eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Tuesday, May 24

The seesaw of certainty and truth

Post bump (Original Post: Translating emotions 12/2/2012)

Have you ever been so convinced that you were right about something, so rock-solid sure, that if you had been offered the chance to, say... bet your life savings on it, you would have taken the bet without hesitation?

And then found out you were wrong?

Because you were missing one teeny weeny detail that turned out to be extremely important?

I've never ever done that in my entire life.

Sometimes certainty, the desire for certainty, it is like a magnet that pulls one toward an answer, a belief, an idea, without regard for the truth.

I have read that conservatives tend to be pulled more towards certainty while liberals are pulled more towards change and are more comfortable with uncertainty. I think I must be somewhere in the middle - a seesaw bouncing up and down between solid ground and flying towards the sky. Certainty, truth, certainty, truth.
   It occurs to me from time to time that I am unhappy with some of my writing here and consider taking all of them off-line until I can read through and decide whether I am comfortable having them online. 

   Then I read a few and realize that I do like some of them still although they could be a bit better written, and I hate to make all of it go away and lose the 13+ years I have put into it. I have almost 500 posts with almost 400 published. What I think I will do is make an effort to go through them one by one, on some sort of schedule, and either edit or remove them as I see fit. 

   If I did one per day, it would take over a year. I'd like it to go a bit faster - maybe by the end of the year. I have seen one blog author do "post bumps." I am not sure what she means by that, but I like the idea of moving old ones up to the top with revisions. I'm not sure whether I also want to keep the old one. Perhaps I could make it a point to read 5 per day and make a quick decision, yes or no, and then pick one to edit and bump up. Should I start with the beginning or the end? Maybe both and work towards the middle?

I am thinking from the end first as that is what most people will see first. 

Wednesday, October 28

How to lose 1000+ pounds in 1 month

Be a packrat, have a lot of debt, and be lucky enough to own a house in a seller's market (and have your awesome sister-in-law as an agent). 

I didn't get around to posting my resolutions this year, but I have a perfectly good excuse...

I was busy selling my house, getting rid of 20 or so years worth of junk, moving, paying off all my credit card debt, losing 30 pounds of body weight, and attempting to cut some dead weight from my life. 

Putting it all in one sentence like that makes it seem a little hard to believe.

I really did it! Is it too late to declare those as my New Year's resolutions or goals?

I don't really know how much junk I hauled away, but it was at least 5 truck loads to charities, plus a 16' trailer with boards on either side for the "trash." Surely that's 1000+ pounds?
So far my year looks something like this...
late January - Put house on market
Early February - Close on House
Late February - Get everything moved/hauled away
March 1 - all moved into apartment and then take a month break to rest and catch up on sleep.
April - Start 21 day "Food Rehab" which includes exercising/walking daily
May - Continue diet changes and exercise with some minor changes
June - Vacation!!

It's all downhill from there. I mean, I don't know how I'd top that. I do want to lose another 20 to 30 pounds once I've kept from gaining for a while, but first I need to catch my breath!

Sunday, January 4

A Happy and Assertive New Year

I found myself with an hour of quiet time this morning. I've been meaning to sit down and write out my resolutions and goals for the year.

I only had two real items for last year that I remember. The first was to quite Coca-Cola - my worst addiction. I decided that rather than try to quit my 1 to 3 bottles of coke a day habit, I would choose to only enjoy this habit on major paid holidays. While I didn't entirely succeed, I did reduce my usage by a pretty significant amount. Out of 365 days this year, I had a cola on less than half of them. I did the math on 1 coke a day  - in terms of $$ and sugar consumed (not to mention caffeine) and overall the change is pretty impressive. I consider my attempt a HUGE success. I have learned to think about food and drinks very differently and that could be even more of an accomplishment than the huge reduction in consumption. More on that in another post...

Aside from some specific things I would like to learn to do or stop doing, I usually I like to choose some sort of character quality that is weak and needs work.

For example, the last two years, I've worked on Assertiveness.

I am shy and a bit introverted. I can also be very talkative and friendly and even appear to be "outgoing". Even with people I know well, I have a habit of avoiding confrontations and generally failing to stand up for myself when it's most important to do so.

I find it difficult to approach strangers and sometimes even people I know but don't know well. Initiating a phone call can be even more difficult - I LOVE automated answering systems that help me get info I need without talking to a live person.

This has changed a bit over the last two years. I am more likely to pick up a phone and punch 0 to talk to a live person. I am more likely to set boundaries with other people. I am less willing to placate and "please" other people when they're demanding or asking for something unfair.

I find the most challenging situation is not the obvious blustering bully type. Such people have a tendency to irritate me just enough to get me to assert myself or remove myself from their sphere. It's the sweet, kindly, friendly seeming people who are most difficult to confront. I feel like an ogre refusing them anything. And yet, those are the people who drain my energy the most. They don't care that I have a million things on my plate or whether I'm barely making ends meet, they want my time and energy and money or to leave me handling responsibilities that really belong to them.

I'm starting to find myself feeling angry at this sort of "niceness." I am starting to feel suspicious of niceness. I'm starting to feel that the appearance of kindness and niceness is of a tool some people use to take advantage of others. Certainly more "pleasant" to be around than a bully and yet more frustrating and difficult to deal with in some ways. And yet, I realize that rather than blame people for using whatever tools they use to get what they want, all I really need to do is know and act on what I want. 

I like seeing people get what they want and enjoy that. I want that too (so long as it's not really hurting anyone else). In fact, I enjoy their enjoyment so much sometimes that I'll temporarily forget that it's not what I want for myself. Sometimes I don't realize I didn't want it 'till years later.

I think it's fine to care about people and help them, but there's something off about the way I've done it. I've started to realize that other people aren't going to fall apart if I don't do things for them, and sometimes they are even relieved that I did NOT sacrifice my own needs for theirs. In fact, I've been depriving many people a chance to do something for ME once in a while. Without meaning to, I've denied them an opportunity to be part of MY life. And sometimes people want a lot and get in the habit of accepting a lot of help and in the process start to lose confidence in their own abilities to help themselves. Sometimes, they even build up a certain amount of guilt about this  and know they don't really need help but aren't quite "strong" enough or confident in themselves to put a stop to it - turn it down. Heck, sometimes people can be a little lazy.

It's not a horrible failing, just a part of human nature that makes boundaries - protecting your own and others important. Almost everyone needs a little encouragement or firmness on the part of others to do the right thing.

This may seem like old news to many people, but it's new to me.

Now that I have a better understanding of what some of my obstacles are, I would like to set some new goals/resolutions. Some will be a more defined extension of the Assertiveness resolution. Others will be branching out in new areas. More on that to come..

Thursday, May 9

Sources of Knowledge and Ignorance

I love that idea.. the idea that there are "Sources of Ignorance." In case anyone besides myself reads this, it's from a book by Karl Popper "Conjectures and Refutations." Honestly, the book is well over my head.

Still, though, I've learned a lot from even the bits I've read and understood. It leaves me wondering what other little bits I would like to read next and learn from. I must admit, I'm very daunted by the wording, the references that I don't understand, and by my own difficulty focusing. But that thirst for knowledge just won't go away, and I'm afraid I'm going to go diving into it again soon. Maybe if I take it a sentence at a time..

Amazon's "surprise me!" feature could be fun for this... so here goes..

Russell's views are of course disputed. [from p.6]

OK, that does NOT count! I do happen to have heard of Russell, but I don't remember what little I may have read about him. I don't recall reading more than a few lines of his writing .. and that only through quotations by others. I decided I'd better look back a paragraph or two and see if he [Popper] tells me what Russells views are. Ah, it seems he [Popper] had been talking about Kant - another one I've heard of plenty but haven't read much of. Anyway, they all seem to think that "What can I know?" is one of the three most important questions a man could ask.

It is definitely an important question to me and seems quite fundamental.

I've long thought the pursuit of truth and knowledge was of fundamental importance. Or, in other words, "What is true?"

These days, I'm a bit less optimistic about my ability to find out what the truth is. I've ever been aware of my own fallibility, and I've tried to get better at thinking of "truth" and "my knowledge of truth" as related but incomplete.

One of my favorite ways to think about truth and knowledge is imagining a giant puzzle where each person and object is a piece, and the more they all get turned around and put together, with the variations in color and the innies and the outies, the more complete and pleasing the puzzle becomes. Sometimes two pieces appear to fit together but something's not quite right. You don't realize it until later on in the puzzling process and the right pieces come along that make everything fit better.

Anyway, the part about "What can I know?"  There could be a whole lot of truth out there that might be irrelevant to me if I don't know it.

Right?? So, see, I've learned something already! It's not something I haven't thought of before, but it is another way of thinking about it. I must say, the man is brilliant. Or I am. Or do I just think I am? ;) No, really, I think I'm just bumbling around, getting lucky sometimes and hitting on some useful idea or other. The book isn't as hard to understand as it first seems, but it does take a little extra effort when he uses references to people and their ideas. Sometimes I forget what they meant or said before I get to his own ideas. Maybe if I'd read all of their ideas already, it would seem easier. 

Some recent philosophers have developed a doctrine of the essential impotence and practical irrelevance of all genuine philosophy, and thus, one can assume, of epistemology.

That's the next sentence. Epistemology is a fancy word for the study of how people learn, of knowledge. *Yawn* Sometimes fancy words are very cool because you can use them as a sort of shorthand for a whole sentence or at least a phrase. But really, every time I see the word "Epistemology," I have to translate it into my own usual lingo before it makes sense to me. The Greeks had it easier. They just said episteme logos and it was already in their native language.

I don't agree that genuine philosophy has no practical relevance. I'm too sleepy right now to get into why but not so sleepy as to realize I might be quite wrong and any real talk of philosophy is irrelevant. It seems so obviously important that it's hard to imagine thinking otherwise... and yet, there are plenty of ideas I once thought "obviously wrong" that I now think might well be true... but alas, my comfy bed beckons.

It would be a great treat to wake up and have some thoughtful - or silly - comment that showed someone read this. I've always written for myself, but maybe it's not true that I don't "write for an audience." Maybe I do write for an audience...  one that can appreciate what I have to say and assume that if something is terribly wrong with what I've said either (1) it didn't come out quite right (2) I got it wrong but I'm working on getting it right. I don't know if there's an audience out there for me, but I know there are a lot of great people out there, so I'll content myself with that for now. Off to dreamland I go..