Saturday, January 28, 2017

So Where Did You Come From?



In the continuous effort to organize and de-clutter, I found some mason jars up on a shelf. They had some unknown contents in them and some sticky labels. I really didn’t need any additional food storage containers but these are too nice to just throw away.
Another project to wash out glass jars and restore them in another appropriate place. It sounds so easy but they’ve been soaking in the sink for over a month. The opening was too small for me to stick my big paws in so I had to (had to?) buy another kind of scrubby brush. Then I also had to wash the regular glass and plate I use, so another soaking and some more soap.
Finally last night I scrubbed them out and prepared them for their new home outside. What was I going to do with them out there? I have no idea but a bit more space.
Being so proud of my accomplishment, I pushed on to another project that was moving three rugs upstairs through a narrow stairway. My rule of thumb is “You don’t go up unless you bring something else down”. I had some folding chairs to use with a table bought a few years ago for outside entertaining so I gathered them up and tried not to fall down the steps.
Phew!
Yet on the third trip upstairs I see a bag full of mason jars. “Where did you come from?” I pondered. Sometimes you move things just to get them out of the way and so that is my logic for this treasure.
Now those jars are sitting in a sink of suds awaiting the next surge of energy to clean them and join them with their friends outside. Maybe I’m just moving space holders?
One of my many other projects was to replace my old straw broom that was outside. I’d gone to the store and all they had were the plastic fiber brooms but I was looking for a straw replacement. I figured I had to go to the hardware store. I was just something that was stuck in the back of my head and when I plopped the folding chairs against this old worn straw broom, it just reminded me again. 
My last trip upstairs moving some cords and banging on the drums and hanging up a jacket and moving some other stuff I see this straw broom. “Where did you come from?”
This is the broom I was looking for and I had it all along. You just don’t know what you will find when you just look around.

It was just another day in just another life.

Friday, January 27, 2017

…and the Winner is….


Who is the Winner? Who is the Loser?
Why do we need this contest?
A winner is the victor, champion, conqueror, vanquisher, hero, medalist, record holder, top dog, world-beater, the best, etc. There is only one #1.
A winner crosses the finish line first and gets his just rewards. A winner lifts more weight or jumps higher or runs faster than anyone else. You can win at athletics or at business or at love (like that is going to happen).
If there is only one winner, everyone else is a loser?
A loser is a person or thing that loses or has lost something, especially a game or contest. A loser is a defeated person, also-ran, or a runner-up. A loser still gets the silver medal, but no one ever remembers second best. A loser is a person who accepts defeat with good or bad grace.
How do we deal with these few winners and all those losers?
The winner of today’s contest will forget that the trophy will rust for another winner next time and another after that. A one-time win will become ancient history and a memory.
Don’t feel so sad, even the ‘losers’ are winners at something.
A loser could be a winner at a perfect attendance or best dressed or a champion at domestic cleaning. These small victories are just as important and valued by everyone. Best scrabble player can out word any old college football lineman even in a letter sweater. A wheelchair bond racer might not win the race but can write and conduct an orchestra to applaud of the masses. The lowly cubical worker doing mundane routine over and over again can write the next top selling novel. A nightly janitorial can put aside some time to create an artistic masterpiece.
There are no losers only winners. One and all.

Indigenous


Indigenous people are people defined in international or national legislation as having a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory, and their cultural or historical distinctiveness from other populations that are often politically dominant.
So what makes people indigenous?
• Indigenous people are descended from the pre-colonial/pre-invasion inhabitants of our region.
• Indigenous people maintain a close tie to our land in both our cultural and economic practices.
• Indigenous people suffer from economic and political marginalization as a minority group.
• Indigenous people are a group that is considered Indigenous if it defines itself that way.
OK, let me see if I got this.
A bunch of people, probably a family or a group of families find a plot of land that they like and claim it as their own. They grow their crops, raise their families, build their settlements, form their own language, fashion and religion.
Other groups of people do the same thing in another place and everyone will try to get along with each other.
Then tribe comes in and wants what these indigenous people have. They may want their land or women or resources or wealth.
If the new neighbors are more powerful and more aggressive they may assimilate or dominate or eliminate the indigenous people.
To justify their actions the new neighbors can create the fear of a different looking people or a different sounding people or the always reliable a different religion.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday, 13 September 2007, by a majority of 144 states in favor, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine).
In May 2016 Canada officially removed its objector status to UNDRIP, almost a decade after it was adopted by the General Assembly. By now also the other 3 objectors have, to various degrees, turned their vote.
While as a General Assembly Declaration it is not a legally binding instrument under international law, it does “represent the dynamic development of international legal norms and it reflects the commitment of the UN member states to move in certain directions”; the UN describes it as setting “an important standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples that will undoubtedly be a significant tool towards eliminating human rights violations against the planet's 370 million indigenous people and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalization.
UNDRIP codifies “Indigenous historical grievances, contemporary challenges and socio-economic, political and cultural aspirations” and is the “culmination of generations-long efforts by Indigenous organizations to get international attention, to secure recognition for their aspirations, and to generate support for their political agendas.”
The Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues. It also “emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions, and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations”. It “prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples”, and it “promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development”. The goal of the Declaration is to encourage countries to work alongside indigenous peoples to solve global issues, like development, multicultural democracy and decentralization. According to Article 31, there is a major emphasis that the indigenous peoples will be able to protect their cultural heritage and other aspects of their culture and tradition, which is extremely important in preserving their heritage. The elaboration of this Declaration had already been recommended by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
Prior to the adoption of the Declaration, and throughout the 62nd session of the General Assembly, a number of countries expressed concern about some key issues, such as self-determination, access to lands, territories and resources and the lack of a clear definition of the term indigenous.
 
Indigenous people like the Mayans, Native Americans (Indians), Aborigines, Eskimos, Chiapas, Yucatán’s, Oaxaca, Yazidis, Nivkh people, and many, many others have found a way of life and created a culture of traditional history. Some might call them savages or heathens or primitives or uncivilized yet their simple lifestyle is envied by the high paced rat race of the modern world.
No matter how we classify ourselves, we all have to merge in with the norms of the majority and accepted laws of the region where we shelter ourselves. Underneath all the makeup and faux uniforms we are all indigenous people with our own language, religion, and heritage.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Fiancée



  He is my fiancée.
What does that mean?
  Usually used during an engagement period with two who have promised to marry, but not just yet. It is the purgatory to marriage. It is the waiting line to work out the details.
  The couple who are now more than boyfriend/girlfriend and not quite roommates are emotionally attached to each other but have promised to marry each other rather than shack up for it is the proper thing to do. Also the parents like it better than what youve been doing under the football bleachers.
  What about the betrothed? Usually involves some sort of jewelry better than that high school piece of lead stuffed with wax to fit on her little finger. Precious stones are always good to add some sparkle but means the main event jewelry must bring some major bling.
  This time between just dating to being coupled in matrimony can be a few days or weeks or drag on for months or maybe years. There are lots of details to be worked out.
Introductions and becoming familiar with future family-in-laws and all their particular customs can take time. Partners might like each other but all those other folks might not be as appealing. It is all part of the deal.
This is the time when you really start to find out about the other person. This is for real. You are making a REAL commitment.
While she gets all excited about picking out a dress and flowers and a setting that will be just perfect for the special day, you are wondering if the Beatles or the Stones or even Frank Zappa could be played at the wedding knowing full well that the music will probably turn to wedding planners and the usual Barry Manilow and Michael Jackson.
So both are excited about the upcoming event but somewhat fearful of the consequences. Thanks goodness when you are young, parental authority and testosterones can direct you. 
All the other distractions of human interest must be put aside for there is a marriage to be consummated. Like any contract when signed on the dotted line you must complete the requirements established or face the consequences.
Wear the title “fiancée” with pride for sooner or later it will be Mister and Mrs (not mistress) and all your offspring and you will live happily ever after in marital bliss.
Good luck.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mommy


So the District of Columbia was infiltrated by a bunch of ladies shouting slogans and carrying signs and walking for blocks under scrutiny of news cameras a day after a new president’s inauguration.
What do you think about that?
When you get in trouble or in pain, whom do you call?
“Mommy”
She was always there to kiss your boo-boo or help you with your homework or pick you up from school or make your lunch. Maybe she wasn’t June Cleaver or Carol Brady or Morticia Addams, but she was ‘mom’.
My reference was 50’s television where every mom was the same. She was supportive of the children (usually two) and a homemaker and subservient figure to the father, but she was ‘mom’.
Engrained in our social values the stereotype of what a ‘female’ was in our culture. Girls were taught how to wear high heels and tight sweaters to allure a man to marry her. If that didn’t work, they were trained in menial jobs and expected to make the coffee and titty-up around the office.
The feminine persuasion is still considered to be a baby producing machine and little else. After a suffragettes movement the mothers, sisters, aunts, wives and grandmothers were permitted (by the guys) to vote in 1920, but there was still a long way to go.
Still discrimination was rampant, but the ladies stuck with it. Even as the playing field started to level out the inequality in wages, limited reproductive responsibly, or sexual freedom confronts the social consciousness today.
My advice to all your fella’s sitting on that bar stool watching the game and the sleazy demining commercials while flirting with the waitress who is just trying to get enough money to take care of her kid, think about the little woman at home who fixes the washing machine and takes care of the dog and plants the flowers and puts the kids to bed and goes to teacher conferences and hangs on your arm as eye-candy at your office party. 
They move mountains, with or without you, so dudes get with the program and give them some respect.
Mommy?

Another Project Done



You may be old enough to remember when desktop publishing provided computer service to those who didn’t wear thick glasses and white lab coats with pocket protectors for all the pens. No longer did information have to be stored on tapes and run on massive machines kept in secure cold room.
Well these little boxes were delivered with lots of very thick books and a stack of floppy disk. These disc held all the information for installing software and even operating the computer. There wasn’t much memory on each disk so they had to be inserted and then ejected and the next one inserted until the entire thread could be finished. And anything that was ever needing backup had to be copied onto a floppy disk and stored which meant stacks of these unlabeled (no one was ever that conscious) so half the fun was to find the information again.
Of course technology was always improving and changing so the soft plastic disk got smaller and hard. So all the information had to copied over from one disc style to another.
Luckily the manufacturers decided to sell a different method of copying information and removed the floppy disk slot. Now external drives of every size were coming out with their own software and plugs that never fit.
So there was a 44mb disk, the size of a book that was the size of the disk on the computer without an operating system, and with the right connections and software the 88mb fileserver could be backed up. No one ever figured out why or how long this stuff should be kept so every week everything was copied to a disc and stored in an ever-taller stack.
History moves on and CDs were invented and then DVDs because they were bigger so the entire process was started all over again. Some librarians kept their job trying to keep track of all this stuff that no one ever asked for.
Now there are these little thumb drives that hold more information than all the previous versions put together. Most people just copy their stuff to the phone and backup to the cloud and have no reference to it other than their post on social media.
The point of this history lesson is I had a cabinet full of old storage computer disc. They were very neatly stored and had vague labels but were covered in dust from not being used.
So today’s project was to look at every disc and see if it was worth keeping. It is a good ‘no clutter’ project. I’d remembered looking at them some time ago to clear out work ‘stuff’.
I was a documenter. That is what you do when you are a ‘boss’. I would record raises or problems or even terminations and to my chagrin other managers were more frugal in their employment records. So I was meticulous keeping weekly reports and storing them on backup disc. I also kept an array of photos, letters, and even software as backup.
A year after leaving work I wondered why I was keeping all these human resources records. If they didn’t have them by now, why am I keeping them? Into the trash they went along with stacks of notebooks and instructional manuals. Still I kept the blank disc for future unknown storage.
So today’s chore was reviewing all these disc that hadn’t been used in years to determine a reason for saving them longer. Like the old stretched cassette tapes, they go into the trash.
How refreshing to purge stuff you don’t use on a rainy day. Tomorrow’s project is to purge the grim from the bathroom.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fear


After a long divergent year, the bitterness continues. Fueled by the talking heads and fake news, the flames of contention continue to burn.
What are we so angry about?
Seems every personal opinion has become an ideal with an organization or foundation or movement ferociously attempting to change culture by legality.
The media pounces dissecting and pontificating opinions repeated enough to become truth. Beliefs can be manufactured, just ask advertising.
What do we fear?
Our own ambiguous orthodox can be questioned as false?  Are our core values, our ethics, and our lifelong principles possibly wrong?
Do we lash out with spite full of hatred and bitterness as our defense to possible misguided understanding or examine the logic and consider change?
Forever the cause we do seem to be afraid. Are we afraid of an unknown future? Are we afraid others who may be wrong will change our way of life without our permission?  
The boogeyman is still under your bed so rant your rants and wring your hands and sweat your puddles of fear. Be scared when you look in the mirror.
BOO!

Were You Listening?


We chat, tweet, speak, gossip, dabate, even shout or yell, but are we really listening?
Had a nice dinner with an old friend last night and a pleasant conversation. The topics ranged from details from a worldwide trip and possible future adventures, to health and children, and even old age and death. There was a smattering of politics and a bit of laughter and no reveling or sensitive information left the evening with ideas that could continue at another time.
Yet were we really listening? Did we listen to what was said between two semi-familiar friends and ever wonder ‘why’ those subjects came to the forefront? I had two questions I knew I wanted to ask. Not sure what his agenda was for this get-together?
The same is true for any encounter with a friend or a stranger. When we get face-to-face with another and we get past pleasantries, do we really want to know what the other person thinks? Do we just want to give our views and want the other person to agree with them? If there is no consensus is there willingness to try understanding and compromise?
Being with one person for a long period of time, enough time when you can finish each other’s sentences, are we just being Pavlov’s dogs or do we still listen? Are we so unconscious to the other person that we don’t care?
Are we listening to body language? How are they holding their hands? Where are their eyes looking? What emphasis do they put on certain words? Even if we had a transcript of the words spoken, what was the take away?
After the parties separate, the mind analysis what was said. This reflection can make friends closer or form chasms. Does the listener hear what was intended?
Since we build relationship on conversations and form opinions of others only by what they tell you, isn’t it important to stop talking and listen? Maybe we should even ask to clarify statements to fully understand what the content of the message was. Enquiry could become interrogation? It is the thrush and parry of an interesting conversation stating opinions, information, references, and ideas.
Take your time and engulf yourself in a conversation like a fine wine. Enjoy the sentences, as a poem for it will build your understanding of the other person. Chose your replies wisely expecting a response or extend a thought.
What did you say? I wasn’t listening.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dying To Know: Who Is Going To Write Your Obituary When There Is No One Left?



When you die but are alone, who would write your obituary? Who is left who knows enough about you to write the legacy of your life on earth?
 Who knows who preceded you in death? Who knows all your family ancestry? Even your past educational or career moves could be vague second had conversation.
Now a day, anyone can Google a name and find out whatever profile details you have previously distributed, true or not. The people living next door to where the body was found might know of any friends or previous work associates. Or they might not know or want to talk to you.
If you can find a family member, they may be able to fill in some details or forward you to another contact. If you can find a fellow employee, teacher, preacher, or previous companion, they might be of help filling in the blanks. Some public records may give birth place and age, but no one wants to give their correct age.
If the person kept records you could spend hours, weeks, or months going through all the paperwork trying to sketch together a biographical outline. If you find an address and have access to it, books, furniture, clothing even the leftover food storage can help define how this person lived.
So you start with the announcement of the death. “Place Name Here” has died. Time and place may not be known or if posted, will start the reader on who this person was by location. An address will narrow understanding of this person by neighborhood home assessments, affluences’ and distance from known criminal activity areas.
Whether you term the death as ‘passing on’ or ‘gone to be with their God’ or just ‘kicked the bucket’ remember every word is charged and a longer obituary will cost more.
The cause of death could be known and available or an autopsy may have to be performed to complete the death certificate. The causes of death maybe obvious like a gunshot or a car crash but without a qualified medical examiner of forensic pathology the post-mortem exam cannot be completed. No one wants to list all the physical or chemical or psychological abuse this body took before it’s last good-bye.
After an in-depth description of accomplishments and accolades a listing of family members who survive. If there are any special request, like in lieu of flowers make a donation to worthy cause or charity, knowing full well no one will write a check but you don’t have all those plants to move.
Don’t forget a photo. Not the one that was in their high school yearbook or the most recent selfie showing the transitions of life, but try and find a nice pleasant photo with a smile. Something people want to remember. Also avoid the dark room shots or the textured backgrounds or the group shots because the newspaper with all their technical skills can only do so much.
Last but not least is the disposal of the remains. Whether any family can or will take the responsibility and cost of this procedure or it falls to the city or county, here is the spot where if a funeral service or gathering should be listed.  A time and place for people to come together and celebrate the life now gone with eulogies, condolences, tributes and usually a pile of food. If a coffin is chosen, the corpse can be spruced up and stretched out for all to see. A continuation to a graveside service should give time and location so the parade can follow the hearse.
Now if you are smart, you’d write your own obituary before it is needed. Pad it up so you sound real good and put some bucks aside to pay for printing in the newspaper.
If you got some extra bucks have a statue or a mausoleum designed as your eternal resting spot. Even people who never knew you will be impressed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

With You Alone


We seem to start out in packs. Groups of same-gender children played together but never intermingling with the opposite gender. We sat in the same classrooms but were separated by gender for games and bathrooms.
Integration presented more diversity of color and cultural heritage, but not in the amalgamation of sexes.
Then about the time of middle school, the independent sexes started noticing each other*. (*Note: I will be using antiquated terminology so younger readers must bare with me. I may be referencing on historical emotional behavior but the same is true today for all the gender variations.)
It seems we wanted to be with the other gender. Instead of groups of boys or girls, we combined and became “couples”. This joining of two people as a couple was a highly acceptable form of becoming mature.
Couples would go to parties together, dances together, movies together, football games together and so on. The two became as one through an extended dating process that went from crush to chaperoned dates to going steady to becoming engaged and probable marriage. There is a whole ritual of sharing clothing and jewelry and making false wishes and dreams under the pressure of the parents to hurry the process and get you out of the house.
“So who are you seeing?” or “You going with anyone?” or “When are you going to start having babies?” were always the questions at family gatherings.
Giving two individuals the title of ‘husband and wife’ does not guarantee a romance or a guarantee they will be suitable a couple. The foundation of a relationship, whether romantic, sexual, emotional, financial or just out of convenience can change through the years and the two must decide to adjust and continue or try someone else.
Yet society expects, even anticipates everyone must be in a couple.
There is nothing better than sharing that special moment with someone else. That last glimpse of sunset after a long day at the beach, holding hands for a long walk in the forest, waking together on a chilly winter morning, laughing or crying at an emotional scene can bond two people, but the feeling is really just your own.
You have no complete conception of what the other individual is really relating the experience to. It may have been a reference before the two of you met or maybe some personal inter-psychological reaction and you are only reacting to their reaction.
Depending on another to give emotional strength or support only goes so far. The other person in the couple can’t help you with your employment conflicts or anxiety over some frivolous matter that only applies to you. Even the flat tire on the out-of-state highway has to be solved by you and you alone, no matter how many phone calls you make complaining about the situation.
You have to brush your own teeth, put on your own socks, clean yourself and a vast majority of your day will be spent alone.
Being alone is an acceptance of independence. One person can make self-determination or autonomy alone.
Taking out the trash is a self-assigned chore not reminded by another, making up the bed is a self-choice decision, carrying a heavy piece of lumber without assistance gives realization of the faith of accomplishment or the possibility of possible physical disaster and pain or the loneliness of no one to tell your strange dreams to.
With you alone are about waking up and not having to get up. A sort of vacation without another to deal with except you. At the same time, no one else is there to tend your wounds or call for help for you are all alone.
It is a personal decision like driving or procreating or wearing last year’s fashion. To be self-reliant could be a spiritual awakening not requiring a religion.
Enjoy the moon tonight. We will.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Loose Screw


Last night walking into the kitchen I noticed something shiny on the floor. I picked it up and it was a little screw.
Where did it come from? It was next to the washer so I checked the obvious places and every hole seemed to be filled.
I checked the refrigerator next and everything seemed it place. I looked around and pondered.
Where did this little screw come from?
It is a small Philips head slot with wood screw helical ridge. It looked like it had something white on its thread so my main suspect was the white washing machine.
Then again maybe it was the stove? I’ve done a lot of cooking being snowbound but the stove is black. Maybe it came off of a pan?
Did I bring this screw in from outside? It had to come from someplace.
Maybe the rotating fan overhead decided to drop a screw just to confuse me? Maybe the replacement window had an extra screw that just appeared from under the leaves being tracked in daily?
I’ll place the little fellow on the windowsill and ponder its existence in my dreams.
Maybe it is a lost sock come back as a screw just to mess up my mind?
Or maybe I just have a screw loose?

Monday, January 9, 2017

I Can’t Believe It


They are here! They really came today!
First, the back-story.
Friday it snowed in this hamlet I call home. Everyone knew it was coming due to our advance telecommunication systems and accurate forecasting. Shelves were cleared and long lines at the Tummy Temple secured stockpiles of munchies and libations to get us through the weekend. “Bring it on!” was the party cry as everyone settled back to watch the winter wonderland.
The next morning a few hearty ones were shoveling off their walkways and auto’s windshields. A few kids tried to sled but it was too cold. Even wrapped in sweaters Fido didn’t want to wander far to do his business.
Knowing full well that two-wheels do not travel well in even a powdering much less the ice expected, I made several trips loading dozens of silver bullets for a four day hunker down weekend.
Luckily there was football on. Unluckily it was on the only television plugged in ‘Mansland’ outside. The little heater tried but after a few hours my fingers and toes started getting cold. Music also kept me entertained, as I stayed hydrated.
By Sunday everyone seemed rescinded to stay inside and warm and post nonsense on social media. Refrigerators and cupboards were emptied of comfort food and the blue glow of big screens hypnotized the masses.
Knowing there was another important game on (not the ones with the guys in shorts running up and down a wooden floor bouncing a ball) so I put on several layers, strapped on my boots and trudged out to a cold dark room. Even the woodland creatures have decided to stay home. The beer (kept outside) was refreshingly cold, so wrapped in a lap blanket and a puffy vest, music blaring, I watched men in different uniforms run up and down a frozen turf throwing a ball and knocking each other down.
Being that it was the day before trash day, I took a break from the action on the screen to roll the heavy super cans full of sawed up lumber and yard scrapes into a pickup area. I didn’t expect them to be emptied tomorrow but just in case, I was prepared.
An old retired man can find little pleasures in life. One of mine has been having the trashcans emptied so I can fill them up again. It happens every Monday at 9AM. I could set my clock to the sound of that massive truck rolling and stopping and rolling down the alley.
The routine has become a weekly task for several years. Fill four trashcans beaming with every type of item under the sun and hope that Monday they will haul it away. Unlike many other projects of moving an item from place to place and then back again, throwing items away does permanently ends your connection with it. At times I’ve had so much trash that I filled up the entire truck. Other times I’ve gotten complaints from the city that my trash was too heavy.
Trash Man, Waste Management Worker, Garbage Collector, Refuse Worker, Sanitation Worker or any other title for these men (and women?) who dutifully remove our unwanted items and deliver them somewhere far away beyond our sight and smell. These guys are my heroes.
Garbage men deal with things that the rest of society wants to forget. Vulgar smells and indescribable oozes constantly assault waste management workers. Besides the odors, trash collection is ripe with other hazards – used needles, broken glass, dead animals, blinding dusts, angry customers, illegal dumps, hazardous materials, vicious dogs, backed up traffic, or trashcans full of maggots. It’s a thankless job.
We’ve all seen those awful pictures of narrow streets piled high with leaking trash bags when these workers have to go on strike to get attention. It doesn’t take long for a nice neighborhood to turn into a dump when our discards are not discarded.
In the blazing heat of summer to the rainy sopping mornings, these guys are there every Monday. As Mike Rowe would say, “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” and these under appreciated folks do the task most would find repulsive.
With the entire city basically shutdown due to the cold and the ice or just because it is Monday, I didn’t expect them to show up, but then I heard it. That truck, the size of a tank rumbling down the alley. I checked the temperature at 12 degrees. While everything else in the city couldn’t move, here were the refuse collectors removing my lumber and anything else I could recycle and moving onto the next house. A ballet of stutter steps with a hand signal or a yell, they perform a crucial necessity that most of us ignore.
Like many others that go overlooked, I try to appreciate the police, firemen, power workers, hospital personnel, even radio announcers for they all have to be at work when all the rest of us are cuddled up warm at home. These folks don’t have a snow day for they are essential to our comfortable existence.
Thank you guys for showing up today and I appreciate your effort. Hope you enjoyed the 12-pack I left you.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Why Must There Be A Bad Guy?



Seems as if our species loves conflict. Somebody has to wear the white hat and someone else has to wear the black hat. The ‘us-or-them’ mentality fuels our politics, religions, economies and health care.
We eat it up. The animosity against another for some concocted reason spurred on by flawed history and tilted values make for nightly news.
Our propensity for being malevolent makes great movies and video with an enormous of malicious, hostile, evil-minded, baleful, evil-intentioned, venomous, evil, malign, malignant, rancorous, vicious, vindictive, and vengeful folks.
Where did we learn this stuff?
We all kind of started in the same place. Some little multi-cellular organism crawled out of the water and next thing you know we all be walking around.
If we all thought of each other as a brother or a sister we would be benevolent and kind, big-hearted, good-natured, benign, compassionate, caring, altruistic, humanitarian, philanthropic, generous, magnanimous, munificent, unselfish, and just plan nice to each other.
It is understandable if someone steals our food because they are hungry and have none that we respond protecting our surplus. It is understandable if someone attempts to steal our significant other we respond in emotional confusion.
Perhaps we must have this conflict to survive?
Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang.
In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
Duality is found in many belief systems, but Yin and Yang are parts of Oneness that is also equated with the Tao.
A term has been coined dualistic-monism or dialectical monism. Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing forces) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts.
Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.
In Taoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other dichotomous moral judgments, are perceptual, not real; so, the duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole.
There are many other philosophies that study the general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Some are called religions.
So if conflict with another is our mantra then sports and politics and wars seem to be our destiny. Though we repel in fear of violence we revel in hate.
Whatever the reason we can find something in someone else that disturbs us so our prejudices begin. Maybe they look different than us? Maybe they dress different than us? Maybe they speak different than us? Maybe they worship a different God?
Way back when if a stranger approached who wasn’t keen there was some suspicion. What did this person want?
So this fear has grown to atomic annihilation threats while we feed our misguided and ill-informed ideologies with graphic violence to stoke our anger against what we don’t know.
Who is the bad guy here?

Data


Data is a set of values of qualitative or quantitative variables. Pieces of data are individual pieces of information. A huge range of organizations and institutions, businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations collects data.
Data is measured, collected and reported, and analyzed, whereupon it can be visualized using graphs, images or other analysis tools. Data as a general concept refers to the fact that some existing information or knowledge is represented or coded in some form suitable for better usage or processing. Raw data (“unprocessed data”) is a collection of numbers or characters before it has been “cleaned” and corrected by researchers. Raw data needs to be corrected to remove outliers or obvious instrument or data entry errors. Data processing commonly occurs by stages, and the “processed data” from one stage may be considered the “raw data” of the next stage. Field data is raw data that is collected in an uncontrolled environment. Experimental data is data that is generated within the context of a scientific investigation by observation and recording. Data has been described as the new oil of the digital economy.
YOU are full of data. You are not just a mass of atoms that passes through time and space but you are data.
We are data that defines your uniqueness to others, categorizing our history since birth.
As we go through life we share this data. Medical experiences, educational experiments, ancestry, employment and monetary accomplishments are all accumulated in various means and forms and filed away for accountants or librarians to maintain.
So is your data secured?
Paper files were lost in fires and misplacement and many were never converted to digital. The digital versions may not have been compatible with the latest database and purged.
Yet more and more we tend to put our data online for financing and purchasing and even personal information that was never spoken of before. A simple search on the web can find volumes about our data.
Firewalls to secure our precious data are no more useful than the locks on our doors. So many others know our data that sharing it is as easy a checking out a book at the library.
Hacking your data is no more threatening than going on a date. What is your sign?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dead To Me


You know those people who are like ear-worms? You can’t get them out of your head. They may just be a distant memory but they won’t go away.
Could be an unresolved situation or an unanswered question but they pop up in your thoughts. While washing the dishes or cutting the grass or binge watching zombies dying or some other mundane event, this or that person wanders into your mind and you keep milling over and over again unfinished sentences.
Your shrink would probably tell you to do something like start whistling a tune or focus on a color or even pinch yourself to break the pattern and snap out of it. You logically know they won’t answer you emails or chats or snail mail or text messages but you still wonder.
The person has some sort of emotional hold on you and as long as they exist, you will ponder “What if…” or “Could it be…” or some other pipe dream trying to rewrite history. The thought of ‘some day’ will continue to bug you and drag you down.
So my New Year’s resolution is to make these people dead to me.
No, I’m not going to have them bumped off but realistically who cannot ever answer your questions or resolve a problem except dead people. Those folks are gone, finished, kaput and you’ll not get another word out of them.
If you consider that person is six feet under you can forget about that late night phone call or the unexpected knock on the door. That ship has sailed and it is time to fill your head with more nonsense and silliness.
Just like any other dead folk, you won’t totally forget them. The mention of their name may pop up now and then and you can have that smile that only one other knows, but they are dead. So rather than be frustrated with carrying this emotional luggage, I throw some dirt on it and will move on to the New Year.
A few I may dance on their graves.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Artificial Intelligence


Intelligence has been defined in many different ways including as one's capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, planning, creativity and problem solving. It can be more generally described as the ability to perceive information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context.
Artificiality (also called factitiousness, or the state of being artificial or man-made) is the state of being the product of intentional human manufacture, rather than occurring naturally through processes not involving or requiring human activity. Artificiality often carries with it the implication of being false, counterfeit, or deceptive.
Since we flaunt that we are the tops of the food chain in the smarts but do we really show it?
We have been innovative through the years making fire, electricity, aqueducts, air conditioning, vacuum cleaners, rockets and action figures. We have manufactured the means for moving us from place to place quickly. We have produced more food than we can eat. We have created marvelous methods for killing each other. We even invented religion.
Today we have appliances that tell us when to wake up. They tell us where we are and how to get to where we are going. They predict the weather and remind us of a doctor appointment. They will turn on our lights, check our HVAC settings, monitor our heartbeat and take pictures of our kids we can send to everyone in the world.
Someday soon we might have cars that will drive themselves.
So what do we, as a species, do in the meantime?
What are we coming up with now to improve our future?
Virtual reality goggles or latest phone apps to keep us busy updating our information over and over again?
Will we become so independent on artificial intelligence to find the word or seek the back-story or to flood us with information? Can we tell the fact from the fiction anymore?
Have we lost direction?
Maybe it doesn’t matter?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Vetting


Vetting is the process of performing a background check on someone before offering them employment, conferring an award, etc. A prospective person or project may be vetted before making a hiring decision. In addition, in intelligence gathering, assets are vetted to determine their usefulness.
For employment it is pretty simple. The applicant fills out a form and the human resource staff checks school records and police filings to confirm your statement is correct. Addresses can be confirmed and references can be contacted to build an evaluation that skills and potential equal to the requirement for employment. If an employee is not fully vetted, removal or disqualification can be a long drawn out and sometimes-expensive process.
More recently the word ‘vetting’ has been repeated to the examination of people wanted to enter our borders. Unlike our parents or grandparents, seeking to participate in the land of opportunity, intense scrutiny is being asked to immigrants or refugees from other parts of the planet. Our racism sexism, nationalism, classism, homophobia, religious discrimination, neurodiversity and linguistic discrimination create our prejudices that are not written on any form.
When else do we use vetting?
Imagine if you will, a large room full of strangers. It may be a work convention or a religious gathering or a high school reunion. To show your civility, you smile and then migrate to the open bar. A person gets your attention for whatever reason and you start introducing yourself.
Where do you work? Where did you go to school? What is your favorite football team?
All pretty safe questions without any fear of intimidation or retribution. Still this person could become your next boss or possible mother to your children or investor to your kick-starter ideas, so the questions go deeper.
Are you married? Do you have kids? Where do you live? What kind of music do you like? Who did you vote for?
Do you see you are vetting? Examining the other person on their answers to pointed questions and filtering them through your own prejudices. Add to your questions the visual of what the other person is wearing and their body language and if they are with someone else, how that person reacts.
In the end, what exactly did we accomplish? Without more time and experiences with this person all we have is their word. There is no fact-checking here.
Maybe it was charisma or just the tone of a voice that makes people come together and want more.