Friday, July 21, 2017

A mirror site

I realized this morning as I looked at the wrinkled aging skin on my arm that one of the most useful comments I ever read was by a woman called "Byron Katie".  I have written about her before and so has my friend Winnie:

I wondered what Byron is up to these days and looked at her Twitter account.  Evidently, she just finished giving sessions in France and Holland.  She has her own web site and several books, all focused on The Work, which involves handling one's beliefs and problems  explicitly with questions and honest answers.  Her main question is Is it true?  I feel I can't go on, that you always pick on me, that I can't stay away from potato chips.  Are those ideas true?

In looking at her Twitter account, I found several statements that were valuable to read and think about.  The idea that I laughed about the most was explained with a little drawing of a monk sitting in the lotus position.  It is an invitation to play "transcendental hide and seek".  To play, close your eyes and count to 60.  Then, open them and see if you can find yourself."

Looking at my aging skin, I recall Katie's comment that she was having the time of her life watching her body fall apart.  It is possible to take aging as an adventure, one that I have never experienced before but that is very famous.  As some people say, it may be more fun that the alternative.

I like to read and explore new ideas and personalities.  When I find some that really ought to be shared, I share them in this blog, the Kirbyvariety web site, orally with friends. and on Twitter.  I realized today that I am a kind of mirror site.  Various computer and software firms have sites around the world to transmit downloads faster because they are nearer some customers.  

Katie has several books, such as "A Friendly Universe".  She comes up with statements such as "I can't let go of my thoughts.  I meet them with inquiry and they let go of me."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Beautiful voices

So much happens each day that it is impossible to put it all down.  Just ten minutes in the backyard can include wrens flitting about, visits by hummingbirds, chipmunks vying with pigeons for the seeds and bits dropped by birds that can fit into the feeders.  That is just the backyard and the birds.  One of the big parts of our mornings is Lynn's Facebook.  I don't use Facebook for two reasons. Facebook has been too pushy for my tastes, asking about how I met this person and that.  Second, I have enough going on without more time spent with Facebook and similar online communities.  I realize that plenty of good stuff is put on Facebook and I imagine on LinkedIn, too. I am technically on both but I don't engage, visit their sites or post things.

This morning, as on many mornings, Lynn tells me about things that she thinks I will like.  Today, she played a video posted by a musical friend.  It is a women's acappella quintet and was put up on YouTube almost 9 years ago.

The link goes to their rendition of Vivaldi's section of The Four Seasons, Spring.  It is certainly worth listening to.  I was just reading how music has been a puzzle for scientists trying to figure out why we like it and what liking music might have meant in evolution and over the millennia.  

When you listen to what these young women do with their voices alone, you can get some appreciation for musical ability to select the notes desired and produce them in the midst of other, competing sounds.  I don't know much about Vivaldi (1678-1741) but just those dates tell us that he was never on television.  I have some bassoon music by him and he wrote his famous The Four Seasons.  The movie by the same name stars Alan Alda, who also wrote the script and directed.  Vivaldi's music plays throughout but I have a hunch that Antonio would be surprised by the singing of the Carmel Acappella quintet.  So would Ludwig B if he got to hear them sing unaccompanied his 5th symphony.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Several women of Time

The Time magazine of July 24, vol. 190, no.4, has several articles that strike me as quite valuable.  Why this is already volume 190, I am not sure.  It can't be that each year has been a volume since Time is not that old.  Maybe a volume every half year.

Anyhow, Heather Gerken first.  She writes that law school teaches a fundamental practice, essential in law, that everyone could use.  It relates, of course, to the fact that a working lawyer needs to use her imagination to create a helpful argument to support the client, or attack the client's cause.  Since lawyers have to be able to argue for either A or not-A, they must work at understanding the advantages of all positions and be able to communicate them in court.  The basic skill is defending an idea without agreeing with it.  Heather Gerken is the dean of the Yale Law School.

Then, a series of women who wrote sections of an article on exercise and health.  It is short, bright and quite useful.  

·       Amanda Macmillan

·       Alice Park

·       Mandy Oaklander

·       Alexandra Sifferlin

All the women listed in this post have Twitter accounts and you can follow them all there.

The outstanding two points in my mind from their work is the inclusion of meditation as a physical (and mental and emotional) tool of very basic importance and noting that some yoga and some running and some weight lifting all matter.  You don't have to be a qualified Olympic level athlete for physical exercise of many kinds to be a big help.

As usual, the issue highlights politics but there are many other valuable things to think about and do in this life.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Poems on a box

I ordered from Amazon on "Prime Day".  The order arrived in a box with a short haiku poem on it.

I know some of the objections to being manipulated by large corporations but, as one Twitter post said, "classy".  I say "imaginative".

You may know that Twitter uses hatchmarks, #, to allow labels or themes.  The haiku on Amazon cartons has its own hatchmark "#boxhaiku".  You can look it up on Twitter to see the other haikus being sent out on boxes.  

I expect that other corporations are not going to take this lying down.  I imagine they have poets of their own.  Brace yourself.

From Wikihow:

"A haiku poem consists of three lines, with the first and last lines having 5 moras, and the middle line having 7. A mora is a sound unit, much like a syllable, but is not identical to it. Since the moras do not translate well into English, it has been adapted to where syllables are used as moras."

I have not been to Japan but I did manage these in poetry class:

Monday, July 17, 2017

What did you expect?

Sometimes, I didn't really have an expectation.  In the back of my mind, I might have had a notion of what he would be like or what the movie would be but often I didn't have a clear expectation.  I often hear things like "into each life, some rain must fall" or "you'll get some good days and some bad days." I often feel that whatever happens, it is a surprise and does not feel as though it is mundane or everyday.  

Suppose I get two rather flat, unexciting days in a row.  I didn't expect that!  Naturally, if I get two exciting days in a row, I didn't that either.  On just about every day, whatever happens, it doesn't feel as though it was what I expected.  Maybe I should start a record of expectations and fill out expectations for the next day before it begins.  I haven't tried that but I almost never have a clear idea of the next day's events.  So, I would be reluctant to make a prediction.

I could do something vague, like I expect there will be some sort of sunrise or dawn about 5 or 6 AM and darkness will probably fall in the evening.  I don't know if I expect straight sun or some rain or a mixture.  I remember that Dan Gilbert's book "Stumbling on Happiness" and his TED talks explain that in general people have not been very accurate at predicting future happiness.  They are not as happy nor as unhappy as they thought they would be.  His idea is that generally when I think of winning the lottery or losing something valuable, I am not capable of broad and complete enough thinking to see all the parts of my life that will not be improved or, in the case, of a negative or loss, all the parts of my life that will not be harmed.  

Some researchers and surveys use the word "expectations" as in "Did we meet your expectations?"  I don't know what their data shows but in general, I don't have clear expectations before entering a store or opening a magazine.  If I didn't have some idea that it would be useful or profitable or pleasant, I wouldn't enter or begin.  But I certainly didn't expect the current Time magazine to do such a good job explaining physical practices like yoga or weight lifting as benefits, even when sensibly practice lightly.  I didn't expect a page written by the current dean of the Yale Law school on the training that lawyers get that gives them open minds and flexible thinking habits.  I didn't expect to have to drive out into the country to retrieve a phone from people we had never met or heard of.

Most of the time, I don't know what I expected but it wasn't what happened.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

"You have one message"

I saw an ad on the internet Weather Channel site that showed the words "You have one message".  I don't deal in communications with the people who run the Weather Channel or those buying ads on it.  I also don't deal in communications on Facebook, the iconic leader of the social media.  "Social media" doesn't seem like a very attractive name to me but human communication, by facial expression, spoken words as with telephones, tapped signals as with telegraphs and prisoners signalling through prison wall, message drums or clouds of letters squirted into the sky by special airplanes, very much matters.

You may remember the days when entering a store meant you might be ready to purchase some of their inventory: bananas or bandanas or something.  Back then, there was no greeter and no one who tempted you with a free popsicle if you joined their loyal band of followers by filling out this form with your email address, the name of your banker, and your grandmother's middle name.  There was a mild hullabaloo about 1990 when a pioneer type journalist got hold of Bill Gates's email address and ventured to send him an exploratory message.  Wow!  He got an answer!

I guess many groups, companies, organizations and causes picture themselves with a nice portion of the billion users of Facebook, happily chatting away on their own network, posting videos of babies and dogs and kittens.  Ever since the development of the telegraph

people have marveled at communication at a distance.  When you add in the ability to take in money for advertising Joe's diner and the very real display of talent and warmth on social platforms of many users, you can see why others might be tempted to try to create the next group of communicators.

The linked article makes clear that communications networks have been around for a long time.  The books "What Hath God Wrought" and "The Victorian Internet" explain the surprise and interest that fast, inexpensive widespread communication using the newly harnessed stuff called "electricity" stimulated.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tricky, murky work

Friends told me that "Bridge of Spies" with Tom Hanks was a good movie. I had an open evening and watched that movie.  It is based on actual events.  It was easy for me to ask myself throughout the show how it would be for me to try to carry out the tasks insurance attorney Donovan (Hanks) managed. First, he accepted an invitation to the thankless task of defending an elderly and sophisticated man charged by the FBI with espionage for the Soviets and then with accompanying that man to negotiations to culminate in the exchange of the man for an American spy plane pilot the Soviets had shot down and captured.

Throughout the lengthy film, I kept asking myself how I would have done with all that. I am a rather rigid person: give me a plan and I want details.  With a detailed plan, I want to stick to it and follow every step completely as specified. The American attorney had to go with the flow of events over and over and yet he came to a knot in the thread of the ongoing story, where he had to switch to firm resolve and steady determination.  

I have a long-held admiration for the book "Getting to Yes", both for personal application to my individual life and for teaching and the training of teachers.  It is one of the most famous in its field and has 4.5 stars on Amazon and 968 reviewers.  I have gone through the book several times and tried to apply it to my life.  But it is about working in situations where all involved are being somewhat open and honest.

The American attorney, Donovan, had to work with the Soviet government and the East German government at the same time.  These two forces were subtly at odds but not officially nor openly.  Negotiations were to take place in the area of East Berlin at the time the authorities were first building the Berlin wall.  People were trying to get on the side of the wall they wanted to be without appearing to be trying but to do so before crossing was even more dangerous and difficult. Other complexities arose.

I very much admire the story and the accomplishment and I am glad to have watched the movie.  It is available on Amazon.  It is fairly expensive and may be available only if you pay enough to have the movie in your personal video library section of the site.  It has been about a week since I watched it and you can see that the impact of the story is still with me.

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