Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bullying

There are quite a few books and web pages about bullying, including at least one government site.  In fact, "bullying" in Google returns 81 million hits.  The subject is not much on my mind but the other day, a neighbor mentioned that a third grade girl was reluctant to go to school because of the way she was treated by classmates. Her story got me to thinking.


Some of the research reports by the American Psychological Association mention the Columbine high school shooting as an event that sparked increased interest in research on bullying.  I have seen reports that the country of Norway is working on the problem, too.  You may have seen that girls seem to have their own way of being mean so I don't think it covers the whole topic to just consider boys and males.  Also, if you look at what is available in web sites, books and YouTube videos, you will see that the subject of workplace bullying among adults gets attention.


When I was a kid, I got into a couple of fights in junior high school.  I was a totally inexperienced boxer and I had no training in wrestling or any martial art.  I was too stubborn to back down or put up with being picked on.  Now, in general, all physical fighting is frowned on in schools and both people in a two-person fight might be punished.  Even as an assistant professor, I had a couple of physical encounters with another faculty member who seemed interested in pushing me around.


Part of the reason that fights are probably more suppressed these days might be the possible introduction of weapons including firearms.  There was recently a fatality in a nearby community when two groups of young boys had a stand-off and a boy was stabbed in the back and later died.  Another reason for more concentration on bullying is some suicides by youngsters who were bullied or cyberbullied by means of the internet and social media.  A third motivating factor for concentrating on bullying is the sort of pent-up frustration and rage that can build up in a person who is bullied, to the point that a general shooting like Columbine takes place.


It seems to me that parents, students and citizens in general could do with some better concepts than using a single frightening title for all kinds of aggression, social rejection, individual intimidation and expressions of hostility.  I think the basic psychology for boys is a little different from what often happens with girls.  At a very primitive and basic level, for either sex, anyone who looks different, speaks differently or seems to advocate or just represent codes, fashions, creeds, religions or customs that differ from what a person is used to may well represent a danger.  At a minimum, that danger might be lures onto a path of sin or evil or degradation.  At a higher level of threat, that person might represent a deadly danger or a threat to bodily safety.  But beyond this "watch out for strangers" reaction, the general competition among many males is basically an attempt to stand out from the others.  So, if I can frighten or intimidate the other males, I may catch the eye of that little red-headed girl I have been hoping to impress.


Testosterone and high levels of arousal can be tricky.  There is always the possibility that the girl is turned off by signs of male aggression and goes off with the guy who got knocked down.  He is the one who needs sympathy and care.



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

Twitter: @olderkirby

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Adventures of a Kindle user

I have 1700 Kindle books.  They are not all on any one device but they are all in my archive of ebooks.  When I got my first Kindle in 2008, we had 978 printed books.  Our office shelves were bulging and we had stacks of books sitting around.  It was the crowded situation that made us get rid of about 700 books, all paper, then, of course.


A brief conversation with a very intelligent and articulate friend the other day made it clear to me that many of my friends would do themselves good by writing more.  I would like to be able to read more of their thoughts, ideas and adventures so more writing by them would do me good, too.  So, I wrote the blog post "Write!" a couple of days ago.  As usual, to write about writing, or anything else, I start by reviewing: what have I done, what have I read, what do I know?


When it comes to writing as such, I think of

  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg,

  • The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron,

  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and

  • Style: An Anti-textbook by Richard Lanham


My feelings, without checking or looking, are that the Lanham book is maybe the most energetic and spicy.  I wanted to be able to look at the book.  As a Kindle user cum enthusiasm, I look for the book in Kindle form.  Couldn't find it.  Looked for the book in print.  It was written in 1974 but I saw on the Amazon site that it was reprinted by Paul Dry Books in 2007.

I went to the Paul Dry website, looking for ebook information.  Picked a book they were emphasizing and checked the Amazon site.  I think that book publishers these days, especially after "50 Shades of Grey", don't want to publish books without also putting them out in Kindle form.  There were Paul Dry titles in Kindle form.  I emailed Mr. Dry and his editor asking for Style: An Anti-textbook to be released in Kindle.  That same day, the publisher emailed me a link to the book on Amazon's site in Kindle.  Wow!  Don't know why it didn't' come up but that sort of thing has happened before.


Clicked on the link given and voilĂ ! There it was!  But across the top of the page was a banner reading "Our records show that you purchased this book in 2012".  Had the durned thing all along!  Didn't remember getting it and didn't think to check whether it was among the 1700 books already in my Kindle archives! You can see that when Amazon says: "Purchase once, read anywhere", they mean it.


Let this be a lesson: buy Kindle books when available for economy and ease of use and storage AND check your archives for books of interest.  You might have the items already!


P.S. There are at least three major companies for ebooks: Amazon, Play Books (Google), Nook (Barnes and Noble)  All three have apps that you can place on an iPad.  Then, your iPad is a reader for all three.




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

Twitter: @olderkirby

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Calculations of divestment

It is fairly easy in this country to have too much.  You can see homeless people that push a grocery cart that is over-crammed with stuff so even they can have the problem of having too much stuff. Of course, one of several problems with too much is that the oversupply might not include items that are very much needed.  Don't think it is impossible to have too much and need different items at the same time.


There are events along the line of life that tend to mark changes.  One of them is the children's entry into school.  When your youngest begins school, the tools for toddlers such as play pens, cribs, and potty chairs can go.  The tv shows about hoarding and other prompts help people resolve to get rid of the stuff stored in the basement, the attic and the back room.


Some of our neighbors organized a rummage sale and invited all the other houses in our development to sell on the same day.  The sale ran for two days and one estimate of the total cash earned is $10,000 for all houses in total.  We sold a Brio water table, a maze like a train set but filled with water instead of train tracks.  The best we can figure, it currently sells for $200 but we took $10 for it.  I quote that just to show that the retail value of the goods exchanged might be much higher than the estimate.


I think the ways things go with material divestment is funny.  Say, I have an old computer monitor that is just taking up space in the basement.  I would like to get rid of it.  I carry it into my garage where other goods are also sitting, waiting for inspection by prospective acquirers.  When I get it to the garage, the question arises: should it have price tag on it?  If you had been in the basement, and said you would get rid the monitor for a couple of dollars, I might have handed you two on the spot.  Now that I am in the garage, I ask myself

  • What is a good price?

  • How much will someone be willing to pay?

  • How much is the monitor "worth"?

  • How much are neighbors charging for their old monitors?

I might put a tag saying "$10" on it.  Later, somebody walks into the garage and looks at it and offers me $5 for it, for this item I might have been willing a few minutes ago to pay you to haul off.  But, now, I am evaluating this offer: hold out for someone else who might pay $10 or take the $5.  It is a wonder that I get rid of anything.



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

Twitter: @olderkirby

Monday, June 29, 2015

Write!

You remember the 3 R's: reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic.  For a couple of hundred years, the concept of learning to read, to write and to do arithmetic calculations has formed to backbone of basic education.  Generally, if you read, you are taking in the words of someone else [sure, could be your own writing but mostly it isn't].  If you add, subtract, multiply or divide, you are following the steps required.  But when you write, it is you coming to the fore.


In writing, you think the thoughts, you choose the words and you make the symbols for your words.  In writing, you paint with words.  Generally, you don't make up the words' meaning or spelling, although I did make up the word "pessimum" in my dissertation (it's the opposite of 'optimum', meaning 'the best').  You didn't make up the format for placing writing on a page or the rules of punctuation.  In writing, you are trying to use a restricted set of tools to get your point, your mood, your feelings across.


Whether you are thinking of politics or cutting your grass, your thoughts and the way you think them are unique.  The way you decide to express yourself is yours alone. It can be quite satisfying to take an idea or a memory and put down some words that pretty well express your thought or what happened.  If you feel as my sister does, and writing just does not appeal to you, maybe doing some sketching or snapping some photos might be of interest.  Putting one of several very functional apps on your iPad or phone and just speaking into it for a minute can be fun.  You can create your own podcast these days and email the sound file to dozens of friends.


Just deciding what was the highlight, or the lowlight of your day today or yesterday (can you remember what happened yesterday?  Prove it!) can show your life in a novel angle. I tried listing three good things a day for more than a year and learned that there are such things every day.


Especially when we are young, we have the job of writing resumes for job applications. I think it would help us all if we copy Twitter or scrapbookers and slowly build up an archive where people can look through our writing or photos and see what we have had on our minds and what has occupied our time over the years.  Just open up Word or a blank email and jot down what is own your mind.  Repeat for 100 days and see what you think.



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

Twitter: @olderkirby

Sunday, June 28, 2015

What is a pen worth?

I try to carry a pen and paper with me all the time.  I get ideas for this blog and quickly forget them.  Sometimes, the same idea comes back to me but sometimes I think it gets lost for good.  Besides, there are times when I want to remember someone's email address or a phone number, information that doesn't have much to remember it by.  A pen isn't the easiest thing to carry in a pants pocket.  It can slip out when I sit down.


Most motels have a small pad and a ballpoint pen in the room.  Sometimes, we walk off with their pen but basically, I like Bic pens and I try to keep one that works well handy.  


When I was a kid, the introduction of ballpoint pens was a big deal.  Until them, pens had liquid ink.  "Fountain" pens were able to suck up ink from a bottle and then "cartridge" pens could be loaded with a plastic cartridge of liquid ink about the size and shape of an AA battery.  If you look with a little effort, you can probably still find all those types of pens, including actual quills that can be dipped in an inkwell.  You can still find "space pens" that write in zero gravity and in very cold or hot temperatures.


What is interesting to me is the helplessness that quickly descends on a person who needs to sign a charge receipt or record a phone number or a date and time but has nothing to write with.  I have never actually used my hand to write something on but plenty of people turn to their palm or arm.  I can usually find a scrap of paper but a pen?  


Image result for ballpoint pens Image result for ballpoint pens


The fancy version has 8 parts while the simpler version, two if you count the cap.  I read while studying quality control that engineers identify 200 characteristics of a ballpoint.  It is a mark of modern civilization and something we take very much for granted at the same time.



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


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tired enough to see clearly

The book by Bessel van der Kolk, "The Body Keeps the Score", is wonderful.  Gripping and a little difficult at times because it is about traumatic experiences and how people heal from them.  The reader gets a clearer and clearer picture of the process of stashing away something that is too horrible or frightening to bear and then slowly digesting the experience.  Many deep traumas come from childhood experience, battle experience in war or domestic violence but being the victim of crime or a bad car accident can affect the mind, feelings and body, too.


Several times in the book, the author mentions "Yoga and the Quest for the True Self" by Stephen Cope.  I respect the author enough that I wanted to follow up on the Cope book but it is not available in Kindle, my main source for books since they are delivered immediately and take no space, besides being quite a bit cheaper.  I realize my local libraries loan books for free but I like having my own copy and I like the convenience of highlighting important parts and sharing the highlights with followers on Twitter. I have even gotten to the point of making use of both audio and print versions of a book.  The audio gives voice tone and tells things that print doesn't but sometimes a name needs to be spelled out to make further research possible.


I ordered a used copy of the Cope book and read it on our recent trip.  In some ways, it seems to be the typical story of a lost soul, pining for answers and understanding of both inner identity and dealing with life's issues.  Cope worked at Kripalu, a famous yoga center in western Massachusetts for quite a while.  He tells the story of a man who was the main resident guru during that time.  This man sought higher levels of yogic achievement, to the extent of being so focused on his practice that he forgot to eat and needed constant care from others.  After a long period of working and teaching yoga, Cope got the idea that "this whole thing is probably much simpler than we make it."


He goes on to say that he found he was tired of practicing, tired of meditating, tired of eating right.


Such a reaction is fine, it seems to me.  We can search for peak experiences and we get peak experiences, often when we don't expect them.  Discipline and application are fine and necessary but there will be periods when we have to just sit and be where we are, not especially enlightened, not especially charmed or excited, just breathing.  We can't help that we are built for excitement seeking, for striving, for achieving.  But the times when we tire out, when we don't want another delicious bite or any further thrill, those are fine times to notice that sight, and touch, and balance and friends and many other ordinary, everyday things are, in fact, marvels.



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


Thursday, June 18, 2015

The future is a good place to play and fantasize

In the future, pigs will fly.  Well, shipments of them are probably flying now in airplanes.  No, I mean, pigs will develop wings and be able to fly under their own power.


If you are a cautious user of words about the future, you might ask "When?"  When will pigs fly?  Many predictions are made without a date or termination point.  All statements are about the past, the present or the future.  Of these three times, the future is the easiest to shoot the bull about.  I can make all sorts of crazy statements about what is going to happen at some unspecified time.  If I use my imagination or hire some good imaginations, I may be able to spout language that really gets you frightened or hopeful.  You may spend the rest of the day or the whole week thinking about pigs flying, or the stock market rising or collapsing.  If you ask for more detailed information, I can plead the difficulties of specific predictions while maintaining a serious expression.  I can explain that the exact development isn't clear but that pigs will fly "soon".  "This development will take place soon, very soon."


I may be right.  Just because I act confident and you have faith in my honesty and knowledge about pig aviation doesn't guarantee that I am wrong or kidding.  You really should give me some credence since you have already lived through the past and you can see that pigs are not flying above you right now.  Therefore, the only time left for porcine flight is the future.  The future is the only time you are going to have to be on flying pig alert.

 

If my pig flight predictions get to be yesterday's news and people stop paying attention to my statements, I will look for something more arresting, more exciting, more arousing.  I don't have the budget just now for much of a parade and hullabaloo.  I can't interest the local cheerleaders and marching bands to accompany banners with images of winged sows and boars.  I crave attention and the power and respect that goes with it.  When you get tired of hearing about pork in the sky, I will need a more gripping prediction, maybe something about Putin or bacteria or robots.



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


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