Thursday, August 6, 2020

More than fourteen thousand

[This blog post was rejected for 75% of the blog mail recipients.  I think it was because the title was numerals and it did contain two links.]

The daughter of friends is 40.  I can just write that and you know I am talking about age.  It has been 40 years since she was born.  That means she is at least 14,600 days old.  40 times 365 = 14600, plus leap days and not counting days since her birthday.

I often recall James Michener’s advice: 
Fool around until you are 40 since until you are that old, you are still feeling your way, learning yourself and the world.
Michener also advised staying out of jail and mental institutions.  Seems like good advice but not always easy.  Sometimes, the laws get so twisted, one simply can’t allow “legal” behavior to get in the way of right living.  Mental illness is an old problem and that can still cause trouble beyond understanding.

One comment I saw recently reminded others that only a few centuries ago, 40 was close to the end of life for most people.  They could not expect to live much past that age.  It is not true that every person who has reached 40 knows how to live and lives happily.  From four decades on, it may be easier to let oneself off the hook when fear, curiosity or a nagging sense of unfulfilled duty starts taunting one to understand the meaning of life.  The big questions, the gnawing ones, the pesky ones, the questions that promote doubt as to adequate achievement, appropriate effort, lightheartedness, gratitude, morality, and purpose can be entertained, given respect and then politely shown the door.  

I looked up the words “life begins at 40”, which turns out to be the title of a book that was popular in 1933 and 1934.  From Wikipedia:
Life Begins at Forty is a 1932 American self-help book by Walter B. Pitkin. Written during a time of rapid increase in life expectancy, it was very popular and influential. It was the #1 bestselling non-fiction book in the United States in 1933, and #2 in 1934, according to Publishers Weekly. 

Let’s just say that life is turned on when you are awake and aware and 40 is a fine age to be that way.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020


We wrestled with PBS and finally won the right to watch "The Durrells."  We watched all of the episodes.  Mr. Durrell died and left his wife with three sons and a daughter.  She moved the family to the Greek island of Corfu, where life and customs are quite different from their native England.  It is a good show but like so many, it came to an end.

We watch "Wisconsin Life", a Wisconsin Public TV production that contains 4 or 5 short explorations in a total of 30 minutes.  The basic idea is that there are interesting people and places in the Badger state and the show lets us meet some of them.

We kept seeing notices about the PBS show "Grantchester."  That is the name of a real village of 540 people about three miles from Cambridge, England.  It is the name of a show based on books by James Runcie which tell about the life of the vicar of the village church.  It is quite popular.  I guess half or more of the popularity comes from the notable male beauty of James Norton, the actor who first plays the vicar. Unless you are seriously Christian or Church of England, you might not be interested in the experiences of a vicar. Hold on, there's a twist.  The vicar has insight into people.  Besides, he is a friend of the local policeman.  Over beer or wine in tasteful quantities, the two discuss a recently discovered body or crime.  Between trying to find the right woman and assisting his policeman friend, the vicar manages to squeeze in Sunday sermons, baptisms, marriages and funerals.

There have been other crime-solving church people, such as Father Brown.  It is no surprise really that religious people have insight into human behavior.  A scholar of English literature mentioned the show interests her but not her husband.  The writer and tv critic Sarah Lawson admits that the vicar is "babelicious"

and that the show might encourage thoughts and feelings not usually associated with religion.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Color coordination

I have read that some women can distinguish more colors by eye than the average person.  I see extra spurts of pride in a woman wearing a blouse, earrings, and shoes that all match. I just did a little searching and learned about "tetrachromats", people, more commonly women, who have an extra type of color detection cell in their retinas.

You evidently gain points if the matching color is a more unusual one, some sort of leaf green, say, instead of simple white or black.  I suppose if you come equipped with an extra set of color detection cones, you can zero in on matching teals or rose shades and attain even more impressive heights.

We heard ten years ago that boys tend to be more attracted to games in which there are strongly contrasting colors and girls can be more attracted to subtle shades and more sets of matching colors.  I tend to wonder if we will have to move to a different location if some close-by buildings fail to coordinate their outside walls or rooftops with our house.  We already have to keep our garage door closed to avoid color clashes between our cars and nearby cars or buildings.  We ask those dressed in non-coordinating colors or hues that don't go well with our house to walk by quickly and to use the other side of the street.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Not needing a will

We are getting older.  Several friends have died.  There is a virus around.  Maybe we should prepare for death.  If you follow the comic strip Zits, you know that the teenager has been very upset lately because he found a gray hair in his head.  He is suddenly struck by the fact that he is mortal.  He asserts that it is time to get his affairs in order.  That time has arrived for us.  

We conferred with a lawyer who informed us that we may not really need a will.  I was surprised to hear that, but she said that with the proper records filled out, we can arrange for things to be owned by our daughter upon our deaths.  She told us about arranging a P.O.D., a document that is "payable on death."  We went to our banks and signed such documents so that if we are both dead, our daughter becomes the owner of our accounts and property.  Just like that: no will involved, no trusts, no probate.

We actually have had a will drawn up, several times.  However, this ownership mechanism seems simpler and faster.  It isn't that we have millions of dollars of funds or property but we would like to make the handling of what we do have easy and smooth and quick.  

We have both read "Final Gifts" by Callanan and Kelley.  The book is available in both paper and Kindle.  It is written by people who have experience with the dying and with death.  As I fade away or expire suddenly, I may lose my mental abilities in part or wholly.  I may say things that are crazy and that I don't mean while I function with my full self.  It definitely seems better to have things in place in case I lose my faculties.  There are many other good books on death, such as "How We Die" by Sherwin Nuland, MD.  We both have copies of "I'm Dead, Now What?", one of many books of blanks, forms and questions that showed us how complex our lives and habits are, and how much easier it is to have a guide for someone to deal with our deaths.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Matchmaking assistance

My dissertation is about decision theory so when I saw "The Art of Choosing" by Prof. Sheena Iyengar, I took a look at the book.  I didn't know that she would introduce me to arranged marriages nor the fact that, worldwide, arranged marriages have a better longevity record than marriages where the woman and the man make their own choices.  The chapter in Iyengar's book on her parents' marriage begins with the fact that her father and mother hadn't seen each other before the actual day of their wedding.

Iyengar is a professor in the Columbia University School of Business and she has been blind since childhood.  She has a website of her own and on it, she is billed as the world's expert on choice.  I suspect it might be a bit more appropriate to write that she is an expert on choice.  

My wife and I have been married for 60 years and we feel as though we know something about choice, dating and finding a person we want to be with.  We watched the first episode of "Indian Matchmaking" on Netflix and I think it seems very weird to hire a matchmaker to offer possible partners to my parents and me.  The first episode showed the use of basic variables based on both the parents' wishes and those of the bride and groom.  

I can see the possible value of having a professional and one's parents giving thought and advice in the matter of whom to date and what to look for.  I rather doubt that such advice would have aimed me at the woman I am delighted to be with, and who has put up with me and even delighted in my company.  Both of us had plenty of dating experience before deciding on marriage.  I imagine that matters.

I just saw over the last few days an article on research findings that it isn't compatibility that matters as much as the sort of relation that gets built and maintained.  In the Matchmaking episode, I was very aware that the mothers and the daughters seem to mention the importance of the man's height as the first criterion.  Since I am short and shrinking still more, I might have been out of the question before even meeting anyone. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Harari and meditation

I was quite surprised and pleased to find that the final chapter in Harari's "21 Lessons for the 21st Century" is about meditation and what it has done for the author. I didn't realize the book had that final chapter.  I don't think I have read any better explanation of what mediation, in Harari's sense, is or can do for a person.  He actually states that he could not have written his wonderful book, Sapiens, nor his other two, Homo Deus and the 21 Lessons without having his meditative practice.  

He was ushered into meditation in a workshop with S.N. Goenka.  There are many books on Amazon, in paper or Kindle ebooks, that can guide a person into meditative practice.  I have many blog posts dealing with meditation as a tool for living well and in harmony with one's self.  Anyone who is interested can use the search window in the top left corner of the main blog page for Fear, Fun and Filoz. There are also notes, references and explanations on many web pages of the Kirbyvariety website.

I actually started this blog with the aim of advocating and explaining the sort of meditation that Harari discusses.  I did that because evidence was piling up all over that the practice helped many sorts of people with many sorts of needs and difficulties. I realized as I was retiring that more stress on meditation and more explanation of what it is, what it helps in life and how to do it would help people.  Over time, it became clear that many authors and tools and organizations were springing up and that I could let others carry the ball.

Dan Harris is the author of "10% Happier" and "Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics", both helpful and revealing books about how a modern American might get involved in a meditation practice and be glad to have done so.  Personally, I imagine that the books by Chade-Meng Tan, especially "Joy on Demand" might be the fastest, simplest tickets into meditation.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Local campus makes good

It is exciting that a former normal school for training teachers has advanced into a university that offers doctoral degrees, the highest academic level of degree.  It is also exciting that the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point has made that journey from 1894 until now, about one century and a quarter.  Wisconsin is not an especially wealthy or populous state, but it has a very good educational system and history.  

The School of Education at UWSP has been cited as the 2nd best school of education in the US for two years running.  

After living in Stevens Point for 20 years, we moved to LaCrosse, Wisconsin to accommodate Lynn's new job at that university.  It is a beautiful place but we missed our friends and connections at Stevens Point and we moved back in 1993.  Between 1988 and 2005, I participated in several distance education activities, including using the statewide UW television system to teach basic statistics.

The main state campus in Madison is well known in educational history for its "Wisconsin Idea" that the borders of the campus are the borders of the state, meaning the university has a mission and obligation to assist citizens in advancing their education and in conducting research that will solve both practical and theoretical problems.

A former chancellor of UW-SP said that college students are transients and they are, but the local faculty are local citizens.  As a transplant from a city of nearly 3 million, I was interested and intrigued by Stevens Point and its atmosphere.  Our first year here we rented a house owned by a professor on leave.  We were fully aware that the local city was much smaller than what we were used to.  It turned out that our nextdoor neighbor had moved to Point from a nearby town of about 400, about 2% of the size of Point.


My limited experience with Stevens Point gives me the impression that it is an excellent town to attend college in.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Funny clocks

A friend is writing a paper and preparing a presentation on time. Maybe that is what made me remember that I have a book by Daniel Pink called "When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing".  I read Pink's "A Whole New Mind" and got some new ideas and good reading.  

Pink writes:

For you and me, the biological Big Ben is the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN, a cluster of some 20,000 cells the size of a grain of rice in the hypothalamus, which sits in the lower center of the brain. The SCN controls the rise and fall of our body temperature, regulates our hormones, and helps us fall asleep at night and awaken in the morning. The SCN's daily timer runs a bit longer than it takes for the Earth to make one full rotation—about twenty-four hours and eleven minutes.4 So our built-in clock uses social cues (office schedules and bus timetables) and environmental signals (sunrise and sunset) to make small adjustments that bring the internal and external cycles more or less in synch, a process called "entrainment."

Pink, Daniel H.. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing (p. 12). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I have read in several places that having a similar time to wake up and to go to bed at night helps a person get better sleep. 

Various thinkers have cited Yogi Berra on the subject of time.  "Yogi, what time is it?"  "You mean, now?" Others have advised following the typical dog approach.  What time is it?  NOW!

This clock is Lynn's handiwork.  It is true that the present is all we really have and that the past is memories and evidence while the future is conjecture.  

The clocks we have here in the house are funny.  When I am watching a good show, a half hour takes five minutes.  When I am waiting for five minutes to pass, it takes a half hour.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Years of schooling

Today was a big day for me.  I watched online as a doctoral student defended her dissertation.  It happened at the same university where I began teaching more than 50 years ago.  I had taught 5th graders for 4 years before that and I would not have been allowed to have that job without a bachelor's degree and the appropriate credentials to teach in that state. 

When I received my bachelor's degree, I knew very little about advanced degrees or types of schooling.  It can be helpful these days to divide schooling and training into "academic" and more specialized.  But in many moments in life, love and support for our children combines with the American drive to be #1, the BEST.  We don't often ask whether a student has mastered something valuable.  More likely, our questions relate to being at the head of one's class, without too much attention to what class.

In the rough classification of levels of education, K-12 public or some sort of religious or private schooling usually comes first.  To learn the skills of reading, writing and basic calculation (readin'/writin'/and'rithmetic), plus some understanding of science, history and the arts has often been considered a basic education.  Over time and in many countries, college may be an option after those 12 or 13 years.  College often takes four years.  Further schooling may head toward a master's degree, which may be 1 or more years, depending if the student can manage to be full-time or not.  Further schooling than that may mean obtaining a doctor's degree.  That can be 3 to 5 years, depending on luck, personality, wealth, focus and the subject being studied.

The professional training of physicians, lawyers and other "professional" degrees may begin after college but may take different paths.  Getting a PhD in many sciences can mean a "post-doc" working with more senior scientists.  The skills and ranking from European guilds of "apprentice, journeyman, and master" is another set of steps that have influenced thinking and plans for training and education.

I come from a background of elementary school teaching, where the feminine values of gentleness and understanding and encouragement, the virtues of a mother, are basic.  As humans mature, they naturally develop more interest in freedom and independence and more ability to compete with others.  At higher levels, a.k.a. chronologically older students, there may be more pressure to perform, compete and excel.  Historically, teachers have been men at these levels and men have not taken as well to training to improve their ability to teach.  So, it is only lately that demands for good exchange for money plus the competition for a dwindling supply of younger people have combined to increase the training of teachers of older students and scrutiny of their teaching.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Doctoral dissertation defense

You write a dissertation on a topic that has your advisor's approval.  Depending on the discipline you are working in, your dissertation might be about laboratory experimentation, some new view of earlier writing and thinking or something else.  Your advisor reads each chapter as it is written and when the paper is finished, copies are sent to the members of the committee that has agreed to read and approve or disapprove your dissertation.  

Normally, you have to do a review of previous work that is related to your work.  If your paper takes a very unusual slant, it may be difficult to find earlier work related to your own but you do your best.  What you did yourself in the laboratory and the library and wherever else you carried out your research need to be described.  A section explaining what you have found will give the results of your work.  Finally, you would have a last chapter of conclusions that your work leads you to and implications of your work for the future.  

Depending on one's personality and luck, the dissertation committee may be rather favorably impressed with what you have written or not.  The committee is aware that rejection of your paper would be painful but on the other hand, acceptance of shoddy or shallow work reflects badly on the institution.  The discussion of what you have written will probably last for about an hour or so.  Then, you will be asked to step outside while the committee discusses in private.  If you pass, when the committee member steps out to ask you to come back in, that person will often say "Dr….., please come in."  

There may be some corrections and adjustments to the dissertation before it is accepted but if you pass, you will be on your way to the next step in your life.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Guess who?

I feel that pointing my attention on a single spot for somewhere between six minutes and ten has improved my understanding of myself.  The book "Incognito" did a valuable job emphasizing that many body processes as well as the production of thoughts involve parts of me that function but that I cannot feel or control.  I think the process of meditation is enhanced in power and result if I use a timer.  It encourages me to focus my vision and attention on something while relying on the timer to let me know when I have participated long enough.  

Since I got more into meditation in my mid-50's, it is possible that self-knowledge and self acceptance are better for older people.  

Today, I saw an ad for a book by Erica Ariel Fox.  I looked up the book and the author and decided it was worth getting.  Often, the table of contents will tell me how much and what parts of a book I want to try out.  Getting to the table of contents, I found the introduction and began reading it.  The writer of the intro said that he was a co-author of Getting to Yes, one of my favorite books.  That was a basic book in helping college students aiming to become good teachers to understand themselves and the processes of thinking with a student.

I hadn't thought about "Getting to Yes" in years but seeing the title and reading the intro to Fox's book was a genuine memory pleasure.  Her book is titled "Winning from Within" and that title and the look in her eyes on her website spoke the right message for me.  The Introduction is written by William Ury and in it, he writes:

In the three decades since, perhaps the most important lesson I have learned in my work as a mediator and negotiation advisor is that the biggest obstacle to success in negotiation is not the other, however difficult they might be. It is ourselves.

Fox, Erica Ariel. Winning from Within . Harper Business. Kindle Edition.

Whether it is me or you or the President or the Governor or Uncle Lou, the most important force in their thinking and their actions is T    hemselves.  It is rather easy to think otherwise.  I am not getting what I want because I was cheated, because it is raining, because it's too loud around here or too quiet.  No - it's me again.  How long am I going to be confined inside me?  How long do I have to put up with me, anyhow?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Lens and Jamboard

You can look up Google apps and see what is available.  Google Search is the main Google service but there are many others.  One way to see some of the services and software if you have Gmail is to click on the Google launcher, a set of 3x3 dots in the upper right corner of the Gmail main page.  Here is an illustration:

Two newer ones are Lens and Jamboard.  Another way to see information about a Google service is, using a search/address window, type its name and a period and "Google" and another period and "com".  So,   

The basic idea is image recognition.  It's not much different from searching by image instead of by words.  If you have Google Photos on a tablet or phone, you may see a symbol for Lens when viewing a picture that has been taken.  The Lens link above leads to information and pictures describing checking where you can buy a blouse like the one you see someone wearing.

Jamboard is a digital whiteboard.  I went to schools that had blackboards.  They were easy for the teacher and others to write or draw on and easy to erase.  Many schools today have whiteboards that can do what blackboards did but also are connected to the internet and can quickly show a picture of the Taj Mahal or Harriet Tubman.

You can save whole white boards loaded with pictures, drawings, equations and maps.  You can send them to others and save them with labels and titles.

Saturday, July 25, 2020


You have noticed that you can't get into my head.  You won't fit.  If you break in, you will hurt me and probably lose the things you wanted going in.  So, for humans, along came speech.

Other animals communicate with sound and body language, too, so it is not just us.  But we have gotten more elaborate.  It is not just words between us but also timing, gestures and glances.  

Many people today are capable of keeping a running commentary going describing their thoughts, questions, observations and feelings.  You might not notice my shoelaces or my belt buckle but if you mention them, I know you are aware of them.  If you don't mention them, you could still be aware of them but you might not be.  You might not have noticed the fabulous shoelaces I am wearing or my darling belt buckle.  What you notice, what you are aware of may differ widely from what I have verification from you about.  

Sure, some of us guys have a running word meter.  We aren't allowed by the Oath of Testicles to say too many words in a day, words about anything. Our word total is limited by the Treaty of Versailles.  By the time I listed all the things about you that I notice today, I would reach my word maximum.  You shouldn't expect me to comment on everything about you that I have noticed, let alone things I wonder about, things I remember, things I worry about [Did you keep your face mask on in the grocery store?  The whole time?  Up over your nose?]  So, spoken words, words in email, photos sent, sound files of speech, all the tools can still not really cover all the thoughts and experiences.  

Truthfully, I don't want to speak every thought and you don't want me to.  You have other things to do besides listen to me or read my emails.  

Maybe we should make use of that joke idea.  You know, the old guys or the prisoners or the knitting group or whoever it was that started numbering the comments they make.  They are the ones who just call out a number, "47" and the others know which of the comments in the list are meant.  We could communicate faster and more easily.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Too big to hear

The book by David Weinberger, Too Big to Know, is about the extent of internet messages, sources and subjects.  There are too many to know.  For an aging person, there are too many to remember, even after they have been "known".  I had a fun course with experienced teachers that aimed to recall all the books they had ever read.  Of course, no one can be sure at say, 45 or 50 years of age, that they can recall, remember, unearth, find or otherwise list the title of all the books they have read over a lifetime.

I have too many purchased Kindle books to read before I die.  That doesn't mean that I will refrain from buying a few more, if they are of interest and priced right.  I got a car that had a complicated sound system that I didn't take the time to learn.  So, I cut my listening to audiobooks way back.  There was no good time in the day to listen other than in the car.  Some of my audio purchases are Great Courses, consisting of many lectures.  I estimate that there is a good chance I won't get to them all.  

I do have two ears and two eyes.  Maybe somebody can engineer a device to show me a different book for each eye while two different Great Course lectures are played into each of my ears.  We both know my old tired limited brain can't handle that so forget about it.

When the national anthem is played at a sporting event, some people "take a knee", that is, kneel on one knee to protest their unfair and unpleasant experience because of their skin color or dress.  There are many sorts of snubs, microaggressions, nasty grimaces, and other upsetting putdowns that people experience every day for no good reason.  Taking a knee seems a simple, rather elegant way to state that one's life and treatment by others is unfair and in need of improvement.  

No matter how sympathetic I am to prejudice and poor manners and worse, I simply cannot take on all causes.  I can't make a meaningful contribution to all worthy charities.  I can't even express sympathy and support for them all.  Whether it's books, recordings or causes, I can do a better job with some discretion and some concentration on what matters to me.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Flying elephants

When the kids were little, I would sometimes look up during a meal and exclaim, while pointing up, "Look at the flying elephant!"  They would naturally look up, wondering if Dad has lost his senses.  During the brief time their attention was diverted to the ceiling or the sky, I would snatch their dessert or something.  

Similar actions are the basis of the professional act of Apollo Robbins.  You can see the man on YouTube and read about him in the New Yorker.  He is an expert pickpocket and attention diverter extraordinaire.  

You can also see diversion at work in presidential politics.  It seems to be a popular idea that when one's fortunes are failing, it is a good idea to invoke the flying elephant principle.  Quick!  Do something outrageous, preferably something forceful and reeking of power.  Oh, sure, there will be lawsuits and anger but the hullabaloo will take over the headlines and the more frightening and basic issue will be sidelined.  If that is not enough, do three more outrageous things, illogical, counterintuitive and shocking.  Keep at it until the danger of good ideas passes.  Try to avoid any days of quiet, everyday activity of keeping things running smoothly.  

It is asking a lot to want leaders to lead and problem solvers to solve problems. [Look!  I stopped after two!]  Let's just turn up the volume and do a little more fleecing before we go.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sounds at a lunch table

Today, I ate at a restaurant for the first time since the virus halting efforts began.  I sat at a table outdoors with three other friends.  I never removed my mask.  I ordered a glass of cabernet sauvignon and it was the first the waitress had ever served with a drinking straw.  I am a pioneer!

I had planned to slip the straw beneath my mask, sip, talk and leave.  But, the menu had so many attractive-sounding dishes on it I decided to order one.  I had a dish of wild boar sausages, mashed potatoes and slaw.  

We discussed the shenanigans in DC.  We talked about the president's performance on the MoCA test and one man said that reporters should have looked at the harder questions on the test, not just the beginning ones.  He used his voice tone to communicate that those later test items were far more challenging.  His tone got my attention.

I have noticed how voices, body language, gestures as well as words are used communicate so much.  In my family, people disagree with what is being said by the use of a sound that is often written "uh-uh".  It is said like this:  The first "uh" is cut short, as in the video.  I notice in some Friends episodes that disagreement is expressed by "nuh-uh", with the initial N emphasized.  

This link goes to "Ross" of Friends using a Nuh-type sound to disagree and "Chandler" reasserting his idea with "Ya-huh"

It can be helpful when using these utterances if the appropriate head movements, facial expressions and level of determination are used at the same time. You may want to be careful and conservative with these expressions since repeated use, where I use a negative and you use a positive and we keep on - such exchanges may result in both of us being labeled as childish.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


I read a little of "Women and Power" by the British scholar of ancient Rome, Mary Beard.  She recounted the part of the Odyssey where Penelope, the wife of Odyseus, is told by her son to return to her private quarters and let the men talk without women.  She does.  Beard thinks it is silly for a mature, experienced woman to allow a green youth to shut her up.  A sharp woman I know says that her own upbringing, among strong women, taught her to make her voice heard, whether she was spoken to or not.

Family Circus shows a mother limiting her son, who asks if she really means her statement.  She says,"Yes".  He talks to his father and says that Mommy said "Yes".  

The Lockhorns are on the beach when some nubile beauties go by.  The wife says to her husband "No, Leroy, it is stomach in and chest out" as she sees him try to look attractive.

Each of these create strong impulses in me to discuss, object, extend, explain.  A mature woman can take one look or one listen to an assembly of men and tell if it is worth her while to offer countersuggestions.  She may see that youth, pride and competition combine to close ears and minds to better approaches.

Once or twice, twisting the report may succeed but eventually Mommy and Daddy are going to get wise to truth-twisting, self-serving modifications and other language dishonesty.

As we age, it becomes more difficult and less profitable to be attractive.  No point in looking repulsive and we may actually forget what turns others on.  One of the main limitations is the fact that there is only one of each of us so there isn't enough of us to offer to more than one person.  

Monday, July 20, 2020

Fwd: FYI

The Writer's Almanac says that today, July 19, is the anniversary of the Women's Conference at Seneca Falls, New York, a major event in the evolving rights of women and societal recognition of their skills and potential.

We visited the National Monument to the movement and results in Seneca Falls.  We learned that there had been an anti-slavery conference in London that some American women attended.  When they arrived, they were told that the main floor was for men and that women could watch from the balcony. This limitation and rejection was part of the spark for the American conference.  Whatever your own sex, you will find the link above interesting.

Recently, Stefan Shoup set this around:

---------- Forwarded message ---------

Date: Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 10:37 PM
Subject: Fwd: FYI

Well here's a howdy do.   Makes one think!   Stefan

Sent from my iPad

Begin forwarded message:

From: Leigh
Date: July 14, 2020 at 7:03:35 AM CDT
To: Jeanie
Subject: Fwd:  FYI

Sent from my iPad

Begin forwarded message:

From: Judy
Date: July 13, 2020 at 9:31:27 PM EDT

Subject: FW:  FYI

No comment necessary…..


From: Nancy
Date: Monday, July 13, 2020 at 8:43 PM

Subject: Fwd: FYI



Begin forwarded message:


From: "Judie

Subject: FW: FYI

Date: July 13, 2020 at 8:00:45 PM EDT

To:  Carol




From: Cookie
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2020 7:10 PM
Subject: FYI


The countries most affected by coronavirus are the USA, Brazil, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy and France

Here are the photos of their leaders:



The countries that are recognized as having managed the crisis best are Germany, Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Denmark.

Here are the photos of their leaders::





Sunday, July 19, 2020

Enough exercise

Most people I know say they want to lose weight.  Likewise, most people say they don't exercise enough.  Numbers can be involved with both body weight and exercise.  You may have heard of 10,000 steps a day and you may have come across challenges and other studies that 5,000 or 7,500 is a better target.  You may have heard or read about body mass index, which has been quoted as being healthy at 25 or so.  We have read that older people, say 70 and older, do better with a body mass of 27.

So, have a beer and some chips!  Or, just eat sensibly, with plenty of fruits and vegetables.  And the ice cream that lifts your spirits.

One thing that seems clear is that the individual and the context matter in everything.  I know that some people cannot stand up.  Some people can't swallow.  We just finished "Into the Abyss: A Neuropsychiatrist's Notes on Troubled Minds" by Anthony David, a neuropsychiatrist in Britain.  (Downloadable from Amazon for $2) The book makes clear that weird conditions in our bodies and our lives and our circumstances can happen.  When I was growing up, I sometimes found books and articles about the "age of anxiety."  I am confident that between trying to dodge coronavirus, stay a healthy weight, get appropriate exercise and avoid too much boredom a person can have anxiety these days, too.  

In the matter of weight and exercise and social relations, it can help to review one's feelings.  Not your partner's feelings or your parent's or the guru's or the pastor's but your own.  When reviewing, it can be helpful to ask what your immediate reaction to a question or subject is and note it down in writing.  Then, ask

  1. Where did I get my idea of what I 'should' have (in money, or weight, or friends, or …..) ?

  2. How up-to-date is my idea of what is appropriate for me?

    1. Up-to-date for my current age, health, status, etc.?

    2. Up-to-date in accord with current knowledge?

  3. It often works better to assume a critical attitude toward one's thinking and then follow that up with a supportive stance, one that you would use with a little kid, a different one for a brother or sister about your age, and one you might use with an older, confused person.

We are all living our current lives.  Let's aim for a joyful, pleasant, balanced one.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Good stuffs, Part 2

Yesterday, I mentioned the helpfulness of a connected computer, streaming tv with Roku, meditation. I want to add responding to others, photography with a connected phone or tablet, cooking, walking, biking. Note to friend: mentions come to five today, not three.

I find it helpful to note what comes to mind and write a little about the topics in a blog.  Making a blog in Blogger or WordPress is easy, quick and free.  "Blog" comes from putting "web" as in worldwide web and "log" as in diary or record together.  There are millions of blogs but not that many are added to steadily.  I find it helpful to make notes during the morning and write an entry in the afternoon.  A friend noted how precisely the posts are made each morning and I explained the precision comes from the delayed send feature of Gmail.

I should make a plea for Google, Bing and Duckduckgo, three general search engines.  No matter the problem or question, try searching it, sometimes in several alternatively worded versions to see that others know about the topic.  

The upsetting story of George Floyd would not have had as much effect without cellphone photography.  We find throughout each day that an iPad or a smartphone can make a big difference in communicating.  Devices that can take an immediate picture of high quality and send it to others or to a "cloud" repository change what is possible.  They enable quick dispersal of pictures. Having the high quality camera and rapid posting alerts more of us more often to take pictures and send them out.

Dona Warren on Facebook and others tout their advanced cooking.  Taking turns cooking and doing dishes cuts the load for one and offers a bit of variety.

Some walking helps me stay limber.  I like to go around the neighborhood on a bike, too.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Good stuffs!

I am inclined to mention tools and activities that interest us while staying home and avoiding crowds.  

My main tool is a computer connected to the internet.  In 1984, I received a gift of the software package, Appleworks, containing a word processor, a spreadsheet and a database, which was basically an address book for any sort of listed information, not just addresses. I was charmed by its power but my friend said the internet is coming.  Just wait until you grasp what being connected means.  He was totally right.

I am very thankful that Amazon started selling books through the air.  I began using their Kindle in 2008 and by now, I have many books I can choose from.  Going back to the Amazon site and looking at my content and devices listed there in my account, I am often surprised at books I have already paid for that I forgot I have.

As I have written before, I realized about 2005 that I was benefitting from short regular meditations.  I figured if the ancients of India, China and Japan could do it, so could I.  I am an American with an American's background and flaws so it seems natural to look for loopholes and shortcuts to make meditation shorter, faster and more effective.  Setting a timer for 10 minutes and fixing and re-fixing my attention on a single spot has indeed given me more insight into my mind, my moods and emotions.  It may also be partly a result of being hypnotized twice with the express goal of seeing my world with new eyes.  I am schooled to see with new wonder and to understand I am a wonder (and so are you).  

When I say you and I are miracles, I am telling an everyday truth, one that matters but one that is observable, too.  Here is Bill Bryson' opening:

Welcome. And congratulations. I am delighted that you could make it. Getting here wasn't easy, I know. In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realize. To begin with, for you to be here now trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and curiously obliging manner to create you. It's an arrangement so specialized and particular that it has never been tried before and will only exist this once. For the next many years (we hope) these tiny particles will uncomplainingly engage in all the billions of deft, co-operative efforts necessary to keep you intact and let you experience the supremely agreeable but generally under-appreciated state known as existence. Why atoms take this trouble is a bit of a puzzle. Being you is not a gratifying experience at the atomic level. For all their devoted attention, your atoms don't actually care about you—indeed, don't even know that you are there. They don't even know that they are there. They are mindless particles, after all, and not even themselves alive. (It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you.) Yet somehow for the period of your existence they will answer to a single rigid impulse: to keep you you.

Bryson, Bill. A Short History of Nearly Everything: Special Illustrated Edition (pp. 17-18). Crown. Kindle Edition.

I have learned to see and appreciate what is in front of me: my hand, my body, my place, my wife, my friends.  I can get all gaga in an instant but mostly I keep that to myself.

Beyond these tools, I need to mention the wifi/TV/Roku streaming that we do.  We have about 20 different services, such as MIT lectures, but we only have hours and energy for Netflix, Amazon's Prime Video, Acorn, and PBS/Wisconsin Public Television.

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