Saturday, March 31, 2018

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History of alcohol benefits v. history of milk benefits

I want to find someone to give a talk on the history of human benefit from alcohol.  We watch "The Indian Doctor" on Acorn TV streaming. He moves into a Welsh mining town with his Indian wife.  Neither of them are experienced in living without servants. In order to be friends with the men, and a few women, of the town, he needs to go to the pub.  He is impressed with the capacity for drink that the men show.

Many churches serve wine in the Mass.  There are toasts at wedding banquets and a good dinner starts with drinks of one alcoholic type or another.  

I looked up a little information on beer, wine and spirits.  What I found said that beer was older and the first to be understood.  Wine came next and is 2 or more times as alcoholic as most beer. Distilled spirits such as gin, vodka, and whiskey, drinks that demanded more understanding of alcohol followed eventually.  I have read that a large portion of traffic accidents and crimes involve alcohol and I know that alcoholism ruins many lives. But it also seems to me that a fair presentation of the case of humans and alcohol would include the comfort of the little brown jug, the elation produced by a good drink,and  the romances launched in a tipsy state.

So far, I haven't found a speaker for the subject. But I am aware of this Amazon page:  

While thinking about the topic and a speaker, I had a glass of milk at lunch.  The glass reminded me of my alcohol interest but at the same time, I realize that milk is the basic food for all us humans and our mammal (breastfeeding) cousins.  I imagine there was a time when the presence of milk meant life for the newborn and its absence spelled death. Now I am aware of this Amazon page:

Friday, March 30, 2018

Often is better than long

Stop trying!  That is difficult but sometimes it is deeply valuable.  If you have faith in yourself, you can rely on the fact that after you stop trying, after you relax and wait and after you get into some diversion, you will bounce back.  After a rest, a Sudoku, a movie, you will remember that you were trying and now it might be good to go back and try again.

When I read about trying to meditate, I know I am reading about a very valuable practice.  However, I am part of a large historical group that is fascinated with trying. Trying hard.  Ecclesiastes 9:10 - do it with all your might! Well, there are several kinds of might. One of them is personal confidence in yourself, that very self that you know to be iffy, somewhat washy, not always up to speed.  But still, if you have a little faith in your resilience, your bounce-back-ability, you will find that when your hand and your back and your impulse are tired and you slink away to taking a break, you will become rested.  Your mind will reflect on what it was that you were doing and you will remember what you were trying to do. You will try again!

Many of the comments and directions on meditating and training yourself to notice what you are doing with your attention and your mind emphasize duration.  I am advocating a different tack. Amit Sood in "Mindfulness Redesigned" shows that many people, most, in fact, fail to make use of a simple procedure that can enrich their lives and their thinking.  The procedure is meditation:

  • Sit comfortably but upright

  • Focus on something you can see

  • Keep your gaze on that something for 2, 5 or 10 minutes.

  • At the end of your chosen duration, stop.

The first book that I saw that did not prescribe 24 minutes or 45 minutes or more was "QR: The Quieting Reflex" by Charles Stroebel, MD.  At a traffic light, waiting for the phone to be answered, in those little moments, take advantage of the chance to relax, to take a deep breath.  Chade Meng Tan, Google engineer, says that he and his 2 year old both meditate for as long as a software engineer can manage, 2 minutes. Later, in "Joy on Demand" he says he knows how long it takes to benefit from deliberate, conscious awareness: one breath.  It just takes a moment, especially if repeated often. Your mind and your life, you, your family and friends will benefit.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

10 year anniversary of this blog

I had another blog before “Fear, Fun and Filoz.”  The first entry in this one is “Return to blogging”, posted on March 29, 2008.  As I began this one, I thought of the writing as a way of reflecting, considering, re-thinking and reviewing my days.  It has definitely turned out to be exactly that.

Because of difficulties recently, I emailed every person on my own blog mailing list and asked if that person wanted to continue getting each post in email.  About 10% of the old list said yes. There is a gadget on the blog web page that allows someone to subscribe to the postings. I have never used it and I don’t know how well, how conveniently it works, nor how many people, if any, use it.  Google’s Blogger allows quick, free blogging and the settings for a blog you make include information about where those who have the “page” transmitted to their cellphones and computers are. My leading sources of viewers are the US, Russia and France but smaller numbers show up from all over the world.

This blog makes use of the Blogger service of Google but there are several alternatives, such as WordPress and others.  Blogger allows my blog for no charge. I might incur some costs if it were to get a large readership but I doubt that is going to happen.  I am not sure what qualifies as large. With this post, I will have 3117 posts. When I am learning about someone, such as Tara Westover, PhD (“Educated”) or Amit Sood, MD (“Mindfulness Redesigned”), I often look them up on Google, Amazon and Twitter.  Much of the time, I find that the account has not been used for a year or more. There is nothing wrong with sparse and infrequent writing if the writer is not down on himself for laxity or some other accusation.

Twitter (I am “olderkirby” there) has changed to allow more pictures and sound, as have many other aspects of communication.  “Podcasts”, audio files transmitted in whole or streamed continuously are another way to communicate, in this case, by voice alone.  YouTube allows channels of videos but I haven’t made use of that other than this one:

Whether you consider a blog to be a diary, a journal, a bully pulpit or reflections on your life, as Michel de Montaigne did in the 1500’s, you may find your life richer and more socially connected if you write and put the result where it can be seen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Thinking with more freedom

I have found it helpful to remember Eagleman's explanation in "Incognito" that most of my brain is not my conscious mind.  Experiments show that decisions are made in the brain and body and one of the last things that happens is the conscious mind gets informed.  The CEO in the mind is only microseconds behind but much has been done before that message is sent to the boss.

Eagleman pictures the brain as a political body like Parliament or Congress.  When an issue divides the house evenly, the hot potato is tossed to the conscious mind.  In the past, much has been made of the rational, logical, supposedly emotion-free mind, the part that reasons clearly.  Men especially pick up the idea that they aren't governed by feelings and that emotions are a woman's thing.

I have been a male all my life and I can see that men have emotions.  Further, many therapists of various kinds say that one of the best ways to lessen the power of an emotion, say jealousy or rage or love, is to allow oneself to feel the emotion fully, to "sit with it", much as a friend might sit with another friend in the hospital.  It seems that quite a bit of evidence supports the notion that attempting to ignore or suppress an emotion generally strengthens its power. It seems to me that movies and real life both show men comforting a woman who has gotten to a tearful state. But, I watch just after that and it seems that the woman is freer to think about the whole issue to a larger extent than the man who says he doesn't feel anything but is clearly still in the emotion's grip.  

Monday, March 26, 2018

Let me know if you still want my blog emailed to you

My list is getting bigger and I am having trouble getting it emailed.  Let me know if you want it.  You can always see it on the web.  Bill

The little white-headed sweetie

I am enjoying the intelligent writing in “Mindfulness Redesigned” by Amit Sood, MD.  At one point, he mentions having difficulty with the concepts of quantum entanglement and rank dependent utility.  I wrote my dissertation about utility measures and subjective probability and his comment threw me back into thinking about attempts to create a set of axioms that encapsulate human assessment of risk and decisions to do this or avoid that.  

I have sat in many classrooms with a groups of people, some groups of age 7 and some of average age of 50.  The variety of directions that talk and action can take in such situations is quite broad. I found it much easier to stay relaxed but alert during twists and turns than to try to anticipate every possible which way the lesson might go.  So, I was interested in game theory and attempts to explain decision making mathematically but I have never felt that type of project was going to be very helpful in training teachers or conducting lessons.

When I think of surprising turns life in class can take, I often think of the little redheaded girl.  She is a little girl that we rarely get a chance to see but she is often in the thoughts of Charlie Brown, Charles Schultz’s famous comic strip hero.  Like Charlie, I have a head and eyes and nervous system that made it easy for me to notice girls, even in kindergarten. I understand the male impulse to try to impress the girls, even when we are too young to be able to explain much about the impulse or its consequences.  

Picture a mathematically inclined psychologist over in the corner of the casino, happily watching his model of human decision making being confirmed by the behavior at the slot machines and the roulette wheels, when all of a sudden, one of the men at the tables commits an act or refrains from acting in a way that is inexplicable.  See, what happened was the little redheaded girl came into the room! Ok, now she is a little white-headed girl but she is even more of a dish, a doll, a beauty that she was in the 2nd grade. She is infinitely more charming and Charlie has lost his interest in winning more chips. He might retire to his room and start writing to her.  He might retire to his room and record bitter regrets that he wasn’t bolder in the 2nd grade and in the 12th grade. Investigation may reveal that Charlie and she were married for three decades and he might be rejoicing in the fact that he is no longer her husband.

People are complex and tricky so stay loose! Don’t be too disappointed if artificial intelligence and machine learning have a difficult time explaining humans and their thoughts, desires and actions.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Exhibition of Pictures that Make Us Happy

This is a link to an exhibition by the Library of Congress called "Pictures that make us happy".  

Bouncing along

I thought it would be easy. It has been easy often. I have done it more than 3,000 times.  I wanted to pay attention to Lynn's frugality and skills. I knew there was a section of the Old Testament's book of Proverbs about wifely virtues. I usually read my posts to her before getting them ready to send out but this time, I wanted to surprise her and maybe avoid strong statements of modesty and such.  

I located some web sites of Biblical passages.  There are quite a few and of course there is more than one version of the Bible in English.  I like to stick to one version and the one I know best is the King James version. I was surprised when I pasted the section on wifely virtues that every line turned into a link.  It was awkward and distracting to read and I thought I had removed all the links. I thought that having many links increases the chance that my messages will be stopped by filters but that may not matter very much.  

So, I was surprised at something like 140 bounces.  I tried a different version of the passage and again got nearly 100% bounces.  The blog is titled "Fear, Fun and Filoz", my take on basics. We are alert to danger, we seek fun and then, maybe, we consider and ponder and question.  I used to put a signature on each email including the blog name but I decided that is too repetitious so I knew that there was a chance that some recipients would not know the blog's web address or name.

One of the odd parts of emailing posts to friends is that so much of it is completely opaque.  If something goes wrong, I don't know what it is. I guess this and guess that. When my morning post has many bounces, I can get riled up.  I feel like rolling up my sleeves and really getting into finding the cause and figuring out what I can do. I imagine that many emailers would do a similar thing but maybe it works better to determinedly to wait until later in the day or even a different day.   

I can use tools to see which of my emails are opened and which never are but I think that is very crude information.  I try to put some writing out there and let those who are interested read it or not. Besides, knowing an email was opened doesn't say how much it was enjoyed or benefited.

I found this interesting: (from A Marketer's Guide to Email Deliverability)

According to Litmus' research of 1.06 billion email opens, the top five email clients are:

  1. Apple iPhone's Mail app (28% of users)

  2. Gmail (16% of users)

  3. Apple iPad's Mail app (11% of users)

  4. Google Android's Mail app (9% of users)

  5. Outlook (9% of users)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Highlights from a good book

I enjoy writing about the events in my life and my thoughts.  Otten the thoughts are related to some book I am reading. Once in a while, I read a book that is printed on paper but usually, I read on a Kindle Voyage.   Several friends who are more or less my age also read on a Kindle, often the Kindle Paperwhite.

I have a Twitter account using the name "@olderkirby".  When I first used Twitter, I was encouraged to write about what was happening.  Since I am indeed old, sedentary and live a life filled with routine and repetition, I had all sort of resistance to writing "I am sitting down", "I am eating", "I am leaving the table."  I have 3926 statements, postings, called "Tweets". I enjoy seeing remarks in a book I am reading that are clever, memorable, valuable.

I am reading and enjoying Amit Sood's "Mindfulness Redesigned for the Twenty-First Century: Let's Not Cage the Hummingbird A Mindful Path to Resilience".  I use the Kindle Paperwhite to quickly post a Tweet of a passage that is one of those good ones. There are many very good statements in Sood's book so I am disappointed that the Paperwhite, this time, does not function the way it is supposed to.  All of the passages I have Tweeted are supposed to reside in the device and be available in a flie for me to send to my email. But that feature is not working. It has worked in the past. I used it to make the Dan Harris 10% Happier highlights page on my website, Kirbyvariety.

I did make a separate listing of the highlights from Sood's book.-------------------------------------------

A large body of research across several disciplines shows that much of our daily stress is because of brain overload that comes from excessive demands placed on us , lack of control , and an inability to find meaning .

I have never heard a CEO say , " Let's do less with more . "

The targets keep going up . Pressed by their boards , leaders in every industry are pushing for bigger numbers while , in at least some cases , ignoring the pain and burnout they are causing .

It breaks my heart to see that most large hospitals now have pediatric sleep apnea clinics in which obese ten - year - olds are being prescribed CPAP masks so they can sleep better . Kids who are lucky enough to dodge these demons get trapped in bullying , school politics , social - networking sites , and mountain of homework .

It is an effort to expand the reach of mindfulness to the brains that struggle with impatience , contend with constant distractions , and feel frustrated when they can't experience sustained stillness on the mat .

Humanity is hurting and overloaded , and we don't have an effective solution

These practices broke free of rituals and dogmas ( to a large extent ) , became less rigid , and received a thumbs - up from science and celebrities

But even the best evidence - based ideas can languish and remain undiscovered in the attic if they aren't marketed well .

To complement the research studies , yoga received strong celebrity endorsements .

deeper ? I believe a deeper exploration is inevitable , because the curiosity of the human spirit can't be doused .

It didn't matter whether you took three or four circles around the altar . What mattered was that you were kind toward others and yourself .

Practicing kindness in the littlest of activities is more important than most rituals .

Buddha directed his students to wisely choose their focus of concentration so they could negate their maladaptive predispositions .

He reminded them that having a relationship with life included losing it .

Noticing the wars that ravaged the world he lived in , he advised people to renounce inner violence to stop outer violence .

I do , however , have another choice : to think differently , until the new thoughts become habitual .

Until a few years ago , I was training my mind to redirect its attention with a time - tested technique I learned as a teenager : meditation .

In today's world , most elephants , lions , hyenas , wildebeests , buffalo , geese , ants , and honeybees have richer social connections than the average human .

Loneliness can increase sympathetic activity (fight or flight tension) , worsen immunity , increase inflammation , and cause sleep disturbance and several chronic illnesses .

Mindfulness was not designed to make us numb ; it was developed for personal transformation .

Are the media representations of the purported benefits exaggerated ?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Had lots of bounces this morning

I expect my email messages will go through all right in the coming days but for now, if you want to see today's post of the Biblical praise of a good wife, check the blog's web page.  Bill

I have a frugal and skillful wife

Every now and then, I realize again that my wife’s frugality and skills benefit me greatly and yet I never thought about such things when we were dating.  

This is Proverbs 31:10-31
31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 31:11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 31:12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 31:13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. 31:14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 31:15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. 31:16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 31:17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. 31:18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. 31:19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. 31:20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 31:22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. 31:23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. 31:24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. 31:25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 31:26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 31:27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 31:28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. 31:29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 31:30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. 31:31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

 The King James Bible (with book and chapter navigation) (Kindle Locations 16970-16971). Diana Mecum Kindle Edition.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Still bought and still read

I am an Amazon and Kindle fan.  Generally, Amazon ebooks are less expensive than alternatives and very quick to download.  I like Amazon Charts. They show the most sold and most read top twenty in fiction and non-fiction now.  

J.K.Rowling's first book," Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was published on June 26, 1997.  More than 20 years later, several of the books in the series are on Amazon's charts as very often read and very often purchased.  Any way you look at it, she is an amazing phenomenon. If you watch the movie story of her life, "Magic Beyond Words", you may decide she is even more amazing than you thought.  Joanne Kathleen took a trip to Spain, met a guy she liked, became a single mom, returned to her native Scotland and got on welfare. She became the world's first billionaire author.  She gave away much of her wealth to charities but is still among the most wealthy people in the United Kingdom.

Rowling has other books besides the Harry Potter series.  Lynn and I have read aloud the "Robert Galbraith" series, written by Rowling under a pen name.

There is considerable information about Rowling (properly pronounced Roh-ling, rhymes with no-ling) in Wikipedia and her life and adventures. Rowling has her own extensive website, Pottermore, and has original writings there, among other things.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Only three

A week from this Thursday, the 29th, will be the 10 year anniversary of this blog.  The earliest entry in the blog is dated March 29, 2008. There are actually two posts on that date, the second and longer one is a summary of what I had posted in an earlier blog I began.  By the anniversary, I will probably have about 3115 posts, or going on a million words.

I took a course in fiction writing in college and found I didn't like that sort of writing. The endless array of possibilities was distracting and tiring. Even now, I dither about what to write about.  I have developed a procedure for getting started that involves making notes on up to five possibilities for the post of the day. Until a few minutes ago, I had only three for today but I still have ten documents of previous notes, each of several pages.  

Get a cat to blame, rightly or wrongly

When we had children in the house and we found something amiss, we could blame the spilled salt shaker or the wet towel on the floor, we could suppose that an unspecified minor was responsible.  We recently got a regular house cleaner to come and fix us up. She does a terrific job and her smile and energy brighten our day. It occurred to us that everyone should engage such a service or get a cat.  That way, there are others that can be blamed in absentia for mishaps, and spats between the two of us as to guilt are less likely.  

Lie or misunderstanding

What with fake news and all, I have read more instances of a statement that something was a "lie".  I think the relation between what is a lie and what is not true, is similar to the difference between murder and manslaughter.  It is a lesser crime to kill someone if it was terribly negligent but not intended. Similarly, it is a lesser crime or disservice to state something that is not true such as "I am a giraffe".  I advise reserving the charge of lying for situations where the speaker deliberately stated something that is not true and did so knowing that the statement was not true. Elvis sang in "Hound Dog" that "they said you was high-class, well, that was just a lie."  But I advise Elvis to check it out. If they have a different definition about what high classness is, or if they heard about you being high class without actually experiencing your class, they might not qualify as liars.

Practicing fierceness

About the 7th grade or so, I practiced fierce expressions.  I am not sure why. To some extent, it seemed part of the preparation for warriorhood.  It felt good and appropriate. I have seen writing recently that makes me wonder if maybe the idea of being fierce is semantically and socially acceptable to more young girls and women than previously.  The book by the young gymnast, Ally Rasiman, is titled "Fierce: How Competing for Myself Changed Everything" and uses the word. Somewhere else, I saw the word in a context that made me wonder if the term and the notion are more acceptable to women of today (and tomorrow) than previously.

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