Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!



Book, lecture, course, degree

What is the difference between reading a book, attending a lecture, taking a course and getting a degree? Basically, the amount of time involved, especially in the traditional format, time away from home, time in a specific location, as on campus.  But in a formal sense, a major difference is checking.  In a course and in getting a degree, there is often some test or exam or orals or other way of verifying understanding or skill on the part of the participant.


For adults who know that they want to learn, the existence of some test is a major marker.  I participate in a senior citizen's organization in which there are lectures but no exams or verifications of any formal type.  And yet, the level of questioning and commenting in the classes is very high, often higher than even guest professors have ever experienced.  Many younger people, even in their 30's, are somewhat intimidated by the presence of others in a classroom.  The phenomenon is basically the fear of looking stupid, I think.  What if the question has just been answered and I missed that? What if my question is far too elementary?  I bet everyone else in the room already knows the answer to my question and I am wasting their time.


Older people can often shut that worry off and simply state that they are confused or that they would like to know a further point.  If they are not understood, they are willing and able to repeat the question or rephrase it, even multiple times.


Many of my generation have only experienced tests and examinations that were one shot deals.  Take the test and "pass" and you are basically ok.  "Fail" and you aren't and better luck to you next time.  That approach is not logically necessary.  It is possible to face a test as a shopping list.  Here are the items the teacher or school or examining body wants evidence that you know, can explain, can perform.  If you can't perform #3 and #7, you could be cleared on the rest of the items and provided further instruction and practice on those two that caused you trouble.  When it is time, you can try those two again.  If you pass, you have completed the instruction.  If not, we will look more deeply at what the problem seems to be for you and again offer more instruction and practice.  You will accomplish what you are after before long.


Of course, there is the matter of aging.  In teaching and law to name two areas, there may be license or reputation requirements of further education, continuing education, inservice education or re-certification.  A police officer may need to be recertified on the firing range.  Again, there may be a test or performance that will be passed or failed.



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Bill
Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Better version for reading

Looking over my blog, I see I goofed up what I sent.  Here is a link to the corrected version.
http://fearfunandfiloz.blogspot.com/

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Bill
Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Eventually

Using my attention in meditation is a powerful tool.  Getting more sensitive to how I am thinking increases the flexibility of my mind so that I can employ different perspectives more completely and faster.  Say, for instance, that my father-in-law misses having his daughter in his house, there to talk to at the table and to enjoy.  He can't help seeing me as the beast who stole his daughter.  He is older and wiser than me and I know it.  I respect him and I know my wife loves him.  Normally, I would see things from their perspectives as well as my own and express my respect for him, for the father-daughter love between them and for the wonderful woman he helped create and raise.  But his power and maturity intimidate me.  I am threatened and you know the typical reaction of a threatened male animal - anger, gruffness, hostility, maybe a little (very adult, of course) petulance thrown in.

At least being aware of the state of my mind and emotions gives me a little insight into what I am doing inside.  I can respect the fear and threat I feel as normal biological tools of self preservation built into my DNA over millennia, nothing to be ashamed of, as such.  However, I can also see that a little love for my wife and her father would go a long way to helping us all get along together and appreciate the gifts and strengths we have.
 
Seeing my reactions for what they are, neither shameful nor a good guide to action, helps me find tools that take me and those I love to a better situation.  I may be too threatened at first to see past my reactions but the inner light that is trained by meditation shines as soon as it can on the whole situation.  I see his fears, my fears, her fears more clearly for what they are and I get the strength to tolerate them and work on both appreciating them and transforming them.  Even though I have practiced observing my mind and feelings, I don't always that the power to accept the layout of feelings and expressions right away but the back of my mind keeps bringing my attention back to what I am doing and thinking.  That gives me the chance to see things in their full implications and to work with them.


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Bill
Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sleepier

I spend a lot of time being sleepy and I don't like it.  At night, I sleep pretty well.  I have had a sleep-over at the local hospital's sleep lab.  Never found any pathology.  Sleep has been a pleasure all my life.  I am a rather antsy person and I think I have used my energy rather well during most days.  So, between jumping up and down and moving about, and doing some walking, short runs and the back exercises a physical therapist told me to do, I do get some use of my body and muscles during the day. I try to be a bit tired by the end of each day.


I have read about the optimum nap length in various places and I have come to the conclusion that 20 minutes has been found to be refreshing.  I often find that simply sitting in a chair and nodding off for just a few minutes of genuine sleep ends the sleepiness until bedtime.   I have mentioned the app "Sleep Genius" for iOS and Android.  It has been helpful and so have the notes on the Sleep Genius website.


I read somewhere that a cup of coffee elevates one's pulse about 3 beats per minute.  Using my oximeter, I find that breathing deeply and rapidly for about 20 counted breaths gives me at least that much increase in heart beat speed for a little while.  Sometimes, if I am not going to frighten those around me, I breathe rigorously for that many breaths and it does pep me up but not as much as even 2 minutes of actual sleep.

Once my granddaughter and I visited my father.  He and my stepmother were talking in the living room and during a lull in the conversation, he nodded off to sleep.  His wife shouted that they had company and he should wake up.  Once, in his 90's, he fell asleep while driving and drove into a tree.  I am going to try to avoid such problems as I age.  Hope I can.


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Bill
Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Digesting the Now and other Times

Prof. Jennifer Maier writes that your dog will not share your sorrows with you since dogs "can only digest the Now."  I really appreciate the word "digest".  I looked up what dogs can't eat and there is disagreement between sites but onions, avocados, grapes or raisins, chocolate and very fatty meats like bacon have a bad name.


In some instances, the gut that digests our food is said to be a second brain.  Makes sense that the body needs intelligence about what to accept for digestion and what not to.  Dogs tend to be considered carnivores while humans are classed as omnivores, meat-eaters v. everything-eaters.


It makes sense to think of dogs and other animals as being able to digest the Now better than future or past times.  Still, it is clear that many animals can remember.  When you pick up the leash and the dog acts excited, you can tell it is anticipating a walk.  If you startle a squirrel, you can tell it knows the way to its tree.  Eckhart Tolle said,"I have lived with several Zen masters and all of them were cats."


You can get an advantage dealing with feelings, memories, regrets and hopes by being able to focus on the Now, this instant, quite definitely not just like any other instant, before or since, in your life or others.  However, it doesn't take very long before the human value of, indeed need for, the past and the future raise their cute little heads. When we remember of the last meal we had at that restaurant, our last experience dealing with that store, the pleasure of the last couple of books by that author, we make use of our past and what we can remember of it.  Putting money aside today so we can buy a Chromebook in the future, planning a trip and checking the likely weather on those days in that location - we have many ways and plans that we project into the future, sometimes more than one generation ahead.



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Bill
Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety


Monday, October 27, 2014

Aesthetic differences

In one of her routines, Paula Poundstone reports her mother's dejected comment when a jelly jar being used for a drinking glass was dropped and broken: "I can't have nice things."  The laugh is about thinking that a jelly jar drinking glass is a nice thing.  This morning, on Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac", I learned of the poems of Jennifer Maier, professor of English at Seattle Pacific University.  The poem "Rummage Sale" starts by asking for Aunt Phyllis's forgiveness for putting the odd set of cut glass bowls in the rummage sale, the ones she collected with the 13 boxes of Lux.


I was reminded of a friend's complaint that neither of her kids wanted the two towering and massive china cupboards she and her husband had used for decades.  It can be an unpleasant shock when none of your relatives wants the Wedgewood china or the shotgun or the necklace and bracelet that Grandma treasured.  How could my heart's treasure be out of style?  How could my childhood sanctuary of a neighborhood library be closed and boarded up?  Here, all my life, I have revered something and now it is destined to be trash?  That hurts.


Here is a simulation of a poem about old, previously treasured things.  I wrote it myself!


Cleaned His Attic


I finally got the attic straight,

Took Dad's old stuff away.

The strangest gear they'd ever seen

Was hauled through town today.


Both cameras with their splash attachments,

His painting done in boils,

His bowling saw and fishing sod,

And wine arranged in coils.


The weeping bags,

The matched golf tubs,

His torn seat music,

And Dad's old gold strumpet.


I never understood the rules,

I didn't used to try.

But Daddy must have been a sport,

His memory makes me cry.



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Bill
Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety


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