Archive for January, 2009

It’s all your fault!

Posted on January 28, 2009. Filed under: Health, HowTo, Philosophy, Spirituality |

pointing I was chatting with my friend, as I often do, and as usual the conversation revolved around fluffy, frothy topics such as “What is the meaning of life?”, “What does it mean to be human, specifically?”, Where does consciousness reside?”, —you know the sort of thing. ;)

We came to some conclusions, tabled some topics, and he ended the conversation, as he often does, with the comment “It’s all your fault!” To which I replied, as I usually do, “Yep, you’re surely right about that!”

Now, in some contexts, this exchange may set off alarm bells. Could this be a co-dependent, or enabling relationship? In truth, at least with us, it’s really a sort of code-phrase we’ve developed for a specific purpose. Did you ever have a secret word or handshake or something with your best friend when you were are child? It’s a bit like that.

The twist to this is that most people might respond something like: “Of course ‘it’ (and it doesn’t really matter what ‘it’ is in this discussion), isn’t any ONE person’s ‘fault’! It takes two to tango.”

(Actually I have, upon occasion, tangoed all by myself, but that’s another post for another time.) BUT, even though we’re joking, and the humor reminds us not to take things as seriously as we otherwise might, we both mean these phrases literally. While I don’t, in most circumstances, like to use the word “fault” or “blame”, as I think the concepts are irrelevant (I wrote a whole post about why I think so), by using a phrase that psychology and communication gurus want us to stop using (“Blaming the Other Person in a relationship won’t get you anywhere; both of you have to take responsibility; blah, blah, blah…”—all true enough, of course) we remind each other that each of us is fully responsible for the situations, feelings, and circumstances in which we find ourselves.

The idea I’m currently exploring with this friend, and otherwise in my life, is this: “Whatever I see around me is a direct result of the thoughts I had been thinking for minutes, months, or years before this moment arrived.”

It’s not, in fact, “your” fault. Nor the government’s. Nor that of social institutions, oppression, poverty, injustice, my grandparents, the economy…anything else you care to name.

At this time I’m exploring this idea (which is different from subscribing to a belief) for both selfish and practical reasons. Succinctly: Any other world view is depressing to me. I don’t want to be depressed (I’m not of much use that way, and I DO like being of use) therefore, I’d rather choose to think differently. I also choose to think switching ones world view is as simple as that!

Now, following through, and acting from that point of view can be more challenging. Our habits of thought can be rather firmly entrenched. These ideas do not prevent me from acting, volunteering, sharing, writing, or otherwise hoping to contribute; it’s just that I don’t do so from a notion of something “out there” needing to be fixed. I really can’t “fix” anything but me, and I ain’t broke’ to begin with; I can only be improved upon! :)

So when my friend tells me, in the process of taking leave, that “It’s all my fault!”, and I agree, it’s a reminder for both of us to check our mood, our level of optimism, or anything else that’s not quite right with us, and shift our way of thinking about it. This part is controversial, and I know not everyone agrees with me here, but I also think this is the best way to start to effect change in the broader playing field, i.e. ones city or country or the world. As has been attributed to M. K. Gandhi, “BE the change you wish to see in the world.”

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We can all celebrate!

Posted on January 26, 2009. Filed under: HowTo, Philosophy, Spirituality |

Happy Australia Day; Happy Chinese New Year; Happy Solar Eclipse & a new moon.

Australia Day commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 and the unfurling of the British flag at Sydney Cove. It’s sometimes seen as politically sensitive.

This is the Chinese Year of the Earth Ox. While the years are named for one of twelve animals, and thus the the Ox, for instance, will occur every twelve years, the system also pairs the animal with one of five elements. The Year of the Earth Ox occurs once every 60 years. The last time we had an Earth Ox year was 29 January 1949 to 16 February 1950, and the one in front of us lasts from 26 January 2009 to 13 February 2010. Some qualities of the Earth Ox are these: Very practical and matter-of-fact; knows where they’re going and how to get there, if not with efficiency, then with determination. Here is a good summary of what we can expect from this Earth Ox year according to Chinese astrology.

The first Solar Eclipse of 2009 is also on January 25. Since ancient times, eclipses have been seen as signs of change and evolution as we release ties with the old and embrace the new. This map shows where the eclipse can be seen; those in South Africa and Western Australia will have the best view. :)

There is obviously a lot going on in the Universe right now. ;) To all who celebrate today, I wish you well! If you’re not among those with a holiday—why not celebrate anyway! We can all use a little cheer! :D

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Reasonable Philosophy

Posted on January 24, 2009. Filed under: Games, HowTo, Philosophy |

Sometimes, it doesn’t take much to generate a blog post. I was skimming the website ICanHasCheezburger, as I do from time to time, (with apologies to those of you who think that site is silly, horrific, and/or patronizing—it is; but, honestly, I can’t help it; it makes me laugh) and came upon this:

reasonable-cat

It made me snicker, and reflected my mood, exactly. What happened afterward feeds into the theme most amazingly. I had most of this post written last night, but “put it to bed” as it were, as I was getting too sleepy to think and/or edit coherently. I put myself to bed as well, and looked forward to polishing this up and publishing on the morrow.

Alas! When I awoke the next morning, my Really Clever Post was gone! I’m having to settle for what I’m just writing now! :? My links, which I’d spent some time finding—also gone! I often (although not often enough) use an offline editor to write my posts, but, this time, I trusted it was safely stored in the WordPress Post Editor. It was not. Gone, gone, gone; no more; no more…And—go figure—I’m writing in that same editor now, tempting fate. Why? I must. If I can’t trust WordPress, at least most of the time, what becomes of us all? :eek: [I just clicked on "Save Draft". Do you think it really did? We shall see. Ah,the suspense.]  [Alright! I admit it! I also just copy-pasted into Notepad, as well. Chagrin, noted.]

Anyway, back to the cat and its caption. I have tried to be reasonable, and seriously, I didn’t like it. I don’t know who or what the cat is responding to, but my response is to people in my past (I don’t meet many people who would say this to me now) who have addressed me thus, when I’ve just presented my point in the discussion: “Oh, be reasonable!”

First of all, I distrust admonitions starting with the word “Be”.

“Be careful!” (Well, I could, but this advice is usually given once I’ve already tripped and fallen on my face. Generally, it’s not what I want to hear after this has happened. Where were you before I did that?)

Be diligent – How?

Be normal – Sorry, not gonna happen. ;)

Be open-minded – My brains might fall out!

Be prepared – I was sort of a BoyScout once (long story) but that was a long time ago. I don’t know how, and besides, that notion interferes with my spontaneity.

Be sincere – Well, I certainly try! :)

Be brief – Um, have you met me?

Be(gone) – Soon, soon; patience, patience.

Be(have) – Yeah, right!

Be good – How could I possibly not? :D

(Don’t worry,) Be happy – There are some admonitions which are quite subjective. I can certainly take action to feel better, but I haven’t found out how to just flip the happy-switch, yet.

…Not to mention all those things we’re told *not* to be.

So, in my lifetime, I have had occasion to “act reasonably” or to consider “reasonable” points of view. I’m reminded of a paper I wrote for my introductory Philosophy class in college. We were to analyze the argument put forth by Socrates, in the Dialogues of Plato, in which Socrates, true to the concept of “Reason”, felt it not possible to refuse the cup of Hemlock, which would bring on his death, because it would be an “unreasonable” conclusion to a “reasonable” life. The guy really admired Reason, above all else. The assignment was to choose a side—*Should* Socrates have chosen to take the cup of poison, when he could so easily have avoided it by a few well-placed words and promises, or *Should* he not?

My first point was that it wasn’t my business what Socrates chose to do with his life (yes, I’ve been like this for a while), but that didn’t meet the word-count requirement of the paper, and I liked getting good grades as much as the next person. I won’t burden you with my substantive argument (if you knew, you’d thank me), but here’s the comment I received from my instructor: “You DO stick to your point!”

Was that praise or condemnation? I may never know. I had the feeling my teacher’s patience was severely tried by my relentless repetition of EVERY SINGLE *REASONABLE* phrase Socrates uttered. Still, I did get a good grade in the class, so “all’s well that ends…”—Oh, that was a different class.

I had felt that, within his own world view, Socrates was true to his principles. I like a person who is true to their principles, including me when I am. I feel people have the right to change their principles from time to time, though. In fact, if one finds oneself repeatedly violating ones own principles, perhaps it’s time to review them? …Just a thought.

However, I am NOT Socrates! I do not live a life based upon reason! I am happy to examine issues from several angles, and *reason* out a *sensible* conclusion, but, in the end, it’s my intuition which makes the decision. This is a much more *pragmatic* approach (another philosophical term! See, I was paying attention!), at least for me. I see “reason” as a useful tool, but not the be-all and end-all of life. I don’t know whether I’d rather take a cup of hemlock than give up my freedom of thought, which is really what that Socratic issue was about. What is life without liberty? I don’t actually know, because it seems to be my belief, at the moment, that there is ALWAYS a choice.

To conclude, I’ll just report that in addition to finding the above linked site which gives a description of Socrates’ death, and the *reason* (there’s that word again) for it, I came upon a professor’s philosophy dialogue game—get this—based on the “Argument Clinic“, one of my favorite Monty Python sketches. (Those who had forgiven me for liking ICanHasCheezburger now will need a fresh delve into their forgiving nature when I admit how much I admire and respect the Monty Python perspective.)

This game is a clever mix of serious study of Socratic dialogue with the absolutely insane wit and wisdom of the “Argument Clinic”—a completely unreasonable way to study reason—and, therefore, it pleases me immensely.

I wish you many unreasonable moments. :D

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Football as Metaphor

Posted on January 19, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Games, Philosophy |

After a VERY busy weekend, I spent most of Sunday watching football on television. There are a few reasons I did this, which I will explore, but I’m hoping by musing philosophical about the experience, I can justify my day of relative sloth in this blog post. :)

Before I go any further, though, let me just CONGRATULATE the ARIZONA CARDINALS for their division championship win on Sunday! They’re going to the Superbowl!!! I’d planned to congratulate them today, whether they won the game or not, just because of their tremendous accomplishments this season. Most other teams in American football had played in the “post-season”, and most of these had won their divisions at one time or another. For the CARDINALS, it had been 61 YEARS since they’d either hosted or won a playoff game, and they had never—until now—made it to the Ultimate American Sport Event (in my opinion), the Superbowl. Imagine waiting 61 years for your team to win a championship!!! (And before you start, no, I, personally have not been waiting 61 years for this. Not biologically possible. But still!) ;)

football1

I used to enjoy football (and by this I mean American football; I’m well aware this is not REAL football, but my people call the other kind soccer; so if I refer to “football” here, I do mean American, ok?) back when I lived in San Francisco. When I was growing up there, the San Francisco 49′ers were a hot team. They’ve lost most of their gravitas, lately, but still have a fan base because of their history. The CARDINALS, on the other hand, have been very terrible, or at least apathetic, for years (61 of them, or so). It had been difficult to give up my loyalty to San Francisco, and get behind such a crummy team. In fact, many people who live in warm areas like Arizona and Florida never do give up their hometown loyalties—they want to be warm in winter, but not cheer for a pathetic team, when they can remain loyal to the powerhouses of the Midwest.

But, anyway, even though it had been settled for sometime that the CARDINALS would make it into post-season, most put that down to them playing in a weak division. And they were, pretty much, right. However…once they had clinched their entree into the world of championship playoffs, they responded by playing better than they ever had in their jerseyed lives! They’ve now won three post-season games; each with skill, finesse, and talent wonderful to behold.

Alright. Back to my sloth. I only watch professional football, because getting involved in college ball would just be SO time consuming, even though University of Arizona has an excellent football team. And, at that, I can generally only stand to watch one game in a day. The games take over THREE hours to play, and a lot of that is spent on time-outs and television commercials. So, I have to pick the game I’m going to watch. The past two weekends have been brutal. There have been two division games on Saturday and two on Sunday. Yikes! I wasn’t able to sit and watch ALL of them, even if I’d wanted to, because I do other stuff, like work, on the weekends. But this brings up the metaphor part of the post. I think if I watched all the football broadcast on television, I would soon need treatment for a variety of mental disorders (more than I do now, even). There is JUST TOO MUCH! I am so thankful I’m not a REAL FAN! This post must sound like I’m a fan, but I’ve had my blog here coming up on two years now, and you’ve never seen me write about football before, have you?

A real fan, by my definition is one who a) actually attends games, b) buys and wears “fan gear”, c) occasionally (or often) paints team colors on their faces or bodies, and d) (here’s the clincher) CARES about the outcomes!

Now, I watch what football I do—and I seriously try to limit it—because I enjoy the experience. It must entertain me, or I click the remote. A FAN, on the other hand, will watch all the games, or at least all their favorite teams’ games, all the time even when it makes them miserable. They do this because they a) “gotta support the team, man” and b) “gotta know what’s going on, dude”.

My emotional reaction to this kind of behavior is also tinged with meta-programming by my family (NOT sports fans) who had implied, none too politely, that such fans are, um, not quite up to our standards, don’t you know. This, in spite of the fact that many sports, football included, are games of finesse, intelligence, and skill, in addition to strength and force. So, in spite of all this, and of my claim that I’m not really a fan, I certainly got caught up in the emotion of it all. The companion with whom I watched the game had never seen me like this. I yelled. I cheered. I hooted. I booed. I jumped up and down at each touchdown. I did a little circle dance at the win. I had fun.

Now, hours later, I wonder what it all means. I can look at it as a day’s enjoyment, and justify watching the entire second game because it’s important, you know, to find out who the CARDINALS will play in the Superbowl, but the extreme emotionality of it scares me a little, too. There’s something just a little uncomfortable about me yelling “Get ‘im, get ‘im; throw him down!” …at the television that makes me realize why real fans get in fights in bars during sports events. (I’m a non-violent person; really I am!) Of course the drinking has something to do with the fights, but I wasn’t drinking at all during the games, and neither do a lot of people, but the fights still break out.

These kinds of territorial wars can, if left unchecked, lead to deadlier wars. I’m not trying to be a downer, here. I really, really had a tremendously good time watching these playoff games. I shall certainly watch the Superbowl. I say, today, that I’m not really very concerned about which team wins; that, as I said earlier, it’s a tremendous achievement for my home team to get this far. Whatever the outcome, the CARDINALS are on the map; they are a team to be reckoned with. azstadium

But what do I do with all the raw emotion these kinds of things generate? What do you think? Is it a good outlet? After all, I, at least, hardly ever get this (noisily) agitated about anything else, and, sometimes, it feels good just to…shout! As a metaphor for—what? Life? Clan behaviour? Camaraderie?—I think football falls a little short. It can be tremendously exciting for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, but does it really mater? Does it need to matter? Is it relevant? Is is socially and politically correct? Why do I even ask myself these questions? For now, at least, I’ll just enjoy the feelings, and let all the rest be OK. Go CARDINALS!!!

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Is family always family?

Posted on January 14, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Health, Philosophy |

I’m relieved and disturbed at the same time. I have friends (well, mostly old friends of my mother’s) who tell me that if I’m not careful, I’ll end up an eccentric loner with 8 cats and no one to look out for me. I’ve had others who are just curious, and some who understand.

I am a person who has neither children nor parents. (I did have parents at one point—I did not spring fully formed from a turnip, but sometimes I wonder.) ;) I do have one sister, my only remaining “immediate” family member. She and I are comfortable about our level of communication, and I’m also close to her daughter, my niece.

I’m writing here about the “other” family members: cousins and second cousins. I was in a strange position in my family. My father was the youngest of nine children, (!) seven of whom lived to grow up. Of these, five emigrated to the United States, and two stayed in Germany. My mother only had one sibling, her sister who died young, and she had two children, my cousin who lived with us for some years after her mother died, and who died young, herself (!) and her older brother who has lived far away for quite a while.

So, most of the family I knew growing up were from my father’s side. We had large family gatherings at my father’s sister’s house. She was the only one of them who did not have her own children, but welcomed all of us, always. My cousins, two of whom are still living in the US, each had three children, and five of the six of them all have multiple children, too. You see, in addition to being the youngest of nine, my father didn’t have his own, first and only bio-child (me) until he was 46! He was a lot younger than most of his siblings, and had procreated late, so that left me with cousins much closer to my parents’ ages and 2nd cousins closer to mine. (I—and the rest of my family—had always referred to the children of 1st cousins as 2nd cousins, but this chart lets us know we were wrong :( .)  cousinchart1

My father died some time ago, at a relatively young age, and my mother a few years ago. I liked having a big family when I was age 0-17ish. I enjoyed the family gatherings, and the cousins (1st & 2nd) were close.

But then, as it happens, we all grew up. For a long time, my mother kept the connections strong (my father’s family loved her) and I would attend weddings and funerals, and occasionally occasions which were just get-togethers. What has happened since is, everyone from my father’s generation is now deceased; all of my 2nd cousins are married, now; most have children, and my 1st cousins are therefore heads of their own dynasties as grandfathers.

My 2nd cousins have enough trouble keeping up with their own brothers and sisters without having to keep track of their wayward cousin (me) in another state. The most recent funeral, that of my Aunt, was only known to me when I spontaneously emailed one of my favorite cousins, and she told me after the fact. Her father did not tell me. My other 1st cousin did not let me know. I didn’t blame the cousin I emailed, because she’d thought it was her father’s job to tell the family such things. (I wonder if she asked about me, though.) I might have traveled to California to attend the funeral if I’d known. After all, my Aunt was the last remaining sibling of my father’s and I’d spent years running all over her house. But, even if not, I’d like to have had the chance to at least acknowledge the death.

I am not accusing my family of anything, here. I firmly believe that I am out-of-touch by my own design. I do not consciously try to avoid or ignore my family, but neither do I make an effort to keep in frequent touch. I’d done an annual holiday-season letter, or email, for several years, but found I didn’t get much in the way of reply.

This past season, I received a holiday card from a 2nd cousin who’d never sent me one before in his life! I think the “sporadic trait” is genetically bred in my family, if this is any indication. I’ll go for years without hearing from someone, and then they’ll suddenly appear out of the woodwork for one brief moment. I’m like that too.

funny-pictures-cat-introduces-his-cousin-jeff

On the whole, I don’t mind this at all. Since I don’t have much “immediate” family, it does not bother me to live far away from the “less immediate”. I’m pretty much an “out of sight, out of mind” sort of person. I’m sure that if I didn’t keep going to club meetings and chorus rehearsals I wouldn’t have many friends, but since we do those activities together, and enjoy each other, it stimulates us to get together for lunch and other activities too.

I’m perfectly content to live this way. I don’t expect others to “take care” of me, and I actually have plans for my own care if I get too old/ill/wacky to take care of myself.

…It’s just that…they could have TOLD me when Aunt Elisabeth died, couldn’t they?

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Thinking makes you fat, srsly!

Posted on January 8, 2009. Filed under: Games, HowTo, Musings, Spirituality, Travel |

The mundanity of life is getting to me a bit these days. My last post was about my quest for the perfect pillow. Today finds me dealing with credit card weirdness. Life, in 2009, is somewhat strange so far.

A few weeks ago, I opened up a credit card statement from a card I only use for business expenses. There were five new charges on it, all from restaurants. One from Sizzler’s; two from T.G.I.Friday’s; one from Pizza Hut, and one from Jack in the Box. (Can one even USE credit cards at Jack in the Box?) Not only were these eateries in which I don’t eat, they were in another state, the one to my left, on the coast, where I haven’t been for nearly two years.

credit-cards

Not only were they in another state, but they were in and around San Diego, where I haven’t been since I was four. And, oddly enough, I did not have a credit card yet then.

So, I hippity-hopped over to my telephone to let the CC company know what I’ve just told you. Fine! They can help me! “It looks like there’s been some fraudulent activity on your card,” they said. “Has the said card been out of your custody at any time?”

“No, the card has been in the custody of my wallet.”

“Well, we’ll open up a fraud case; here’s the case number; we’ll issue a new card with a new number right away; please cease using your current card immediately.”

I did. But they didn’t. The incidents occurred over “holiday season” (Don’t get me started on holiday season! In addition to the joys of such, there are also 1) my favorite television programs are suspended during this time [yes, I am THAT shallow], 2) my favorite ACTIVITIES are suspended then as well [Choral rehearsals and Club meetings], and 3) my neighbors put many embarrassing objects in their front gardens. I know it gives them pleasure, and I ought to rejoice with them, and wish them Peace on Earth and such, which I do, really, but still!) so, apparently, the mailing of the new card was delayed.

Alright. I understand all this. After all, I’m a reasonable person, aren’t I? Some of you have known me a while, and you know that…um, wait a minute, never mind. So, I telephoned the nice credit card company “after the holidays”, and let them know I hadn’t received the new card, yet, and, by the way, I did receive a new bill from them now informing me, none too kindly, that the restaurant charges in San Diego were now OVERDUE and subject to LATE FEES. Um, what?

“Well, what about the FRAUD case?” I asked?

“We don’t have any record of a FRAUD case”, they replied. I rattled off the case number, and they (it may only be my paranoia speaking here) acted as if I had just MADE UP a random number in order to irritate them! Honestly! If I’d wanted to irritate them, I’d have found a more creative way than MAKING UP a RANDOM NUMBER!

Back to square one. They read me off an entirely different case number, which I had them repeat three times, and I wrote down in two places. They read off the total that I NOW OWED. So far, we were in agreement.

Fast forward to today. It’s been two weeks, and I have not yet received my new card, which was supposed to take three days. I telephoned the incredibly nice people at the efficient card company and gently let them know the facts as I understood them.

“The card is being mailed today,” they said. “We don’t know what happened to the last one, but we apologize”, they said. “Your new balance, which is due immediately, is $XXX.XX.”

But, that’s a difference of $113.92! I rang off, because this total didn’t ring a bell, and went through three months of statements. Aha! They didn’t include the T.G.I.Friday’s charges in the fraud case; the other ones apparently made it in.

tgifridays

By this time, I had a direct dial button to the amazingly friendly and helpful company. “See, here’s the thing”, I said. “In my case file you have included three restaurant charges, but left out the two for the one other restaurant. Would you please add them to my case?”

“Are you sure you didn’t eat at T.G.I.Friday’s on the dates in question?”

“I haven’t been in California in nearly two years, as I’ve told three incredibly nice people, now, and even if I had been, I would have eaten elsewhere. Not that I have anything particular against T.G.I.Friday’s, actually, but when traveling, I like to experience restaurants I don’t also have at home. But, in any event, no, I have not eaten in that restaurant, in San Diego, ever in my entire life.”

This was probably more story than they were looking for, but when I am trying to make a point, I can often get quite wordy, as you have noticed if you’ve actually read this far.

“No, we cannot add those restaurants to your case, but we can open up a NEW case! Here’s the number…”

So, these are my questions for you: 1) How, do you think, someone got my card number and expiration date, when the card “never left my custody” and I hadn’t even used it for three months? 2) If you had “appropriated” someone else’s credit card, and were going to whoop-it-up upon same, would you use it at Jack in the Box and Pizza Hut? Seriously? and 3) What does this all mean for my mental, emotional, and spiritual equilibrium? My belief is that every experience has a purpose, but this one baffles me.

So, I have this clutter on my credit card statement. I still have some clutter in my office. My blog friend Shane has helped me out with my computer clutter, and blog friend Joan with my home clutter, by scaring the heck out of me telling me that clutter makes me fat!!! I”m not actually, fat, as it happens, but I must be ever vigilant.

Unfortunately, though, this blog post apparently also will make me fat. Coincidentally (I don’t believe in “coincidences”, either), I came upon this article which tells me that THINKING makes me fat! Oh, no! Have I over-thought this situation? Or, is this post so completely ridiculous it doesn’t qualify as thinking? Only you can decide for sure…

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The saga of a Pillow

Posted on January 6, 2009. Filed under: Health, Musings, Travel |

untitled Alright, I know this isn’t the most profound topic to write about, but, currently, my PILLOW is permeating every aspect of my life! If that sounds a bit dramatic, well, just listen to (or read) my story!

A few weeks ago, some friends returned home from a short trip. Along the way they stayed at a very nice hotel, whose name would be known to you. This couple expressed the opinion that they had just slept upon the most comfortable pillows they had every experienced in their lives! One of them liked the hotel pillows just a bit better than the other, but both were very enthusiastic.

I don’t know if you are like me, but my search for the perfect bed pillow has taken me to the ends of the earth a lot of stores. I’ve tried feather pillows, down pillows, foam pillows, and visco-elastic pillows. I’ve slept on plump pillows, firm pillows, soft pillows and pillows which are supposed to melt around my head!

I’ve never found that elusive item: The Perfect Pillow. There was always something which caused a sore neck, or a numb shoulder, or something.

So, when these good friends of mine, known for their taste as well as for valuing a high level of comfort, recited their pillow talk to me, I began to hope that perhaps, at last…

The friends had gone so far as to ask at the front desk of the hotel where they stayed. The desk clerk whipped out a card with a web address upon it. “You must get a lot of inquiries about your pillows!” they said. “We do, we do!” she enthusiastically replied.

My traveling friends graciously shared the web address with me. It led to a company which supplies pillows and bed linens to the finest hotels around the world. The particular pillow at the particular hotel was highlighted, but I didn’t just jump in and order. I looked at every kind of pillow they offered. I read the descriptions. I viewed the “customer feedback”. I determined, with some trepidation, that these were obviously quality products, still at a reasonable price.

I took a deep breath. I ordered two. They arrived on January 2nd. “New year, new pillows!” I exclaimed.

I surely hope the pillows are not representative of my entire year. Here is what I experienced:

Night #1: The order must be wrong! This pillow can’t possibly be the object of laud and praise my delusional dear friends had mentioned. “Shall I compare thee (you pillow, you) to a summer day?” I can, and here’s how: Had I gathered oak leaves and stuffed them into a pillow case I believe I’d have had a more comfortable rest than this. I was tired. I was cranky. (You don’t want to know me when I’m cranky; trust me on this.) Where was the support? What happened to the object which promised to “cradle me in comfort”? I wanted to be cradled in comfort, dangit!

Night #2: Human vs. Pillow. I’m not going to let this thing get the best of me. Plump; plump; plump. Fluff; fluff; fluff. Punch; punch; punch. Lay down; put head on pillow and wiggle until it feels just right. It felt, actually, kind of OK. Fell into a blissful sleep. Awoke feeling foolish…and puzzled.

Night #3: OK, I know how to handle this so-called PILLOW now. Plump; fluff; etc. Scrunch; wiggle; settle in. I’m not asleep yet! I’m probably thinking about work; I have a big project at the moment. I have to do laundry tomorrow. And vacuum the carpet. What about my poor, neglected blog? “See, I have a lot on my mind.” The next morning I described my flattened-out so-called PILLOW (it has a 5-year warranty, by the way) as feeling like several paper grocery sacks placed gently inside a pillow case. Ow. Uh-oh, cranky again! …I thought I kinda liked the pillow the night before. Am I going nuts? {Note to blog readers: please don’t answer that question. Or, if you do, don’t post your answer here. thankyouverymuch.}

Night #4: I’m really tired. I could probably fall asleep on a rock! In the morning: The pillow was just OK. I’m sort of starting to get over my emotional reaction to this whole pillow thing (except for being cranky, for which I reserve the right). I spent $XX.XX on these…PILLOWS; they MAY be “just OK” once I get used to them, but they do NOT cradle me in comfort, dangit! I’m sending them back.

pillow-wig

I finally worked up the nerve to consult the friends who’d recommended the burlap sacks wrapped around old socks pillows. Friendships, you know, are precarious things, and some have faded for less important reasons than pillow incompatibility.

Wife of couple: “I’m sure we got the wrong ones! These aren’t ANYTHING like what we experienced in the hotel!!!” Husband of couple: “The pillow is OK, I guess. I don’t really remember…”

I refrained from asking them how much they’d drunk at dinner the night they stayed at the hoity-toity hotel.

Tonight, I shall lay upon my good-old squishy foam pillow. It’s not ideal, but maybe the next one…

Goodnight from my cranky, sore-necky self. :D

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Mars: Does it matter?

Posted on January 2, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Musings, Philosophy |

marsbase_th150In my last post I intimated I may comment a bit more on Time Magazine‘s Top 10 Lists of 2008. There are a lot of lists on the list. I enjoy year-end retrospectives, but don’t want to spend TOO much time on them. I prefer to select which ideas I want to continue; to bring into the new year with me.

One of Time‘s lists is “Top 10 Scientific Discoveries“. Our local University’s work on the Phoenix Mars Lander mission was recognized, second only to the Large Hadron Collider! (Phoenix found water!!!)  On the University of Arizona’s own “top 10” list the Lander was #1, of course! :) In addition to ongoing projects like the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station, both China and India had major successful projects in the news.

I rattled on quite a bit, last year, about the U of A and their science programs. I’m afraid I may say a great deal more this year, as 2009 has been declared THE YEAR OF SCIENCE, for a variety of interesting reasons—check them out! Our U. is all set to launch a number of events to educate and excite us, so I’m excited, too!

As mentioned, the University’s major space-mission focus in 2008 was on the planet Mars. There will be more Martian news this year, too. So, why does Mars matter? On one level it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter at all if it doesn’t interest you. :cool: There are those who say that countries “shouldn’t spend all that money” on space programs when we have “X” issues here on earth.

Perhaps each of us have our priorities; things or programs which matter to us. All I can say is that Mars matters to me! The excitement and possibility of there being life beyond our little planet enhances my perspective of what we can be. Whether we discover “intelligent” life anywhere in the universe (including on earth) ;) or not, does not matter as much to me as the quest which expands our vision. It interests me to look extra-terrestrially, and perhaps extra-physically for resources, energy, and (very likely) for real estate, to further our conscious and physical evolution.

So Mars matters because it is the most earth-like planetary body we’ve found so far. It is relatively close. It could help provide the answers to many questions about our physical origins. It’s a fun place; perhaps I’ll see you there one day. :D

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