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My ratings (R) are from 1 to 9. My Dates are also permalinks. Click on the column headers to sort Jots. Feel free to use the address bar like a command line interface by setting the optional query string parameters: Dtm1 (10, 20, 30, YYYYMMDDhhmmss), Dtm2 (YYYYMMDDhhmmss), IsJot (Jot or Not), Tag (zero+ times), NotTag (zero+ times), OrderBy (PostForDate, PostTitle, PostLink, PostText, PostSource, PostRating, PostSize) & Desc(Desc), and Limit(integer).
|20080817 134351 Z||Belive in 5 to 15 minutes||Faith, Inspiring, Mind, My Stuff, Psychology, Self Improvement||I just realized that one of my problems is that I don't believe I can do something substantial in 5 to 15 minutes. I worry too much about my long chains of thoughts and interruptions. I end up procrastinating on a gazillion things that never get done. Believe in 5 to 15 minutes. Believe in 5 to 15 minutes. Believe in 5 to 15 minutes.|
|20090302 204528 Z||Noting my shopping experiences||Gear, MARTIAL, My Stuff, Shopping, TECH||I've been noting my shopping experiences for martial arts products, but I've decided to start logging my shopping experiences for other stuff. Why? My memory sucks and I think it might be helpful for me and others to be able to access my shopping experiences.|
|20090622 141045 Z||I had a sweet Father's Day||Family, Kids, My Stuff||
A cozy talk with my wife. A big pancake and bacon breakfast. Opened presents including a replacement for my lost explorer's hat, a new edition of the home made "Cosmic Connie" newspaper which included a tale of me ending up in Greenland, fatherly DVDs "The Ten Commandments" and "Taken", a pack of bubble bottles, and a Dad hat made by my youngest. Blew bubbles with everyone. Picked up goodies at the sports store using a $25 off Father's Day card. Watched "Up" in 3D --probably the most potent Pixar movie yet! Burgers for lunch. Napped. Chilled on the computer. Shish kabob dinner. Chocolate and lemon cake.
The kids were happy, the wife was happy. What more could a father ask for?
|20090624 155916 Z||Starting to play the recorder||Family, Music, My Stuff||My wife, Julia, is taking up the bassoon again, so I've been inspired to start at the bottom and learn to play the recorder. It's awesome! I am the master of "Hot Crossed Buns"!! Will I eventually move up to flute, clarinet, or oboe? We'll see.|
|20090808 144312 Z||Bye bye land line||Cyber Life, Family, Home, Kids, Movies, My Stuff, TECH, TV, Videos||All we get on the land line is spam. We have cell phones (which gets spam too). We don't phone/fax much. There's lots of video on the Internet. We don't watch much TV. So... We're going to dump the AT&T land line, DSL (2.58 Mbps), and dish TV at $140/mo. We're going to get Comcast cable Internet (12 Mbps) at $43/mo and Netflix at $9/mo. Wife and kids approve. All is good.|
|20100107 193703 Z||My Stuff, Ramblings||If the intense and concentrated workouts I do are exhilarating and beneficial, then so should intense and concentrated bouts of being, doing, feeling, thinking, expressing. (Reading, hearing, watching, and playing aren't the same.) Sadly my days consist mostly of working, family life, and sleeping. Where's the edge? I need to find or make the edge.|
|20101123 184217 Z||Human-v-Squirrel War Rages On||Chicago, Fauna, My Stuff, War||Cage traps and rat traps have only fed them. They laugh at BBs. Chicago squirrels don't even know what coyote smells like. We're on day 3 of http://rodentstrobe.com/. I hope this works because sleeping with earplugs shouldn't be the answer.|
|20110102 235559 Z||gh.com just moved to new servers||Blogging, My Stuff||georgehernandez.com just moved to servers. DNS propagation should be complete.|
|20110117 144906 Z||Parsing old stuff||My Stuff, Ramblings||With the new computer, new year, and office move, I've been parsing a lot of old stuff both digital and physical. It's cleansing to throw away so much stuff, some of it over 20 years old. Sure there's stuff I have to keep (like tax filings), but I feel guilty for the stuff I keep that may never really live again. Filing something is like burying it. Be present. Be generous. Nothing gold can stay.|
|20110127 164705 Z||Tinkering lives!||Family, Kids, My Stuff, Ramblings, Self Improvement||Tickled that my son is taking apart my old laptop to see how it works. 1. Curiosity is awesome. 2. He asked first and didn't do it to my new laptop.|
|20110529 193909 Z||Testing posting to Facebook and Twitter from my app||Cyber Life, Inspiring, My Stuff, Quotations||"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." -Helen Keller|
|20110529 202935 Z||Testing posting to Facebook and Twitter from my app 2||Cyber Life, My Stuff, Quotations||"I seem to be a verb." - Buckminister Fuller|
|20110605 201140 Z||Fave Recent Workout||Conditioning, CrossFit, My Stuff||Fave recent workout: 150 Pullups and 150 Burpees done as opposing ladders: 50 PU, 10 B, 40 PU, 20 B, 30 PU, 30 B, 20 PU, 40 B, 10 PU, 50 B.|
|20110628 184319 Z||York reading The Hobbit||Family, Kids, Literature, My Stuff, Reading, Science Fiction, Tolkien||Greatly delighted to pick out some of my son's summer reading. Today I started him on The Hobbit. Next include Mark Twain's Adam and Eve's diaries, and Man Kzin Wars by Larry Niven. Oodles of good stuff for a 10 year old boy!|
|20110709 154758 Z||Each breath is stolen.||My Stuff, Writing||Each breath is stolen.|
|20121126 193122 Z||How NASA might build its very first warp drive||io9.com/5963 … first-warp-drive||Cool, Engineering, Inspiring, Math, My Stuff, Physics, Science, Space, TECH||I love this story for several reasons but my primary personal reason is that I built my own Michelson-Morley interferometer in high school!|
|20130607 161435 Z||Pride and Prejudice||Books, Literature, My Stuff, Ramblings, Reading, Text||Just finished reading "Pride and Prejudice" (1813) by Jane Austen. Loved it! Fun to read something without the extras of tech, fantasy, sex, and action. Now I have butterflies about deciding what to read next!|
|20131123 172644 Z||My Stuff, Play, Ramblings, Thoughts||Most games have trivial accomplishments, but some "games" have real ones.|
|20140110 204516 Z||Display Resolution||/docs.google … RZlE&usp=sharing||Computers, Gadget, Hardware, Images, My Stuff, TECH, Videos||I've decided to publicly share my my "Display Resolution" spreadsheet in honor of all the high resolution displays I've been seeing lately.|
|20140317 195957 Z||Jimmy John's is awesome!||Cool, Food, My Stuff, Restaurants||I'm a regular at Jimmy John's. Today I forgot my wallet and the dude said we gotcha. Sweet! Now I'm not just a regular, but a loyal regular. Made my day!|
|20140627 163000 Z||Revision Control||georgehernan … isionControl.asp||My Stuff, Programming, TECH||I redid my page on Revision Control [http://georgehernandez.com/h/xComputers/zMisc/RevisionControl.asp]. It was originally mostly about Mercurial, but is now about both Git and Mercurial.|
It is fairly well known that you can easily turn simple HTML tables into Excel files by giving it a different MIME with code like the following:
Response.ContentType = "application/vnd.ms-excel";. Greg Griffiths writes about it in "MS Excel", which also include other methods of getting Excel files to a user via browser. There are other cheesy methods such as generating a CSV and so on.
However, I recently ran into the issue where the MIME-change version was working for all browsers except for Internet Explorer. Furthermore, it worked on IE7 for the LAN but not the Web. I did the usual scouring the Web via Google and MSDN, but was unsuccessful. What finally led me to the solution was the little nugget about how Response.AddHeader() had to be used before any other output. That's when I dug through the various includes on the pages and noticed that way up on top there was some cache code. I just elimated that and BAM! All is well! Another case of needing to minimize settings in includes.
A few days ago I ordered and received a "Kensington Notebook Calculator with USB HUB", Model K72274. It's a wonderful piece of hardware that truly just plugs in and plays. It only works when it's plugged into a computer and the laptop is on, which is just fine. My laptop's NUM LOCK button had to be off in order for the keypads NUM LOCK to work, which is also fine. The buttons on the Kensington are typical for a keypad (0-9, 000, ., /, *, -, +, BS, ENTER, NUM LOCK) as well as for a typical for a calculator (M+, M-, +/-, MR, MC, %, TAX+, TAX-, TAB, AC/ON). There are two buttons not typically found on a keypad or calculator: A "PC/CAL" button that switches it from PC-mode to calculator-mode, and a "Send" button that sends the current value to the computer as if you had typed it in and hit ENTER.
All good. However, setting the tax rate for use with the TAX+ and TAX- buttons is a process that varies between different models of calculators. I spent perhaps 20 minutes trying to figure it out myself but the I had to go. Later I decided to just search for the answer instead of wasting my time trying to figure it out.
I consulted the manual that came with the Kensington but it had no help. I dug up the manual [http://files.acco.com/KENSINGTON/K72274US/K72274US-24882.pdf] but it was exactly the same as the printed manual. I scoured the Kensington site for any FAQs, troubleshooting, etc. I searched Google for stuff like "how to set tax+ tax- calculator" or "how to set tax rate keypad", which turned up results such as holding down the % button for a few seconds, enter the tax rate, and then press the % button via something like ftp://126.96.36.199:1000/Manual/CKP-70H%20manual.pdf. I tried all that but nothing. Eventually I went to the Kensington site and started a trouble ticket.
Their first was response was to tell me to call them. So I called --several times. The support was obviously overseas. There were a few disconnects which (I felt) occurred because the issue was not in their knowledge base so the support staff pulled the plug. The one woman who was finally brave enough to see the problem through a bit further decided that she would send me a new one. Well, that's nice but the thing isn't broken --it just needs a better manual. So I continued the trouble ticket at the site and got an email giving me the same instructions that I pulled from Google!
So I was back to square one with trying to figure it out and hoping that the engineers actually made it possible at all. I was on the right track on my first attempt a few days ago, so it only took me a few minutes this time.
Here is how to set the tax rate on a Kensington keypad calculator:
Boo-yah! In your face Kensington! Don't get me wrong, I love the product but the manual needs a bit more info.
I just made a page called Cyber Rules. It will probably change over time so this post will contain the original version.
Simple rules and guidelines for safety, etiquette, and excellence online (the Web, cyberspace, online shopping, IM, chat rooms, email, messageboards, etc.).
Kids, Teens, and Parents Online
I'm a programmer but I'm also a parent.
- For kids: Have a few simple rules that are easy to remember. Rules, not long-winded speeches.
- For teens: The same rules apply, but once you're 18 you're responsible for yourself.
- For parents:
- Rules are not a replacement for relating with your offspring, checking on them, and educating them.
- Minors are human beings and have an increasing need for privacy and trust as they get older.
- Don't give out personal information like your real name, age, phone number, address, or your photo.
- Don't buy anything online without a guardian.
- Don't download stuff besides pictures and PDFs.
- Don't click on a link in an email.
- Beware of links that take you off site.
- Try to behave online as you would in real life.
- Don't type in ALL CAPS. IT CAN BE VERY TIRING.
- In casual online communications, don't correct someone else's spelling, grammar, or punctuation.
- Learn and practice touch typing until it is intuitive.
- Use a mouse or equivalent until it is intuitive.
- Use Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
- Use Google [google.com].
- If you have to choose between real life or cyber life, choose real life.
- Assume that anything you say (type, do, post, access, etc.) online (the Web, cyberspace, online shopping, IM, chat rooms, email, messageboards, etc.) is permanenently recorded and may turn up for the whole world to see soon or anytime in the future.
- Online shopping:
- Use a separate email for online shopping.
- Use a separate credit card for online shopping.
- Ensure the site is who they say they are. A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) padlock in the browser helps.
- Ensure that your info is encrypted during transmission. A SSL prefix for the address (
- Don't download stuff besides pictures and PDFs. Executables (
.exe) in particular are high risk.
- Don't click on a link in an email. Especially not from a supposed bank or porn site.
- Beware of links that take you off site. The text may say one thing but the link may differ.
- Try to behave online as you would in real life.
- Don't type in ALL CAPS. IT CAN BE VERY TIRING.
- In casual online communications, don't correct someone else's spelling, grammar, or punctuation.
- If you are new to a message board, then read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
- If you are going to radically change the subject, then don't hijack, but rather start a new subject.
- Use a meaningful title on your email/post/comment. "IMPORTANT!!!!" or "Please read" aren't useful -- they just look like spam.
- Keep communications between as few people as possible. For example, don't send to the group when you can send to one person.
- Cyber shorthand can be convenient but mind your audience. Only the most common ones (like FYI for "for your information") will be known by broader audiences.
- Learn and practice touch typing until it is intuitive.
- Use a mouse or equivalent until it is intuitive.
- Use Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Share your knowledge with the world!
- Use Google [google.com]. Share calendars and documents with your family that you can access from any browser.
- If you have to choose between real life or cyber life, choose real life.
- Twitter is for ninnies.
- Yahoo! User Interface (YUI)
- Dojo Toolkit
- Backbone. Java.
- Web Toolkit (GWT). Java.
- Echo. Java.
- ASP.NET AJAX. .Net. Will incorporate jQuery soon: "jQuery, Microsoft, and Nokia" [http://jquery.com/blog/2008/09/28/jquery-microsoft-nokia/].
There are libraries with more specific uses that are often included. Here are a few arbitrary ones:
- Datejs. For dates.
- Some Lightbox [W] variation for pretty pictures.
.$()method without a namespace and can cause problems with programmers who have to deal with both libraries.
Today I am forty years old. The purpose of this post is to take a written snapshot of myself on this day, my 40th birthday.
So far, today has been a good day to die; Yesterday, not so good. Here's what I wrote yesterday while on my lunch break:
2008-10-21 13:04 CST
I think it started yesterday with Colin Powell's story about the gravestone of Khan, but whatever the cause, today I'm feeling heavy and depressed. It's like I need to cry something out. It's so heavy that even though I just made myself get lunch, I haven't touched it yet.
My mind is moving in a tiny little space. It doesn't care about perspective or possibilities. I'm tired of having my time stolen from me. I'm tire of pretending. I want room.
Perhaps I need to face my limitation, define them, use them, exploit them, revel in them.
Although there is great power in working with others or dominating other, although there is great joy in befriending others, although there are advantages in leading, cooperating, collaborating, coordinating, and teamwork, I can barely tolerate it.
I am an individual.
Multiple factors distinguish today from yesterday but most of them are trivial such as the ebb and flow of my biochemical, physiological, and psychological state. Certainly my breakfast of a warm toasted "everything" bagel with a salmon shmear and a hot chocolate helped. Purposely setting myself in a more meditative with breathing, posture, and by "boxing" my thoughts helped. But happy or sad, you don't really care how you got there once you're there, although you might be interested in what to do once you're there, in which case then examining the path to the state might provide some useful info.
Sometimes I like to pull back and see things from a grander perspective. In theory I could pull back and see all of time (around 13 billion years to now) and space (around 93 billion light years), but in practice we're all flashes in the pan, and I can barely comprehend the last 40 years and I often hesitate about cleaning the space of a closet. Science and engineering are wonderful things because they allow us to see further and deeper than the obvious and we can test it to make sure that we're not just making it up. But most people are not concerned about the limits of science and engineering: Most people live in the model that they and their group(s) create.
So let me examine my models and their states for a moment.
My family. I couldn't ask for a better wife or set of kids. Julia is spicy, complex, independent, and supportive. Connie is creative, detailed, beautiful, has strong feelings, and is becoming a fine young woman. York has his own drummer, is athletic, handsome, kind, and is learning to be man. Amy is girlish, cute, likes to tie things, and is transforming from baby to child.
My finances. Financially I'm fine. My family makes more money than we spend. Our only real debt is for the house which has was not hideously overpriced like many houses were in this recent financial crisis. I work as a programmer at ICLOPS [iclops.com], a small business that I partially own, and it is doing well even though [or because?] the health care industry has serious problems in the US. Investing in gold and solar. As I've stated before: For big problems like non-hurricane proof levees, climatically dangerous environmental hazards, the health care industry, economy endangering derivatives, etc. it requires a catastrophe before action will be taken.
My exercise. I am largely recovered from knee surgery (a meniscal tear) in 2007-07. My resting heart rate is 60. My weight is 74 Kg = 163 pounds. My weight went up a few pounds with the knee issue, but as I've been recovering my waist fat has gone down somewhat and I have have had noticeable muscle gain in my chest and arms. Here are my scores for the Army PFT for males of my age: 97% for 70 push ups in a row within 2 minutes; Over 100% for 84 sit ups in a row within 2 minutes; 69% for running 2 miles = 3.2 Km in 17:48 (6.75 mph = 10.86 Km/h, or 8:54 per mile). Pull ups are not in the Army PFT, but my average is 21 in a row. In addition to the martial arts classes I run 2 miles at a times, dumbbells, barbells, swimming, heavy bag, speed bag, kata, kicks, stretching, calisthenics, and a mix of other stuff. I am not as consistent with doing simple calisthenics (like these 4: push ups, crunches, spine lifts, and squats) before each shower as I would like.
My diet. As usual I effectively do not drink alcohol, smoke, do drugs, or do caffeine. My diet is varied but I'm trying to shift to smaller meals as the day progresses. I'm also trying have meals and snacks after physical activity.
My martial arts. I practice Western Martial Arts with the Chicago Swordplay Guild (CSG) [chicagoswordplayguild.com] 1-2 times a week. I've switched to the longsword within the past few weeks because although I achieved "scholar" in rapier in 2006, a scholar in longsword is needed to do the spear. I love the CSG but the restrictions in what one can and cannot practice are annoying. Julia, Connie, York, and I have been doing aikido with the Shinjinkai [shinjinkai.org] since 2008-08. They have a koryu ("old school") or uchideshi ("inside student") emphasis as well as share the space with a Buddhist temple. It's very much a shut up and do it school. Our family was considering Extreme KungFu Wushu Training Center [extremekungfu.com], but the location was inconvenient for us. I'm reading multiple martial arts books at the moment but the two most notable ones are Hapkido: Traditions, Philosophy, Technique (2000) by Marc Tedeschi, and The 33 Strategies of War (2006) by Robert Greene. Tedeschi's book is 1,136 pages and compiles and photographs the many techniques of hapkido. Greene's book is an all time favorite of mine and it covers military and martial principles illustrated with historical accounts from combat both physical and political. If I had to pick one thing from Greene's book it would be the concept that politics is the art of promoting and protecting your own interests, i.e. politics is not just done by politicians, but by everyone, and that it is another arena of combat. My personal martial style is more relaxed, more comprehensive than before. I've also come to the realization that I personally do it for the exercise, the variety, the play, and the fight. The traditions and historical context are interesting but I'm more interested in just doing it than being scholarly about it. I've also come to the realization that practicing martial arts is not a solo activity but a rather a very social activity because you need others to play/fight with.
My philosophy. Same as in my About Me page: Epistemologically skeptical but hopeful. Deduction & induction, analysis & synthesis. I'm an empiricist and realist, but I love ideas and rationalizing. Nihilism is moot. Beauty is truthful. The singularity will occur because we can't help ourselves. "The Conversation" is important. We're seek to explore, clarify, and satisfy not obfuscate or lie. HOWEVER, After reading Robert Greene's book, I now see politics in a martial light and thus I now like politics and political philosophy, and see them as unavoidable and hence practical and pragmatic things.
My religion. People should be free to explore, seek patterns, predict, gather evidence, test, and share they see fit, i.e. people should be free to do science. People should be free to adapt, to think for themselves. In this modern age with fast global communication, knowledge should be transparent, open, and distributed. Everyone not only lives in a model that they and their group(s) created, but they also look out for themselves and their group(s) in a political sense. In this modern age we are all become tightly knit together: The global problems in the economy and environment showcase this. Balancing, reconciling, combating, politicizing the different individuals and groups with other different individuals and groups is essential. I believe that Wikipedia and Google and YouTube are systems that demonstrate most of these qualities. I am not into Scientism [W], but I believe that non-theist leaning "religions" make themselves the most open and transparent and hence the least restrictive for "science". When you have dogma leaning religions then you tend to have groups with irreconcilable differences. Having rules, laws, courts, mechanisms, etc. that can help resolve inter-group conflicts is important.
My politics. Go Obama! "Basically pro-rights tempered with sensible laws and watch-dogging." People focus so much on their differences that we forget the common ground. The government provides many necessary public services (like army, police, streets, laws, courts, etc.) and it needs to be paid for somehow (usually taxes). People should be free to do just about anything alone privately, with others privately (as long as there is consent with the others), and publicly (as long as they do not harm others).
My world. Like everyone else, there is only so much time, attention, and money I can give. Like everyone else, I have been focusing on myself, my family, a few friends, a few groups, a few topics, and The World. Like everyone else, those who we do not focus on become "invisible" (hence the need to promote). So then what are MY OWN interests? How do I choose and why? Intellectually I have wide interests, but socially I'm introverted and shy. I can see the political power of dealing with people; I can see the psychological/social/political benefits of making friends. I understand the wonder of creating joy, love, and laughter. But to be honest, I'd rather be alone or silent unless we had something quite sincere (politically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, etc.) to say to each other. Although you'd think that "noise" is something we could all do without, I think for some people the "noise" is more bearable than the "silence". Some people can more comfortably tolerate "noise" (that they make or hear from others) in order to get any sort of "music". Is it hubris on my part that I can attend a social gathering and say there's just too much "noise"? I don't know. I've probably been introverted or socially inept for most of my life and now that I'm forty, I'm ready to just accept it instead of feeling guilty about it or sorry for myself or apologizing for it.
Time to go home and have some cake with my family. Happy Birthday me!
On October 30, Gumby of the Chicago Swordplay Guild (CSG) [chicagoswordplayguild.com] challenged the Guild members to take the 100 push up challenge. The challenge has you take an initial test, which places you somewhere in their 6 week program. Several Guild members, my wife, my daughter Connie, and I took the challenge. I used their pushupslogger.com site to publicly log my progress.
Here's how I did:
My wife and daughter have been progressing quite well on the push up challenge. Connie is also doing analogous challenges for these exercises: Sit ups, squats, and extended arm hangs (timed). Basically we did an initial test to find the max. Then for each day we did 3 sets per exercise 50% max, 51% max, and new max.
I got into crossfit.com just last month and it's fabulous. I've been doing their Workouts of the Day (WOD) daily for a few weeks now. I've been gradually accumulating the gear needed for CrossFit. I've bought a pair of Olympic barbell bars, some smaller plates, a kettle bell, and bumper plates will arrive soon. I already had a pull up bar but I'll probably upgrade soon. There are, of course, more things I want to get, but I think it's cool (and cost effective) when you can build your own (BYO) or do it yourself (DIY). I've already made the parallettes as per http://www.drillsandskills.com/skills/cond. One CrossFit fellow, Lincoln Brigham, already designed a BYO/DIY polymetric box for box jumping (http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=12749&page=1. The thing is I have kids and I need boxes of different heights. Separate boxes would just take up too much room.
Thus I designed these: Stacking Plyometric Boxes.
The cost for parts is under $30! Commercial ones costs hundreds plus shipping. (BTW: American measurements follow. My apologies to my fellow fans of the metric system.)
The tools needed are minimal!
The design and construction is quite simple!
Sand liberally for safety. Apply rubber matting to the top piece if you want. Paint if you want. Please note that these pictures used a base length of 18" instead of 16", but I'm posting 16" measurements because I think the smaller top would have less flex.
While my plyo boxes are heavier than the typical set, they are adjustable. My younger kids might use just the top piece, or the top and bottom pieces. I'll probably use all three pieces or throw in more middle pieces for more height.
The Chicago Polar Bear Club [http://chicagopolarbearclub.googlepages.com/chicagopolarbearclub] has been doing an annual New Year's Day dip into Lake Michigan for years. I had never done it before but somehow this year I was in the mood for it. I'm not sure why, but my guess is because I've been running in the cold Chicago weather for the past few weeks. Since I've known about this event for years but I've never had the inclination to do it, I figured that this was probably my time to try it.
As far as gear I figured that these few items would do: A generous towel, a swim suit (I wore my shorts from Hawaii), my prescription goggles, sand and water friendly clogs, a spare set of footwear, and a robe. I felt that an event like this was best shared so I took a few days to convince my wife and kids that this was a doable plan. My good wife took the pictures. Connie, my ten year old daughter, had my towel ready and kept an extra eye on Amy, my four year old daughter.
As you can see from the approach, that there were several hundred people there. Perhaps 85% were there to support the ones revving themselves up to go in the icy water.
As we got closer we could see the ice. I guess the waves come in and freeze.
I specifically wore my Hawaiian shorts for the benefit of my brother Herb in Hawaii. It was bracing to wear shorts in the freezing wind.
There was a definite party athmosphere on the ice. The official dip time was noon, but you can see that some folks had already been frollicking in the water. I had timed our arrival so that we got out there around 11:45 so the wife and kids wouldn't freeze.
In order to get in and out of the water, there was a little cliff that had to be surmounted. All very slippery stuff. York, my seven year old son, slipped at least once.
I waded in up to my thighs (minimizing my swearing), then dove in for a full submersion. That was so much fun! The ordeal was toughest on the feet because they spent the longest time in the water. My clogs (Crocs) actually slipped off while I was in the water and I had to fiddle with them. The proper footwear should probably be old shoes that won't slip off. My prescription goggles were so fogged up that I took them off. I came out wincing while trying to spot Julia, my wife.
I was totally refreshed and rejuvenated afterwards! Thanks to Julia, Connie, York, and Amy for coming along. What a great way to start the new year!
Here's a post I'm about to submit to the Chicago Swordplay Guild (CSG) [chicagoswordplayguild.com]:
Sorry, but I haven't been to a class at the Chicago Swordplay Guild since 2008-11-15:
- Nov 22: Carpet cleaning.
- Nov 29, Dec 6: Flu.
- Dec 13: Daughter's aikido test.
- Dec 20: Son's aikido test.
- Dec 27: No class.
However, I have been doing CrossFit Workouts of the Day (WODs) since Nov 23, roughly taking every 4th day off. I've had to scale a few of these. The dates of when I did a WOD are not always the same as the date of the WOD.
- Jan 2: With a continuously running clock do one 135 pound Clean and Jerk the first minute, two 135 pound Clean and Jerks the second minute, three 135 pound Clean and Jerks the third minute... continuing as long as you are able.
- Jan 1: "Murph". For time: 1 mile run 20# vest, 100 Pull Ups, 200 Push Ups, 300 Squats, 1 mile run 20# vest. Partition non-running as needed.
- Jan 1: Dove into Lake Michigan.
- Dec 31: "Fight Gone Bad". 3 rounds with 1 min of each of these exercises with 1 min rest between ronds: Wall Ball 20# 10', Sumo Dead Lift High Pull 75#, Box Jump 20", Push Press 75#, Row (calories).
- Dec 29: Shoulder Press 1x for 5 sets, Push Press 3x for 5 sets, Push Jerk 5x for 5 sets.
- Dec 28: "Michael" 3 rounds for time: Run 800 m, Back Extensions 50x, Sit Ups 50x.
- Dec 27: 20 min of Thrusters 95# 5x, Hang Power Cleans 95# 7x, Sumo Dead Lift High Pulls 95# 10x.
- Dec 24: Back Squats for 5 sets of 5 reps.
- Dec 21: "Cindy" 20 min of 5 Pull Ups, 10 Push Ups, 5 Squats, or "Mary" 5 Handstand Push Ups, 10 Pistols, 15 Pull Ups.
- Dec 21: 800 m run, 4 times, resting between.
- Dec 19: "Filthy Fifty" For time: 50 Box jump, 24 inch box; 50 Jumping pull-ups; 50 Kettlebell swings, 1 pood; Walking Lunge, 50 steps; 50 Knees to elbows; 50 Push press, 45 pounds; 50 Back extensions; 50 Wall ball shots, 20 pound ball; 50 Burpees; 50 Double unders.
- Dec 17 In 20 min rounds of: Run 400 m, 15 L Pull Ups, 15 Hip Ext.
- Dec 17: 7 Split Jerks.
- Dec 14: Run 10 Km/ 6.2 miles.
- Dec 13: 3 rounds for time of Box Jumps 50x on 24" Box, Dead Lifts 21x at 185#, Pull Ups 30.
- Dec 11: "Nasty Girls": 3 rounds for time of 50 Squats, 7 Muscle Ups, 135# Hang Power Cleans 10x.
- Dec 10: "Annie". For time 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 reps of Double Unders and Sit Ups.
- Dec 8: 7 Clean and Jerks.
- Dec 5: In 20 min, as many rounds of these 5 exercises. 5th round jumping pull ups.
- Dec 5: For time: 100 squats, 2 muscle ups, 80-4, 60-6, 40-8, 20-10.
- Dec 4: Five rounds for time of: 50 pound dumbbell, walking lunge, 10 alternating steps. 50 pound dumbbell, swing, 15 reps.
- Dec 3: Three rounds, 21-15- and 9 reps, for time of: 95 pound Thruster, Pull-ups.
- Dec 1: Shoulder Press 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 reps.
- Nov 30: "Tabata Something Else" Complete 32 intervals of 20 seconds of work followed by ten seconds of rest where the first 8 intervals are pull-ups, the second 8 are push-ups, the third 8 intervals are sit-ups, and finally, the last 8 intervals are squats. There is no rest between exercises.
- Nov 28: Kata
- Nov 27: Swimming
- Nov 23: Three rounds for time of: 21 Knees to elbows; 1 1/2 pood Kettlebell swing, 21 reps; 21 Push-ups; 15 foot Rope climb, 3 ascents; 20 inch Box jump, 21 reps; 21 Back extension; Walking lunge, 150 ft.
I've decided to make "non-practice" notes on CrossFit from a martial perspective, but first a summary of CrossFit:
CrossFit is a strength and training methodology used by hundreds of firemen, military folks, and martial artists that was developed by Greg Glassman, a former gymnast since the 1980s. The CrossFit site provides a great deal of free information including these seminal link explaining themselves:
- "Foundations" (2002-04)
- "What is Fitness?" (2002-10)
- "Understanding CrossFit" (2007-04)
- CrossFit Exercises. Videos of exercises, lectures, and such.
Here are a few other links on different seminal topics in CrossFit:
- "The Garage Gym" (2002-09). The basic equipment (at the time). Also in the first issue of the CrossFit Journal.
- "Garage Gym II: The Revolution" (2005-07). An update on the previous article. The CrossFite home page also has a short list of recommended suppliers.
- "Killer Workouts" (2005-05). Anyone participating in intense physical activity (like CrossFit) needs to be aware of Rhabdomyolysis [W].
- "Broad, General & Inclusive Fitness" (2007-07). Video of part of lecture by Greg Glassman.
- "Sport of Fitness Seminar" (2002-02 and 2003-03). Video of part of lecture by Greg Glassman.
For those who don't want to follow the links, let me summarize CrossFit in a paragraph. In CrossFit (although the concept should be applicable everywhere) health comes in a continuum from sick to well to fit. So engaging in health promoting activity and study is not just for "athletes" but anyone who wants to be healthy. In CrossFit, fitness should be "broad, general, and inclusive" as in the tasks in life, work, and sports varies by a great range. Thus while some may want to specialize, most should be able to do general random tasks. EG: A marathon runner specializes in endurance but may suffer in strength. There are 10 general physical skills that CrossFit wants to cover: Cardiovascular and Resperatory Endurance (oxygen processing), Stamina (energy processing), Strength, Flexibility, Power (more force in less time), Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy. There is a hierarchy of components for health: Nutrition, Metabolic Conditioning (cardio and stamina), Gymnastics (calisthenics or moving the self), Weight Lifting and Throwing (moving the non-self), Sport/Life (application and expression of health/fitness). Exercises should be functional (roughly approximate real life functions) and varied (hence widely different WODs). Intensity is preferred because powerful sessions save time and can provide metabolic conditioning too. CrossFit is empirically driven as in measuring, counting, timing, data sharing, experimenting, etc. CrossFit is a sport, the "sport of fitness" because games, playing, and competing are more fun and motivating than simply demanding fitness. CrossFit implements this sport by having people doing WOD all over the world and having them share metrics and experiences over the Internet. The inclusive factor means that the exercises should be scalable (modified depending upon age, gender, capabilities, etc.) and subbable (modified depending on equipment, capabilities, etc.).
Now onto notes on CrossFit from a martial perspective.
As far as improving fitness, CrossFit is broader and more general and more inclusive than martial arts. Martial arts focus on combat activities which most of us rarely, if ever, use in everyday life. In its defense martial arts, is broader and more general than other activities, like say running. In the CrossFit hierarchy of health components, martial arts is a "sport", i.e. a particular application of fitness. Martial arts can develop general fitness, but CrossFit develops general fitness more broadly, more generally, and more efficiently. Six months of CrossFit would advance the 10 general physical skills of a person better than 6 months of martial arts. One of the reasons is a matter of logistics. Martial arts, like CrossFit, can be done solo, but martial arts should usually done with others for two reason: Martial arts is very skills oriented and requires constant instruction at a lower level. Combat requires combatants, and preferably a variety of opponents. Most people probably don't realize it but martial arts is a very social activity! "Extra-curricular", in-person, out-of-home gatherings can be difficult to schedule around work, school, kids, chores, etc. In contrast, you can do most CrossFit workouts alone, at your own home, on your own schedule, even if sick (like I was), all the while feeling connected to the CrossFit community. It is much easier for the average person to do 5-6 days a week of CrossFit than martial arts. I am of the opinion that most people should do something like CrossFit for general fitness. People with specific sports/activities, should spend that precious scheduled time doing things very specific to their sport/activity. Even the warm ups should be largely sport/activity specific if possible.
Another thing I like about CrossFit that most martial arts do is intensity (more work in less time). Most martial arts workouts are intense and 1 hour long, maybe 2 at most. The Chicago Swordplay Guild has 4 hour long workouts, the very length of which reduces intensity. The problem with a 4 hour work out is not just that it is hard to maintain physical intensity, but mental intensity and focus as well. There's a reason that most movies don't run 3-4 hours long. The CSG motto is "ferrum non verbum" (steel, not words), and yet the workouts are padded with scholarly discussions. Some of these are discussions would be better of done after class or over a beer or in a forum or through "homework". In defense of the CSG, some of the discussions have to be done on the floor. Also in defense of the CSG, it's using Chicago Park District space and does not have full control of the space and hours. As much fun as the abrazare/unarmed half of the class is, I've had tons of that already and I want to focus on the armed portion, hence I'm going to start going to just the last half of these 4 hour classes.
I love how both CrossFit and martial arts emphasize technique/mechanics. See "Virtuosity" (2005-08). Good mechanics and beautiful technique is not just pretty but it increases safety, efficacy, and efficiency. Interestingly enough, Greg Glassman points out how you have to push the intensity such that it challenges the the perfection of your technique in this video: "Question & Answer Part 2, Coach Glassman". Perfection of technique v intensity. There is such truth in this. If you don't challenge or risk your technique, then you can't acquire virtuosity in your technique, or innovate new techniques.
I'm impressed by the work CrossFit puts into the core.
- The trunk/torso consists of 3 parts: The thorax/chest, the abdomen, and the pelvis. I consider the "core" to be the lower 2/3 of the trunk/torso. The Japanese would call this the hara.
- Martial artists often say use the "hips", but that's imprecise. The hip is actually the end of the femur (the thigh bone) and should really refer to the joint between the femur and the pelvis. CrossFit does a lot of squats, so they focus on opening/extending and closing/flexing the hip. Just to be absolutely clear: A fully flexed hip would have the knees the chest. There should be a large range of motion (ROM) from the hip joint and a lot of power.
- Not surprisingly, CrossFit does not do much with hip rotation (either laterally/externally or medially/internally), abduction (lateral lift), or adduction (medial lift). In contrast, kicking martial arts cover almost all hip ranges.
- Another major "joint" covers the lumbar vertebrae (lower back) and sacrum (the triangular base of the spine wedged into the pelvis at the sacroiliac or SI joint and just above the coccyx or tailbone). Relative to the hip joint, the SI and lumbar have little ROM and are meant for stabilization. There are two major positions to lock into (as opposed to a relaxed or neutral pelvis):
- Posterior/forward pelvic tilt, aka maintaining the lumbar curve. CrossFit does a lot of lifts, so they focus on maintaining the lumbar curve (which emphasizes stability), instead of letting you rounding your back (which might tempt you to lift with it). This is what they're talking about when they say lift with your legs and not with your back. The Fabris stance in rapier is one of the few times that the lumbar curve is used in martial arts.
- Anterior/backward pelvic tilt. aka hollow back or tucking in your tailbone. CorssFit does in running, gymnastics, at the top of squats, etc. Most upright martial arts utilize the tucked tail because the tucked tail is good for hip extension. Most of the ground martial arts use this too in falls and rolls.
- Midline stability involves stabilizing the abdomen by using your body to form a natural girdle or lifting belt. Usually you tense the obliques and create pressure in the abdominal cavity. This is often done by trying to draw the navel to the anus or similar visualization technique. In martial arts this has to be developed so that you can maintain it pretty much constantly (as in ready to receive a stomach blow) while being relaxed otherwise. Midline stability is what allows you to connect the lower body to the upper body and to transfer power and momentum. Midline stability is used everywhere in CrossFit and martial arts.
I have yet to see it in CrossFit but the above discussion on the core misses misses out on core related movements such as rotating on the vertical axis (think turning to void a bull, or turning into a blow) and traversing (think voiding to the side). While front and back movement (essentially hip flexion and extension) is common (walking, running, lifting), martial arts and chores also do a lot of vertical rotation and traversing. I suppose they'll do it with agility ladders, chopping exercises, and the like.
I'm enjoying seeing so many stance fundamentals in CrossFit: Toes and knees aligned in facing, knees bent, mind center of mass, mind eye placement, be tall. Similarly the aggressiveness in timing required in some techniques (like the Jerk) is very reminiscent many martial techniques.
CrossFit uses a lot of waves of contractions and waves of momentum transfer --very clear in the Olympic lifts. Blows and throws and blocks involves lots of momentum transfer. Of course martial arts must temper maximal momentum transfer with tactical considerations. EG: Lead with the sword forward, then step in.
CrossFit's explorations into the pose technique (pose, fall, lift) for running is also very interesting. Relying on the natural spring board of the arch of the foot makes sense. Using the gravity and the forward fall makes sense. Lifting just the foot instead of pushing makes sense for running (or robotic dogs), but a very quick single step for a blow should take advantage of a push instead of just a lift. Distinctions should be made between many steps (running), few steps (sprinting), very few steps (fighting). Clearly racers start from the balls of their feet. It's all very reminiscent of bare foot, natural foot techniques, which is done in both WMA (with period shoes) and EMA.
One of the reasons that CrossFit appeals to me is the emphasis on functional exercises. Martial arts often does exercises that approximate fighting techniques or movements.
The aikido unbendable arm demo has been around for years, but its nice to see the unbendable arm discussed from a Western perspective via Tony Blauer. I suppose the thrusting sword grip can utilize the unbendable arm if at least some of the fingers open up more. BTW: CrossFit throws in some combatives stuff but I don't think it's really their shtick. I have noticed that a good number of the CrossFit affiliates are Krav Maga folks.
Lastly I wanted to mention that CrossFit focuses on the "lower" general physical skills, while martial arts focus on "higher" skills. In one continuum you might have this: Physical, Tactical, Strategic, and Political. Or with a chess analogy: Physical covers the rules of how the pieces move; Tactical covers responding to the previous move while thinking ahead 1-2 moves; Strategic covers the over all layout leading to the end game; Political covers whether you should win or lose this game and why. A problem with the chess analogy is that the physical skill is equal for all players, but in a fight being able to physically move faster may win the fight. On the other hand: When communicating being able to physically shout louder is a fairly trivial skill compared to having something pithy to say. Or as Herodotus says in Oscar's sig: "Force has no place where there is need of skill.".
Sorry if this ran on and it wasn't edited enough, but I've already spent more time on this than I had intended to.
At the Chicago Swordplay Guild (CSG) [chicagoswordplayguild.com] we do longsword free play (sparring) with shinai (Kendo bamboo swords) that have been customized to be more like a longsword than a katana (Japanese sword). Wood and rattan do not have the flex needed for safety from thrusts.
A large difference between a Japanese sword and a Western longsword is the guard. Japanese blades have little tsuba (guards), whereas most Western swords have large guards. Longswords in particular have a cross, as in the shape (although many can't help but see a Christian cross). There are several options but the CSG generally uses the sturdy cross guard by Dino [http://www.chicagoswordplayguild.com/c/links/suppliers.asp]. To fit it, take a caliper and measure the diameter on the grip where you want the guard. Then take a rotary tool (like a Dremel) and sand the inner diameter of the guard to that diameter. Then just wedge the thing down. I have the inner diameter of the guard so snug that I don't need to screw it in place. I like to align the cross with the himo (string) since the himo denotes the false edge. Others prefer to take the himo off altogether.
The pommel, which acts as a handle as well as a counterweight on the butt of the sword, is easy to install. Drill a hole through the handle, insert screw, tighten, then put on rubber covering.
The punta (tip) of the sword also has many choices. Some people a little 1-2" (2.5-5 cm) column out of "coins" of foam and something stiffer (like leather), and then duck tape that sucker onto the punta. The problem I've seen with that design is that it breaks off -- probably because the weak point is the gap between the column and the bamboo.
My design involves two materials: foam insulation for pipes (0.75" or 2 cm) and 2" (5 cm) wide filament-reinforced strapping tape. Take a short 2" (5 cm) of foam insulation and roll it into a tight column the same diameter as the tip. Tape that column all the way around. Take a long 6" (15 cm) length of the foam insulation and put it onto the tip with 2" (5 cm) sticking out. Fill the part sticking out with the tight column you just made. Squeeze the long length of foam so that there are no gaps, and tape around until the whole length is covered. Then tape along the axis from 4" (10 cm) beyond the foam, onto the foam, over the tip, onto the foam again, and then 4" (10 cm) beyond the foam on the other side of the sword. Rotate the sword 90 degrees and repeat. Then tape around the sword where the foam ends.
My design has several advantages. A cheesey one is the use of filament-reinforced strapping tape instead of just duck tape. The main advantage is that while both designs have a little column on the tip, my design sheathes the column and shinai with 6" (15 cm) of foam and continues on with 4" (10 cm) of tape, effectively forming a langete (long metal strips that hold spear heads and pole axes onto the shaft and also prevent breakage).
Shinai break during free play so keep spares as well as extra tape, foam, and tools. Lately the CSG has been trying out heavier suburi shinai to reduce breakage and to get a more realistic weight.
See also How to make rondel dagger boffers.
I have small group of friends from college. I'm the only one who leans left, the others are right of center or far right. One of the die-hard Republican friends sent out this email recently about a speech by Rush Limbaugh on 2009-02-28:
Rush gave the keynote address to the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) two weeks back. CPAC holds the biggest annual conservative convention in the country. This year FOX aired the keynote address, and knowing this Rush took the opportunity to explain to the nation what conservatism is. It was basically a Conservatism 101 class and really boiled down conservative thinking in one speech.
I thought of myself as a liberal until I listened to Rush. He was my mentor in political thinking. So if you’d like to get a idea of how conservatives in general and myself in particular view the world, please consider listening to this (the link is weird, after getting to the site, I had to hit refresh to start the video):
I replied with the following:
Sigh. The things I do for my friends. I just watched all 1:28:50 of the Rush "address to the nation". I even rewound it a few to times to make sure I heard it right. Unlike his all pro-Rush audience, I personally did not appreciate his going over his allotted time by an hour.
It seemed that his speech was largely to to explain who conservatives are to a larger audience, but he was also giving conservatives suggestions about what to do especially in response to having lost the 2008 Presidential election.
Whether Democratic or Republican, conservative or liberal, I think most Americans love people, the Constitution, life, liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. I find this funny because as much as he accuses libs/Dems of fostering a victim mentality, he and the cons/Repubs so often play as if they are victims to the media. Is the media saying that libs/Dems have those qualities and that cons/Repubs don't? Is he saying that cons/Repubs love those things and foster those things more than libs/Cons? Silly. But in a sense everyone regardless of party has to promote these thing in order to avoid looking like they're not against those things.
In order to define conservatives, Rush had to draw the distinctions between libs/Dems and cons/Repubs with using less general stuff. In many models there are two axes of freedom/permissiveness: personal/social and economic. The usual definitions roughly follow the attached chart.
On the personal/social axes Rush talked about how cons/Repubs like people, see individuals and not groups, how people should live lives according to their values, about how they should make suggestions and then let people do as they wish, they want everybody to succeed, etc. Rush tries to make it sound as if cons/Repubs are live and let live, and are not racist, sexist, or homophobic, but then does not bring up cans of worms like affirmative action, abortion, or gays. (Otherwise his speech would have been even longer!) These are issues of fairness, morality, and taste, and I find it odd to parse these issues by party. If anything, it seems that Rush is leaning toward moderate on these issues (as would be expected of a capitalist according to the chart).
Rush largely focused on the economic axis, especially with taxes, regulations, and role/size of government. (Regulations and role of govt can also fall in the pers/soc axis.)
I think the tax issue is overplayed. Raising taxes is never popular with the voters, so why would either party want to be pro-tax? If anything, Obama is giving 95% of America a tax cut. We've only had income tax since the Civil War, but I consider the existence of taxes a separate issue. As far as punishing achievement (the rich), these Republican Presidents had these tax rates for the rich: Eisenhower 91%, Nixon 70%, Reagan 50%. Obama is just rolling back Bush's tax cuts from 35% to 39.6%. Perhaps cons/Repubs want bigger tax cuts all around and for the rich but then there's the national debt. Obama is setting a moderate progressive tax, he's no wild-eyed socialist, punishing the rich.
As far as regulations: It was lax regulations that enabled bad securities to get AAA ratings. All the politicians can point the fingers this way and that. We, the people, don't care, we just want regulations in there to prevent this from happening again. Perhaps bubbles will always happen but a robust system with redundant systems can handle failures. These securities were opaque, were pervasive enough to take everything down with them, and should be illegal. I don't consider this to be overly authoritarian, any more than having traffic laws for safety. The true costs of things eventually get revealed. Of course we need to weed out the bad regulations too. Keep things simple as possible, but no simpler.
As far as role/size of government: Bush did the bailouts and TARP --everyone agrees we need a stimulus package. As far as a perpetual War on Poverty, a welfare state, entitlements, redistribution of wealth, and destroying ambition: America isn't socialist. In the US budget: 23% is Medicare/Medicaid, 21% Social Security, 21% Defense, 17% discretionary, 10% mandatory, 8% interest. The government is not a for profit organization. It's supposed to provide some public services. I don't think folks are living high on the hog on food stamps, unemployment benefits, NASA, and college grants, or that we aren't following our dreams. Libs/Dems have nothing against people getting rich or being happy.
Rush seems to stress more on what cons/Repubs would not do, as opposed to what they would do. It's almost Taoist in the sense that those in touch with the Tao appear to do nothing and yet accomplish so much. His advice to his flock of beating libs/Dems by talking about principles instead of trying to make better policy, is akin to being more and doing less. I'm greatly amused by this because that's my general mode of operation. I only step in and tweak things as needed, otherwise I let the people live for themselves.
Rush says that libs/Dems are about fostering fear, defining who can have freedom, being authoritarian. That all sounds like the Bush admin to me. The war and the economy foster enough fear by themselves, thank you. I don't think libs/Dems are out to destroy and remake the country, or destroy people's futures: Who's fostering that fear? Libs/Dems have blood in Iraq and Afghanistan and did not want want the Iraq war to fail, period.
What's with all these petty attacks on Biden? Jokes about Indians at the 7-11? Biden forgot the name/number of a website? Perhaps Rush was trying to lighten things up, but it comes across as petty and emotional manipulation. He keeps saying he sees Americans individuals instead of groups, but he keeps playing us versus them.
I find the joke of Rush thinking so highly of himself, as in being God-like or having crowds cheering him wherever he goes, sort of warps his perspective. I don't think too many people cared what Rush was doing while Obama met with moderate cons/Repubs. It's all Rush self-promoting.
I was hopeful that he'd present a view of conservatism that I had not grasped before, but it was pretty familiar stuff. He is still largely concerned about the political GAME of us v them, as opposed to acting like a public servant --which is OK because he's not a public servant --he's a political entertainer profiting off of a captive audience that he cultivates. His statements about wanting to see Obama fail (and his weak defense) highlight this.
The people and I are watching actions, and examining the reasoning, evidence, heart and laws supporting those actions, and the results of the actions. We don't care what you're party is.
His reply so far has been this:
Thank you, Thank you George! A very reasoned response. You’d might be surprise on how many points we agree (I sure was). I will respond when I have more time. Nice chart BTW, although I’m not sure what the "You" button stands for...
Tao? Hmm... I’ll have to give some thought to that one...
To be continued...
So far so good. It's often more fun to "fight" with your friends than your enemies. Even though we may seem politically opposite according to the two party system, I'm hoping that our differences are actually manageable, because on a grander scale we have the same political interests of looking after our friends, family, and neighbors.
This post is one of my occasional "brain dumps". I do it because thoughts float around in my head and if I don't do something specific with them, then they disappear, decay, or clutter up my head. So in lieu of doing something specific with these thoughts, I dump them out of my head by writing them down quickly without worrying too much about parsing them. A brain dump is about recording the "data" without worrying about distilling the "info". That is I'm supposed to be concerned about improving the signal-to-noise_ratio (SNR) [W] ("the level of a desired signal (such as music) to the level of background noise. The higher the ratio, the less obtrusive the background noise is").
Speaking of SNR, some of my recent thinking has to do with "the signal". One of the reasons I do my brain dumps is because my head has become too noisy, but I know that there must be some signal in there, so a brain dump may help to distill the signal. However I'm just one person: There are billions of other heads on this planet, and hence billions of SNR situations. Also it's not just about thoughts, the signal may refer to any chunk of "data" that is "info". The signal is any data that is info, beautiful, or true. The idea is partially a variation of John Keats' line: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty, - that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.".
The signal may be an idea. The signal may be physical beauty. The signal may be a performance. The signal is both a class/concept and an instance/execution. I like using the word "signal" because there is not only the concept of the the signal (as in the info, the beauty, the truth), but also the concept of persisting, perpetuating, reproducing, permutating, sharing, and strengthening the signal, as well as the opposites: ending, reducing, hiding, and weakening the signal.
Parents who miscarry only just became aware of the signal of the child before they lost the signal. Parents who lose a young child only enjoyed the new signal for a short while before it went out. When someone dies that you didn't know, it is the loss of a signal that you never heard. When someone dies that you knew well, it is the loss of a familiar signal. When someone bright and dear dies, it is the loss of a beautiful signal.
We all have SNR. Some are able to share their signal externally by expressing themselves through speech, touch, writing, art. Some are able to persist their signal by the written word, photos, videos, monuments, memes. Some strengthen their signal (or the signal of others) by perpetuating, sharing, promoting, protecting, or permutating the signal. Some hide their signal. Some don't know to share their signal. Some have signals with great potential. Some have redirected signals. Some share their signal with a select group. Groups are strongest with a common signal or cause, that all in the group want support. Some blacken signals, do graffiti on signals, or diminish signals.
There are signals in nature. The beauty of a bird or a cat is a signal. The wonder of a sunrise or the stars at night are signals.
We seek out signals. We compare them and find ones that we attune to our own signal. We chose signals. A break up, a divorce, a separation, is a rejection of a signals, of non-harmonious signals, a devaluing of a signals.
I think this usage of the word "signal" is similar to the word "soul", but the word "signal" is secular, more flexible, and yet less abstract.
A friend of my recently left my company. We worked together for around 7 years. It got me to thinking of life as a shared road. The concept of life as a road or a river isn't new. Possibly the most famous usage comes from J.R.R. Tolkien who had at least 3 walking songs that start with "The Road goes ever on". See The Road Goes Ever On (song) [W]. While Tolkien's road focuses on the adventures on the road and coming home, my recent thoughts on the road have to do with sharing the road.
We can make some choices on the road. Perhaps we can choose which road to start on, or who we'll travel with. But often we don't have a choice about where we get set on the road, or about the random things that may happen on the road, or who we might randomly meet on the road, or who we might have to travel with on the road. Most of the people we meet on the road are strangers. Some we have to talk with to get groceries and such. Some we have to talk with because they're classmates or co-workers or neighbors. Some of us are more extroverted and want to talk with more on the road, while some of us are more introverted and want to talk with fewer on the road.
Let's assume that there are various causes for sharing the road that range from having a common "signal" (school, job, locality, political interests, etc.), to satisfying human social needs, to being attuned to the specific signal in an individual. The thing is we all get born, live, and die. that is metaphorically we all get on the road, we all travel on roads that we share with others, then we get off the road. I'd think that most people would want that shared road time to be meaningful at the least. Some may have additional requirements for that shared road time. Some may want it to be pleasurable, safe, sincere, adventurous, restful, productive, warm and fuzzy, and so on.
In any case, our personal time on the road of life is finite. We spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years at a time as if time was cheap. That time you were "forced" to spend with a "nobody" or nobody? Well guess what? It cost the same time as the time you "chose" to spend with a "somebody". Some people may interpret this as "Let's hurry this up because I don't want to waste another second with a nobody". I prefer to think that regardless of what part of the road I'm on, I want to be mindful of myself, the road, and anybody (if any) that I'm sharing that road with --even if they are a "nobody".
Another aspect of the shared road I've been thinking about has another temporal/spatial aspect. If you share the road with someone, and you never meet them again, then it's as if that person died. When someone dies, you never see them again in person. It's like they've permanently moved to another dimension or you permanently moved to another period in time. In one sense all the people in your past that you'll never meet again, have died. This sort of thinking can be depressing, because you might realize that all the people through out history that are dead, and that all the people in the future that you'll never meet are in a sense dead, and that all the people that you won't meet because of geography are in a sense dead, and that even in the same city all those strangers you don't meet are in a sense dead. If you don't receive a fairly regular signal from a person, then the probability is that their signal will fade to nothingness, and hence they are effectively dead.
When people move away or fall out of touch, then it is as if they have died. What's sadder is a loveless relationship where you can physically get their signal, but they're not sending you a real signal, the signal you knew, so it's as if they died. The silent treatment can be very harsh. Sometimes we may be giving people the silent treatment, and not be totally aware of it. I tend to be introverted and task focused so I'm almost certainly guilty. Anyhow the point of this shared road thought is not to make you or me depressed, but to make us mindful of the shared road and to earnestly live it. It's best to physically intimately directly get their signal by taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. However in lieu of that a phone call, a video call, a text, an email, a letter, a note in facebook, can do wonders.
A co-worker of mine recently mentioned that I had no vices. I quickly and instinctively replied that it was a false statement because I like my salt, I like my sweets, and I procrastinate. That little exchange got me to thinking about my vices.
I've explored and written about the seven deadly sins [W], virtue [W] and variations before and I may go over them a little bit today, but my emphasis for now is to cover just a little corner of the topic from my perspective, as opposed to covering the topic in general.
The Seven Deadly Sins (in Latin & English) and their corresponding virtues:
- Luxuria = Lust v Chastity
- Gula = Gluttony v Temperance
- Avaritia = Greed v Charity
- Acedia = Sloth v Diligence
- Ira = Anger v Patience
- Invidia = Envy v Kindness
- Superbia = Pride v Humility
The Four Cardinal Virtues of the Ancient Greeks (and their corresponding vices):
- Prudence v Folly
- Temperance v Lust
- Justice v Venality
- Courage v Cowardice
Some Christian vices of the spirit:
- Blasphemy (holiness betrayed)
- Apostasy (faith betrayed)
- Despair (hope betrayed)
- Hatred (love betrayed)
- Indifference (scripturally, a "hardened heart")
GLUTTONY and folly. While I don't really drink alcohol, eat too much, eat too many simple carbs, smoke, or do drugs, gluttony is still indeed a vice of mine. I'm a saltaholic and I have a fair sweet tooth, but they are also not out of control or ruining anybody's life. My blood pressure, my weight, my teeth and my budget are all good, but in the long run I will probably want modify my diet.
SLOTH and folly. I have certain concrete slothful behaviours. I play WarCraft a bit too much --I've quit and restarted several times. I procrastinate on taking the trash out --Yes, I let it pile up in our back porch before I take it out. Those are all fairly small things. Having sloth and procrastination means that I don't live up to my potential in small ways (EG: Getting out of bed sooner) and big ways (EG: I don't "save the world" as much as I could). Sloth is probably my biggest vice. There are many causes for sloth: There is a fear of failing to live up to the potential, there is a fear of admitting the limits of ones potential, there is the fear of change or making decision, there is the fear of imperfection or incompleteness, etc. etc. Ignore all the noise. Screw the butterflies. Don't be too worried about mistakes or failures or looking good. Encourage action or progress no matter how small.
LUST. When I was younger, my thoughts and hormones pushed that way quite a bit. Thankfully things have settled down somewhat. Every body is different so we'll see how my changes as I get older. As a species we need some lust to reproduce. Lust is spicy and natural, and there will always be some folks who will over do it, but usually some temperance fixes it. The Lust/Chastity pair is overrated.
INTROVERSION. I'm on the fence on this one. People are born with physical and personality traits like black hair or introversion. While, people can easily change their hair color, it is harder to adjust a person's degree of introversion. I don't think introverts should consider themselves to have vices like sloth, folly, cowardice, despair, and indifference just because they're introverted. However we introverts do need to practice in order to increase our comfort level and our skills because communicating is important, prevalent, and often necessary. I've been thinking about Signal-to-Noise Ratio recently and an introvert is like an absence of signal, which can be disconcerting for some, and could inadvertently pass the wrong info along.
MARTIAL ARTS. I do not consider martial arts to be a sin of any sort. I'm perfectly capable of doing and enjoying violence, but there is no anger or malice in it. Even ants will defend themselves. Martial arts is good fun exercise that involves diligence, patience, humility, prudence, a sense of justice, courage, hope. The physical, tactical, and strategic skills and plays involved are wide and deep, and so are the social, cultural, historical, and scientific components.
ATHEISM. I do not consider atheism to be a sin of blasphemy or apostasy, any more than noting that 1 + 1 = 2, or that at standard temperature and pressure, most gases behave like an ideal gas. If I thought I was a better human being just because I'm an atheist, then that would be pride. (Although some atheists might say that we should be proud that we don't need divine wrath to make us nice to others.) If I thought everyone should be forced to immediately become atheist, than that would be folly and indifference.
My phone contract is up for renewal this May. I'm either going with a minimal phone that can phone, text, and takes pictures, or I'll go with a full smart phone.Here's the most in-depth look at the T-Mobile G1 phone: THE DEFINITIVE IN-DEPTH REVIEW: Optus HTC Dream with Google Android [http://apcmag.com/australian-review-htc-dream-optus.htm].
I've also gathered basic stats to compare the G1 against the Apple iPhone:
|Weight||133 g||158 g|
|Display||3.5" 480x320||3.2" 480x320|
|Camera||2 Mpix||3.2 Mpix|
|CPU||620 MHz ARM 1176||528 MHz ARM 11|
|RAM||128 DRAM||192 DDR SDRAM + 256 MB Flash|
|Storage||8 or 16 GB built in||1-8 GB microSD|
|Data Port||30 pin dock connector||USB|
|Audio Port||3.5 mm||USB or USB with 3.5 mm dongle|
|Recharge||Dock to USB||USB|
|Battery Talk||5 h||5 h|
|Battery Standby||300 h||130 h|
|Battery Replacement||dealer only||you or dealer|
The G1 is appealing because I make heavy use of Google for email and calendar. Since my name is George, having a phone called "G1" has some ego appeal. It is also a pleasing coincidence that the G1 was released on my birthday in 2008.
This morning on the radio I heard about a couple who had lost their son and how their pain transformed their lives. It got me to think about SNR and scarring.
I've touched upon Signal-to-Noise-Ratio (SNR) before (Signals and the Shared Road). There are so many permutations and applications of SNR. SNR is one of my current favorite topics.
Let's say that someone knows about SNR and tries to maximize it. Now let's take a more specific application of SNR and assume someone is trying to maximize music and minimize noise. So then: What if they have an incident, some accident, and their ears have become scarred in such a way that they can barely hear music any more and what they get is mostly noise? They may want to maximize SNR, but all they get is noise.
It is easy to imagine such a scenario with a variety of physical disabilities. It's an analogy that works particularly well for me because I have Single-Sided Deafness (SSD). What strikes me about this twist on SNR is that it applies in the emotional and psychological realm as well.
If you have been hurt emotionally/psychologically, then the brain perceives it as physical pain. The hurt can be bad enough that you have been scarred. Perhaps now you perceive your world, even your inner world, through this scarring, this noise-making scarring.
It doesn't help much to know about SNR because all you get is noise. That's what it's like to be depressed: All you get is noise. You may know there's signal and beauty within and without, but all you get is noise because of your scarring. Invisible scarring also does not draw as much empathy from others as visible scarring or disability. (Again this resonates with the SSD phenomena.)
A scarred person needs to be able to maximize SNR again. They need time. They need others who get signal and can convey it. They need the ability to block out noise in that channel and try to get signal from other channels. They need to heal. They need to know that others can see past their scars. They need to work around or through their scarring.
In the end, I think none of us can avoid scarring of one sort or another. Getting hurt and undergoing change is part of being alive. Some of us may get hurt more than others. Sometimes the noise is so strong that you can barely perceive any signal, but that signal, that beauty, that truth, that hope is what we live for.
In my post Head in the clouds, I stated the following:
I'd like to Amazon (or Barnes and Noble) to sell and store digital media like ebooks, videos, and music. There are some books that are so beautiful or big or both that I'd prefer a print copy, but for most books, an ebook would do. I don't want physical media disks at my house getting scratched and broken. I don't mind them using some consumer-mindful form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) to ensure that I'm not stealing. I'd like to supplement the DRM digital media with DRM-free media from other sources like Google Books and the Gutenberg Project, PDFs, MP3s, etc. Perhaps I'd store it at GDrive. In any case, I should be able to stream digital media (if I'm online) or download them (at least temporarily) for access either on or offline.
The whole topic of digital media is a big topic. These days I'm focused on digital books but they're all related.
Before I continue, let me just quickly jot down the sub-topics:
- Media types.
- Physical size.
- Device features.
- Content and Money: Creator, seller, and buyer.
- Social media.
Media types is a seemingly easy sub-topic. The media types are essentially text, pictures, audio, video, and apps. Simple enough. That's the media that the user receives (and the device outputs). The user however also sends "media" (and the device inputs). This includes text, voice, movements, and selections. There are other nuances such as the streaming aspect (EG: radio), the asynchronous aspect (EG: email), and combinations (EG: comics). A lot of sight, sound, motion, and time sensing, but not much in the way taste, touch, or smell. Things like the Wii do some motion and momentum input/output too.
This is actually seemingly simple too.
Device features will vary greatly between makers and models initially, but as the technology matures, the differences between makers and models of the same class will become more subtle.
This is the real heart of the issue. The users/buyers are most concerned about the content, but these days the content is tied to the money.
Users have three kinds of content:
There have been three stages of content:
How do the creators and sellers control the copying of the media? And how can they ensure that they get their fair share of the buyer's money? In the digital media industry, the first medium to face this problem head on has been the music industry. Pirating (or illegal copying) of music still occurs. For a while it seemed that the answer was digital rights managment (DRM), but this seemed to hamper on the buyers right to legally copy media for which they had paid for. So far it seems that the answer is not DRM, but to trust that people will honor copyright laws and pay the seller (and hence the creator) their money. A comparison of online music stores [W] shows that the most successful don't use DRM. The available formats (such as mp3, aac, m4a, aiff, wav, ogg) are trivial given all the available converters.
Copyrighted digital text is in the news lately because e-book readers started becoming good enough and popular enough that major books are being sold in digital format. The different e-book readers are using DRM and different files.
Here's a quick review of different e-book formats. See also Comparison of e-book formats [W]. Some of them can implement DRM.
- .txt. Simple text. Preferably UTF-8, but Unicode, windows-1252, iso-latin-1, or even ASCII will do.
- .htm. Simple HTML. Variants include .chm, .lit, and plucker.
- .pdf. Portable Document Format. Practically universal. Many things can be exported or printed to PDF.
- .rtf. Rich Text Format.
- XML based:
- .opf. Open eBook
- .epub. Supercedes .opf
- .mobi, .prc. Mobipocket. Based on .opf. Available to the iRex/Philips iLiad e-book reader.
- .azw. Amazon Kindle e-book. Based on .mobi.
- .arg. Arghos Diffusion.
- Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY)
- .fb2. FictionBook.
- Text Encoding Initiative.
- .tr2, .tr3. TomeRaider.
- .ps. PostScript.
- .djvu. DjVu. Especially for images.
- .pdb. eReader (formerly Palm Digital Media/Peanut Press). For ereader.com. Also used by the Barnes & Noble Plastic Logic e-reader.
- .lrf, .lrx. Broadband eBooks. For the Sony Reader.
Here are the major e-book readers (see more at List of e-book readers [W] and their primary formats:
Just to make it explicit, one of the issues is that with DRM and no standard format, if you buy stuff from one store, then you have to use their reader. If you want to buy stuff from two stores, then you need two readers, and so on. In contrast, you can buy a CD from any store and play it on any CD player.
The digital music industry went through this DRM issue, i.e. it was a real world experiment done with real creators, sellers, and buyers. The result is that overwhelming majority of buyers are honest folk who will respect copyright laws and will pay the sellers and the creators their money. DRM tried to control illegal copying, but actually it was a stumbling block for buying and fair buyer use of media that they legally paid for. I guess that the print media has a years of physical media experience that it has to over come in this digital media world. Copyright laws still apply. Just because it is easier to copy, doesn't make it legal, and the numbers show that the greater sales without DRM are worth the losses due to piracy. The print media probably also has a psychological issue of going without DRM because digital songs are $0.99 while digital books are $9.99. In any case, print media will experiment with using digital print, and, like digital music, may drop DRM after they run through the same experiment but with text instead of audio, and with different prices and different uses.
Let me gripe a bit about some of the hoops I, as a buyer, have to go through:
My wife bought a Kindle 2 and then the price dropped. Learning from her experience, I want to get a Kindle DX --as soon as the price drops. We each have our own accounts at Amazon. A DRM protected Kindle book must be associated with an Amazon account and can be accessed on up to 6 Kindle-compatible devices, where each device is registered to the same Amazon account. A Kindle-compatible account can only be registered with one Amazon account at a time. This gives us several options:
- Buy Kindle books via both of our separate Amazon accounts. If I wanted to share a Kindle book with her (or any one else), then I'd have to lend someone my Kindle DX, or have an extra Kindle registered to my account that I could lend. Neither option sounds very good. She could also just buy the same book on her own account but that's not sharing something I own --it's buying it again. Separate accounts does have the advantage of privacy in that we could each purchase Kindle books that we don't want the other to know about.
- Buy Kindle books via just her Amazon account. My Kindle DX would be registered to her account. We would be able to share books, but we would have the same Kindle book list, plus I would also be able to see her non-Kindle book purchases and info at Amazon.If we got a 3rd Kindle for the family in general, then we could put particular books on that Kindle, but they could also connect to Amazon with the Kindle and see all our other books.
- Create a new family Amazon account and use that for buying Kindle books. Our Kindles would then be registered to the family Amazon account. This scenario is exactly the same as the previous scenario except that we could continue to use our separate Amazon accounts for non-Kindle purchases and thus have privacy for that stuff from each other.
FYI: The scenario is roughly the same for Barnes & Noble, where the e-books are tied to an account. There is the added difference that Barnes & Noble uses .pdb, whose DRM scheme is also tied to a credit card.
In actuality, my wife, my kids, and I are pretty open and we don't care who sees whose books or Amazon purchases so we're going with option #2. With non-DRM e-books the scenario becomes much easier. We can share copies of e-books that we bought within our family. We know that it would be illegal to copy it and give it to others. Perhaps we should be allowed to lend copies to friends that expire in a week. That should whet their appetites so they might buy the book for themselves. On the other hand wouldn't all those broke college students find some way to get free copies of the books they need? People have to realize that if the sellers and creators don't make money, then how can they continue to give us good content?
In one sense digital print has been around for a while: The Web has lots of text! Social digital print has also been around for a while: Email! Blogs! Groups! Facebook! The "social" aspect of digital media as in songs and books however, is only just starting. It's not just a matter of finding out what's hot as in Pandora, Spotify, etc., but of discussing, note taking, excerpting. Of the e-book readers, only the iRex/Philips iLiad has serious note taking features. Each e-book should have at least one site that's a jumping point for discussions centered around the book.
Anyhow this post is getting a little long. What I do with books is find them, buy them, read them, bookmark my place, take notes, look things up, share them with folks, and reference the books. I'd like to be able to do the same thing with e-books, but with the advantage of portability, some connectivity, and digital notes. I'm tempted by the Apple tablet because it has color, video, and can take notes, but it would also need a big book store, free connectivity, and better battery life. Amazon and Barnes & Noble should continue to compete against each other for a cheaper e-book reader that can take better notes and can read e-books from more sources. The big thing is that more and more books should be digitized. The World Wide Web is amazing, Google is amazing, Wikipedia is amazing. The ability to access all the books, old or new, from anywhere would be amazing too!
I've updated my intro to my page on Religion so I'm posting it here for archival purposes:
What is religion? There are many different definitions of religion (EGs: Religion [W] or Religion [dictionary.com/...]). Let me try a few cheesey tricks to start defining religion. One easy trick would be to use free association to come up with a list religious keywords and their complement.
faith : reason
spiritual : psychological
supernatural : natural
superstition : real
intuition : experience
magical thinking : scientific method
mysticism : fact
sacret texts : experimentation
ritual : protocol
ceremony : civil action
dogma : chaos/freedom
myth : nonsense
moral : immoral
mortality : immortality
immortality : mortality
after life : death
community : individual
individual : community
creation : evolution
cosmology : the present
holy days : holidays
love : hate
God : Devil or nothing
Obviously it's an imperfect list for several reasons. Dualism isn't everything; People may come up with other opposites; Some things go on both sides; And so on. The list is merely an exercise to think about the topic.
With religion, there is not merely an epistemological issue of your knowledge of the nature of man and the universe, but a component that tells you and your community how to behave. However since the behavioural component is built upon the epistemological one, then it may be said that the epistemological encompasses the behavioural component. The epistemological component is the key.
Non-religious epistemology relies on:
- Logic and reasoning.
- Empirical evidence. Measurement, observation, and experimentation. Rigorously and openly applied, this is the scientific method.
- Intuition. Feelings and emotions. Inference without knowing how. This not only covers warm and fuzzy feelings but all satori, moments of insight and genius too. This might even be described as spiritual.
Religious epistemology relies on non-religious epistemology as well, but those non-religious knowledge is trumped by mystical/supernatural insights and citations. Religions have used all manner of strong psychological, cultural, aethetic, social, and poltical devices to make their "supernatural" as real as the natural. Religious practices often include the following:
- prayer; meditation; confessions; mantras;
- chanting; hymns; psalms; songs; dancing;
- sacrifice and burning: incense; smoking; food, drink; animals; plants; people;
- rituals; pilgrimages; gatherings; ceremonies;
- holidays; festivals; feasts;
- temples; churches; shrines;
- idols; prayer beads; icons;
A religion's "supernatural" aspects are clearly superstititious to those outside of the religion, but to those within the religion, their supernatural aspects are real. I personally do not believe in the supernatural, whether God or gods or demon or ghosts. However given the strong pressures that religions and their communities apply, I can empathise with those who believe. Humans are prone to religion and we love fiction. Voltair said "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him".
Here are is personal view on religion in brief:
- I am pragmatic and secular --not cynical or anti-religious.
- I believe in nature and science. I believe that we are biologically inclined to want to believe. I am a naturalist but I acknowledge emergent experiences, complex experiences, and unexplained experiences that may truthfully feel spiritual. I believe that individuals and groups are at different stages in their own personal spiritual and emotional journeys, so I am generally tolerant and respectful of where people are. I believe that we can benefit from exploring and comparing different religions --and that it is part of our rich human heritage to do so.
- I believe that there are cultural, and social and/or emotional benefits to committing to a non-secular religious system, but I also believe that humanity is very young and that we will have many faiths for a long time yet, thus it would be beneficial for people of different faiths to participate in a broader secular system. I believe that government should be neutral on religion and that religious convictions must be translated into secular and ethical terms when becoming policy.
- I believe that we are individuals and social animals with a sense of self-interests and expanding group-interests. Problems arise when people cannot see or do beyond the interests of themselves or their tribe and move on to the interests of the species and the world. I believe that people will tend to be behaviorally, psychologically, and socially "good".
- I was was born and raised a Catholic Christian, but I am only a nominal Catholic Christian. I believe that there are many who participate in their faith more for cultural, social, and/or emotional reasons than for literal mystical reasons.
- I am an Atheist. (Yes, my mom knows.) I am not evil or immoral. I'm a human being like everyone else.
It's been a while since I've done one of my litte free association scribble sessions, so here goes.
Today is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species [W]. It's a good and grand occassion for celebration. I don't mind that Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort are giving away copies of the book with an anti-evolution introduction --the book, the evidence, the testing, and the ideas are simply blow away the stuff that Kirk and Mr. Banana come up with.
I have loved science and the philosophy of science for most of my life. Last month I saw David Deutsch: A new way to explain explanation [http://www.ted.com/talks/david_deutsch_a_new_way_to_explain_explanation.html], a video of David Deutsch talking science philosophy. Good stuff espencially its tie ins to Karl Popper [W].
By coincidence, I've been having an email exchange with my Conservative/Republican/Right-leaning friends. They were trying to slam Hawaiiaan health care with this article: Remember Hawaii's Health Care Lessons [http://sweetness-light.com/archive/lessons-from-hawaiis-health-care-system]. I countered with this email (which has been edited for privacy and formatting):
As is in the lowest costs per beneficiary in the country?
The attached chart is from last month's article: In Hawaii's Health System, Lessons for Lawmakers [http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/17/health/policy/17hawaii.html].
"Hawaii's health care system insures over 95% of residents. Under the state's plan, businesses are required to provide employees who work more than twenty hours per week with health care. Heavy regulation of insurance companies helps keep the cost to employers down. Due in part to the system's emphasis on preventive care, Hawaiians require hospital treatment less frequently than the rest of the United States, while total health care expenses (measured as a percentage of state GDP) are substantially lower. Given these achievements, proponents of universal health care elsewhere in the U.S. sometimes use Hawaii as a model for proposed federal and state health care plans. Critics, however, claim that Hawaii's success is due at least in part to its mild climate and to its status as a chain of islands whose economy is heavily based on tourism: features that make it more difficult for businesses unhappy with paying the plan's premiums to relocate elsewhere."
My brother lives in Hawaii and so does Linda. We can ask them.
Epistemology [W] because there's more than Fox and Rush.
From the responses, at first I thought I went over with the thing about epistemology, so I wrote this:
Sorry if talking about epistemology sound pretentious, but I've been reading about Karl Popper [W] and the philosophy of science, which all ties in to epistemology, as in what distinguishes common knowledge from scientific knowledge? What makes knowledge objective or subjective? How do we know? I think people like stuff that's very objective (science) or very subjective (art), but when things get in between (politics), it gets very muddy. Another important aspect is that somethings that "should" be objective may actually be quite subjective and vice versa. Certainly scientific/objective knowledge isn't everything, but knowing the distinctions between approximating the weight of a thing versus whether you like your weight are interesting to me.
Popper says some interesting stuff about freedom too, which BTW supports fighting: "The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato. Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal."
It's all good considering that today is the anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species". It's a theory right? What makes it "better" than say a theory that claims that we were created by Zeus? Knowledge are theories and conjectures, but scientific knowledge is testable and falsifiable.
However, further discussion seemed to indicate that it was actually my quip against Fox and Rush that totally sidetracked what I thought was going to be a discussion about health care. So later on in the email thread I said this:
My exact words: "Epistemology because there's more than Fox and Rush"
My words insult Fox and Rush and those who listen predominantly to them. If you have more sources than Fox and Rush, then you shouldn't be insulted.
You could take the same phrase and replace "Fox and Rush" with a comparable pair of terribly left-leaning sources. Would I be insulted? I don't think so. I for example, don't follow any specific blogs these day.
Hmm. I'm having deja vu. This sounds similar to the race discussion we had a little while ago. Am I really so brusque in my communications? My wife gives me a similar attitude sometimes too. I think we're just talking --and then all of the sudden I'm in trouble. Am I becoming some sort of Archie Bunker?
Ewww. Sorry: I'm over-quoting. Anyhow, it seems that as a species, we can be very good at objective/scientific/mathematical thinking as well as subjective/creative/artistic/magical thinking. We can make great science and great art. What gets me is when they clash poorly or maliciously or both. Religion and politics are the primary examples. Religion and politics can be so inspiring, creative, and constructive for society, but they are often abused, dogmatic, and destructive. It seems to me that the problem is largely political (in the sense of people promoting and protecting their own interests). People squibble about power, resources, time, love, ideas, popularity, money, justice, attention, and so on, but if we could all be less trivial, we could do some really great stuff.
I'm tired of being trivial, of being morose and maroon. I want to do great things, feel great love, think great thoughts, share great wealth, be patient, be "orange", foster the good. It's time to maximize that signal-to-noise ratio. Big bold words, idealistic words. I know, I know. But it's hard to not be so when you watch Hans Rosling: Asia's rise -- how and when [http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_asia_s_rise_how_and_when.html], and you clapping and really believe that India and China and other lagging countries will become first-world countries by 2048! OK, so maybe we'll lose our polar caps and polar bears by then as well, and maybe we'll run out of oil too, but still, there's a lot of good we can do.
Is it such terrible hubris to believe? I love science, but I'm a believer. I believe that we want what's best for our kids, for all the kids, for our race, for our species, for our planet. We may indeed be a flash in time, an effervescent moment, a fleeting arrangement of legos [http://xkcd.com/659/], but oh how we dazzle, oh how bright are those shinging eyes [http://www.ted.com/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html].
Pffftt! I can almost hear those Republican friends of mine tell me about drinking the tree-hugging kool-aid. You know what I say?!? FFFFFFUUUUUUUU!!!! Yeah baby! I'm living large! I'm breathing fire! I'm eager for my next CrossFit workout! I'm ready to cross swords! I'm watching too much TED and South Park and Heroes!
Phew. Slow down, slow down. Take it easy. I can breath fire calmly. I have the hubris to save the world. I'll do it Kill Bill style: I'll make a list.
Gaah! It's a crappy list, but it's a start. Time's up: Spell check and post. GO DARWIN!
I am often embarrassed to write. The concept of wabi sabi (imperfect, impermanent, incomplete) helps, but feeling or knowing that I could write/think/process better tends to make me not write at all. I have to constantly remind myself that it's better to try and fail, than to never try at all. There are thoughts buzzing around in my head connecting science and morality and global/personal actions, but these thoughts haven't gelled together and they may never gel --especially if I don't write about it. So here goes another one of my free association scribbling sessions.
I'll start with throwing in some of the parts:
As man advances in civilisation, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races. If, indeed, such men are separated from him by great differences in appearance or habits, experience unfortunately shews us how long it is, before we look at them as our fellow-creatures. Sympathy beyond the confines of man, that is, humanity to the lower animals, seems to be one of the latest moral acquisitions. It is apparently unfelt by savages, except towards their pets. How little the old Romans knew of it is shewn by their abhorrent gladiatorial exhibitions. The very idea of humanity, as far as I could observe, was new to most of the Gauchos of the Pampas. This virtue, one of the noblest with which man is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings. As soon as this virtue is honoured and practised by some few men, it spreads through instruction and example to the young, and eventually becomes incorporated in public opinion.
Acck! Too many lists! I have problems with too many lists, too many quotes, too many qualifications, etc. There are times when I need to just jump to the meat.
One of the things is that while things like morality and sympathy seem warm (as opposed to cold), spiritual (instead of material), etc., such things are actually both. I have always maintained that it is statistically advantageous to be "good" instead of "evil". If you are good, then the society supports you, but if you are bad, then society is against you. Clearly you can do more as an agent of good. The scientists and economists have been working on all sorts of studies and models and tests that seem to support this. This story Social Scientists Build Case for 'Survival of the Kindest' is a recent one that supports that idea too.
There are various related ideas swirling around here:
In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond showed that luck (the right mix of geography and local species) allowed some societies to grow in numbers and have variety and laws and technology and art, which translated into powerful civilizations. Volume of numbers is powerful, but so is the genius and uniqueness that can be found at the tail ends of the bell curve. When there is a crisis or a catastrophe, a majority of the populations suffers and sometimes the only salvation is found in the minority, the oddballs, the mutations.
Right now fossil fuels are the cheapest and most accessible source of power. That is an economic fact that is not in doubt. In contrast, what some folks (like Republicans) seem to disagree upon is the degree of danger presented by a fossil fuels. In any case, whether or not you believe that fossil fuels are poisonous and existence-threatening in nature, the fact is that fossil fuels will remain in wide use until something cheaper and more accessible comes along. Given the near-sightedness of people, the issue is one of presentation, non-free market economics and politics. It would be much simpler if it were simply a matter of science, technology, logistics, and free market economics.
In one sense the environmental problem is similar to the Cold War: There is the threat of genocide, but the problem is more political than technological. The difference is that masses believed in the extreme danger of nuclear weapons, but the masses do not believe in the extreme danger of human induced climatic change. Human technological cleverness unlocked the utility found in both nuclear and fossil fuels, but in order to survive the dangers found from both, it's not a matter of human technological cleverness, but a matter of consciousness raising. Saving the planet is not up to scientists and engineers, but up to those who can influence the people: parents, teachers, politicians, artists, and so on.
In case there was any doubt, I want to explicitly state that I do believe that we are indeed in great danger in fossil fuels. Why? Well, although I am a programmer now, my college degree was in Chemical Engineering. We studied chemical reactions yes, but the real thing we studied is simply the bathtub model: Stuff goes in, stuff goes out. Simply put:
- We're putting more carbon dioxide in, than is taken out: The level in the bathtub is rising!
- We're putting catalysts in the system: Catalysts tend to stay and their effect is magnified!
As far as the accuracy and details of the models, the degree of danger, the time frame of the danger, the possible actions, and so on, that's what these scientists who are studying the issue in an open, peer-reviewed manner are doing.
I believe in the fossil fuel danger, but it's not as terrible as nuclear annihilation. We can lose coastlines and ecosystems will change, we can lose species, artifacts, and human lives, but it won't be nuclear winter. Fossil fuels took millions of years to make and accumulate. We've only really started using it for around 150 years and yet we're nearly running out. But we'll adapt to life without natural fossil fuels. The issue is mitigating this stuff, as in coming down soft instead of hard. If I want to "save the world", I'll need to think some more.
Now and then I fall into this laissez-faire attitude. Just let it be; It'll be fine. The numbers will work things out. Morality will be encoded in laws. The concept of tolerance for all (except for the intolerant) will become mainstream. We'll have the trial-and-error of the masses and the geniuses in the tail ends of the bell curve. It will all work itself out. Eventually our artificial intelligence will self-improve and we'll hit The Technological Singularity, so all that's left will be for us to play.
If this is the case, then why wait for the future? Make a living. Interact and care for your family, friends, and planet to whatever degree you're comfortable with. Seek the beautiful. Don't worry. Be happy. All the science, art, technology, philosophy, and so on will advance whether you do anything or not. It won't matter to the rest of us if you're powerful, popular, successful, introverted, extroverted, talented, etc.
Is this all good? Is there anything truly interesting anymore? Is it just a matter of being and then dying? I don't know. I don't care. I may just be too hungry for lunch right now. If you don't eat, then you don't live (or write).
The studies indicate that some children have difficulty picking up on non-verbal or social cues. ... A second major factor is that some children may pick up on non-verbal or social cues, but lack the ability to attach meaning to them. The third factor is the ability to reason about social problems.
Fascinating. I probably manifest all 3 problems to some degree:
It's not that those of us with social problems and introversion are anti-social, but socially handicapped. It's like being stuck in a wheelchair while other people are running around. Exploring this topic should be a high priority for me.
I've been reading Marcus Aurelius [W] (0121-04-26/0180-03-17), and this part struck me:
Remember how long thou hast already put off these things, and how often a certain day and hour as it were, having been set unto thee by the gods, thou hast neglected it. It is high time for thee to understand the true nature both of the world, whereof thou art a part; and of that Lord and Governor of the world, from whom, as a channel from the spring, thou thyself didst flow: and that there is but a certain limit of time appointed unto thee, which if thou shalt not make use of to calm and allay the many distempers of thy soul, it will pass away and thou with it, and never after return.
-Meditations (0170/0180), Book 2, Part 1.
Whether you believe in an after life, or coming back to life, or what not, most people should agree that the current life you have is finite. We can barely comprehend the vastness of time and space, but we certainly appreciate our lives: Our fleeting moments as active motes of dust. Like everyone else, I've been working on my world view all along. Like everyone else, I've been too busy, too lazy to actually sit down and try to sort it out my world view. It's an ambitious task, but I'd like to at least take a stab at it. Hopefully, I will regularly rehash and write down my world view.
My world view is unavoidably intertwined with my personal subjective self; I cannot write my world view in an objective fashion. I can put effort into exploring my world view as if I were not me, just as I might try to explore someone else's world view. However, I cannot eliminate myself while exploring myself. Thus before I continue on with exploring my world view, I will briefly review where I've been and where I am:
In 1968 I was born in the Philippines and came to America when I was 4 years old; My parents had gone ahead and we were separated long enough that I did not recognize them when I arrived. I've been deaf in my left year as far as I or anyone else remembers. I was raised Roman Catholic but although I tried all those years to believe in Catholicism, I don't think I have ever believed in anything mystical. I am an introvert and I abhor parties and social gatherings. It is not that I dislike people or society, but that many things, including myself, seem quite noisy. I have kept a journal since high school; I used to have a great emphasis on exploring myself, but since I realized that it was endless, I stopped worrying about it; I still journal but less intensively. I grew up speaking only English, but since my 20s I have come to appreciate the great cultural and identity loss I have by not being able to speak Filipino. I boxed sporadically as a youth; I did Shotokan Karate daily for 13 years; I've been doing Western Martial Arts weekly since 2003. I've been happily married since 1992; we have 2 girls and 1 boy; Julia and my kids are central in my life. I went to Lane Tech H.S. in Chicago; I got a bachelor's in Chemical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I tried to get into the Environmental Protection Agency, but when that failed I bacame a programmer; I currently program and co-own a small company in the health care industry called ICLOPS; I intend to never retire. I collected comic books into my adulthood; I can draw but I never developed it; I suck at making music but I like to listen; I read a good amount. I was not into politics until the aftermath of the 2001-09-11 attacks at the World Trace Centers; I have become more watchful since. I explore anything, but especially philosophy, technology, and martial arts. I'm not seeking fame or fortune; I'm not expecting to do anything spectacular with my life; I'm not seeking great pleasure, nor am avoiding reasonable pains; I just want to explore, live sincerely, and do/be good.
Now that I've given some background on myself, I can proceed with exploring my world view. Why am I exploring my world view? What is my goal? Given that my time is finite, I want to give myself perspective on where I'm at, what I want to do, how to do it, and so on. I want a world view that is sincere and personal, and yet beautiful, powerful, and reliable. As a programmer, I also have another goal: Since I'm bothering to do this work, I might as well see if I can construct it in such a generic way that it would be useful for other people too. I imagine that the latter goal makes the former goal harder, but I think it helps me in that it makes me a bit more accountable. I think I will have to be careful about parts of my world view that are specific to me as an instance of a person, versus the world view that would be applicable to people in general.
When it comes to exploring and sharing my world view, I immediately run into this problem: I have practically an infinite amount of material to explore, but a finite amount of time in which to explore; So how do I start? Where do I start? The data points, the possibilities, the perspectives, are practically infinite. To avoid never starting at all, it seems to me that the answer is to just start where ever I am. As Newton said, we're just "playing on a seashore". We can add or discard stones and shells as we go along. A child-like attitude is key: A child is bold, sees patterns, imagines possibilities, experiments, collects data. When it comes to the young there is a great emphasis on growth, but we forget that growth also involves a great deal of forgetting, prioritizing, forgiving, and letting go.
Zooming out, one realizes that "no man is an island": People are also fostered by other people. While a newborn fish can go about and fend for itself from birth, a new person must be nurtured: A person is a person through other people. This concept is nicely encapsulated by the African concept of ubuntu. A person lives in the context of his or her society. Zooming out even further, a person is also in the context of an eco system, an environmental system, a solar system, and so on. It is hard for a person to think in a larger scope in space: We can barely get past our solar system, let alone our stellar neighborhood, or galaxy, or galactic neigborhood, or universe.
Zooming back in, there is the cosmological timeline, the Sun's lifetime, geologic time spans, biological time scales, human history, generational history, my life, my week, my present. Zooming in and out through time and space affects one's world view. Whether you believe in an afterlife or not affects one's world view. My personal perspective is to try to take a general perspective that would apply regardless of one's familiarity with science or religion. This world view would have to satisfy the evidence you encounter and your instincts. This world view would have to work with a broad spectrum of people, a bell curve. This world view will have to jive with works of science, literature, art, and culture from different times and places. This world view would have to answer two questions: How do you know? How do you feel?
OK, I just came back from taking a bunch of the key concepts and manipulating them symbolically on a piece of paper until it made more sense. It's sort of like math but with ideas. I will try to write down what I came up with.
There nodes: self, other, others, and clumps of others. There are different relationships between nodes: self-to-self, self-to-other, self-to-others, self-to-clumps, other-to-other, other-to-others, other-to-clumps, others-to-others, others-to-clumps, clumps-to-clumps. There are actually an infinite of number nodes: ideas, dead or past nodes, virtual nodes, etc., and an infinite number of relationships. The concept is that you have nodes and node relationships, which, in my mind, I represent as a bell curve, but for now I'll use the upper case Omega: Ω.
Ω must be parsed or dealt with. I represent this as a method with a parameter. I'll use the lower case alpha:
α(Ω). The trick then is to achieve the best parsing. α must be beautiful, powerful, reliable. α must apply to the widest range of Ω. The universe is the "α and the Ω", in that nature parses everything according to math and natural laws. In the human context, the same thing happens but we have our own standards of what is a good parsing, of what satisfies our sense of truth, justice, fairness, equitability, efficacy, efficiency, timeliness, beauty, order, etc.
My α(Ω) model may seem too general, but I want it to be scalable and broadly applicable. Here are a few general points applicable to α(Ω):
The universe is α(Ω). Whatever I think or do, whatever models I come up with, the universe is there doing its thing.
To wrap things up, here is a short list of some devices/ideas to layer upon my α(Ω) model. Apply these as well as whatever works for particular situations.
Here is a copy of the content of "My Keywords" page for my archives:
This page has my personal keywords that condense my personal philosophy, faith, and principles. A keyword refers to a word or phrase of words that are seminal. It is a good exercise to personalize, rephrase, un-cliche, rehash, condense, analyze, synthesize, prioritize, place, categorize, compare, contrast, create, stress test, define, explore, examine, etc. ideas.
|Structured by word relationships. Counted but not necessarily ordered.|
Compare and contrast:
Yin. Dark. Moon. Feminine. Static. Cool. North. Winter. Right. Introversion. Earth. Even. 6. 8. 0.
Yang. Light. Sun. Masculine. Dynamic. Warm. South. Summer. Left. Extroversion. Heaven. Odd. 9. 7. 1.
I made this just now:
Time's running out!
What to do? What to do!
My spine crackles and slants.
What have I done? What should I have done? What
Time runs out.
Thursday: Rain. The light changed. The traffic looked clear. I crossed the street with my umbrella opened over my right shoulder. I got to the middle of the street and was surprised to find myself getting hit by a freaking taxi.
I took it on the right knee, bounced of the hood, then did a side fall onto my left side. Soon there's a firetruck, an ambulance, and police. The left side bruising wasn't bad and the x-rays showed no fractures. Rest, ice, elevation, and Advil were prescribed.
I learned several things:
I just solved a thorny little problem at work so I'm going to reward myself with a quick little post. I haven't had much of a cyber life lately because my laptop at home broke. (It's part of a class action lawsuit against Dell/NVIDIA because of a bad GPU.) The system I want is game ready (StarCraft II!). So I'm looking at a desktop plus a multi-touch monitor. Too bad the All-In-Ones have lame GPUs.
For mobility, I want to get another machine ca. 2011-05 when my Verizon contract comes up for renewal. I don't want to game when I'm out, but I'd like a real keyboard, a paper-sized screen (Most PDFs were meant to be read at that size), and I want it to be low in mass. The iPad, Galaxy, and other tablets so far are too small and too trivial. I'd like something like the upcoming Dell Inspiron Duo but with a larger screen and lower mass. It needs a SSD, not a regular HD! And why isn't USB 3 on all the new stuff yet?
To replace my semi-smart phone, I'd like a smarter phone that's also a WiFi hot spot so I can use it for my "tablet" too. Why would I want to pay for 3G/4G that's just for my tablet when I can share it?
My laptop is almost a month old now. I got a new one because the graphics card on my old laptop died trying to play StarCraft II. I'm going to document the various installs and stuff I've done so that I look at the entry years from now and laugh.
I received my brand new Alienware M15X laptop from Dell. Beautifully packaged. It felt like an event. It even came with a hat! The basic specs:
I only have two complaints about the hardware:
Next I did some mandatory stuff:
Through out all this I gradually did a bunch of Windows tweaks. Here's some of what I did.
Besides Windows 7, I was pleasantly surprised that there was very little extra pre-installed software:
Web browser stuff. Chrome is my main browser these days. FYI: At work I work with Chrome 8, and test with FF 3.6, IE 8, Safari, and Opera.
Installed StarCraft II. Oh yes! Many more frames per second!
Here's some work stuff:
Here's some random stuff:
My new computer is awesome! After all this, I still have more than half of my hard drive free. I have to do stuff like Inkscape and GIMP though. I'll probably get a multi-touch screen monitor, a keyboard, and a USB hub. My laptop is a mobile workstation, but for more mobility I intend to get a tablet later.
When I cut my hand on the 8th, I knew I needed stitches. The gaping wound and blood were obvious clues but the key factor was the location. The webbing between the thumb and hand is frequently drawn taut and the cut would have be prone to re-opening without stitches.
So I got the stitches, had them removed a few days ago, and will be ramping up my workouts. But it was odd avoiding using my hands. This experience has made me notice how so many exercises involve stitch-free hands: Jump ropes, heavy bags, barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls, pull-ups, push-ups, weapons, rings, basketballs, handstands, crawls, swimming, biking, rolling, etc., etc.
To answer the initial question, here's a typical workout I did while I had the stitches:
There was also walking, running, some yoga positions, chasing, hoola hooping, hacky sack, and tomfoolery. I'm sure I could have come up with more, but luckily my hand is getting better.
Here a set of thoughts that are mixing around in my head. I'm going to spill them out here before they vanish.
I don't know if theres a thread connecting the thoughts, but if I were to guess it's something Tao-ish, something along the lines of "Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place." That is, how to do things best while making it easy like play.
There are several ways to do this on an individual and collective level. That distinction is fairly clear. The distinction that gets blurry is betwen tactical and strategic because the two go back and forth. Every individual is tactical in that they deal with what at hand; Every individual is strategic because they have a larger picture in their head. Similar things can be said for collectives. Collectives are masses of individuals making tactical and strategic decisions individually, but with a net result of collective tactics and strategies.
Bridging the individual and the collective is key. One of the tools I like is the triplet of Interested, Informed, and Involved. An introvert may start out with an interest then gets more informed, and eventually more involved. An extrovert may start out with getting involved with people, then getting informed to stay involved, and may develop a genuine interest. A person may get informed in order to do make money, then get more informed and involved to do the job better.
Bridging the tactical and the strategic is also key. Talented individuals can have great tactics and strategies for themselves and the collective. However the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. Individuals who can work with a collective in a productive, involved fashion, can produce a whole greater than the sum of its parts. "Great men are rarely isolated mountain peaks; they are the summits of ranges." - Thomas W. Higginson. Greater vision can be acquired by standing on the shoulders of others. The tactics come from experience gathered, shared, and practiced. Strategy is applied tactics with vision and insight. Choosing between attacking by direct assault, or attrition, or by out flanking, requires data, experience, insight, and intuition.
Now the trick is to make all this natural, intuitive, easy like play, and yet challenging, difficult, and fearful. A task requires no courage if there is no fear to face. Flow is matching tasks with ability. "There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results." - Ken Blanchard. How do you motivate folks to become more than just interested, but committed? How does you motivate folks to move beyond themselves and get involved with others? How does you motivate folks to move beyond the answers they know and get more informed?
Part of the problem is the language. In the phrase "How do you motivate folks to ....", does the "you" refer to an individual or a collective? do "folks" refer to an individual or a collective? Yes and yes. The individual and the collective must be bridged!
From there you move on to the motivation problem. Part of it is expectations, setting up expectations. Not just theoretical virtues, but real problems requiring real virtues, real action. You must reach through the bosom and grasp the living heart.
And so I've come once again to soul searching. What is my mission? What am I committed to? What is my job? What would I cry and bleed for? What should I do before I die? The goofy thing is that some people are good at grabbing the heart but don't do something with it. That means that they haven't gotten there yet --they are merely righteous. Some people have committment handed to them, but they still have to work on being informed and involved, otherwise they too are merely righteous.
That's where I stand. We all have our talents. We can all be informed, involved, and interested. But what am I committed to? Tick-tock, tick-tock.
I just attended the morning session of poetry assembly at my kids' Burley elementary school. The courage and quality of the group is always moving. I was inspired to throw together a few lines myself:
Each generation is beautiful in body, face, and mind;
Each act of joy and sharing, out shines the acts unkind.
Knowledge of beliefs --true and justified-- are wonderful to behold;
But without love and beauty, such treasure fast grows cold.
Weariness and routine bring nihilism nigh;
So shine a light and pass it on, then sweetly you can die.
But realize, dear friend, the best light, shines in your eye.
A good and kind friend of mine from high school died. It's been a rough week of mourning, weeping, writing, and staring. I can't sustain this, and yet I don't want to let go because thoughts of her are all I have left of her. I'm hoping a public posting and a poem will purchase some closure for me.
Thank you Judy B.
As year goes on to year:
Light after light turns dark.
Some lights glow long and strong,
Some lights spark.
You were my saving star
in my darkest hour.
A moment of grace,
in a cruel place.
You may have gone where I cannot see.
And I cannot repay my debt to you.
But the light of kindness you passed to me,
I can share with others, that I can do.
Thank you Judy B.
My numbers for today are 7 and 13.
7 is for We are Seven by William Wordsworth. The death of a loved one temporarily weakens us, but to honor them we must ensure that their lives strengthen us and lives through us.
13 is for transformation, rebirth, rebellion. 13 exceeds the numerology of 12. A death must occur in order to have a resurrection. The extraordinary requires the surpassing the status quo.
We are seven! We will transform!
[FYI: Here is a copy of "We are Seven" by William Wordsworth. I prefer the original intro by Coledridge.]
A little child, dear brother Jem, That lightly draws its breath, And feels its life in every limb, What should it know of death? I met a little cottage Girl: She was eight years old, she said; Her hair was thick with many a curl That clustered round her head. She had a rustic, woodland air, And she was wildly clad: Her eyes were fair, and very fair; --Her beauty made me glad. "Sisters and brothers, little Maid, How many may you be?" "How many? Seven in all," she said And wondering looked at me. "And where are they? I pray you tell." She answered, "Seven are we; And two of us at Conway dwell, And two are gone to sea. "Two of us in the church-yard lie, My sister and my brother; And, in the church-yard cottage, I Dwell near them with my mother." "You say that two at Conway dwell, And two are gone to sea, Yet ye are seven!--I pray you tell, Sweet Maid, how this may be." Then did the little Maid reply, "Seven boys and girls are we; Two of us in the church-yard lie, Beneath the church-yard tree." "You run about, my little Maid, Your limbs they are alive; If two are in the church-yard laid, Then ye are only five." "Their graves are green, they may be seen," The little Maid replied, "Twelve steps or more from my mother's door, And they are side by side. "My stockings there I often knit, My kerchief there I hem; And there upon the ground I sit, And sing a song to them. "And often after sunset, Sir, When it is light and fair, I take my little porringer, And eat my supper there. "The first that died was sister Jane; In bed she moaning lay, Till God released her of her pain; And then she went away. "So in the church-yard she was laid; And, when the grass was dry, Together round her grave we played, My brother John and I. "And when the ground was white with snow, And I could run and slide, My brother John was forced to go, And he lies by her side." "How many are you, then," said I, "If they two are in heaven?" Quick was the little Maid's reply, "O Master! we are seven." "But they are dead; those two are dead! Their spirits are in heaven!" 'Twas throwing words away; for still The little Maid would have her will, And said, "Nay, we are seven!"
I've kept a "Life Log" for years. It's a short document (only a few pages long) with a chronological listing of important events, places, people, things, jobs and salaries, medical incidents, births, deaths, etc. in my life.
The format of my Life Log is simple. For each year I have a short line with the year, my age on my birthday of that year, my "grade" if I was in school that year, and similar info for my wife and kids. EG: 2011. 43. JH XX. CH 13/8. YH 10/5. AH 7/1. Then for each year I have bullets for the important things, nested by date and time if possible.
Recently I rediscovered the comic "936 Little Blobs" [http://abstrusegoose.com/51] where the each of the blobs corresponds to one month in a typical lifespan of 78 years. I like it because it gives you a one page view.
However the blobs don't provide much metadata so I decided to transform it into a Life Log spreadsheet [https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Anl6QqLgOdR9dFNZTDBERGluYWhiUzFYNG1LQmdlWXc] where each cell represents a month. You can enter as much or as little info in each cell. When you're done entering info, just turn off word wrap and the cells shrink, thus allowing you to see your life on one page. As a spreadsheet, it also does things like calculate your age on your birthday for each year.
A Life Log has a lot of practical uses: Medical history, resume building for job hunting, credit reports, legal issues, etc. However its most important function is to give me perspective on where I've been, where I'm going, what's important, and that time is passing.
I periodically do a review of my software usage -- especially if I've gotten a new computer! However this year I'll emphasize software on my phone and tablet.
Hardware and Operating System:
Games: Lots available for phone, tablet, comp, console, physical, etc. These are more for my kids.
Comics: Just read in print or online with a big screen!
Reading: Going with e-books if available. Hesitating on digital NGM because we love the print.
News: Perhaps we all check the news too often!
Audio: I don't do lots of music, but so far I like Amazon's handling of music better than Google and Apple. Yay radio!
Media: I watch YouTube and Netflix, but I don't do much TV, otherwise cable and Hulu might be interesting.
Phone: I use the fewest phone minutes in my family. Waiting for phone wallets to mature.
SMS/IM: Yes, my family texts/chats often!
Email: I prefer to do email at a full computer. Urgent communications should be done by phone or text.
Social: I prefer to do social sites on a full computer. I do Facebook, but barely do Twitter and the rest.
Office and Files: I prefer to do office stuff on a full computer but I love having centralized simple text files that my wife and I can both access. I'd really like to log my workouts in my Google Docs spreadsheets but the interface is a clunky.
Maps: Mobile maps is important when you're travelling.
Utilities: A calculator with basic science functions should be built-in!
Non-mobile computer software brief version:
Watch the wind uproot and uplift the discarded debris of paper and plastic into fanciful flights overhead, on high, soaring out of sight.
When is the best time to take out the trash? Some say immmediately, but that interferes with your flow. Some say whenever the trash can is full --We sort of do that at our house but then we just put the trash bag at the back porch where they pile up. I used to take the trash out just before my morning workout, but with my injured knee the trash has been piling up.
This morning I've decided to make it a habit (a resolution?) that I will take the trash out just before I go out! I'm usually dressed and ready to go out well before the wife and kids are so it won't interfere with my flow. At my house there is a flow issue in that we exit through the front, but the large trash bins are at the rear. However, that's a small problem, and I will give myself a pat on the back anyway.
This morning I walked by a building where some parts were covered with with windows and other parts with embedded stones. I saw people with window-washing scaffolding on the stone parts, so I assume that they were not window-washing but stone-washing.
An image popped into my mind of mountain water running over mountain stones. An image of water cleaning stones year after year, scrubbing stones down molecules at a time. I found it to be a beautiful concept. It was natural, clean, out of the city. It was redemption of mind, a renewal of spirit. The concept of it was more beautiful than the image.
Find beauty with the mind and heart, as well as the eyes, mouth, and ears.
Two foods have recently achieved "favorite" status for me:
1. Lemon Oreos. Fresh Lemon Oreos are crisp and do not crumble like regular Oreos. The sweet lemon cream is delightful, but the key thing is that the lemon cream stays melty instead of solidifying in your mouth like the cream of regular Oreos when taken with milk. I prefer to eat 1 at a sitting, otherwise I get feelings of guilt and gluttony.
2. McDonalds Mocha Frappe. I've tried the supposedly comparable drinks at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, but the McDonalds Mocha Frappe is better by far. The belnd of milk, chocalate, coffee, ice, and sweetness is perfect. The key feature is the crunchy texture created by the granules of ice. It makes it reminescent of Filipino halo halo. I try to limit myself to 1 Mocha Frappe a month.
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