Friday, October 31, 2014

Less giggling is better



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

Happy Halloween!



Book, lecture, course, degree

What is the difference between reading a book, attending a lecture, taking a course and getting a degree? Basically, the amount of time involved, especially in the traditional format, time away from home, time in a specific location, as on campus.  But in a formal sense, a major difference is checking.  In a course and in getting a degree, there is often some test or exam or orals or other way of verifying understanding or skill on the part of the participant.


For adults who know that they want to learn, the existence of some test is a major marker.  I participate in a senior citizen's organization in which there are lectures but no exams or verifications of any formal type.  And yet, the level of questioning and commenting in the classes is very high, often higher than even guest professors have ever experienced.  Many younger people, even in their 30's, are somewhat intimidated by the presence of others in a classroom.  The phenomenon is basically the fear of looking stupid, I think.  What if the question has just been answered and I missed that? What if my question is far too elementary?  I bet everyone else in the room already knows the answer to my question and I am wasting their time.


Older people can often shut that worry off and simply state that they are confused or that they would like to know a further point.  If they are not understood, they are willing and able to repeat the question or rephrase it, even multiple times.


Many of my generation have only experienced tests and examinations that were one shot deals.  Take the test and "pass" and you are basically ok.  "Fail" and you aren't and better luck to you next time.  That approach is not logically necessary.  It is possible to face a test as a shopping list.  Here are the items the teacher or school or examining body wants evidence that you know, can explain, can perform.  If you can't perform #3 and #7, you could be cleared on the rest of the items and provided further instruction and practice on those two that caused you trouble.  When it is time, you can try those two again.  If you pass, you have completed the instruction.  If not, we will look more deeply at what the problem seems to be for you and again offer more instruction and practice.  You will accomplish what you are after before long.


Of course, there is the matter of aging.  In teaching and law to name two areas, there may be license or reputation requirements of further education, continuing education, inservice education or re-certification.  A police officer may need to be recertified on the firing range.  Again, there may be a test or performance that will be passed or failed.



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


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Better version for reading

Looking over my blog, I see I goofed up what I sent.  Here is a link to the corrected version.
http://fearfunandfiloz.blogspot.com/

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

Eventually

Using my attention in meditation is a powerful tool.  Getting more sensitive to how I am thinking increases the flexibility of my mind so that I can employ different perspectives more completely and faster.  Say, for instance, that my father-in-law misses having his daughter in his house, there to talk to at the table and to enjoy.  He can't help seeing me as the beast who stole his daughter.  He is older and wiser than me and I know it.  I respect him and I know my wife loves him.  Normally, I would see things from their perspectives as well as my own and express my respect for him, for the father-daughter love between them and for the wonderful woman he helped create and raise.  But his power and maturity intimidate me.  I am threatened and you know the typical reaction of a threatened male animal - anger, gruffness, hostility, maybe a little (very adult, of course) petulance thrown in.

At least being aware of the state of my mind and emotions gives me a little insight into what I am doing inside.  I can respect the fear and threat I feel as normal biological tools of self preservation built into my DNA over millennia, nothing to be ashamed of, as such.  However, I can also see that a little love for my wife and her father would go a long way to helping us all get along together and appreciate the gifts and strengths we have.
 
Seeing my reactions for what they are, neither shameful nor a good guide to action, helps me find tools that take me and those I love to a better situation.  I may be too threatened at first to see past my reactions but the inner light that is trained by meditation shines as soon as it can on the whole situation.  I see his fears, my fears, her fears more clearly for what they are and I get the strength to tolerate them and work on both appreciating them and transforming them.  Even though I have practiced observing my mind and feelings, I don't always that the power to accept the layout of feelings and expressions right away but the back of my mind keeps bringing my attention back to what I am doing and thinking.  That gives me the chance to see things in their full implications and to work with them.


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


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sleepier

I spend a lot of time being sleepy and I don't like it.  At night, I sleep pretty well.  I have had a sleep-over at the local hospital's sleep lab.  Never found any pathology.  Sleep has been a pleasure all my life.  I am a rather antsy person and I think I have used my energy rather well during most days.  So, between jumping up and down and moving about, and doing some walking, short runs and the back exercises a physical therapist told me to do, I do get some use of my body and muscles during the day. I try to be a bit tired by the end of each day.


I have read about the optimum nap length in various places and I have come to the conclusion that 20 minutes has been found to be refreshing.  I often find that simply sitting in a chair and nodding off for just a few minutes of genuine sleep ends the sleepiness until bedtime.   I have mentioned the app "Sleep Genius" for iOS and Android.  It has been helpful and so have the notes on the Sleep Genius website.


I read somewhere that a cup of coffee elevates one's pulse about 3 beats per minute.  Using my oximeter, I find that breathing deeply and rapidly for about 20 counted breaths gives me at least that much increase in heart beat speed for a little while.  Sometimes, if I am not going to frighten those around me, I breathe rigorously for that many breaths and it does pep me up but not as much as even 2 minutes of actual sleep.

Once my granddaughter and I visited my father.  He and my stepmother were talking in the living room and during a lull in the conversation, he nodded off to sleep.  His wife shouted that they had company and he should wake up.  Once, in his 90's, he fell asleep while driving and drove into a tree.  I am going to try to avoid such problems as I age.  Hope I can.


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


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Digesting the Now and other Times

Prof. Jennifer Maier writes that your dog will not share your sorrows with you since dogs "can only digest the Now."  I really appreciate the word "digest".  I looked up what dogs can't eat and there is disagreement between sites but onions, avocados, grapes or raisins, chocolate and very fatty meats like bacon have a bad name.


In some instances, the gut that digests our food is said to be a second brain.  Makes sense that the body needs intelligence about what to accept for digestion and what not to.  Dogs tend to be considered carnivores while humans are classed as omnivores, meat-eaters v. everything-eaters.


It makes sense to think of dogs and other animals as being able to digest the Now better than future or past times.  Still, it is clear that many animals can remember.  When you pick up the leash and the dog acts excited, you can tell it is anticipating a walk.  If you startle a squirrel, you can tell it knows the way to its tree.  Eckhart Tolle said,"I have lived with several Zen masters and all of them were cats."


You can get an advantage dealing with feelings, memories, regrets and hopes by being able to focus on the Now, this instant, quite definitely not just like any other instant, before or since, in your life or others.  However, it doesn't take very long before the human value of, indeed need for, the past and the future raise their cute little heads. When we remember of the last meal we had at that restaurant, our last experience dealing with that store, the pleasure of the last couple of books by that author, we make use of our past and what we can remember of it.  Putting money aside today so we can buy a Chromebook in the future, planning a trip and checking the likely weather on those days in that location - we have many ways and plans that we project into the future, sometimes more than one generation ahead.



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


Monday, October 27, 2014

Aesthetic differences

In one of her routines, Paula Poundstone reports her mother's dejected comment when a jelly jar being used for a drinking glass was dropped and broken: "I can't have nice things."  The laugh is about thinking that a jelly jar drinking glass is a nice thing.  This morning, on Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac", I learned of the poems of Jennifer Maier, professor of English at Seattle Pacific University.  The poem "Rummage Sale" starts by asking for Aunt Phyllis's forgiveness for putting the odd set of cut glass bowls in the rummage sale, the ones she collected with the 13 boxes of Lux.


I was reminded of a friend's complaint that neither of her kids wanted the two towering and massive china cupboards she and her husband had used for decades.  It can be an unpleasant shock when none of your relatives wants the Wedgewood china or the shotgun or the necklace and bracelet that Grandma treasured.  How could my heart's treasure be out of style?  How could my childhood sanctuary of a neighborhood library be closed and boarded up?  Here, all my life, I have revered something and now it is destined to be trash?  That hurts.


Here is a simulation of a poem about old, previously treasured things.  I wrote it myself!


Cleaned His Attic


I finally got the attic straight,

Took Dad's old stuff away.

The strangest gear they'd ever seen

Was hauled through town today.


Both cameras with their splash attachments,

His painting done in boils,

His bowling saw and fishing sod,

And wine arranged in coils.


The weeping bags,

The matched golf tubs,

His torn seat music,

And Dad's old gold strumpet.


I never understood the rules,

I didn't used to try.

But Daddy must have been a sport,

His memory makes me cry.



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


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Back early, stunned

Door County, Wisconsin, is indeed a county that is also a peninsula.  It divides the waters of Green Bay from those of Lake Michigan, one of the "inland oceans" of world fame.  Door County is a favorite vacation spot all over the Midwestern US.  The small, quaint towns of Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Ephraim, Sister Bay, Ellison Bay and Gill's Rock are walk-through size.  They are all on the western side of the peninsula while Rowley's Bay, Bailey's Harbor and Jacksonport are on the eastern side. They are filled with restaurants and gift shops.  


Lynn is a nature lover and a half.  She gets energized by any county or state park and there are several in Door County that even I get uplifted by.  With a lovely blue sky and sunshine lighting up the leaves and mosses and rocks and waves, it gets easier and easier to get hypnotized by the beauty.  Things get to a point where just about everything I look at is beautiful.  Except for church steeples, nearly all the buildings are one or two story.  There are no skyscrapers.  There are many log cabins that are the size one man or family might build and live in.  There are some beautiful condos and large houses.


Each of the towns has a waterfront area and compared to Stevens Point, looks to me like a New England sea coast town.  The larger community of Sturgeon Bay, more or less at the beginning of Door County, includes private yacht builders and boats and nautical scenes and equipment are everywhere in all parts of the county.  But the nature lover and a half likes to spend her time on trails, in parks, and beside bodies of water away from people. 


Wikipedia says this about Door County:


Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,370 square miles (6,100 km2), of which 482 square miles (1,250 km2) is land and 1,888 square miles (4,890 km2) (79.7%) is water.[5] It is the largest county in Wisconsin by total area. The county also has 298 miles of shoreline. Locals and tourists alike refer to the area as the "Cape Cod of the Midwest". The county covers the majority of the Door Peninsula. With the completion of the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Canal in 1881, the northern half of the peninsula, in actuality, became an island.


To see the pictures that Lynn took, click here.


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


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

two computing ideas

Try a stylus - Lynn saw the Universal 4 in 1 stylus for sale in Wal-Mart for three dollars and bought it for me on a whim.  It is a flashlight, pen, laser pointer and stylus all in one.  The same product is available on Amazon for $10.  I try to carry pen and paper with me at all times but I probably actually use them once a month.  The stylus is just the end of the pen but it has a rubber bubble on it that simulates a fingertip enough that the iPad accepts a tap as coming from a finger.  The object increases one's reach, much as a mop covers a larger area faster that a scrub brush.  The actual tip is smaller than a finger so one's accuracy is better, less tapping a nearby link one didn't want.  Sweat, goo and general dirt accumulate on the touch screen less.  I don't use a smartphone which is smaller than my iPad Mini but I imagine a stylus would be even more important using one.


Sharing a large file, such as a video - Because of streaming, sending bits of a file as needed as in watching a movie, large files can be shared by way of Google Drive or other "cloud" services.  Even with Apple products, you can install Google Drive app for access.  Opening Google Drive, you can select files to upload to the Drive.  Then, you can open sharing of that item and let the general public or specific contacts view or edit the item. You will probably be called on to give yourself a logon and password for a Gmail account if you don't already have one.


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


Monday, October 20, 2014

Fwd: Cool Stuff

a friend sent this and it is worth looking at

 


 
 
The Space Age's latest.
The world's first virtual shopping center opened in Korea. All the products are just LCD screens that allow you to order the items by touching the screen. When you get to the counter, your items are already bagged and ready to go.
 
futuristic things
 
 
 
 
A cellphone you can bend as much as you like and it will still do everything a smart phone does.
futuristic things
 
 
 
 
Your personal computer ring can play music, check your email, give you alerts and even allows you to browse or chat with others.
http://imgur.com/ZQwtMCf
 
 
 
 
This man is demonstrating the ability of his prosthetic eye, which has a camera installed in it.
futuristic things
 
 
 
 
 
No longer using the camping stove just for cooking, a new line of camping stoves use the heat energy to power up lights and charge your phones or anything else you can charge by USB cable.
futuristic things
 
 
 
 
This trash can follows you around and calculates where to stand to catch your thrown garbage!
http://imgur.com/5Qnzl8D
 
 
 
This motion tracking table morphs its surface to mimic your movements, allowing you to control objects from the other side of the planet if you so choose.
http://imgur.com/Il8qIAP
 
 
This windowed door turns opaque whenever you lock it.
http://imgur.com/L3F2wRc
 
 
 
 
This incredible app translates signs from video and in real time!
http://imgur.com/e9auC4t
 
 
 
 
 
The new 'Google Fiber' has started deploying, and will offer users an internet connection that is about 100 times faster than what they are currently using.
 
futuristic things
 
 
 
 
 
When did car panels start looking like this advanced?
 
futuristic things
 
 
A stop sign using water to project the image
http://imgur.com/CQWbK6A
 
 
 
An example of the new E-Ink in action. An ink that stay flat on the page and can be printed but still moves on the printer page.
http://imgur.com/lhzHEWi
 
 
 
 
 
 
All of the functions these items that we used 20 years ago... Are now done by a single smartphone.
 
futuristic things
 
 
 
New casts can be printed with a 3D printer, are lighter, more comfortable and just as strong.
futuristic things
 
 
 
 
Bionic hands are now so advanced they can perform even delicate and complex movements.
 
http://imgur.com/PCYBZe6
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Carefree as a junco?

Juncos have been showing up in our backyard lately.  Light on their feet, they jump over each other and seem to have a happy free life.  I was wondering how life would be as a junco so I tried it.  Wow!  Once you get in the flock and listen to the grumbling and the fears, the backstabbing and the slander and the nasty gossip, you can be glad you are a human.  Turns out most of them have no ability to overlook the lack of fidelity, the food-grabbing, the generally "Me first" attitude.  Makes you wonder where they were brought up.


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


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Audio blog post

This is my first attempt to send a sound file of a blog post.  My sore back limits my time at the keyboard but I can talk into my iPad's "Voice Memo" app while in the recliner with a heating pad.  When I tried to play the file on a PC, it suggested Google Play as the program to use to hear it.  When I tried on a Mac, it played right off.  The file runs about 5 min. and it about the social effect of having or not having a college degree, especially among older people.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwZdV5Bu8AgdVUtLb3FwS2w4bW80WlJjYUs1eGU2di1VcDFB&authuser=0


Bill
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bill Kirby <olderkirby@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Oct 18, 2014 at 10:28 AM
Subject:
To: BillyG <olderkirby@gmail.com>





Friday, October 17, 2014

Music as medicine

Music is a fine mood enhancer, works powerfully and has no unwanted side effects.  Just listen to Pavarotti or Maori Songs and see if you are not feeling great by the end. You can expect to find things brighter and better after some fine music.  You have a gray day, with clouds?  Listen to some good music, maybe a Strauss waltz, and you realize that gray is pretty.  You realize it is cozy inside and that it is a good day for inside activities.


The effect is like wine or a cocktail but there are no calories and no challenges for your liver.  Maybe you have your house, your computer, your bedroom or your car all set so that good music is ready to go.  Newer cars are built to receive a iPod Shuffle or Classic or other mp3 player.  Amazon is all set to play snippets of songs and individual tracks so you can hear what it sounds like before downloading.  


Not all classical music is great and I am sure that plenty of music being written today is wonderful.  Not long ago, on Garrison Keillor's talent show, I learned of Mamuse.  Two women sing beautiful harmony.  Their album All the Way is sufficiently hypnotic that Lynn doesn't want to hear it anymore.  It becomes an "earworm", one of those pieces of music that is hard to stop replaying in your head.  Don't overdose.



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


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Increased sensitivity with age

I noticed the other day when I had my usual whiskey manhattan or black russian, I took a little extra care to drink it slowly and over a longer time.  Didn't help - I still felt it more than I like.  It seems to me that I can feel a change in my body instantly after a single swallow of wine or other alcoholic drink.  That is fine.  However, I don't like being dizzy or woozy.  I certainly don't want my judgment or balance or driving to be impaired.


About 4 to 6 weeks ago, the doctor advised Lynn to cut down on or free herself from caffeine.  She experienced a very rapid heartbeat when all she was doing at the time was reading a newspaper.  It happened a couple of times and she told the doctor about it. Oximeters are quite inexpensive and they can check one's heartbeat and blood oxygen level quickly and objectively.  We keep one around.


I guess it is fairly common for physicians to hear such things from older people, which might be anyone over the age of 65.  I make the coffee for us and I haven't had any new sensitivity show up but I don't think it will hurt me to cut down on caffeine or alcohol.  Just as I don't like being woozy or sleepy from alcohol, I definitely don't like to have any jitters or stomach upset from too much caffeine.  I don't overdo either one but I am interested in starting the day with coffee and marking the beginning of evening with a drink. We may get to the point where we have very small amounts, small enough that they would have seemed ridiculous at one time.


I did a little googling and found that lower muscle mass means less water in the body which leaves the drink to be stronger and less diluted.  Older people have slower metabolism so the drink stay in me as such longer.  The Betty Ford website also mentions that older people may handle a mixture of alcohol and other drugs and prescribed medicines differently from when they were younger and so might be sensitive and reactive differently.



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


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

some books

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Dr. Atul Gawande is the American born son of immigrant physicians from India.  He is a surgeon and author. He has written several clear, interesting and worthwhile books.  "Being Mortal" is his latest.  It is a bit tough to read, especially if you are 60 or older.  At that age, you know darned well you are deteriorating, that you face both more deterioration and death.  That is what being a mortal means: the clock eventually runs out.  Still, like anything else, human intelligence and experience matter.  Gawande knows about life, deterioration, decline, frailty and death.  Not death as an idea or abstraction but death as in no heartbeat and no breath coming in and out.


"The Open-focus Brain" and "Dissolving Pain" by Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins

When I had diverticulosis attacks of pain from the gut, I found I could stop the pain if I totally concentrated right on its essence, as deep and steady a concentration as I could manage, total. So total, I didn't otherwise think or move and usually fell asleep.   It seemed as though the pain mechanism was acting as a warning or notification.  If I concentrated right on it, there was no warning function and the pain ceased. There was no part of me that wasn't already alerted to the pain.


I have only begun looking into Dissolving Pain but it seems as though the book is about similar efforts to stop pain although the procedure is a bit different.  I will almost certainly get around to looking at their previous book "Open Focus Brain".  Their idea is about brain wave frequency and using "open focus", not concentrating on a single point but instead placing attention on open spaces between objects.


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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pills

Pills are strongly related to getting older.  More and more types are prescribed or seem like they are a good idea.  Lynn does our pills every Saturday morning.  Each visit to the doctor or even the emergency room includes a quick discussion of each sort of medicine listed as one we take.  I have taken fish oil and vitamin D for a long time, ever since I read about the importance of D for bone strength.  Paul Stitt started a bakery because he wanted to have some really good bread available and he wrote some books and articles about nutrition.  His son's broken thigh bone was a warning to keep the vitamin D levels high enough, even in sunless days of older age.


More serious prescribed meds for me include a beta blocker (affects part of the heart rhythm) and a statin (also for the heart).  Calcium and the controversial glucosamine, which one of my doctors recommends and the other finds pointless.  I have experimented with cinnamon and am now interested in tumeric.


The problems with taking pills are basically simple ones: take the dose you are supposed to take when you are supposed to take it, under conditions as specified.  Did I take the med?  At the right time?  In the right dose?  With water or food if specified?  Not with other not-indicated meds or foods?  But that already is five questions and they just pertain to one medicine.  When there is more than one, the situation is much more complex.  Older people, especially with mental problems or emotional problems or strong tremors or vision limitations may well need help.  Sometimes, they don't want help but they might need it anyhow.


Of course, if I am "supposed" to take a given medicine but I don't trust it or like its effects or side effects, I may hold a pill in my cheek and spit it out or slip it into my hand to drop behind the sofa.  If I triple my water intake or swallow the med with brandy instead of water, I can probably affect what the med does and when it does it.  I am confident that there are plenty of pills in my future and I intend to handle them carefully and consciously.  But I expect there will be errors.  It is not as simple as just taking a pill.



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


Monday, October 13, 2014

Calendar girls and guys

Maybe you saw "Calendar Girls" with Helen Mirren.  A group of older British women decide to raise money for the local hospital by making a calendar showing them in the nude.  I like the idea but I think that part of the trouble with the way we live now is too much emphasis on sex, sexual attractiveness, youthfulness, etc.  So, I think our local organizations should have a calendar, too, but the picture for each month should be a local woman alternating with a local man.


The pictures should be portraits carefully and imaginatively composed in a typical setting, fully clothed, that shows that person's natural looks.  Maybe they should just be head shots.  It may be the faces that have the most visual value.  We would accept applications and nominations for the final 6 men and 6 women.  We could aim the other way and take pictures for each month only when the "winners" have just stepped out of bed in the morning.  We would show the winners as they first see themselves in the morning mirror.


We will be taking orders sometime soon. Now that I think of it, maybe it would be more interesting to have women pick the women and men pick the men. I would like to have some sort of aged beauty show forth, the sort of looks that show accomplishment and admirable maturity.


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


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hands up!

For all the talk about our brains, justified though it is, I like to take a moment to think about hands.  We can do good things with thoughts but hands, fingers and thumbs to more than their share.  The item below about emotionally sensitive keyboards got my attention but so did the interesting series of apps for iPad that come from "My Script", a series of word and math apps that take in handwriting on the touch pad surface and convert it to print or save as it in picture form. Their website show a 6 sec. video of handwriting, math notation and even music notation being quickly converted to type-set figures.

IMG_0125.JPG

The software read this as "Singer tip" but otherwise put it in print properly.

http://www.myscript.com/


The website says that there are more than 200 million users worldwide.  I imagine that Asian languages are much easier by such hand gestures. Their "MY Script" calculator is surprising at the range of math it can do instantly.  If you are like us, you spend hours in 10th grade calculating the sine of 5 or other trigonometric functions.  You scribble out sin (5) or even [ sin (5)] to the 6th power and the answer comes instantly.  I realize you don't do that sort of calculation but it is fun to fool with the My Script calculator.

Keyboard detects emotions based on typing style

Have you ever typed out an angry letter? Did you smash each key as if the force of your typing might somehow be transferred to its recipient? Well, scientists are now hoping to train keyboards to recognize our emotions based on how we type. The keyboards were programmed to recognize joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame, or guilt,LiveScience reports, with joy and anger being the most easily recognizable (87% accurate and 81% accurate, respectively). I wonder if my keyboard, with a little upgrade, could've sensed my incredulity as I typed this up.





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

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ordinary heroics and everyday beauty

When I look up "first newspaper", I read about a newspaper published in Rome in the 1st century.  So, the idea of the news has been around for a long time.  Once, during the last 40 years, a local professor submitted an item to the campus newsletter that said he had spent the previous month in the library reading.  We all know that such an item would not usually be considered news.  A guy who is supposed to read plenty is reading plenty.  If you see him reading, you will see a man looking at a book or a magazine.  He might turn a page while you watch but that is about all you can expect to see.  What gets into the media, indeed what gets into our consciousness, is often movement, excitement, danger, difficulty.  It might be positive information that makes us happy, such as the local high school team winning an important game.  But ordinary activities don't usually make it onto our radar.  They can't be expected to.  There is too much going on.  Besides, we need to keep some notice available for the latest breaking alert that we might need to pay attention to.


So, all the more reason to look around once in a while for admirable activity that is typical but still heroic, still valuable, something we should be thankful for or we might want to copy.  There is plenty of it around us all the time.  Keeping the roads in repair, the electricity flowing through the wires, keeping emergency rooms open and grocery shelves stocked, clothes getting dry cleaned - things go on all the time that we need or gain from and appreciate.


Autumn is a good time for looking for unusual activities.  As the trees prepare for winter, a maple that hasn't caught your eye for months can surprise you in bright yellow, standing in the sunlight where it has stood for years but now demanding appreciative notice.  In the same way, the driver who has delivered ice cream to the local coffee shop for years might suddenly stand out as a reliable, steady source of good stuff that I have enjoyed for years.  That ice cream requires many heads and many hands to get to me.  Here in autumn, I can try to be extra appreciative.


The media and the beauty industry focus on our biological wiring, using pictures of young women in the prime of biological readiness.  Our eyes are drawn to such bodies and such skin.  But we older men know that wrinkled skin, droopy eyes, bigger tummies have their own beauty.  We can see beauty every day in the woman who has lived, has accomplished, has learned and knows.  Made-up eyes or dyed hair can detract from the real beauty in living beings all around us.  We have even reached the point where we can see the beauty in men, including older men, the everyday achievements and melodic calm of adults all around us.



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


Friday, October 10, 2014

Managing: keeping order, challenging, encouraging

Whether it is caring for an infant or a wound or being cautious with money, it interest me how much of what we do seems to be a form of sport fishing, the activity where the fish is strong enough to break the line and get away if we allow that to happen. So, we nurse the line, reeling in when we get a chance but giving way temporarily and letting the line back out.  We keep shortening the line every chance we get but not providing the opportunity to snap the line.


Teaching is like that: we challenge some when introducing new material or a higher standard of performance.  But we don't' want to over-challenge or exhaust.  We need to offer appropriate rests and variety and breaks.


I have read that the highly regarded Finnish schools provide a 15 minute break each hour.  An experienced educator I know recommends delivering material for no more than 7 continuous minutes before offering a chance to question or to apply the material.  Television ads are often overwhelming in speed and variety, to the point where you can't remember what the ad was one minute ago.  We do have info-mercials that run for 30 minutes or more but well-made ones need to change the pace and offer a variety of shots to keep interest.


The urge to complete the task can cause wasteful hurrying and result in lowered achievements in the long run.  True, there is no point in wasting time and letting the fish swim for too long but a little nursing can vastly extend what we manage to land.



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


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