behind someone’s angry face, or a hungry child looks out at you from the pages of a newspaper.

Also, you can deliberately call in compassion a minute (or more), perhaps each day; here are a few suggestions:

· Relax and tune into your body.
· Remember the feeling of being with someone who cares about you.
· Bring to mind someone it is easy to feel compassion for.
· Perhaps put your compassion into words, softly heard in the back of your mind, such as: “May you not suffer . . . may this hard time pass . . . may things be alright for you.”
· Expand your circle of compassion to include others; consider a benefactor (someone who has been kind to you), friend, neutral person, difficult person (a challenge, certainly), and yourself (sometimes the hardest person of all).
· Going further, extend compassion to all the beings in your family . . . neighborhood . . . city . . . state . . . country . . . world. All beings, known or unknown, liked or disliked. Humans, animals, plants, even microbes. Beings great or small, in the air, on the ground, under water. Including all, omitting none.

Going through your day, open to compassion from time to time for people you don’t know: someone in a deli, a stranger on a bus, crowds moving down the sidewalk.

Let compassion settle into the background of your mind and body. As what you come from, woven into your gaze, words, and actions.

Omitting none.

* * *

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of the bestselling Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (in 21 languages) – and Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s taught at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and in meditation centers worldwide. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Consumer Reports Health, and U.S. News and World Report and he has several audio programs. His blog – Just One Thing – has nearly 30,000 subscribers and suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart. If you wish, you can subscribe to Just One Thing here.

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March 12, 2013

How To Pay Attention

Beth Kantor is one of my favorite bloggers, and here’s her take on how to avoid info overload:

1.) Manage Your Attention, Not Just Your Time: Don’t just create a to do list, lay it out on daily and weekly schedule, breaking down key tasks of the project to chunks. But consider the level of concentration and focus that each type of task or chunk requires – and schedule accordingly. For example, if I have to do some writing – that requires a higher level of attention for me than does scanning Twitter or reading and responding to email. I schedule my writing time during peak concentration hours in the day. (I’ve charted those – so I know when they occur). I also use a timer when I’m doing scanning my networks and time box those activities into 15-20 minute bursts.

2.) Visualize On Paper: Over the past 10 months, I’ve made a return to paper and markers and using mind maps or visualization techniques to reflect, plan my week or day. I use this as a pre-writing exercise as well as a reflection exercise. It’s why felt the need to dive into visual facilitation and thinking techniques as a way to cope with content fried.

3.) Establish Rituals: Rituals in your work life are valuable. The mindmap offers a lot of good suggestions for rituals – from decluttering your workspace to healthy habits like sleep and exercise.

4.) Reflection: Reflection doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time to be effective. I’m taking ten minutes every morning to practice some visual recording skills like drawing to create my “3 Most Important Things for Today List.” At the end of the day, I look at it, reflect on what I did – and plan for tomorrow. The advice is not to go online or check email until you get your three things done, but that is very hard for me – given so much of my work is online. What I do is try to avoid email first thing in the morning.

5.) Managing Email and Other Distractions: I’ve turned off notifications that pop up on my computer screen or send me a text message to my mobile phone.

6.) Managing Physical Space: When I see clutter in my physical work spaces, I try to take that as a sign that I need to hit a pause button. Usually it is because I’m doing too much.

7.) Just Say No: Maybe you are going to say no to social media for a day and go to meet with people, take a class, read a book, or talk a walk. When I’m feeling most overwhelmed, I take a break. Even if it is just to get up and walk around my desk.

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March 8, 2013

Dunne’s Precognition Experiments

Daniel Souter & Jessica Francis in "They Came to a  City"

Daniel Souter & Jessica Francis in “They Came to a City”


From the archives of stuff I find interesting but don’t know what to do with:

source
Time may be more mysterious than we imagine. And for anyone wishing to explore that mystery, I would recommend a book—little-known today—entitled An Experiment with Time.

Written by J. W. Dunne, a British engineer and philosopher (and gentleman—some of the experiment was conducted from an armchair in the library of his club), An Experiment with Time created a stir when published in 1927. Despite his assurances that it required “no previous knowledge of science, mathematics, philosophy, or psychology” and was “considerably easier to understand than are, say, the rules of Contract Bridge,” much of the book is abstruse. But the philosophical portions—which delve into ontology and epistemology, and employ such terms as infinite regress, retro-causality, and quantum-interconnectedness—may be skipped. At the core of the book is a simple experiment, which Dunne performs, explains, and urges the reader to repeat.

Dunne had been bewildered by a series of precognitive dreams. In one of them, he had dreamt of the eruption of a volcano on a French island and the death of 4000 islanders. When the newspaper arrived, it headlined the eruption of Mount Pelée on Martinique and a death-toll of 40,000. Seemingly, the horrifying dream had been prompted by his later reading of the newspaper account. Of his predictive dreams, this one was the most dramatic; but all were perplexing. They seemed to violate rules far more fundamental than those of contract bridge.

His experiences led Dunne to make a study of the relationship between time and dreaming. He went to sleep each night with a notebook and pencil under his pillow. And in the morning he quickly recorded his dreams, before they faded from memory. When he compared their images with the occurrences in his daily life, Dunne made a startling discovery. Generally, a dream derived its imagery from vivid or unusual happenings within a space of 24 hours—24 hours in either direction. That is to say, his dreams were influenced by events of both the past day and the next! Impossibly, they were “comprised of images of past experiences and images of future experiences blended together in approximately equal proportions.”

Extending his study to the dreams of friends and relatives, Dunne found similar correlations. He realized that he had discerned a “hitherto overlooked peculiarity in the structure of Time.” And he concluded that the standard model of Time—a series of events flowing into the future—was simply a mode of human perception. Indeed, “past” and “future” were nothing more than artifacts of the waking mind. Beyond our daily experience existed a timeless Present.

What was the significance of his findings? For one thing, Dunne pointed out, they provided an explanation for the curious phenomenon of déjà vu. (Why do we feel that something has happened before? Because we dreamt of it the previous night.) But more importantly, they supported belief in the immortality of the soul. For if Time was an illusion, Eternity was real.

Can it be then? Are dreams a window into the nature of the cosmos? Can they afford us a glimpse into the meaning of existence? Can we explore the deepest of mysteries while dozing in bed (or lounging in an armchair at our club)?

The reader may repeat Dunne’s experiment and decide for himself.

February 25, 2013

Deadly Maths

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“In war after war, it’s the same gruesome story: crude weapons, dead innocents. In World War II, civilian deaths, as a percentage of total war fatalities, were estimated at 40 to 67 percent. In Korea, they were reckoned at 70 percent. In Vietnam, by some calculations, one civilian died for every two enemy combatants we exterminated. In the Persian Gulf War, despite initial claims of a vast Iraqi death toll, we may have killed only one or two Iraqi soldiers for every dead Iraqi civilian. In Kosovo, a postwar commission found that NATO’s bombing campaign killed about 500 Serbian civilians, almost matching the 600 enemy soldiers who died in action. In Afghanistan, the civilian death toll from 2001 to 2011 has been ballparked at anywhere from 60 to 150 percent of the Taliban body count. In Iraq, more than 120,000 civilians have been killed since the 2003 invasion. That’s more than five times the number of fatalities among insurgents and soldiers of Saddam Hussein’s regime.” ~ slate

So let’s do math:

Ratio of combatants kills to civilians killed

WW2. 1:0.67
Korea. 1:0.70
Vietnam 1:0.50
Persian Gulf. 1:1
Kosovo. 1:0.83
Afghanistan. 1:1.5
Iraq 1:5

One might be tempted to conclude that rather than reduce civilian casualties, armed conflicts since the adoption of the Geneva Protocols have increased the ratio of civilian deaths to combatant deaths.

February 18, 2013

Where Was I?

Feb 18, 2013

Lost. So lost. I had another lost day today. I’ve had a few since separating, days where you waste the whole day, don’t leave the house and can’t accomplish anything.

Today was the worst. I called in sick, slept all day, and even right now and so out of it I’m only sure this is real because I can’t wake up. I had a bunch of dreams about being awake, only to be dragged back down into my sleeping body today.

Worst depression I’ve felt in a long time.

The only thing I decided I could live for was my kids. That’s horrible English. The only ones for whom I wish to live are my children. I think that’s a better way to put it.

So, although I feel worthless and a loser, I will try and focus on small things to improve their lives, which does include making sure they have a live, healthy father, by the way.

I can give them love, compassion, and try to teach them to be good people and to love themselves and others, and to learn the skills they need to get along in the world.

Maybe by helping them, I’ll help myself.

I’ll try again tomorrow, and talk to my counselor on Wednesday about all this.

February 3, 2013

Cave Bear

Feb 3, 2013

Not fit for human companionship today. Did not leave apartment.

Horrifying levels of shame and self-doubt. Sadsadsad.

Sorta tired of that, which makes me angry, which makes me want to lash out, which makes me…

eat.

Yes, the revelation for today is that I hurt myself with food. Fuck me. I never realized that until today. I eat and eat and eat to hurt myself, to sublimate, to consume my own anger and thoughts of failure, incompetency, insufficiency, impotence to address the issues causing all this.

Going to have to look into this….

January 30, 2013

And There’s Nothing In The World That I Ever Wanted More

January 30,2013

There was nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to feel you deep in my heart
There was nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to never feel the breaking apart……….

Name that tune

Been playing that non-stop for two days…

January 23, 2013

And I’m Done For Today

January 23,2013

Almost got killed by a guy totally running a red light at an intersection that ALWAYS gives me the willies. “So this is how it goes?” I thought, “Ya see it comin’ but don’t do nothin’ to stop it.”

In my final moments, my inner monologue reverts to a good north side Chicago accent, I learned.

So I come to a stop. Move ahead on the green, eyeing the car coming down on hill on the right. He stops. I keep going, watching the other lane on the right. And. He’s. Not. Stopping.

Brakes. Hard, Cold, Dead stop. Middle of the intersection. Juuuust barely past lane one where the other guy stopped.

Zoom! Screech! Sliiiiide/wiggle/stop. Pause. Go. Thirty, forty feet past the intersection.
Oh holy hell, did I run the light? No. I look up to stare straight goddamned into a green light staring right back at me. Now it turns yellow. Now red. Now green for the cross traffic. Fuck, I gotta get out of this intersection. Drive through, slowly. Pull over to curb lane.

Did I…? Did that just happen? Was I wrong? What the fuck!?! He was….Jesus! He would have hit me full speed at exactly dead on my passenger door! (amazing my ability to do spatial math in the immediate aftermath) What the fuck? He didn’t even stop! I…..holy hell….he just BARELY missed my front bumper!!!! Inches!!!! Jesus! I just tucked my kids in bed! I was just thinking about the bills I had to pay! I was just…IknewitIknewitIknewitiknewitIknewitIknewI couldn’t trust that/this motherfucking intersection!!!! Gaaaaah! Fuck!

Where is he? Where is that motherfucker? I want to drag him out of his car by his throat and bang the back of his head against the doorframe screaming “You stupid piece of shit! You coulda killed me! What the fuck is wrong with you? I got a wife and two kids at home! You just about fucked up their lives you dumbass! You want my kids to have to go to their father’s funeral because you’re too fucked up or too shitfaced to pay attention? Aaaaaaiiiiieeee! Whack. Thud.

My god. I just took about ten minutes on the side of the street to get my shit together, then drove very carefully home, teeth clenched, to write out this description of my thoughts while they were still fresh.

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January 22, 2013

The Art of Loneliness

Only by being aware that loneliness is a constant for some, can we know true compassion for all.

Click here for more: Link

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January 22, 2013

Taking the High Road

Always take the high road.
It leads to the high ground,
where it’s much easier
to rain down pain
on your enemies.

~Tetsuhaku

January 22, 2013

Heartache

January 22, 2013

My heart aches for a little boy who looked a little lost tonight when I tucked him in bed, and told him I’d be back tomorrow night, and who seemed all too eager to “be good” for me while I visited.

It makes me so sad, and I expect I am just projecting, but he seems so little and so….just wanting to be loved. I just want to shower him with affection. I guess this when I get to test the phrase “I’d do anything for you, little buddy.”

Oh my god, how do I make up for not being there? There’s so much affection he needs. There’s so much I need to teach him.

I’m so worried he’s got a messed up idea about what’s going on. I do love him so much, and I wish I was with him always, and I don’t want him to worry that those feelings are ever going to change.

Daddy loves you, little buddy. Daddy loves you.

January 20, 2013

Key to Authentic Leadership

Self Awareness: The Key To Authentic Leadership

Still trying out things on the iOS WordPress app…photo loading insert seems a bit wonky…

Read the article though, it is a good one.

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“bong”

January 20, 2013

Good Vibrations

Good Vibrations

This is a test to see how this reblogs this link.

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January 14, 2013

Korean Tango

January 14, 2013

Singing Bowl

January 14, 2013

Oh, and I wanted to add that I feel empty. I was trying to describe this to someone recently, by saying that I felt on the edge of despair, a cellophane wrapper on the edge of an abyss.

Yes, I am quite the middle school art school wannabe dropout poet. Such drama.

So anyway, I don’t know how to explain it except to say that my entire being was wrapped up in being a husband and a dad with a job third, and nothing else behind it. My identity was that.

Now I’m missing one huge part of that, and probably half of another part. If I’d paid attention in math I would be able to figure out how third that was. Probably 50% was husband, and 30% was dad? So now I’m missing 65% of what I used to consider “me”?

It feels like more than that.

Then I was driving around, thinking about how to describe this, and I drove under an old train track and realized, it was the right sound and texture, that metallic, cold, hard, ringing sound. But empty, those train tracks are solid, and my feeling is not. So I carried around this unformed idea in my head for a few days. Then I came face to face with it exactly, that feeling I had inside that was too hard to describe, but demanded to be put into word, that hollow, metal,ringing emptiness I feel inside.

I saw it materialized right in front of me at a Buddhist temple one of those massive hand hammered metal bowls or bells they use at the beginning and end of prayers.

If WordPress and my iPad played well together, I’d post a photo.

Like that, big, hollow and cold. And unrung.

January 8, 2013

You Make Me Sick

Bif Naked

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