Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dan Harris's book "10% Happier"

Most days, whenever it fits our schedules, my wife and I sit in our living room with a timer set for 10 minutes.  During that important time, we do nothing. Well, it is actually impossible to literally do nothing, but we move very little, if at all.  We don't speak or change positions or answer email.  We keep our eyes fixed on the same point and we concentrate on our breath.  We experience our breath.  When we catch ourselves thinking about something of interest, we have struck one of those golden moments.  We bring our eyes back to the same point and we gently put our attention back on our breathing.

We do what can be called "secular meditation".  That activity is what Dan Harris, ABC newsman, discusses in his excellently written book "10% Happier".  The book's title is actually "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Really Works."  You can see why I refer to the book as "10% Happier" for short. This daily habit is actually an ancient practice.  Dan Harris's book explains how and why he began meditating, what modern evidence and experience are doing to convince all sorts of people, from grade schoolers to FBI agents, from salesmen to athletes, to take up the habit, too.


I began studying this daily habit for what it might do for me, for school children, for adults in about 1980.  10% Happier is the best written, most comprehensive and most useable book I have found about how to use mediation in a daily way.  I highly recommend reading it through, maybe more than once.  It is available for downloading to a computer, a Kindle, an iPad, an iPhone or other smartphone from Amazon.com for $11.  Besides, all that it is fun to read and interesting.  Harris meets in person with a very good collection of the modern American teachers of this habit.




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


Monday, September 15, 2014

Getting some air (or a substitute)

The other day, I noticed a light on the dashboard of my Honda Fit that I hadn't seen before. It looked like this and it was still on after a while.

Tire Pressure Monitor Symbol

http://dashboardsymbols.com/the-symbols/


I looked it up in the manual and thought it said it related to the brake system.  I made sure the parking brake was completely off but the light didn't go out.  I called the garage.


They said it wasn't about brakes but about the pressure in the tires.  I learned that the sensor system turns the light (light = a "tell-tale", according to the site linked above) when the system detects a change in the tire pressure of 2 lbs or more.  I am used to reading the target air pressure from the side of the tire itself but I had been told before that the standard pressure in today's cars is 32 lbs per square inch (psi).  But this time, the mechanic chief said that since our weather had gotten colder (it is 45° F outside right now at 9 AM), that company has changed the current tire pressure target to 34 psi.  After fixing me up, I was told the tires had been inflated to 36 psi.


Why?  The weather has gotten colder but it has a long way to go to reach its coldest point.  Honda and many other companies want to be environmentally smart.  If the tire pressure is too low for that tire's shape and engineering, the miles per gallon will be lower that it could be.  (I don't know how much lower.)  If the tire pressure is too high for the design of the tire, the tire will wear out faster.  Not only does that increase the need for tires but it also puts some yucky tire particles in the atmosphere.  As the temperature drops, so does pressure.  The guys at the garage are trying to compensate for the coming cold with higher pressures.


The manager of the garage told me that I could go to some other places in town and have my tires filled with nitrogen, which holds a steadier pressure at a wider range of temperatures than ordinary air but the cost is currently $20-25 per tire.  Of course, refilling with air at a typical gas station will dilute the nitrogen, eventually needing another nitrogen filling.  All that from a tell-tale light on the dashboard.



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


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pulitzer Prize novel about young men, comic books and hopes

It must have been about 4 or 5 years ago, that Mike Slygh gave me the impression that Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" was good reading. (He didn't mention that it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2001.)  Now, quite a while later, I am listening to it read aloud as I drive around on errands and such. 

Mike was totally right.  Every now and then, a short phrase pops up that hits me in the ear with great tone and I thank him for recommending the book, which I remember is related to his own interest in comic books and their history.

He possessed an incorrect but fervent understanding of the workings of television, atom power, and antigravity,

Incorrect but fervent understanding !!!

Sammy had never felt himself to be anything more, in Bubbie's eyes, than a kind of vaguely beloved shadow from which the familiar features of dozens of earlier children and grandchildren, some of them dead sixty years, peered out.

Felt himself to be a kind of vaguely beloved shadow !!!

She turned now and looked at her nephew. "You want to draw comic books?" she asked him. Joe stood there, head down, a shoulder against the door frame. While Sammy and Ethel argued, he had been affecting to study in polite embarrassment the low-pile, mustard-brown carpeting, but now he looked up, and it was Sammy's turn to feel embarrassed. His cousin looked him up and down, with an expression that was both appraising and admonitory. "Yes, Aunt ," he said. "I do. Only I have one question. What is a comic book?"

Chabon, Michael (2012-06-12). The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (with bonus content): A Novel (pp. 1-74). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Excellent narration in Audible edition by David Colacci.


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


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sandy's Lists

Sandy, a tech savvy lady and author of Downsizer Sandy blog, writes about lists and technological devices:

Your post was neat in thinking only about lists...I think as new things are added to techy equipment it might become more usable for me for lists but not now:

One thing that is a problem for me with electronic lists is that I can't get to them quickly... if my techs are turned off or are off line due to cable problems at the time I want them...

Privacy issues with financial lists

I can't see ones at the same time on tech stuff  as quickly as I can in each of my spirals..

I'm too lazy to go periodically into each electronic area to decide which lists or parts of lists I want to delete...thus I had become a "hoarder" mentally of electronic lists...too afraid I would delete something and want it later when I couldn't remember where exactly it was in computer heaven. But then had too many lists and would lose interest in using them.

I tend to forget electronic lists with time...whereas in my spirals I can go back and check...

I've been typing thousands of books' data over the past year from a list of books on my computer but not in a spreadsheet format into a spreadsheet on Excel...It was a nightmare going back to see what to do with similar problems...just last week...and luckily I had put enough on each book into one of my spirals to see what we did with similar problems. But we are done with it now!

But alas! I have now become a spiral hoarder due to age and life changes  but am making myself purge lists I no longer want each am as I make my daily lists to do away with as many as I can.

I even have a Kindle book wish list in one of my spirals..Ha! Ha!



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

Friday, September 12, 2014

Love and frustration - Affected deeply by a story

Lynn started a new blog, Pix and Memories.  One of her recent posts mentions her trip to England in 1975 as part of a children's literature class.  She met Lucy Boston, an English author of the Green Knowe series.  Turns out that "knowe" is a version of the word "knoll", which is more familiar to me.  She relates being grateful and happy to get a chance to meet an author whose writing meant a lot to her.


Consider reading a book that is just simply great. Maybe a second one about the same characters and another immersion in the story.  You know the characters.  You live with them.  You know their habits and you love the way they are and the adventure that they manage to just squeak through.  Then, you meet the author.  The two of you are standing in the lobby of a fine hotel.  You have the author's undivided attention.


What are you going to say?  You love the book.  You REALLY loved the book.  You could go on and describe characteristics of the people that you especially liked or moments of tension or relief in the plot.  But after all, this is the author you are talking to?  You watch carefully and if you see facial and vocal signs of interest, you might continue.  But if you pick up the fact that this author has heard this dozens of times, you might have to conclude that there really is no way to give this person a gift or a sign that will adequately convey the pleasure the book gave you or the inner growth that it stimulated.  You might, if you are lucky and demonstrative, be able to change the author's idea from "I have N thousands of fans" to "I have (N thousands of fans)+1".  You can try to follow the author on Facebook or Twitter but you might not want to do that for every author you like.  The author or publisher or their assistants might not even notice.  


If you have this trouble or expect to sometime, you may get some help from this recent New Yorker article.  But, I doubt it.



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


Thursday, September 11, 2014

What we see

I saw an article from the New York Times that sounded interesting.  It is titled "Can a Book Ever Change a Reader's Life for the Worse?" In one sense, the question is trivial.  Of course, a book might convince me that rot is good to eat or that my friend is my enemy or something else.  If you think a book can create good change or an opening for good change, it more or less follows that it might create change which turns out to negative.


But what my point here relates instead to what I actually see when I get to the web page that interested me.  I saw this:

From Skitch.png


I have circled things that pop up on this page that can take my mind and attention away from what I went there for.  Of course, most of the links to do with buying things or joining things.  But even something that leads me to further information about possible negative effects of reading can be a distraction from what this author has to say in this article.  


As an experienced reader, I more or less automatically filter out what I am not after.  But my first grade greatgranddaughter might not be as able to do that.  She isn't likely to use the family iPad to get into the New York Times but it can be confusing for anyone.


By the way, the markup was done in the iPad app called "Skitch". I have tried to circle the links that will take me away from my target page.



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


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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