Monday, August 21, 2017

Negative reactions to Heaven

I figure there is a chance I can get into Heaven sometime.  I imagine it will be close but there may be enough in the credit column and maybe if I explain some needed skills, maybe if I am willing to take whatever jobs are available, I may be admitted.  But I can see it now: I am going to complain.  

The book "Stumbling on Happiness" explains that most of our minds are put together in such a way that we tend to be more alert at the moment to things that are wrong.  But, we often retain pictures of our past that get edited to be mostly right. Let's go out to the ballgame.  It'll be great.

But it's hot, very hot.  Crowded, quite pushy and close.  The hotdog vendor will not look this way.  I spill mustard down my front.  Yuck.  Damn.  But we won and you were funny.  Three years later, I can't feel the heat, the crowd effect is gone, I just had a fine lunch so hot dogs are irrelevant.  I remember that great catch. I remember that we won.  I remember laughing at your jokes.  

So, I expect to have initial discomforts and some negative reactions to the layout, the rules, the ways of doing things in paradise.  Given who I am and what I am like, I am likely to be less than charmed at some of the ways of Heaven.  I am not that good at grasping advanced thinking but I know my reactions.  All that peace and serenity!??!  All that glory and love?!?!  Sweet smiles and joy.  More sweet smiles and joy.  How much can I take?

If I don't get kicked out, I'm sure I will adjust.  Ok, a bit of scowling, maybe a little grumbling.  Some timid embarrassment at being angelically beautiful.  But if I can last through two or three years of white clouds and gold harps, I will fit right in.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

50 years together

Some good friends invited us to be part of their celebration of their 50 year marriage. If you glance at them too quickly, you might mistake them for a couple of around 20 or 25 years together.  Most of us who have been married for quite a while are surprised at the audacity we all show when coupling up with a partner in our 20's.  

We say "Til Death do us part" but we say many things.  We say that I promise to love and obey her.  As a relative said, young people don't know what they are getting into.  Very true, but think about it.  We liked each other very much, we found comfort and joy in each other's company.  We took on ourselves the mantle of a married couple and we did that joyfully.  But who knew what was ahead?  Literally, nobody.

I lost my temper repeatedly over small things.  We had very little money.  We had not really figured out what expenses we would have or probably have. We didn't figure on the need for insurance of various kinds.  We knew we were not of the same religion.  Neither sets of our parents were all that thrilled with the relationship we were building.

We both had a good amount of experience of dating and that probably helped quite a bit in knowing if we had really found someone we liked.  We had another tool that has been quite helpful: a natural practice of re-making the partnership every day, every month, every year.  

A basic faith in ourselves and each other has opened the door to real communication, honest exchange.  The large amount of evidence that self knowledge matters supports the idea that we could each recognize our own feelings and needs, fears and hopes and talk about them clearly enough that our partner understood.  There was the time, after days of driving together as a lone couple, that we simply got too fed up.  We tabulated the spats and the irritations and it was clear. The only thing to do, the only thing that offered release and relief was divorce.  At around 11 AM, we faced the truth and agreed to divorce.  By 5 PM the same day, we had had time to really face the future without the other.  We each saw bleak and bad days ahead.  We scratched that divorce business and haven't tried that again.  We are now working on our 2nd 50 years together.  

I will say that having each other gets more valuable all the time.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Is the quality of our scams falling?

I have heard of confidence men and scam artists of old.  They are still around but maybe the quality of the pitch has fallen.  Maybe, on the other hand, we are still too gullible to withstand the dangers that lurk today.

I have heard of an elderly woman getting a call that informed her that her beloved grandson had been arrested in a far-away country and needed a couple of thousand dollars for bail.  She is reported to have replied,"Well, I don't have a grandson but I'd like to help out."  The story did not go on the reveal just what happened after that.  Seems possible that a wily older woman might have found way to involve the police in quashing the practice.

I still wonder about how clearly scammers are thinking these days.  I got a message from somebody identified only by a first and last name that I didn't recognize.  The message said,"It is very important that you call this number immediately."

What kind of scam is that?  C'mon!  At least we should be able to muster decently made scams!  Suppose a guy comes up to you on the street and says,"Psst - call me immediately".  You never saw him before.  Are you going to call?  Is it even as likely that you will call if you get an anonymous, unsolicited email from somebody you never heard of that you should call this number? No wonder that scamming is a dying occupation.  

You might think "What harm can making a call do?"  Maybe none but in general if crooks are involved, I don't like to cooperate in any way.  I have heard of a scam where a voice asks if they are speaking to ---------------.  The Yes voice answer got recorded and then got misused to agree to some misbehavior or dishonest charge.  I realize it is hard to make a dollar these days, much less enough dollars to make a decent living.  But I still think what with the failures, the exposures, the bunco squads, there is not a promising future in swindling.  Sure, your occasional unusual person is going to make out ok but in general, there are better lines of work.

Friday, August 18, 2017

New forms of ambition and failure

I see that some high schools are teaching a course or two about entrepreneurship.  Probably some community colleges are, too.  Everybody should go out to the garage and be Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. When I was considering what line of work I wanted to head for, I looked at teaching.  I like ideas and the problem of conveying them to others.  I was confident that I could not produce a good class of 25 or 30 students, especially not semester after semester. I needed a whole school system to join. Besides, who needs teaching the most, the rich and well-off or the poor and discouraged?

The excellent TED talk by Ernesto Sirolli outlines three main functions a start-up company must fulfill: product, money and advertising.  You have to have a good product or service.  These days, you need to pay steady attention to ways what is offered could be improved, profitably expanded or profitably shrunk.  You have to keep track of income, outgo, debts, taxes and such.  And you have to think about marketing. 

I heard some years ago from the financier and author Robert T. Kiyosaki that a fast way to higher wealth was to create a good company with a good product, good finances and good marketing and sell the whole operation.  The valuation of a successful company with good achievement in all three areas can include likely future earnings and those can add up. So, I guess every other young person hopes to be another Mark Zuckerberg.  

I imagine more venture capitalists exist these days and of course they are on the lookout for good ideas and hard working and energetic young people to carry them out.  However, with more history, more competition and better communication, everyone is more aware of the possibilities and the downfalls lurking about.  If your nephew and his energetic girlfriend get something going but unforeseen obstacles trash their dream, help them re-group and keep the long term in mind.  Life goes on for many decades and has all sorts of tricks and turns.  Just because of a stone in a shoe, there is no reason to forget the long and broad view.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I have to read what you have read????

I have now seen more than once a statement that someone has no right to an opinion in opposition to mine if they haven't read the documents I have read.  I think that is quite wrong, ridiculous even, but in some cases, I feel I can see how and why someone might arrive at that position.  

Suppose you are an expert on the US constitution, its construction, its amendments, the modifications it has undergone over the years, the way it has been interpreted in various courts and lawmaking bodies. Suppose I am an uneducated, opinionated person who happens to be sitting beside you and your friend in a local bar. You have spent your life reading, digesting, comparing information and opinions about the constitution and have several books, published about every five years on the subject of the US constitution.  Your books have been published by popular book publishers and some by academic publishers.

I don't like your looks and I feel intuitively that you are the sort of person who holds opinions opposed to mine.  I don't know about your credentials and I don't care to.  You can be pretty sure that if you inform me of your lifework or even a small portion of it, I am not going to feel that I don't have a right to my own opinion about human rights, the free press, the right of assembly and whatever other rights that might be tucked away here and there in the constitution and other laws.

If I have to get my highly educated wife involved, she might come to my rescue.  She and her philosophical friends might ask if other constitutional experts exist.  She might contact them and check their positions and show that some disagree with your statements.  I might ask my minister and my rabbi and my iman if I have a right to my ideas without being a lifelong reader of constitutional articles and books. 'Course, I might just laugh at you and repeat that you are wrong, disgusting, and not my sort.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New computer

My computer has been misbehaving lately. I am not sure what makes it simply stop responding. It often says I am not connected to the internet when I am. It seems to be some sort of clogged up. I click on a different open web page and totally zero happens.

So, today, a new computer arrived. The old one is an Asus and the new one is an Acer. Both are Asian laptops and both have high ratings for the products. Of course, I had the old one plugged in and working all day long and it behaved perfectly.

I like to use Gmail, Google Docs and Sheets (like Word and Excel), and Google Voice for texting from the computer to people's phones. The nice thing about Google stuff is that it all uses one logon and password and it is all available on any computer connected to the internet. That means that after downloading Chrome, Google's browser and Firefox, a non-profit browser not part of any of the big computing companies, I am more or less ready to go.

Quite a few of my friends have a Gmail address (which you give yourself for free) but they don't realize that it opens the door to all the services I mentioned above plus Google Earth, famous for detailed pictures of all parts of the planet, and Google Photos, which can upload all iPhone and other smart phone and tablet pictures, allow editing of any and all and store a large number for free.

I have tried my Mac, Chromebook and Windows but I still prefer a mouse and Windows to the other systems. I have a 2010 of Office and I use Excel, Word and Outlook. Excel is my main spreadsheet although the free Google Sheets is a good alternative. Word is still the most convenient of the programs I have tried to read my typing back to me, to see if it sounds right and Outlook is both our mutual calendar and my connection to my former university employer.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Kashi, carbs and grains

I thought that equivalent calories would have an equivalent effect on my body weight and fat.  Now, I am doubting that.  Some particular foods or formats seem to make their own special difference.  I mentioned reading in Gina Kolata's "Rethinking Thin", a quote from Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826).  He was a French lawyer but was deeply interested in food, good cooking and good eating.  He was a founder of the genre we now have as foodie writing.  Kolata's quote has the man noticing that those who eat flour and sugar gain weight.  

Lynn and I have been practicing very limited added sugar and flour, as directed and encouraged by Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson and her Bright Line Eating.  When I told our friend about those guidelines, she immediately said,"That is everything I eat."  That is the reaction that many people have, even those who eat meat, fish, drink milk, eat eggs, fruit and vegetables.  Even potato chips fit with those rules. Some people think that carbohydrates are the foods they want to avoid but that category seems too broad.  Foods that are not fats or protein are carbs. Processed foods are almost always carbs, true, but they don't qualify unless made with flour and/or have added sugar.

I guess the explanation might be that sugar and flour of any grain are foods that the body absorbs so quickly that their calories have to be stored.  They come too fast to be burned by activity.

We have grains such as barley, millet, quinoa and even wheat berries.  We make up a batch, eat some, freeze the rest in appropriate serving sizes and thaw what we want in the microwave.  Today, I tried cooking a batch of Kashi, the grain pilaf.  I followed the recipe carefully but I still burned it without cooking it.  Lynn has cooked that stuff many times and she cooked us a double batch.  We like to add powdered chicken bouillon for flavor.  She had to cook it 10 minutes longer than what the box says to get the soft, expanded grains we like.  I plan to serve some tonight and cook another batch to learn to do it right.

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