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.

Saturday, December 29

On Dating

I while back, I wrote about no more dating. I'm unsatisfied with how I expressed myself in that post, so I thought I'd attempt a rewrite.

I've been afraid of dating because I was afraid that I would hurt other people by not being interested in them.

It's not that I expect hordes of people to be interested in me. It might have something to do with my own experiences with being rejected as a young girl.

I'd develop a crush on some boy or another - think about him continuosly for a long time, find out that he didn't return my interest and be quite devestated by it. I don't know why I took such things so hard, but I did. I wouldn't want to be the cause of anyone feeling that way.

What I learned from my more recent experiences is that it's not always painful or even terribly uncomfortable to have someone simply uninterested in you.

Which also addresses the other fears ... of embarrassing myself.

Being hurt, oddly, is one thing I'm not afraid of so much - even with having some fairly recent experiences with it. It seems odd -fearing embarrassment more than pain.

That said, I'm still not dating. I'm not sure if it's because no one's asked or because I feel more inclined to seek friends. Probably both.

I'm back!

I don't have anything in particular I want to write about, but I'm happy to be writing - even if it's not totally spellbinding or interesting. It's also fun to look back at my previous beliefs and compare them to my current beliefs.

I love this bit of brainstorming...

I'm very excited about the new year coming up. I think it's because I get to write resolutions. I love writing resolutions and reviewing my old ones. I can't recall looking at the one's from the previous year and not making some progress on at least one of them. Usually, I make some or good progress on more than one - even if I never look at them again until the end of the year! Writing new ones is fun, too, because it's a chance to let go of any guilt or bad feelings about not accomplishing the old ones and start with a clean slate.

Friday, November 9

Hypocrisy

A long while back, I posted a link about hyprocrisy. It echoed some of my beliefs about hypocrisy but went into a deeper analysis than I had considered.

I've felt both frustrated and protective about hypocrits (including myself).

On the one hand, it's tempting to feel angry at a person who expresses certain beliefs in a "judgemental" fashion and yet fails to act in accordance with their own stated beliefs.

On the other hand, I think one should strive to have some sympathy for a hypocrit.

Sometimes acting a particular belief is just plain difficult and yet it's worth hanging onto the belief and to continue to seek a way to act on the belief without compromising other values.

Sometimes, a hypocrit is most angry with him or herself and finds reminders of their moral "failings" to be painful and therefore lashes out at anyone ELSE who acts in a similar way.

Sometimes a hypocrit isn't so much angry as hoping to help others avoid making the same mistakes.

Sometimes a hypocrit is unaware of the inconsistency between their beliefs and their own actions.

Sometimes a hypocrit will do anything to AVOID such awareness. This tends to be because of fear - of their own judgement, of others' judgements, etc. In fact, I think this is the person who likely most needs sympathy and understanding - as their own tendencies towards harsh judgement (including self-judgement) has likely deprived them from feeling accepted by themselves and others.

Thinking about it now, I can't recall a situation where there was an "honest" hypocrit. If a person is honest about their inconsistencies, then they're not referred to as a hypocrit. They might be praised for their humility or pitied or avoided but never called a hypocrit.

I think the article is slightly missng what people are referring to when they call someone a hypocrit. It's not about whether their actions match their beliefs but about whether a person is honest (with others as well as him/herself) about his/her actions and also whether the person includes or implies moral judgements of people.

Thursday, October 25

Marital Expectations

After seeing a post with a question about what a person might expect in a marriage, I've been thinking about what my expectations were as a bride 16 years ago, at the tender age of 18.

I tried not to have any or to at least be flexible about them and willing to change. I suppose the one true expectation I had was that my spouse would do the same thing.

For example, I "expected" that my husband would want to be with me quite a lot. I hadn't thought about what would happen if we didn't particularly enjoy doing the same things. I suppose I assumed we would like doing the same things and would naturally prefer to do those things together.

When that didn't happen, due to our interests being more different than they first appeared, I tried to take it in good stride. I determined that a couple might actually get along better and learn more from each other if they spent some time developing their own, separate, interests and friendships. I thought, perhaps, that being "too" close could create conflicts where none was necessary. I felt a little lonely sometimes but certainly didn't consider it a deal breaker for the marriage.

I think it would be a fun project, now that I'm divorced to figure out more about what my expectations were, how they changed, how useful they were, and what they would be now. I don't think I'd ever want to be married again, but it would be entertaining to make a theoretical list which might be useful for a "special" intimate relationship. I won't post that sort of stuff here, but I might post some general ideas about expectations and what's useful (or not) about them.

To start off, I thought I'd share a funny article I found on the topic. It is about expectations in the era right after the Civil War. Here's a sample of a personal ad from the late 1800s:

I am 33 years of age, and as regards looks can average with most men. I am looking for a lady to make her my wife, as I am heartily tired of bachelor life. I desire a lady not over 28 or 30 years of age, not ugly, well educated and musical. Nationality makes no difference, only I prefer not to have a lady of Irish birth. She must have at least $20,000.

I was amused to see how many made mention of expectations about money. It seems "shocking" for this day and age, but I find something refreshing about it. After all, finances are supposedly one of the most important problems married people face - and a big reason for divorce. So, for fun, my first attempt at (current) expectations will be in the style of those personal ads from 100+ years ago:

A lady, but not prim, 35 years of age, average in appearance, educated, musical desires a person, mature, preferably 30 years to 50 years of age, and good with children.

It seems to be leaving so much out. It's a wonder people survived their marriages.

Jena Update

When I first wrote about the incidents in Jena, I suspected that it was an incident where people were turning a criminal incident into a black vs. white story. I ended thinking that perhaps there really was something in the allegations about racism.

After getting into an online discussion about this a week or two ago, I looked for more information about the incident.

While searching, I was surprised to find that snopes had a write up. It fills in some details that were left out of the NPR version of the story. For example, it mentions that eye witnesses saw the incident with the gun and that rather than it being a matter of an argument where the white man pulled out the gun to threaten the black man, the white man was pulling out the gun to protect himself from attackers.

Of course, we don't have all the details about this, but it's really starting to sound like my first opinion was right - that it was a criminal incident being turned into a white vs. black thing.

If so, I think it's a shame. I think there are some real problems and this incident is distracting people from really working on them together.

Monday, October 15

How to Run an LED on a (weak) AA Battery

A friend pointed me to this article. I occasionally like playing with electronics and have been frustrated at not being able to make much use of a 1.5V battery. Well, no longer!
http://www.emanator.demon.co.uk/bigclive/joule.htm

Thursday, September 27

Myanmar Monks

I have long been skeptical that Buddhism could be a practical moral system. While I could respect that a stance of nonviolence could be effective with people who have some sympathy for nonviolence, I have suspected that it would be useless against people who have no such sympathy (or maybe just not enough sympathy).

Well, here's a tragic example where these questions are being put to the test:

An interesting twist on this is that folks who are sympathetic to the monks and nonviolence, but perhaps not as purely Buddhist, may escalate the violence. If this succeeds in causing the government to ease off some in its oppression of the people, then it would be a combination of Buddhism, respect for Buddhism, and violence that actually brought about the result.

Perhaps Buddhism combined with a lot of Buddhist sympathizers is a practical moral system?

Or would it be even more effective if, despite the imprisonment of 200 monks, there was no violence on the part of the people?

Would the government continue to kill people and imprison them? (if the nonviolence had continued) I believe the imprisoning would continue. I'm not sure about the killing. Would the oppression cease? Unlikely.

On the other hand, an escalation in violence could end with a lot more deaths and a government all the more determined to continue its oppressive regime.

Whatever happens, I hope it involves as little death, violence, and oppression as possible.

Wednesday, September 26

Geography: Burma

I came across an article about Buddhist monks protesting and being arrested. The article mentions a previous incident, in 1988, where students protested and thousands were shot at. I wondered if this was taking place in China, but the place mentioned was Myanmar, so I decided to look it up.

Also known as, the Union of Myanmar, Burma is bordered by China, India, Thailand, and Laos. It is ruled by a "military junta". The monks and thousands of others have been protesting the oppression by the government.

Friday, September 21

Eruv - Vocabulary Word of the day

An eruv is a boundary recognised by Jewish law, within which certain activities are permitted on Shabbat that would not be permitted otherwise. Apparently, there is a prohibition against carrying objects to or from a home, or enclosed area. Jewish communities will often build an eruv (boundary) to enclose their community to allow more mobility and flexibility in observing Shabbat.

What is an Eruv?

What has been left out? Racism in jena

Austin-American Statesman Article on Jena

My curiosity was aroused by the article in my local paper about a rally in Jena, Louisiana. Why the big fuss now? Over some "thugs" who beat someone up? Why not a big protest about the nooses in the tree? What about the rights of a person to not be beaten?

It didn't all fit together, so I decided to check out some other news sources. It was like reading about an entirely different event. I must say, I'm a little surprised at how many important details were left out of the local paper.


NPR Story on Jena

The NPR version makes a bit more sense. I can see now why there's so much tension. The school was burned down. No one knows who did it.

A similar incident happened immediately before the white student was attacked.

Get this, a (different) white student pulled a gun on the black student. The black student wrestled the gun away and took it home. Guess who was charged with a crime? The black student - for theft of a firearm?! No charges against the guy who'd actually pulled the firearm out, potentially with intent to shoot the black student.

As far as racial problems, our community is no different than any other community," Fowler says.
Fowler is a school board member, and unfortunately, I think he may be correct. I don't know that his community is much different from many other communities. I don't think it's a good answer. But he and many other white leaders agree that the charges are unfair. I think that's a huge improvement in our culture over the last 100 years, but I think there's a lot of ground left to cover.

I'd like to think that MY community is different, but I can't say for sure whether it is. The minorities in my community don't seem to think they're being treated fairly - judging by the protests and complaints about some recent incidents.

I wonder what NPR has left out of its version of the story.

Did the (white) student who pulled the gun have a reasonable fear of harm? Was he not charged because it was "self-defense"? Had it been a black student in his place, would it have been considered "self-defense"? I know of a (white) man who served a number of years in prison for pulling a gun out and shooting someone in self-defense. The crime was in having the gun more than defending himself. Of course, he was shooting at a white guy. Would it have been different if the other man were black?

Why didn't Bailey turn over the gun to police? It might have prevented his being charged with theft/robbery (Still hard to swallow that one, even so). Maybe he didn't trust the police?

And, btw, I have been using "black" in my terminology because that is what is used in the stories. I thought that wasn't politically correct? I've always found "African-American" a bit problematic too because not all black people in America are African-American. At least, they wouldn't consider themselves African-American.

Wednesday, September 19

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Ahoy thar me mateys!
Aye, it be the grand day - the day all yee lads n lasses have been waiting for -
Talk Like a Pirate Day!!

Composer: Hans Zimmer
Song: Hoist The Colors

Lyrics:

Yo, ho, haul together,
hoist the colors high.
Heave ho,
thieves and beggars,
never shall we die.

The king and his men
stole the queen from her bed
and bound her in her Bones.
The seas be ours
and by the powers
where we will we'll roam.

Yo, ho, haul together,
hoist the colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars,
never shall we die.

Some men have died
and some are alive
and others sail on the sea
– with the keys to the cage...
and the Devil to pay
we lay to Fiddler's Green!

The bell has been raised
from it's watery grave...
Do you hear it's sepulchral tone?
We are a call to all,
pay head the squall
and turn your sail toward home!

Yo, ho, haul together,
hoist the colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars,
never shall we die.

Official British Headquarters: http://www.yarr.org.uk/

Friday, September 14

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor

Having run out of ideas about what to write, I decided to try a random website for inspiration.

I was really hoping for something a bit juicier than this, but then again, I've been doing a bit of dabbling with a website and wondering what PHP meant and whether it was something I should know.

I have some questions about it and, not surprisingly, the site answers those right off:

What is it?
PHP is an HTML-embedded scripting language. Much of its syntax is borrowed from C, Java and Perl with a couple of unique PHP-specific features thrown in. The goal of the language is to allow web developers to write dynamically generated pages quickly.

Perfect! I learned see way back in the day. I'm very rusty, but it's nice to know I'll find it vaguely familiar.

Why is it called PHP?
It stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. It's recursive. I love recursion. Also, it'd be inconvenient to call it HP. Too many other things called HP. My favorite calculator used to be an HP 15C. Reverse Polish Notation. It took a little getting used to at first, but I loved it for long calculations in high school.

Ok, one of the first things on the site is a link to a tutorial. I think "great, I'll get to see what it is." Nope. First it shows me how to install it on a server. Like I know how to admin a server! NOT. Well, not yet anyway. I think I have access to a server with PHP but it's not on a site that I would want to "play" with.

I'll have to see if my personal site has access. Then maybe I can get a few little pages written..

Other attempts at revised Commandments

George Carlin goes through the Biblical Ten Commandments and reduces them to two. Although I would personally scrap the 2nd one, it was fun reading:

Well let me ask you this- when they were making this shit up, why did they pick 10? Why not 9 or 11? I'll tell you why- because 10 sound official. Ten sounds important! Ten is the basis for the decimal system, it's a decade, it's a psychologically satisfying number (the top ten, the ten most wanted, the ten best dressed). So having ten commandments was really a marketing decision! It is clearly a bullshit list. It's a political document artificially inflated to sell better. I will now show you how you can reduce the number of commandments and come up with a list that's a little more workable and logical. I am going to use the Roman Catholic version because those were the ones I was taught as a little boy.

I found a few more lists on the Religious Tolerance site, including a list thought to have been created by secular humanists:

We shall not limit freedom of thought.
We shall not cause unnecessary harm to any living thing or the environment.
We shall be respectful of the rights of others.
We shall be honest.
We shall be responsible for our actions.
We shall be fair in all matters to all persons.
We shall be considerate of the happiness and well being of others.
We shall be reasonable in our actions.
We shall nurture these values by word & deed in our children, family, friends and acquaintances.
We shall not limit inquiring or testing by their consequences, on any matter, including these Commandments.

Thursday, September 13

Moral Principles are Tedious

At least, I'm finding it tedious to go through and think about them all, one by one, and am a bit frustrated that it could take a lifetime (or more) to come up with something by that method.

I think, instead, I'm just going to name 10 things and then, as I get time, examine other ideas and decide whether it's important enough to move up into the top 10. Maybe I'll keep a list of the others, just for reference.

So, quick, off the top of my head, without expecting they'll stand for long:

1. Seek the truth.
2. Be honest with oneself.
3. Act to make the best life possible for oneself.
4. Encourage others to seek truth.
5. Be honest with others.
6. Avoid harming others.
7. Seek to establish mutually beneficial relationships with others.
8. Encourage and help others to make the best life possible for themselves.
9. Work six days a week, but keep the seventh day as a day of rest and recharging.
10. Make the universe better in a meaningful way.

I was getting a little desperate towards the end there - hence the repetition of some, the weird thing about work and rest (Useful, certainly, but moral??), and the vagueness of the last one.
I'll get to describing and dissecting them later.

Wednesday, September 12

New Year's Resolution - Guitar

I did it. I dusted off my guitar and learned a few chords. Actually, I've tried to learn a few chords before, but this is the first time I've picked it up and remembered one from the last time I attempted to get in the habit of practicing.

I don't know why it's so hard to get started. Once I start playing around, I love it. Even though I suck at it. I know it took me a little while to get the hang of changing notes when I learned flute, but this seems far more complicated, requiring much more fine motor control. It takes me forever to get my fingers to let go of the strings, rearrange themselves, then hold down the strings in different positions. It hurts too. And I can't hold down two strings with one finger. At least not yet. But still, I love the way it sounds when I get a chord right and strum it. I love the way it sounds when I've changed chords and strum. I think I might even remember 4 whole chords - G, A, D, and E minor. I'm working on Emin7 and Amin. That's enough to cover most of several songs I'd like to be able to sing. Woohoo! It's a start!

My question is, if there are any guitarists out there, how long does it take to get to where you can actually play 2 chords in a row without having to consciously stop and rearrange your fingers every time? Is there a practice technique to speed this up? Time to do some research...

The New Me

Actually, it's the same old me, new photo:

http://beckyms.blogspot.com/2007/09/new-me.html

Tuesday, September 11

My first Robot

I decided to browse the robotic kits and components available at my local Fry's store.

Since my mechanical experience is fairly limited (can you say mechanically DISinclined), I was pleased to see that there were simple kits for a mere $10 - screw-driver included! The screw-driver is important because I wouldn't be able to lay hands on one of my own very easily, but I didn't particularly want to have to buy another one because I can't find mine. This resolved the dilemma for me.

Anyway, here's some info about the kit:
Obstacle-Evading Mechanical Beetle Kit

I'll try to post a picture after I've got it built (no promises on when).

While looking around for a good description to share, I found a useful-looking article on how to make my own beetle robot from components. Maybe a good second project:
How to Build A Simple Robot Beetle

Friday, September 7

How to Build a Robot, Step 3: Define Robot

This would ideally be Step 1.
My first stab at this was that a robot would be mobile. I didn't mean that it could travel, just that some movement was involved.

One definition I found mentioned it performing repetitive tasks, but it didn't mention what sort of tasks. A desktop computer performs many repetitive tasks, but I don't think I'd call it a robot.

Someone else had this to say about what a robot is:
In my opinion, a remote controlled car is not a robot since it has no brain of it's own. It has no way to make a decision on its own. If you want to build a machine that just responds to your remote control, then just use a remote controlled car or other toy.

To be a robot, it should have the ability to think - make decisions. This may sound hard at first, but really any small computer can be programmed to make decisions. Here is an example of a decision that a small robot with a feeble brain could make:
IF FRONT LEFT WHISKER SENSOR IS ON THEN
STOP, GO BACKWARDS 2 FEET, TURN RIGHT, CONTINUE.


I think something's missing here. A remote control vehicle can make decisions. It has instructions that are effectively:
If signal from controller is LEFT, THEN (turn left)...

I think the distinguishing feature here isn't the decision making but "decision making based on sensory input".

Even there, one might say that a robot has a special sensor - infrared or whatever it uses to receive signals from a controller. Then again, you could say that a radio is a robot.

Then maybe you'd need to add something else to the definition - motion. A robot is something that makes decisions about movement, based on sensory input and which doesn't require an operator.

Update: scratch the sensory input part, I think it could just be something (a machine) that is capable of movement and makes decisions about movement

How to Build a Robot, Step 2 Find a Robot Club

Well, I don't know that it's necessary, but it'll probably be easier and more fun to have some assistance. Again, this post is mostly for the purpose of bookmarking the link for future reference.

Building a Robot, Step-1, Find good instructions

Well, I don't know if they're "good," but I found some instructions on how to build a robot for under $50. I might not think about this again for a while, so I wanted to save the link for the next time I'm thinking about building a robot.

BTW, building a robot has been a nearly lifelong dream of mine. I can't remember when it first occurred to me to create one. It was probably near the time I saw Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I was 7.

2007 Resolutions Review

Somewhere in bloggerland, I saw a post about how a person does quarterly reviews of his personal development/growth. I like the idea.

Also, with Rosh Hoshanah (Jewish New Year) coming soon, I've been thinking about my New Year's resolutions. Not that I'm Jewish, mind you. I'm simply interested in ethics and philosophy and religious systems fit in with that. I also love making resolutions and seeing whether I've accomplished them. Of course, it's more fun when I have, but even when I don't, I learn something. Maybe to make more reasonable resolutions or to break up a resolution into smaller, more achievable goals.

Anyway, here's my status on this year's resolutions:

Priorities:
1. Have better relationships with family and friends.
This is hard to judge because it is a bit vague. I know things are better with some of my family members, especially my kids, because it just feels better to be with them. They seem happier overall. I feel happier around them overall.

I don't have many close friends. However, I've made a lot of progress in the area of more distant friendships- going out an meeting more people, making more of an effort to be more of a friend to more people.

I would say I'm well on my way to making things "better." I think I could still use a lot of improvement in this area, so I will probably want to continue next year.

I'll try to think of some specific, somewhat measurable things for next year... or maybe for the rest of this year.

I've been doing some study and practice on communication. I could come up with a goal like "Practice for an hour, once a week, on some of the concepts in Crucial Conversations". (Note to self, review this book!)
Oh, and I've been co-leading a study group on Nonviolent/Compassionate Communication. I think it's already helped some and we're going to be stepping up to do more practice at the next meeting. Exciting stuff!

2. Improve my health.
These are nice, measurable goals.

- Develop a habit of eating more fruits and veggies (with a goal of 5 per day).
Ok, I'm not quite up to target on this one, but I've made progress!

I eat a salad a few times a week. A year ago, I probably had a salad less than once a month. And that's pretty much the only way I have vegetables since I don't like any vegetable cooked (unless potatoes are veggies?? don't think so).

It's not quite 5 servings a day, but it is still a huge improvement. It's like, almost 5 servings a week! Looking at it mathematically, the previous standard was less than 1 serving a week. I've quadrupled that, at least! Go me!

- Continue exercising.
Err. Not doing as well on this. I've dropped Kung Fu due to knee problems and do Tai Chi once a week. Actually, I practice my Tai Chi briefly a few times a week. I'd like to be doing better/more than that, but at least I have continued to do something.

- Drop a clothing size (approx. 30 pounds.)
I don't think a clothing size is 30 pounds, but I definitely haven't made progress on this one. I think it's fairly reasonable and would happen if I also worked on the exercise goal more. Maybe I need something more specific in that area... like... 20 minutes of cardio or strength training, 3 times a week. Stretch goal: 20 minutes of cardio 3 times a week, 20 minutes of weight/strength training 3 times a week.

- Get HDL level up to 40 through supplements, diet, exercise.
Woot! I am doing very well on this one. I went from 23 on my HDL last fall to 32!! That's like... a 50% increase! Mostly I think it was through the exercise I did last fall and the Fish Oil capsules. I'm upping the dosage on that, so if I can just get myself exercising more, I'll bet I can break 40 by the end of the year!

3. Improve the aesthetics in my home. (fancy way of saying clean it up and decorate)
Well, considering the state my home was in when I planned this one, I'd say I've made enormous progress. If I do that about 5 times over, I'll have a nice place. So, good progress but LOTS more to do.

4. Improve my work ethic.
Terrible. I've definitely stalled out on this one. I'm better when it comes to home and family stuff but work, I mean my job, still needs a lot of improving.

"Extra Credit"-Study my electronics book and be able to explain the concepts in it and demonstrate them with hands on projects.
-Build a working robot.
-Write daily.
If you count emails, I do write almost daily. What I meant, though, was structured writing. This one is important to me. I really want to improve this more. I think I'll move it up to being a resolution with some subgoals.

-Improve my skill in drawing
Lower priority but likely to be fun when I get around to it.
- practice with the drawing without a model book and with portraits and occasional models.
-Improve Guitar skills.
Also important to me, but not as urgent. I did finally get a strap and a stand for my guitar as well as a chord book. I printed off some music. Now all I need is a music stand and I've got everything I need to practice. (Note to self: pick up music stand soon)

- Learn the different types of scales.
- Learn 12 new guitar chords.
- Learn 12 songs.
- Be able to know what note(s) is being played instantly - and recognize any chords I've learned.
-Write one song with a simple background.
This one is cheating a bit. I'd already written lyrics for half a song and have a tune in my head. I just need to figure out what notes I'm "hearing" and write them down and work out some good guitar to go with it. Still lots to do but something I'm optimistic about getting done in the next few years.

Wednesday, September 5

Secular Humanism: Negotiation and Compromise

We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.

This affirmation surprised me a little. It hadn't occurred to me.

However, there will be differences among people, so it might be important to have some ideas about how to deal with those well. I brainstormed a list here, partly inspired by Biblical passages, and partly just random.

"Kill those who differ from you."
"Imprison those who differ from you."
"Scream loudly at those who differ from you."
"Whine about those who differ from you."
"Learn from those who differ from you."
"Go along with those who differ from you."
"Dialogue with, when possible, and come to better ideas with those who differ from you."

No more dating

My brain hurts, so I'm going to move onto a different topic for a bit.

As I've mentioned before, I've been "dating" a little since the divorce and have found it to be a bit confusing and scary in some ways. Mostly, I've been afraid I'd hurt someone or disappoint them by losing interest in them. I guess that sounds arrogant or something, but really, it's just a sort of pickiness. I'm picky about food too. There are very few foods that I like, but I like them LOTS.

After dating a few people, I have finally bumped into a situation where I wasn't the one who lost interest first. Not that anything of that sort was said, just the impression I get when I don't hear from someone in a long while.

It was mildly disappointing, but, honestly, I'm not sure I would stay interested either. It didn't seem like we were entirely compatible, but it was still an interesting and enjoyable experience. I learned a lot from it.

Anyhow, I've decided to take advantage of this lull in people to focus on some other things for a while. Not that I'd turn down someone interesting if they fell into my lap... so to speak. I'm just not looking.

Anger - ramblings

Just had a thought about this, that a component of anger is the idea that someone is making a choice to do something harmful to oneself or someone one cares about.

I have this theory that all people do the 'best' they can given their particular knowledge and experiences. True, they may have ideas about "better" things to do but they don't choose them. I think that would be because the choice doesn't solve some problem for them or they are lacking something in knowledge or skills or a perspective which would make the choice much more appealing. Perhaps they were also in distress and not able to access all their best ideas at a particular time.

So, theoretically, if I kept that in mind all the time, I shouldn't be angry at anyone, ever.

I might feel strongly that I should take some action to prevent further harm, feel frustrated, disappointed that things didn't go the way I'd hoped, but not anger.

I wonder if that's true and whether I could actually get to that state of mind.

Sometimes, another person's anger can be a catalyst for rethinking things, for looking at a problem a different way, or for temporarilyor permanently stopping some offensive action.

Perhaps, then, anger serves a purpose. Disappointment could also be catalyst for change?

I suppose disappointment would have an effect on many people, but what about someone who is lacking empathy? Anger, at least, could trigger some fear.

Can fear be a good thing? Temporarily, I'm sure it can. It could prevent a person from harming the one feared. However, it could also provoke reactions that would be harmful.

Anger could also trigger other feelings besides fear - anger, surprise, delight, etc. Some people seem to enjoy the power of triggering anger in someone else. I think that's why the advice to ignore a bully can be problematic. A bully wants to trigger fear... and maybe even anger. Or maybe they really just want to be noticed and would actually prefer an enthusiastic, positive reaction. If they are really needy for connection (even a bad connection) with others, then ignoring them could aggravate the problem.

One book I read about the subject recommended responding with humor and/or with firmness. This means the bully gets some sort of "connection" but the "victim" has some control over the type of connection. End of ramble.

Separation of Organizations (Moral Principles)

After attempting to describe the terms "church" and "state" yesterday, I found myself stuck with some questions...

How is a non-profit or social action group different from a church?
The major difference would be that the non-profit or social action group is likely limiting itself to a particular issue and isn't taking a stance on all issues or making proposals about how government should be run generally. Still, there may be some groups that have a wider ethical base.

How is a corporation different from a church?
It is oriented towards gaining money in exchange for goods and services. A church generally needs money and offers services although the exchange isn't direct and isn't the main goal. The money is a means to supporting the members in their ethical improvement - not an end in itself.

Are there other organizations that should be kept separate from state or church?
I think so although it might be useful sometimes to hire corporations to handle certain aspects of government.

Why would it be good to separate organizations who share common moral beliefs from being part of a government or state?
Maybe so. I wouldn't want the Sierra Club, say, to be in charge of government - or even of environmental policy. I would prefer individuals who were selected and who can be unselected. Then again, if the club could be "unselected" as a whole, then I suppose it could be workable. It might even work better since you'd have a group of people who, presumably, have worked together and might be able to implement their policies more effectively. Maybe a useful principle would be that any organizations that are a part of a government should be subject to being voted out. I don't know, though, it seems a little risky. Then again, there's nothing to keep a majority of one religion or organization from getting themselves elected and effectively running the government.

Is the humanist affirmation about separation of church and state meaning "government" with the term "state"?
Yes, I think so. I like my description of state and found it fun to create, but I'm sure it was the wrong meaning for the affirmation.

I found an interesting article on some of these topics:

http://atheism.about.com/od/churchstate101/a/freespeech.htm

So, now, what do I think of the separation of church and state?
Short answer: probably safer than allowing them to merge too much, jury is still out on how much priority it should have

Tuesday, September 4

Separation of Church and State: Ten Moral Principles - Part 3

I realize now that it is a bit ambitious to try to evaluate multiple principles in one post, so I'll try one at a time.

We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.

Like I mentioned before, I'm not sure whether politics would be in my top ten moral principles. Imposing principles - which ones and how - seems to assume there are some "basic principles." I think the basics would come first. I'll think about that an maybe right some more about it later.

For now, I'll just explore the idea itself.

Before I can get very far, I think I'll need some sort of working idea about what a "church" is and what a "state" is. These aren't meant to be definitions just descriptions of my understanding about them.

A church is a community of people who share beliefs about morality. Traditionally, people use it to also include people who share beliefs about metaphysics as well as ethics. More specifically, church's are groups of people who share a common belief in a supernatural being or... force... and in some basic moral principles. Still, there are churches where members share common moral beliefs while disagreeing about metaphysics - have differing views about a belief in the supernatural, whether there is a god/gods/goddess(es), whether they're good, whether there's an afterlife, etc. Some folks would say that it's more of a "social club" than a church. I think, though, that a social club is focused on relationships while a church would focus on the moral improvement of its members.

A state is also a community of people. Community members may share some basic beliefs about morality, but I think the focus is more on establishing and imposing rules. Frequently, the rules are based on moral principles. The rules might be imposed by a single individual or by mutliple individuals with or without the agreement of the people upon whom the beliefs are imposed.

Now that I've got some basic ideas about terminology, I'll save further exploration for another post.

Tuesday, August 21

Rebooting Humanism

Basically, this little post is a sort of an elaborate bookmark for myself.

One thing that bothers me about the principles behind secular humanism is the anti-religion orientation. While I'm not a big fan of religion, I do happen to have friends who are religious and don't consider their belief in the supernatural nearly as important as some of their other qualities.

While I'd like to see religion go away, I think a lot is yet to be done in the area of ethics and, *gulp*, spirituality before giving up religion will be appealing to most people. I was pleased to see this article on the atheism.about.com website, discussing a proposal for a new, improved humanism.

In short, a re-booted humanism would recognize ethics and naturalism as its core. It would then be best defined as a sociopolitical philosophy, both democratic and non-hierarchal, which is informed by scientific naturalism, and promotes individual freedom, economic and social equality, human cooperation and planetary peace.

I traced it back to the original author's site, just in case he's written anything else interesting.

Monday, August 20

Ten Moral Principles Part 2 - Secular Humanism

Looking for some inspiration about best moral principles, or revised TEN commandments, I want to take some time to look at the Affirmations of Humanism


We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.
Sounds good to me. I wouldn't have thought of it as a moral principle but maybe it is. An alternative might be following "God's will" or "We are committed to the application of God's will to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems." However, since this is coming from a disbelief in God and a belief in the use of science and reason to understand things, including moral ideas, I suppose it really is a moral principle. Now, how to word it as a commandment.
"Thou shalt apply reason and science to understanding the universe and to solving human problems." I feel uneasy about putting "science" in there but I think it IS good to have something about practical, testable ideas, to commit to revising our ideas as we learn more. Then again, I rather like the idea of wording it as something one has chosen to do, so how about.
"I commit to using reason and science to aid in my understanding of reality and how to act on that knowledge."

I thought it best to leave off "human" because there is the slight possibility that there will be other creatures, intelligent or not, that I might run into problems about. Also, there may be other important things to consider in gaining knowledge of reality. For example, imagination can be extraordinarily helpful, but I don't know whether people would consider it "reason" or "science".

We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.
I wouldn't use deplore. I also don't like the negative slant of this nor the presumption it makes about the truth about "supernatural." While I do think that everything is explainable, I'm not sure humankind will get to the point where everything is explained, and it may be useful to keep an open mind about difficult-to-explain things. For example, there may be beings with special abilities which might seem "beyond natural" to us. I think we're better off assuming there's some explanation but not better off assuming we can know what the explanation will look like. If there were some superly intelligent and benevolent beings, it might be "best" to follow their lead... treat them as something like gods. It wouldn't be outside nature, but it might not be entirely predictable by science. Maybe there should be a principle about having an open mind - supportive of creativity and imagination.

"I support intelligence and to act as if explanations of reality are possible and to look for them."
I think I want to reword the first principle to this:
"I commit to using reason, science, creativity, and imagination to aid in my understanding of reality and how to act on that knowledge."
"I will seek to explore new ideas as they come up and revisit old ones, for truth is not always obvious."

We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.
I suppoe this is in contrast to avoiding science and technology. I think it's a bit redundant with the last few principles but possibly useful to have in mind as an implicaiton.

We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.
I don't know about having politics as part of a philosophy. It seems like an area where there is so much yet to learn. Democracies aren't free from oppression although they may be the best we can do.

Whew, it's tiring work, thinking through these things. I'll have to take a break and come back to it another time.

Wednesday, August 15

The Revised Ten Commandments - Part 1

If you had to pick the 10 most important moral laws for all of humankind to follow, what would they be?
 
I think it would be an interesting project to come up with my own list. I don't think I'm particularly qualified for this project, but I figure it never hurts to spend some extra effort thinking about ethics.  Now, onto my first candidates - mostly inspired by the Bible's commandments.
 
Killing would be up there. I mean, a law about NOT killing others would be up there. Or maybe
"Thou shalt not kill humans or other sentient beings except in self-defense." Hmm. I think this would make abortions unlawful. I'm not sure where I stand on that. Definitely, I think a lack of killing of most humans would be up there as very important.
 
What else could be in the top 10?
 
"Thou shalt give me, the creator of these laws, half of all your wealth."
I don't think that one would go over very well and I guess wouldn't necessarily be helpful for the rest of the population besides myself. I guess I wouldn't want folks to do that if it meant they didn't do some other important things.
 
"Thou shalt not take slaves nor act in any way to take advantage of slave labor." I wonder why that isn't in the original - at least the first part of it. The Jewish people were even escaping slavery and yet Moses(or God if that's your belief) didn't put that in the top 10. Why not? I mean, isn't the freedom of people important? Apparently it wasn't then.
 
Ok, what else.
 
Lying. Well, I can think of good reasons to lie, but then I think the original commandment was something about not bearing false witness. That certainly seems good, but I'm not sure whether I won't think of others that are more important. I'll keep it in mind.
 
Envy. Coveting your neighbor's wife or husband or stuff. I don't really see how that's so terrible although I'd think there was something wrong with a person who felt they HAD to have those things to be happy. It'd be more productive to appreciate the good things another has and try to learn how to get good things for oneself. I'll have to put more thought into that one.
 
Thou shalt worship no other gods before me. I'd just throw that one out entirely, but I can't help thinking there's some way of thinking about it that might be useful. Like, one might do better to have some basic ideas/principles that are most important and maybe ONE that is most important. *note to self to continue pondering that one*
 
Honor thy parents. I'd question this one. Parents aren't always particularly nice people. You could have empathy or even sympathy for the hardships they may have had which contributed to their not being "nice" people, but I don't know if I'd call that honoring them. Also, I'm of the opinion that since parents have all the choices in deciding to have children, they have responsibility that goes with it. A child should be honored by being taken care of well. If all children were honored in this way, I think we'd progress a lot more as a species. OTOH, children can't learn to honor parents if parents don't teach them such things. Therefore, if I were to proclaim something like "Honor thy parents" it would be in the form of "Parents, treat your children such that they will honor you."
 
to be continued...
 
 

Wednesday, August 8

Peace, Justice, and Pacifism

I had this sudden urge to defend my decision to include links to Peace organizations. For the time being, I am not a pacifist. I am very skeptical that the state of human knowledge about how to get along is so well developed that the use of defensive force, which might prove deadly, is never in order.

However, on a personal level, I don't want to be involved in the use of deadly force or in promoting it. I am interested in developing the sort of knowledge which might lead to a more peaceful and just humanity.

If I were a camera...

I am a Disposable Camera. I need constant change and tend to avoid commitment. I like things no-frills and easy, and I don't want to mess with untidy and complicated details. If things get too stagnant, I look for stimulation in new areas. In a relationship, I am fun to date but unreliable.
How about you? Take the personality quiz and find out What Type of Camera Are You?


I must be getting flakey in my old age. I usually hate these little quizzes but suddenly I'm starting to find them appealing. I was looking for tips on video camera use for the access show I help out with at my church (a fairly unique, long-running public forum type thing). I got distracted from my search by the sudden urge to know what type of camera I am.

I think the test is a bit off. I really don't like disposable cameras. I prefer digital, so I can take all the pictures I want without having to print them all. The drawback is I don't have much patience for organizing all those photos into anything others might want to see...

Thursday, June 14

The LJ blog feed

was set up by a friend, so please note that I don't get notice of comments posted on the LJ site.

I only see comments posted on the blog unless I happen to remember to log in to LJ and check the feed. Since I get so few comments, I never think to look for them.

Selfishly Pleasing Others

"...often when we believe we are thinking of others and putting their needs
first, we are really just trying to please - which means we
are really thinking about ourselves. "

http://www.easwaran.org/nilgiri.cfm/pageid:614

I admit it, I'm a people pleaser. Even when I was a rabid Objectivist and thought selfishness was a virtue and that people pleasing was not particularly good, I still enjoyed it. It seems I can't win.

I have to wonder at the alternative.
Does this mean that one should only do things one hates for the good of others, to be sure of truly being selfless?

Or is it "good enough" to avoid noticing whether one enjoys it or not? Or is the idea to be aware of what one enjoys (pleasing people, say) or not but not let it affect what one does?

I can't help thinking there's something missing in this.

Wednesday, May 23

Near misses

Yesterday, I was driving home on the highway when I heard a loud bang and the squealing of tires and looked over to see a white truck swerving to the left and banging into the guard rail and the left rear tire exploding all over the road. I and the other drivers around me all managed to stop. I then watched as the truck bounced back out across the highway, doing an almost 360 before hitting the other rail - the one in front of me - with it's tail and then coming to a stop. Luckily, all three lanes were clear, the truck looked to be minimally damaged, and the two guys in it got out, looked at the tire and laughed (probably with relief). I can still see it. It was so weird having stopped and watching to see what would happen, knowing that it could still hit me but not being able to do anything.

Today, I was coming up to a light and stopped behind the cars in front of me as the light turned green. Then I heard a squealing of tires and a bang - unmistakeable sound of one car hitting another and looked in my rearview mirror. The vehicle behind me had just been rear-ended. I'm not sure, but I think it may have been a 3 car thing.

If I were superstitious, I'd wonder if it was all a warning - or maybe it meant I was being "protected" or maybe it was something about whether I should keep my old car - or whether I should finally break down and get a new used one.

Since I'm not superstitious, I am thinking that I need to make a decision soon because my tires are wearing thin. If I replace them, I will NOT get my money back, but I suppose my safety is worth it.

Tuesday, May 22

Innocent Children Imprisoned in the US!

I attended a Public Forum with Speaker Barbara Hines, Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Texas School of Law's Immigration Clinic Sunday. Although I'm accustomed to seeing and hearing some very disturbing things at the Forum, her stories hit closer to home...

In my own country, in my own state, not even 3 hours away, innocent children are being kept in prison-like conditions.

"At the time of the ACLU's initial court filings, child detainees had to wear prison garb. They received one hour of recreation per day and opportunities to spend this hour outdoors were very rare. Children were detained in small cells for about 11 or 12 hours each day, and were prohibited from keeping food and toys in these cells, which lack any privacy. Although some of these conditions have improved slightly, they are still far from adequate."

http://www.aclu.org/immigrants/detention/28865prs20070306.html
http://www.aclu.org/immigrants/detention/hutto.html

Monday, May 21

Maker Faire Coming to Austin

"A two-day, family-friendly event that celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset. It's for creative, resourceful folks who like to tinker and love to make things. We call them Makers."

http://makerfaire.com/

Thursday, May 17

Perseverance

Unknown Author

"When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low, and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but do not quit.
Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit-
It's when things go wrong that you must not quit."
~ Unknown

Friday, May 11

Humanism: Is there a use for a soul?

I've been attempting to take an email course on Humanism. I've been busy, so I haven't been so good about keeping up with the reading, but I'm saving the emails for pleasure reading when I have a free moment.

I was craving something interesting to think about today, so I decided to dig in a little and read the latest email. It was on the topic of souls. The article pretty well reflects my thoughts about souls.

What this means is that who we are is a function of our memories and our personalities, neither of which have any independent existence apart from our brains.
If either is altered sufficiently (whether through physical damage, hormonal imbalances, or some theoretical medical intervention), then the identity of the person in question will also be altered. It will, in effect, not be the same person anymore.


I don't believe in a soul in the religious sense nor in anything "supernatural", but I have taken to using the words "soul" and spirituality to mean something a bit different, and useful. I'm not entirely sure how I'd define them, but I'll attempt to describe them.

By soul, I mean something like the sum of ideas and emotions - my personality. However, soul gives a connotation, that I think fits something I sometimes want to express, which the word "personality" doesn't. "Soul" feels a bit more like saying "me" where personality feels like I'm describing something about me. My personality can change, it is an aspect of me, but not the sum total. Maybe what I mean is the soul is what makes "me" as distinct from someone else. My personality might change so much that I am in fact a different person. However, I'm still "me" (as opposed to any other human). Maybe it doesn't have a use that isn't already covered perfectly by "me" or "you". Still, soul has a sort of poetic/romantic feel that "me" or "you" doesn't have. It also might be that soul could apply to the personality + memories.

I have had the experience of knowing people who had changed so much in personality - or in memories - that they seemed like a different person. In one case, it was my grandfather, who'd suffered a stroke. For a while, it was very disconcerting seeing him and having the feeling that "he" wasn't there any more. I was very sad, thinking that in a sense, he was gone and I might never "see" him - the one I had known - ever again. Over time, I got to know him again, some of his old ways returned and it felt like "him" again. I think he was there all along, but I couldn't tell at first with the huge changes in him.

It means something to ME to say something like "feed my soul". I'd consider feeding it to provide it with good ideas, hugs from friends, etc. I don't know of another word that works quite so well. I wouldn't mind using a different word if it worked for what I want. Maybe "psyche"?

For myself, I don't mind borrowing religious terms and giving them a meaning that works for me - that help me relate to my religious friends and vice versa. I probably would be more careful about using such a term with someone who might misunderstand it, but my friends and I seem to understand each other just fine.

Thursday, May 3

Day #396

Of what, I don't know. The number just popped into my head and I went with it. Originally, I was thinking about the episode of Star Trek TNG where Wesley meets an attractive, intelligent young woman who keeps a list of rules going and makes up some new ones while she gets to know Wesley. They also manage to resist the urge to start playing the new game that's got everyone on the ship addicted, figure out some sort of evil plot, and manage to overthrow it. I miss that girl - and Wesley - and the whole crew. I think I cried when the series ended - or I wanted to anyway.

Really, though, I wanted to put the day of the year, but I'm too lazy to figure it out.
End log.

I can already feel the sand

under my feet. That's right, we're headed to the beach!! Woohoo!!

I used to have dreams of going to the beach that were so real, I could "feel" the sand squishing between my toes. I can still "feel" it if I imagine well enough.

How to stop hating

I accidentally hit upon a solution to this puzzle. I've been trying to get over this feeling for quite some time but was really stuck with it. It seemed like an unhealthy fixation, and I don't think it is limited to a particular person. It's occasionally come up with other people.

It seemed to me that at the root of the problem is that at a certain level, I admire(d) the particular person I "hate" and yet they have done something to hurt me or attack me. I think my feelings are different when someone attacks me and I have no regard for them or think their words had no significance or truth. If I actually have some regard for a person, it cuts much deeper.

What's had me stuck was the feeling that the (verbal) assault from this person wasn't entirely without basis - that I somewhat deserved it - and that even if it wasn't the most productive way to handle things with me, it was "understandable."

In fact, it was quite understandable given the situation. I was in the wrong. And yet, I was literally stuck that way - not really having the energy or know-how to do any better. Worse, I had the feeling that I might NEVER be able to do any better.

The "good" part about being yelled at was feeling that the person not only thought I could do what I wanted to accomplish... the person thought it was something I had readily in my grasp. In a strange way, it WAS motivating and encouraging. However, it didn't really solve the problem - and the problem was more than a lack of motivation - it was a lack of knowledge and resources and confidence AND a general lack of motivation. In fact, I'm not sure I know even now. I've found ways to work around the problem. I've found ways to improve things, but I still don't know how to solve it entirely.

Being attacked seemed like it might motivate me to make a change. I certainly tried to see it that way. Still, it seemed that there might have been some better, more helpful way to go about this.

I've thought through all this before and stopped. I stopped because I thought it was useless to figure out what "should" have been done because, well, it's too late for that. And here's where the breakthrough came in:

It occurred to me that maybe there WAS something the person could do that would change things for me. But what if they weren't willing? Well, then, I realized, I could do it for myself.

I've done thought experiments like this before. There's an interesting website out there somewhere that even goes into great detail about how people usually have more than one "subself" and can actually carry on "conversations" between different subselves. I don't know whether I'd agree with the theory, but I think it's a useful and interesting exercise to attempt anyhow. Another experiment I've done, at the suggestion of a friend, was to think about a painful/difficult memory from when I was a child and imagine I could talk to that child ... as an adult with the knowledge and compassion I have now. It was an amazingly comforting and helpful thing.

I thought about what I would want the person to do to "make up" for what they did. I thought about "I'm sorry" and it did nothing for me, so I tried thinking about what I'd want to have happened instead...

I realized that I'd want them to give me a big hug and say "you can do it", "don't give up", and "keep trying, you'll find a way". I think I'd have done just about anything for some real human contact right then. There were some other very negative interactions with this person around the same time and thinking through what I needed, what I wanted from 'someone' has been very moving... and healing. I never thought I'd turn out to be one of those wimpy whiny people who talks about healing, but it doesn't feel so wimpy...

As silly, or obvious, or trite as all this may sound, it has made a big difference to me.

I think really part of the problem is I'd like to have a good relationship with this person and sense that we "could" have a really great friendship. I know it's in there somewhere, but instead I feel rejected - unaccepted. That doesn't mean I don't feel worthy. I know I am and I don't think making mistakes - even attacks - necessarily means someone isn't worthy. It just means they don't quite know how yet.

One last thing, I have one reader who tends to think that when I write something negative, it's about her, but it's not. I don't hate her and never have. She just seems like she needs lots of hugs and some real friends.

It's not likely that the people this is about will ever read it.

Wednesday, May 2

Married, Divorced, and Dating

I don't know how much I've mentioned about this here before, but I went through a divorce a few years ago. I was married two days before my 19th birthday and my ex filed for the divorce 13 years later - almost to the day.

We met 2 days before my 16th birthday and declared ourselves a "couple" a week or so later, so, in all, we were "together" for over 15 years - half our lives (he's a year younger than I). I don't want to get into the details of that here. I'm more interested in what's happened since.

I dated one other person before I met my ex but had no committed relationships before that (unless you count the boyfriend I had for a few months when I was 7 years old - before he moved away). I never did much "dating" until after the divorce and I still haven't done much.

In some ways, I'm still a teenager in this respect. I have very little experience with looking for potential partners or distinguishing between people who might be good friends vs. something more. I'm not just inexperienced with dating, I've been fairly limited in regard to making close friends as well. I have lots of friendly acquaintences - people that I like and who are encouraging and nice but very very few of people I'd call "close friends" - people I could count on if I needed help. Neither, to be fair, am I a particularly good friend to many people.

Anyway, on the subject of dating (and maybe on friendships):

The hardest thing for me at first was worrying about what I'd do if I am interested in someone but then find that I've changed my mind - and they haven't. I hated the thought of breaking it off with a "nice" person.

Recently, though, I realized that people get over stuff - especially if it's sooner rather than later. Most healthy people aren't going to even be bothered about it for more than a day or two (assuming, like I said, it's early in the relationship). If they aren't healthy, well, dating them isn't likely to help with that either - although friendship might.

It may seem like obvious to some people, but, like I said, I'm not very experienced with this sort of thing.

Of course, there's the flip side. What if I get really interested in someone and the feeling isn't mutual? I don't think I'd be heartbroken if I find out early on. Even later, I've made it through the breakup of a 15 year relationship, surely I'll manage.

So now, the latest thing I wonder about is "What if they're really not interested in an intimate relationship but still want to be friends?" I think I'd find that difficult because I'd feel that the relationship was limited right from the start. I've been friends with people I was interested in before, and eventually my enthusiasm just wears thin. Then again, maybe that's just because the relationship didn't have enough substance to really continue anyway (and the person, wisely, sensed it). Besides, short term relationships can be wonderful, growthful, healthy experiences.

I have a lot more questions/puzzles when it comes to friendships, but I'll save them for another time.

Tuesday, May 1

The Joy of Hate

I recently did some personal writing where I was examining my feeling of "hating" another person. It's not common for me to feel that way about someone. I'd rather not feel it for anyone, and yet, I had to admit to myself that there was something enjoyable about it. Mind you, it's not that I'd want to see the person harmed. It's more of a feeling that I'd have been better off NOT knowing them although I'm not sure I really think that's true. I learn a lot from meeting people who challenge my ideas - even I never come to agree with them. Even if I "hate" them. Maybe what I mean by hate is a bit different than the usual meaning. It doesn't mean I want to see bad things happen to them - it's just that I want to see them be a better person, AND they seem capable of it.

I've thought this about anger before. I think anger comes when you think something could potentially by different, that someone is capable of doing better and is not. It is a feeling that something can change. It can also be a refusal to accept reality as it is...

Saturday, March 31

Dear Easter Bunny

I ran across an old note I wrote when I was 7 or so...

Dear Easter bunny
Thank you Easter bunny.
I like you. I Thank you for your eggs.
I like them. And I like you.
from your friend Rebecca.


I know I'm biased, but... isn't that cuuuute?

Friday, March 30

Go ME!! 108 Forms achieved

I did it! I did it! I forgot to post about it Sunday, but I have finally, after 8 months (with quite a few missed weeks due to instructor or I being sick or out of town), I have finally been trained on all 108 Forms of the Wu Style Tai Chi that I started on in July last year. This is the longest I've ever stuck to any kind of regular exercise, so I'm very pleased with myself about it.

I usually only attend once a week although I attended twice weekly for the first few months. I must say, it has really contributed to my having much more energy. I've enjoyed it so much that I tried out a few other martial arts including Yin Style Bagua and Northern Shaolin type Kung Fu/Wushu. It's a struggle to do much of the Wushu with only attending once a week or so, but every time I go, I can tell I've made some improvement. I may not be the "best" student, but I certainly have made huge progress since the days when I wondered if I'd even survive through the hour and sore for the next week.. Now I only feel dizzy at times (usually just when doing cartwheels) and tired in the evening after. I had a class last night and went to bed early, but now I'm feeling energized - and a tiny weensy bit sore.

On Being Shallow

Or maybe it's selfish. I guess shallow would be having no depth to one's understanding while one could be selfish and still care about things or have a deeper understanding of things.

Anyhow, I don't know that I'm particularly more "selfish" than average. It just has always seemed to me that if one really believed in equality and "unselfishness", then one wouldn't have much of anything and would live like a beggar, so anyone short of a beggar, at this point, would have to have some level of selfishness. Most people don't seem to have any problem with being selfish in those terms.

I don't think it makes sense to be angry at people for making millions or billions. If someone had 10 billion dollars and gave them all away, that'd be what, less than $1.50 for each person on earth - not likely to improve life for much of anyone. Then again, if the $10 billion went to say, 1 million of the world's poorest, that might make a big difference to a big number of people....

Equality

It doesn't seem so bad now but still, the idea of say, giving half of everything I have to someone so we could be "equal" doesn't sound nice for me. OTOH, I guess it'd be nice if someone wealthier gave half the difference between our wealths to me.

Should equality apply to material wealth? Should people who work "harder" have more wealth? Should the two be linked at all?

People seem to work less hard when they don't think they'll get rewarded for it. I've always thought of that as a good argument against socialism and "sharing the wealth", but I wonder if it's nicer to live in a society that's actually less well off overall materially but more "equal" in terms of material wealth. I don't know about that. It seems like even societies that attempt to do that have some really difficult problems to face as well. For example, in the UK, some people receive fertility treatment paid for via government programs and yet glasses - something I'd consider a necessity - are NOT covered.

Monday, March 19

More paths

I have too much on my mind to sleep, so here I am to ramble some more.

Thinking more about paths, I suppose people aren't actually on the same path. They might be walking along side each other and that may actually work better for avoiding collisions than lots of people on paths going different directions that do crisscross - unless collisions are actually a good thing. I don't know why that would be - except that they might be interesting if one were particularly bored.

Boredom, I hate it. I think sometimes I stir up problems just to keep from being bored. I often find people boring if I have to talk to them more than briefly. Otoh, I often find it interesting to briefly talk to someone new... ok, to bed for real this time.

Ramblings on Destiny, Sacrifice, and Ethics

I have often thought of other people as being on a path that I didn't have the right to alter. I might offer the idea of an alternative path if the person seemed so inclined but to be pushy or persuasive about it would be attempting to make my path theirs. It seemed disrespectful and just plain wrong. After all, I don't really know for sure what path is the best possible for them or for mankind or the universe. Even wars, in all their misery, have resulted in good "ends". Whether the ends would have been better achieved some other way - well, that's hard to say.

Some of the freed slaves of the South might not have better lives and sometimes even worse lives in terms of necessities like food, shelter, and clothing. Still, the generations that followed may have had better lives, and the generations after that, even better. At least some of them. Does the betterment of the later generations justify the sacrifices of their elders? Does the improvement in life for one person justify the impoverishment or just "less nice" life of another? If it's a small impoverishment for a big improvement? Or is equality really what it's all about? Equality bugs me. But maybe that's just because I'm from a country that's wealthy and would probably be much worse off if everything were equal. Not that I'm particularly wealthy. Does improving life for everyone actually matter at all in the scheme of the universe? I suppose it matters to me and to a lot of people. I guess that's what matters.

Back to the idea of paths in life. Maybe it's better to cross as many as possible and get everyone going all over the place :) Oh, but then they might bump into each other lots and get hurt. I'll have to think about this more some other time when I'm not quite so *yawn* sleepy. Good night.

Wednesday, January 17

Resolutions2007 - Improving Work Ethic and Enjoying Work

It just occurred to me that part of improving work one's work ethic may involve learning to enjoy the work more. So? Work - what's so good about it? Well, for one, it's something to do. One thing I really hate is having nothing to do. That rarely happens. I usually have ton of things to do, but occasionally I've been stuck somewhere that I couldn't "work" on anything and had to just sit and wait. I probably should think about how to enjoy that too. One thing at a time.

Tuesday, January 2

2007 Resolutions

I got a bit carried away with relaxing and having fun New Year's Eve, so I'm a bit late about working out my resolutions. For now, I'm just going to post a quick list. Later, I'll refine them and make more specific goals out of them.

Priorities:

1. Have better relationships with family and friends.

2. Improve my health.
- Develop a habit of eating more fruits and veggies (with a goal of 5 per day).
- Continue exercising.
- Drop a clothing size (approx. 30 pounds.)
- Get HDL level up to 40 through supplements, diet, exercise.

3. Improve the aesthetics in my home. (fancy way of saying clean it up and decorate)

4. Improve my work ethic.

"Extra Credit"
-Study my electronics book and be able to explain the concepts in it and demonstrate them with hands on projects.
-Build a working robot.
-Write daily.
-Improve my skill in drawing - practice with the drawing without a model book and with portraits and occasional models.
-Improve Guitar skills.
- Learn the different types of scales.
- Learn 12 new guitar chords.
- Learn 12 songs.
- Be able to know what note(s) is being played instantly - and recognize any chords I've learned.
-Write one song with a simple background.

Last Year's Resolutions in Review

Research Secular Humanism and meet some humanists. - done
Research Unitarian Universalists and meet some. - done
Develop a habit of exercising 3 times per week with family and friends. - partly done - exercise yes - not always with family/friends

Develop a habit of eating more fruits and veggies (with a goal of 5 per day). - needs work
Research the Ten Commandments and be able to describe and explain them. - done
Study my electronics book and be able to explain the concepts in it and demonstrate them with hands on projects.
Build a working robot.
Write daily.
Improve my skill in drawing - practice with the drawing without a model book and with portraits and occasional models.
Learn 10 guitar chords. Learn 2 songs.
- partly done
Learn 10 piano chords. Learn 2 songs.
Practice singing daily for at least 5 minutes. Write one song with a simple guitar chord background (perhaps a holiday piece).
Clear clutter out of the house.
Assign spots for all items in the house.
Refinance the house.
Give more attention and time to family and close friends.