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.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Story of a trip

I am reading "The Jew in the Lotus" by Roger Kamenetz.  A friend gave me a paper copy.  I misread the title for quite a while and thought the book was called The Jewel in the Lotus.  Then, I thought the actual title must be about the JuBu phenomenon, the large number of Jewish people who have been attracted to Buddhist thought.  But it is actually about the Dalai Lama being interested in the history and practices of the Jews and their demonstrated ability over 2000 years to remain faithful to their traditions, their culture and their beliefs despite strong and even deadly opposition and dispersion.  A group of Jewish religious and thought leaders, writers and teachers made a group trip to Dharamsala, the town in India to which the Dalai Lama fled from his native Tibet. The Chinese army invaded Tibet in 1950 and the Chinese have worked steadily at undermining Buddhism and the native Tibetan government since then.

Whatever the reasons for meeting, Jewish and Buddhist people have plenty to offer each other.  The book by Kamenetz is well-written and offers open-eyed observations about what intelligent and interested observers saw and felt about the trip, the people, the culture and ways of getting along.  I have been inspired to make several tweets of passages from the book.  The party of 20 or so flew from the US to India and landed there at 4 AM local time.  Even at that hour, they were met by a large, loud and active crowd of beggars, including children and very disabled people, seeking anything they could get.  

Seeing the poverty and the masses of people, the author realized that a Jewish tradition that it is the mission of the Jews to "repair the world" might be too ambitious:

My exposure to India, though brief, had been staggering. I had traveled extensively in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, so I knew what third world poverty looked like. But nothing could have prepared me for the total density of suffering. The immense need of the people, the vibrant anarchy of their lives, and the variety of costumes, physiognomy, and activity had left me drained. Certain images kept returning with an absolute force: the leper's finger stumps thrust into my face, the mother holding her infant up to our cab, and from our first hours, that corpse surrounded by a circle of white stones. My heart was torn and tender. I believe in tikkun olam—that the world can be repaired. And that belief requires action: being a Jew means put up or shut up. In my own life that made sense. But in India, the idea that any individual could grasp, let alone modify, such a vast quantity of suffering felt absurd.

Kamenetz, Rodger. The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet's Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India (Plus) (pp. 36-37). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Onion slices in the breakfast cereal

I am usually up for some culinary adventures and new tastes but I don't know if slices of onion in with the shredded wheat is a good idea.

Oh, no, they aren't onions.  It's that fruit that we met in the Hilo, Hawaii Chinese market: rambutan.  Sweet but weird.  The good part is inside.  I actually bought these in the local Wal-Mart.  Don't let it scare you.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Aging kids

My kid says she is getting older and doesn't feel much like a kid anymore.  She has gray hair, her husband has retired and she has grandchildren.  Maybe she is right.

When your children and your grandchildren are competent, well-functioning adults, one of the primary drives, to reproduce, can be checked off as completed.  Of course, I can worry about my grandchildren's children, their future prospects, the sort of world they will live in.  But every time I start doing that, I see that the great-grandchildren will marry and have children.  I don't want to start fretting about still another generation.  

I have experience with older people like me feeling sure that everything is going downhill and there is everything ahead is dire, dangerous and damaging.  I have read "Sapiens" by Harari and I am reading his book "Homo Deus" (Man, the God).  I know the old fear that invariably people, especially men, can get the idea that they have everything bagged, conquered and under control.  I do realize there are many dangers and problems in the world.  But I also know that virtually all old people focus on what has deteriorated, what has "gone downhill", what has changed for the worst, and fear for the future.

Even the professional futurists tend to underestimate the flexibility, imaginativeness, and adaptability that humans are capable of.  You may have heard of the horseshit hypothesis, that the city of New York will drown in horse manure once its population gets high enough.  This idea seemed to a problem without a solution when transportation meant so many horses per one hundred humans.  The math was impressive and the city went way past the density and size where it seemed a problem but the trick was that horses were virtually eliminated.  

If you want a shot of optimism, take a look at Harari's books.  Or look at Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined."  Our history has been unfolding toward better lives for quite a while now.  Take a look at the early 1800's in "What Hath God Wrought" by Daniel Walker Howe to see how miraculous the railroad and the telegraph were. Consider better education today and better recognition of the need for good education as well as a better grasp of what a good education is.  

I think the kids are doing well.  They have lots of promise.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Take a deep, slow breath

I think I understand basic meditation and the values of increased awareness that 10 minutes a day of meditation brings.  A typical focus of one's attention with such mind training is the breath.  A conscious inhalation and an equally deliberate, conscious exhalation gives the meditator something to anchor attention.  That way, drifting off of conscious breathing into thought of what to make for dinner is more easily noticed.  That noticing is what is being sharpened, noticing what is on one's mind, deciding if that is what is desired at this time.  Returning attention to the breath over and over increases awareness of the mind's activity, which is mindfulness.


However, the breath itself is a powerful and interesting part of our lives.  "The Breathing Book" by Donna Farhi and many other books are about improving mood, overall health with better breathing.  I have often found that the psychologist Gay Hendricks and his sometime co-author and wife Kathlyn write in my language and offer good assistance, support and ideas.  Their book "Conscious Breathing: Breathwork for Health, Stress Relief and Personal Mastery" contains enthusiastic references to what can be done with the breath.  Hendricks is a practicing psychologist and his wife is an experienced dancer.  Their books "Conscious Living" and "Conscious Loving" are helpful for Americans who are interested in adapting ideas and practices from other cultures and from scientific research when there are benefits to be had.  


I have had the "Conscious Breathing" book in the back of my mind since I read some of it a few years ago.  At the time, I was interested in the fact that being as fully aware of my breathing as I am able is something I can do without looking weird or exotic.  I can do it with my eyes open and I can close my eyes and completely relax, all the while staying with my breath.  The book "Joy on Demand" by the Chinese American Google engineer Chad-Meng" Tan repeatedly refers to concentrating on breathing as a tool for meditation.


"Conscious Breathing" is so enthusiastic about careful, full breathing as a tool in itself for both mental and physical health that I gave the practice a bit of a workout today.  Some people can do anything by itself, but I have something of an obsession with time and duration.  When meditating alone, I usually use 8 minutes on my favorite timer, the one on the clock on the first page of apps on the iPad.  Today, I wanted to try more breathing and try it in several ways.  Gay Hendricks emphasizes, as do many breathing instructors, the value of belly breathing.  When extending the belly instead of puffing out the chest, the lungs actually get fuller, better filled.  Hendricks says that some people are so afraid of having a bulging belly that they are reluctant to breathe fully.  I'm not.


I did four very conscious minutes on a hard chair and four more each on a reclined recliner, a meditation cushion, a different cushion, and standing.  I intend to give myself more trials but it seems as though my general mood gets elevated without my trying to raise it when I really fill my lungs slowly and slowly and thoughtfully exhale.  I read that the body actually extracts oxygen from the air on the exhalation so maybe better breathing gives me an oxygen boost.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rousing talk

I think my experience of movies is rather limited and one-sided.  It is somewhat the same with literature.  Over the years, I have picked up informal acquaintance with Moby Dick (it's about a whale) and Jane Eyre (it's about foggy moors).  I am interested in seeing some of the great movies I have never really watched.  Which movies?

I learned about "Movies for Grownups", a feature of AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons.  I am a retired person and reasonably grown-up.  I have seen my share of buildings being blown up, cars being blown up and people being hurled backwards while being blown up.  I am to the point where I find "Learning to Drive" a much more satisfying movie than more things being blown up.  I guess it was on the Rotten Tomatoes website that I saw a link to a list of the 100 greatest movies.

I am interested in the theories and technology of evaluation.  Deciding on the best this or that involves judgment of many sorts, starting with which variables should be used.  I have a friend who is a specialist in movie music and soundtracks.  I get the feeling that elementary kids are warned these days against making a movie or a video without a soundtrack, preferably played incessantly and irritatingly, obscuring any talking or narration.  I looked up "100 best movies" and found several lists, which, of course, don't agree with each other.  I have heard that "Citizen Kane" is usually considered a great movie.

Last night, I watched some of it.  I learned somewhere that it is based on the life of William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper publisher who lived from 1863 to 1951.  I often recall Lynn's experience in a graduate course that explained the phenomenon of the all-knowing male narrator.  The first part of the film is a newsreel as was played in American movie theaters before television news.  It reviews the life of the great man Kane but is delivered in the "be impressed if you have any brains at all" tone that makes me feel I am being shouted at by a big pushy person holding the labels of my jacket.

Just a couple of years ago, I did give Moby Dick an authentic try, authentic by my definition anyway.  No go.  Last night, I gave Citizen Kane a try but got fatigued by the phony impressiveness and the phony tension and never made it all the way through.  We did visit the Hearst "castle" in California a few years ago and I left feeling somewhat sad for the man.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Anti Autoplay Blues

I love having Netflix and Amazon video ready to stream.  I have watched some great shows and I plan to watch more.  But, I want to explore, read the descriptions and decide.  I strongly dislike the autoplay feature on Netflix where all I have to do is pause on a show's icon and it starts to play.


I have heard of binge watching but I don't like to binge anything.  Mindless consumption, what I suppose is slack-jaw gaping at whatever pops up on the screen is not for me.  I want the chance to look, to consider, to ponder even.  I used to be able to move up the screen above the links to what I have been watching and look at possibilities without having them instantly begin playing. Now, I find that the upper area of categories has the same dumb immediate play feature I fled from below.

I watched a TED talk by Tristan Harris, former Google employee with a responsibility for ethics.  His talk focuses on the control of opinion that gets exercised by Facebook and other computer features.  He mentions that some sort of autoplay is part of Facebook, which I don't participate in.  But, he says, once Google, Instagram and Twitter see what Facebook does, they want to do it, too.  I guess this autoplaying stuff is an example of a feature hopping from program to program.

Please join the World Anti Autoplayers (WAA) and petition your national, state and local government, your local churches and news outlets to work against this sneaky thief of individual choice and consideration, this unAmerican practice.  It's a gateway drug to more binge watching and will ultimately destroy our world and our cherished way of life!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Oh goodie!

I realized that I get impatient with some speakers.  They seem too slow, too reluctant to say what the hell they are trying to say.  Then, with a little nudge from Buddhist practice, I asked myself  Who is impatient?  And, I threw in the additional question, Why?  No surprise: It's moi!  And why?  Because I, I, I decided the communication was too slow.

I am not the greatest at loving and showing appreciation.  I decided this arbitrary impatience should be worked on.  I do believe that virtually anything can be improved.  The idea is to put my attention on a specific sort of improvement and work at it.  Practice!  And while doing, also take a look at what the internet in general has to say about it, and what Amazon can download to my Kindle and what is waiting on YouTube to help me. Amazon showed me "Patience" by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin.  Nice little book.  Each page or two is a short piece on an idea of patience.

One of the first pages was about the present.  I took to the idea right off.  When I am feeling impatient, I can simply drop the feeling, shelve it for now,and visit The Present Moment.  Right now, this instant. I have read "The Power of Now" by Tolle and his "Stillness Speaks".  I understand that a big chunk of my thoughts have to do with the future: later, tomorrow, when I grow up, etc.  I have practiced letting go of imaginations of the future and sitting happily in the present. It is fun and also refreshing to just sit there, breathing the air of Now.

Rabbi Pliskin and others have made it clear that my picture of any part of the future is only a picture, not reality.  I have some good pictures of the past and of the future but I don't need to take them too seriously.

Meanwhile, my broadband has been slowing down.  More and more, I find that I click on a link and get the message that I am not connected to the internet.  But I am and I know I am.  It is my local connection that is slow or missing or otherwise occupied. Ha!  Heaven-sent opportunities to be patient.  Random moments of patience lessons just for me.  I don't feel really called on to make some contributions to my internet provider above and beyond the healthy bill I pay each month.  But I think I should actually call the local office and thank them for the way they are slowing down my service, giving me good chances to pay attention to heaven-sent opportunities to redirect energy from impatience to patience, to gratitude for the patience lessons. Just as I expected, I am beginning to savor those messages that the server cannot be found, that I am without recourse and need to just continue trying and trying, patiently, happily.  I am actually getting better at honestly doing that.

Monday, August 7, 2017

What did I do yesterday?

Friends ask me what I have been doing.  I don't know.  I can't call up yesterday and I didn't make any recordings of the day.  It bugs me that I know I lived through the whole day and I must have spent it somewhere doing something.  I ate breakfast, I am pretty sure.  I looked at my email.  I probably had some fun experiences or insights but I can't recall any.

So, I decided to try journaling.  I bought a notebook at Staples that looks just like our composition notebooks back before the present age.  They looked like these:  Well, only the black and white ones.  This is all before the days of color.  Now that I think of it, there was a time before color and I know it has been noted and researched.  No color tv, only a few colors for cars, no green or blue hair and our notebooks were black and white. We had no tennis shoes in neon colors.  Oh, it was stern!

It turns out that when I purposely record notes about yesterday, I have trouble.  I can't stop writing.  Suddenly, I recall this which leads to a total recall of that which totally deserves several comments, several of which are just begging for an additional witticism or flippant remark.  As my 8th grade girl friend remarked recently, some academic types feel the need to footnote everything and supply bibliographies.  One day, I may well appreciate having sources and references that pertain to some of the wild claims I make. I have difficulty just asserting something without pointing to affirmative evidence for my statement.

A question that comes to mind as I am grinding out words is "Am I ever going to use all this writing?"  I actually have tried journaling before, many times.  We both have notebook stacks, all the times we tried to make a diary before.  I start off with a bang, writing away.  But then I get sick or have to take a trip and leave the book at home or simply get tired of writing. In no time, a description of what I bought in the supermarket yesterday gets trite, even to write, much less read five years from now.  Every notebook of a previous journal attempt is empty for the last 75% of the pages.

I plan to keep at it for a while, watching my brain.  My main purpose is to increase my awareness of the highlights of the day before.  I want to be able to respond intelligently about what the heck I have been doing.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What should they learn?

My friend and I are scheduled to discuss an old question in education: is it better to try and give an education that tries to cover everything or better to train specifically for a particular occupation or specialty? Both approaches have well-known downsides.

It is well-known that if you start studying on the very day you are born, you won't have covered everything by the day you die.  So, of course, the liberal arts/humanities education can only "hit the highlights."  So, whether your physics instruction was limited to high school or you have a full physics major from college, you still don't know all that much about physics.  Get a PhD in physics and you will know more but you will also be much more aware of what you still don't know.

You can go the other way and get training for a very specific job and forget about broad knowledge.  That can and does work quite well, but it can also leave you confused and fearful, with big gaps in your understanding of the world and both its possibilities and its dangers. You may also find that the very specific job you have trained for has become obsolete and is no longer needed. The way things are going these days, you will almost certainly find that new learning and skills must be mastered, no matter what sort of work you do.

Most of the discussions about broad education vs. specific are about young people, say 20 years old or less.  However, as society and its ideas change, and as longevity is achieved by more people, education and exploration of ideas and subjects attracts more people of older ages. I often think that romantic or blow-'em up movies can become repetitious and real subjects gain attraction.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Getting new insights and besides, it's fun

I don't like to overdo sending information but some things are quite impressive.  Here is an example from the American Association for the Advancement of Science: 

Goats, bookworms, a monk's kiss: Biologists reveal the hidden history of ancient gospels

At Oxford University's historic Bodleian Libraries, books are such privileged objects that scholars are forbidden to bring in pens, purses, sharp objects, or drinks. But scientists have recently figured out how to sample books for ancient DNA and proteins without damaging them. Such studies are revealing the organisms that interacted with ancient books, from the animals whose skins are preserved as parchment to the bookworms and people who once lingered over the pages. Researchers can even isolate the microbes spewed on manuscripts when people kissed, coughed, or sneezed.

Tea and systems

In the 1980's, there was interest in W. Edwards Deming and various ways to increase the quality of processes and manufacturing. Maybe you have heard of "Six Sigmas" and other programs aimed at studying all sorts of mistakes and failures, often in machine performance but also in people's work and behavior.  The name refers to attempts to find ways to avoid even very rare mistakes or types of failure.  The title "quality control" is sometimes used for the statistical and psychological study of how to lower the probability of errors and increase satisfaction and level of service.

As in the areas of genetics and also traffic accidents, we can work on making better systems of manufacturing and of training but regardless, the world, any systems or operations we work and we ourselves are always changing.  There is good reason to believe we humans change faster and more totally than just about anything else on earth, except maybe the weather.  On top of that, many people in the world are currently charmed with the picture of innovation.  How about if I retreat to my garage and invent a new and wonderful gadget?  Others have done it and with imagination and grit, have become rich, while changing the world.

As you may have experienced, some people can find intense pleasure in outlining and carrying out what seems like a perfect plan.  If I can get some venture capitalists to believe in me and my plan, I can finance the construction of my new, great gadget and launch into a new and better life.

The thrill of having a knock-their-socks-off plan, a system that I have tested and examined, improved and perfected can get overwhelming.  If only there weren't so many younger, stronger, smarter people trying the same thing. Plus, as soon as I get my system absolutely, totally perfect, the public's habits will change and my ideas will become obsolete. I have got to hurry!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Want this?

The juice is good but I don't mean that.  I mean the cap.  It could be rolled in clay to make a nice pattern.  

It can be a pain but the more we learn about each other, the more we can understand that different people see differently.  I see now that I took the picture on a slant and the table looks as though it is not level.  You may be worried that the bottle will slide and fall to the floor.  You may be thirsty.  He may see a sweet juice that he feels ought to be replaced by actual, whole fruit.  The grocer or his family may wonder why we didn't buy his brand of red juice while another may be glad we did.

It definitely NOT all in the eye of the beholder but which beholder can matter very much.  It can also matter when and where we view something.  There is a famous experiment where we ask people to watch some basketball players and count the number of passes they make back and forth.  The video is a famous piece of attention research.  Give it a try.

Thursday, August 3, 2017


If I take time to recognize ideas and realizations from observation and thinking, from reading, watching and conversations, I find that I get many each hour.  Some seem trite or repeats that I have noticed or thought before.  But others are surprising and intriguing.

Books can lead to thoughts but thoughts can lead to books, too.  I sent an ebook to a friend.  She is a specialist in the subject and it was very inexpensive.  She wrote back and her formal signature included information that got me thinking about academic life and the current emphasis on innovation in business training.  I have five messages from Amazon just this morning and that company tries to sell products every chance it gets.  So, I know about a book on innovation that I looked up.  It is somewhat more expensive than I want to pay so I went online to have the university library borrow it from elsewhere.

Friends' comments, passages in books, tasks I need to perform around the house – there are many subjects for a note about this or that.  I can picture a secretary or assistant, clipboard with paper and pencil in hand, following me around all day, making a note about this and that.  These days, I could make a video or an audio recording but written items are much faster to look through than trying to find something on a recording.

Lynn makes pottery but she also looks at pottery and ceramics groups on Facebook and elsewhere.  She too makes notes and sketches of ideas that are of interest.  I am interested in the techniques and technology of notes and reminders.  What is the most convenient form for them?  Where are they best kept to easy location and browsing?  I don't even know whether what is happening today is more often a good stimulus for a blog post or if one of five headings I think of or choose from recent notes is more likely to strike a chord with me.

It takes a little more confidence to just open a blank page and start composing that I usually have.  So, I need an inspiration.  Or, at least, I think I do.  Once I have the feeling under my belt that I know what I want to write, I can sit down and compose.  I see that I often get off on a new slant while composing but I need what seems inspirational, what feels satisfactory to get started.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dealing with deeply unpleasant change

I get a statement from Prof. Eric Barker every Sunday. His blog Barking

Up the Wrong Tree and his recent book of his posts take on a problem that tends to bother people and gives ideas and research results aimed at handling the matter.  This past week, the problem was dealing with tragedy.

Barker starts off listing three main ideas that often cause trouble:

After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that three P's can stunt recovery: (1) personalization -- the belief that we are at fault; (2) pervasiveness -- the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and (3) permanence -- the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever... Hundreds of studies have shown that children and adults recover more quickly when they realize that hardships aren't entirely their fault, don't affect every aspect of their lives, and won't follow them everywhere forever.

Depending on the problem, your personality and your age, it seems likely that some seriously negative event may seem, especially during a period of grieving and regret, that it was your fault.  It may have been.  You might have caused it, contributed to it.  You and others might know for sure that if you had been more alert, more imaginative, more careful, things would have gone better.

But, as Byron Katie says, the thing about the past that she loves is that it is over.  What happened, happened.  You can start working today on practices and actions with a good chance of avoiding a repetition but it is quite likely that something is still going to happen in the future that you won't like and that is, at least partly, your fault.  If you hadn't been born, if you had died years ago, if you had been somewhere else, if, if, if.

It was really the second point that got my attention.  When someone looks back on their life to an event or a choice or a decision that was definitely important, they sometimes emphasize the importance by thinking or saying "That changed me forever".  But I say, yes, it did.  However, every minute changes you forever and every minute changes me forever.  We often can't see anything special about the last minute or yesterday that makes an important change.  Just because we can't spot anything important doesn't mean there wasn't anything significant and important there.  We are changing all the time and so is everything else.  Try to swallow that and accept that and enjoy the changes that you can.

By the way, if X changed you "forever", then along may come a Y that changes you back, for a long, long time, if not forever.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I greet therefore I am

I am interested in greetings.  I wrote "Greet-ology" ten years ago.

 This morning, three of us were walking through the neighborhood.  We said good morning to several neighbors but it seemed to me that sometimes we look down on the act of greeting.  I mentioned that Eric Berne wrote in "What Do You Say After You Say Hello" that greeting people was good for your spine and for the spine of the person greeted.  My friend said,"I greet, therefore I am."

I wrote the post on greeting well after experiencing both college and college teaching through the mechanism of greeting.  I enjoy trying to tailor a greeting to just the right voice tone and timing.  How far from the greeted should I be when I greet?  Does the greeted person seem to feel invaded ?  Does the greeted person smile back or growl?





exclamation: hello; exclamation: hallo; exclamation: hullo

  1. 1.

  2. used as a greeting or to begin a telephone conversation.

  3. "hello there, Katie!"

  1. synonyms:

  • hi, howdy, hey, hiya, ciao, aloha

  • "hello, Maxie, how've you been?"

  • British

  • used to express surprise.

  • "hello, what's all this then?"

  • used as a cry to attract someone's attention.

  • ""Hello below!" he cried"

  • expressing sarcasm or anger.

  • "hello! did you even get what the play was about?"


noun: hello; plural noun: hellos; noun: hallo; plural noun: hallos; noun: hullo; plural noun: hullos

  1. 1.

  2. an utterance of "hello"; a greeting.

  3. "she was getting polite nods and hellos from people"


verb: hello; 3rd person present: helloes; past tense: helloed; past participle: helloed; gerund or present participle: helloing; verb: hallo; 3rd person present: halloes; past tense: halloed; past participle: halloed; gerund or present participle: halloing; verb: hullo; 3rd person present: hulloes; past tense: hulloed; past participle: hulloed; gerund or present participle: hulloing

  1. 1.

  2. say or shout "hello"; greet someone.


early 19th century: variant of earlier hollo ; related to holla.

Translate hello to

Use over time for: hello

Looking up "holla", I find "Ho - la" in French and

Holla | Define Holla at

As a command to get attention, from 1580s. As an urban slang form of holler (v.) and meaning "greet, shout out to," it was in use by 2003.

I find that in many circumstances, shortening "Good morning" as a wish for the other person to have a good day into merely "Morning" works well.  I suspect that if I were younger, I would accept "Hey!" more completely.  In my younger days, such a greeting was sometimes answered,"Hay is for horses."

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