Thursday, April 17, 2014

chat and video chat

I am confident there are many ways to chat online.  I use Google Gmail chat once in a while.  If you and a friend both have Gmail accounts, which are free and fairly free of pesky offers, you can both install Chrome, the Google browser.  It may be that using chat in that browser is a little easier than in the blue e Internet Browser or the Mac's Safari.

In Gmail on the lower left, there are a set of buttons relating to chat and who among your contacts might be online and interested in chat. Despite the name, chat is often silent but immediate exchange of short messages, not unlike texting. With Google Gmail chat, you can speak and you can see each other, free and over the internet.  I haven't used Skype or any competing product for speaking or seeing over the internet but Google chat uses the internet and has no special charge associated with it.

The service is very much like Apple's "Facetime".

I am not clear about whether someone with a non-Google email address (not Gmail) can chat with a Gmail user.  I think one of the chaters needs to be in Gmail to get it started.

Recently, Google added its Hangout service which allows video/audio calls among up to 9 callers at the same time.  For some meetings and committees, that might be very handy and helpful.  Of course, not everyone wants to be seen and may prefer to just listen and speak but not be on video.

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014



World Regions


Internet Users

Internet Users



% of Users

( 2012 Est.)

Dec. 31, 2000

Latest Data

(% Population)
























Middle East







North America







Latin America / Caribbean







Oceania / Australia














I like the word "Netizens".  I think the existence of the word shows a bit of something important happening.  34% of the earth's population uses the internet.  They are an interconnected group who are participating in humanity's biggest project, using the internet for all sorts of purposes.  Maybe that means that we will come to understand and value each other a little more and a little more intelligently.  Hope so.

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

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Who? Me??!

I was looking over some of my latest blogs posts to see what I had written.  Quite a few years ago, I wrote some ideas for my course in testing and educational "measures".  It didn't take long for what I had written and my current ideas to diverge so I got a chance to see that ideas and positions change.  The basic reason for my writing a blog, I tell myself, is to take time regularly to see what my life and thought are about.  That changes, of course, so what I write about at any time might not be a main feature even a few days later.

I was surprised at how much I mentioned books, movies and tv.  I guess it stands to reason that if an older person living in a fairly quiet small city in the Midwest asks what has been outstanding in his experience lately, the answer might come that it was something he read or saw instead of something that had happened to him.  That is the case again today.

Eric Barker runs a popular blog and he also sends a summary of what he has written during each week.  The other day, the summary focused on research about what keeps love alive and a marriage lively.  Barker anchors much of what he writes to sources and I often benefit from looking them up.  One was "How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It".  That was an intriguing title so I looked the book up and liked what was said about it.  Now, I am a quarter of the way through it and it has been an eye-opener.

You might think that a person my age would not find anything much that was new to thinking about men and women and their interaction but it happened.  The book's main message so far is that women have more natural fear, about anything and everything, than men but that men generally carry lots of quiet and suppressed shame.

Shame??!  Me??!  Doesn't feel like shame, although part of the point is that males learn to carry the shame but not feel it too sharply much of the time.  Shame about what?  Not being perfect.  Not being all their parents, wives, children expected, hoped for, wanted, deserved.  The authors, a woman and a man, are experienced therapists who take the position that talking about difficulties is often less of a help to a relationship than better grasp of feelings and cascades of feelings.  They give examples and research that shows men learn to be expert of avoiding consciously facing their feelings and are assisted by everyone around them.  One of their many tricks is to use their biological readiness for combat to respond quickly with anger or rage to anything that looks like it will bring them to awareness of inadequacy or failure.  This is a surprising new way to think about myself.

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

A little sympathy for myself, a little respect for myself

Many of today's mind-clearing and internal vision improvement practices, derive from Zen and other religious and religion-related traditions.  I guess I might have gotten my best aids to my current level of being able to think more clearly and recognize my life for what it is from a small number of Westerners who studied Eastern ideas and brought them back.  Major names for me are Jack Kornfield, Charlotte Joko Beck, Mark Epstein and many others.  References and sources are scattered through my web site and blog.

It can be difficult to distinguish clear thinking from optimistic or negative thinking.  It seems that many people have a positive bias when thinking about themselves but some have a countertendency, natural or trained, to try to offset positive or prideful thinking by purposely emphasizing errors, lapses, and sinful thoughts and deeds.  Practicing keeping one's attention on one thing, a spot on the wall or one's breath, can assist in developing clearer insight into the actual internal thoughts, feelings and desires.

One Christian approach, not from its founder but from those who built and formed the religion, is to take the position that no one is perfect and therefore I am not perfect.  If I am not perfect, I have some sins and I need to think of what they are.  That probably works pretty well much of the time but I might avoid thinking of some and I might come up with something just to meet the requirement.

It seems that when I think clearly and see clearly, there is nothing much all that special that is revealed, nothing all that exciting to see.  However, having a little sympathy for myself and a little respect for who I am and what I am seems right.  It takes a few moments to recall some of the parts of my life that relate to achievements.  I did have them and I did attain them.

One of the directions of modern thinking and research is the extent to which adults are actually driven by their genes, their childhood experiences, their social surroundings, advertising, primitive fears and all kinds of other forces, tendencies and nudges that actually control, direct or influence their choice and lives.  So, having a little respect for the biological, mammalian, primate, political, sexual, financial, parental, legal and other forces at work on me throughout my life can show me that I am what might be expected from a creature subject to all those influences.

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

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How the goals and needs change

I mean by the title how an individual middle-class American’s probable goals, needs and desires change over time.  I doubt I am all that representative of people my age.  I have rarely been the average at anything, usually higher or lower.  So my experiences and conclusions may not be typical or indicative.

At college age, late teens and early twenties, I wanted a woman.  Not women but a woman.  She needed to be attractive by my definition and she needed to be intelligent.  Old-fashioned as it sounds, I wanted her to be obedient or compliant.  To a large degree, intelligence runs counter to submissiveness so the best I could do would be to find a woman who was a tolerable combination of the traits I wanted.  Like the Arabic clown figure, Nasrudin, I also needed to keep in mind that I was looking for a woman who would consider me a tolerably good husband.  I realized that if she was looking for perfection, she wouldn’t be interested in me.

I was extremely fortunate in finding a woman interested in being my wife who has been a wonderful combination of the characteristics I wanted and needed.  We have now been together for over 50 years.  But looking back, I can see that both consciously and unconsciously I was driven by a picture of a long haul together.  If I were looking for a partner now, at my current age, reasonable health would figure more in my thinking.  I would indeed want someone about my age and that means we would both need to recognize the ever-growing possibility of death for either or both of us.


I think the old vows uniting us until death parts us might be inappropriate for a second, late-in-life marriage.  In fact, I can see why many older people are interested in friendships and relationships but not in another marriage.  Whole families may be counting on a will and estate distribution which would be disrupted by a 2nd marriage, unless there was a pre-nuptial agreement.

At older ages, the whole matter of sex may be far less important, as may be physical responses and abilities.  The ability to be open about feelings, ideas, experiences and commitments might be for more important than bodies or looks.  Many older people today do not realize that older citizens are a prime group for increased incidents of sexually transmitted disease, including HIV.

When dating in college, I am pretty sure I never once thought that my wife would be important in watching over my mind and looking for signs of dementia.  I never thought about the extra burden that decreased acuity of hearing would impose on marital conversations.

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

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Here is one of the more popular posts from my blog.  It may help to read it again.

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

Del Harvey and David Hand

Del Harvey and David Hand probably never heard of each other.  Hand’s book “The Improbability Principle” makes clear that something that has a 99.99% chance of not happening still is pretty likely to happen when it gets lots and lots of chance to occur.  Del Harvey’s TED talk makes clear that most people who write those 140-character messages on Twitter are fine people.  Harvey heads the Twitter security team and she has the data to back up her claim. However, just as Hand points out, something with a chance of 1 time in ten thousand times will happen a great deal when there are hundreds of millions of chances for it.  As she says, her job is to work out whether a given Twitter user or a given practice on Twitter is threatening or menacing or evil in some way.

In accord with Deming’s principle, most people most of the time are acting conscientiously, morally and in a friendly way.  That means that when she and her team are more or less responsible for 500 MILLION tweets each day, the great majority are not their business.  But, it still means fifty thousand bad apples in the Twitter stream EACH DAY! So, from the point of view of Harvey’s team, each day will certainly be filled with highly improbable events.

It takes both experience and knowledge to know what is going on.  She uses the example of “Yo, Bitch”  Is that a strong putdown?  An attempt to be nasty?  Possibly, but in some circles, it is ok, typical even.  There are even people writing tweets who are pretending to be dogs and they talk like that to each other.

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

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