Archive for April, 2009

A wedding, a birthday, and a funeral

Posted on April 25, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Musings |

Free Clipart Picture of a Piece of Cake on a Plate. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.com No, this is not a sequel to a popular movie, it’s just my life lately. A few days ago I went to the wedding of some people I didn’t know well. I had been sitting next to the future bride at a meeting when her engagement was announced. She didn’t know her fiance was going to stand up and announce it. She blushed, and giggled, and hugged me—since I was right there!—and we became instant friends. Then she introduced me to her fiance and now we are all friends.

It was a fun wedding; very simple, elegant and beautiful. We had some friends in common, and it was a gorgeous day for an outdoor reception. Then I walked on a beautiful nature trail near the wedding location. Nice day!

Today is my birthday! Yay! I don’t know if I will have had fun yet, because I’m posting this very early, but I expect to. It’s a Saturday, so I’m starting the day with breakfast outdoors at my favorite park/museum/gallery/tea room. It is my tradition to have a meal there; I have done so every birthday since I’ve lived in southern Arizona. After that, I’m going shopping, hiking, and to the library! (I know; but those are fun for me!) Then, out to dinner and a concert with friends.

My dear blog friend, sulz, actually remembered my birthday from last year, AND took the time during her holiday in Thailand to commemorate it! Isn’t that nice of her? :)

On Sunday, I’m facilitating a group in the morning, and attending a memorial service in the afternoon. It should be a nice event, actually. I didn’t know the man that passed away very well, but his wife and I have become close in a philosophical discussion group, and I’m attending to support her. She believes, and I fairly well agree, that her husband “has returned to pure, positive energy”, so she intends this to be a celebration of his life, rather than a sad funeral. She will miss him greatly, but she says it feels to her as if he’s gone on a really long trip. They will tell stories about him, and we’ll have cake.

So, it’s an eventful weekend. I didn’t want to end with the “funeral”, so I’ll tell you…

I gave myself a gift for my birthday. I finally (after some kicking and screaming and whining) joined a social network. Well, actually, three. Being me, it took me, like, a YEAR to research the ones I was interested in. I’m still not sure what I’ll do with them, or if I’ll really put in the time required, but I’m jumping in. You can follow me on Twitter, on Library Thing and on Gaia Community.  I will follow you, if I can find you! :) I’ll be learning, so thanks for your patience.

Have a nice weekend!

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Where does my brain stop and my computer begin?

Posted on April 15, 2009. Filed under: Games, Health, HowTo, Musings |

OR VICE VERSA?

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time (thank you!) you will have seen me discuss “computer issues” (I refuse to call them “problems”; each situation is a learning experience, right?)

bill gates
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I had a thing or two to say to this gentleman, yesterday…but it was, really, my fault. I sort of accidentally installed Internet Explorer 8 at the same time as I installed a new version of America Online. Now, for my own personal browsing, and quite a bit of my work, and this blog, I happily use Mozilla Firefox which bathes me in goodwill and browsing bliss. But, a couple of client’s email lists are maintained on AOL, and thus I need to have their rather boated program on my machine. There are actually some nice features on AOL—I know various people have various feelings about it.

But, in order to run, AOL requires the mind control and world domination browsing software known as Microsoft Internet Explorer.  As I was installing the latest version of AOL, 9.5, (which, let’s face it, I really didn’t need yet, but oh well), up popped a little box asking me if I wanted to “upgrade” my Internet Explorer at the same time. Silly me! I read “upgrade” as “update” and thought (actually didn’t think much about it) that there were a few little tweaks and fixes available for my current version. Gosh knows IE can use a few tweaks. So I checked “YES”.

Folks, do not do this (unless you’re much more tech-savvy than I am; which nearly everyone is; and you’ll tell me that my subsequent…issues, have nothing to do with this; however you’ll still need to explain why, coincidentally, they started right after this install). Choose one or the other; not both! You can always go back and “upgrade” anything you need to later.

Along with my shiny new IE8, I also got a new toolbar. What is it with these toolbars? Almost every piece of software gives me the “opportunity” to obtain a toolbar upon installation. Most programs, if I do a “custom” install, which I almost always do, give me the option of not adding yet another bar to the already crowded top of my screen. I’ve turned down AOL, Yahoo, Google, and a couple of others. In IE8, there is no option not to install, surprise, MSN toolbar. There’s a little note in the “user agreement” (you know the one where you have to click on “I accept”, even though, admit it, you HAVE NOT READ IT, and about 17 paragraphs in it says you may not actually USE the software for anything useful?) which says that I must UNINSTALL the toolbar AFTER the main install should I not wish to have it.

I wouldn’t mind these toolbars if they offered some actual tools. I could use a nice miter saw, a self-adjusting wrench, and a new pair of needle-nose pliers. But no, these toolbars generally (with some admittedly useful exceptions) offer me the opportunity to get to sites I don’t want to visit 1.5 seconds faster than if I just typed the name into my searchbar.

Uh, OK, where was I…oh, yeah, so I installed all this stuff, and later proceeded to do one of my jobs. I had a rather simple task: write a weekly update email for a client, and send it out to their mailing list of about 900 people. Easy-peasy. It took me six hours! AOL kept closing itself, I couldn’t get to it through Explorer (“the software has encountered an error and must shut down. Our boss says we have to apologize for the inconvenience, but we don’t really want to because, let’s face it, it’s kinda common, and why apologize for normalcy, you know?, but anyway we’re sorry.”) I’d just get ready to send out a batch, and bye-bye browser.

Finally, at 4:02 am, US Pacific time, which we are, at the moment (Did you know that most of Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time?) it was done. This newsletter was already a day late because of my personal computer—alright, I’ll admit it—problems, and I didn’t want to go to bed until my task was accomplished. Fortunately for me, a lot of my working hours are flexible, and I got to sleep in until 9:35, at which time a large unpleasant quail decided to perch near my window, and sing her morning song to me. But that’s another post.

So, I turned the computer on, and typed this all up, as a way of explaining why I haven’t been online much, at least for personal fun and blogging and commenting in the past couple of days.

I’m just so subliminally wired now though, as you are too (I can tell, because you’re reading a blog! online!), that having ones ubiquitous machines stop working well is almost as injurious as smashing ones toes! My brain hurts. (That’s a line from Monty Python; brains don’t really hurt.)

The last thing I did before I finally went to bed is uninstall IE8. And install it again. Wish me luck!—oh, that didn’t work. I’m going to try to post this before it crashes again…arguhnh!!!   blorp.

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Pink Passover Full Moon Easter

Posted on April 13, 2009. Filed under: Musings, Philosophy |

We had the most beautiful Full Moon this past week, which happened to be on the first day of Passover, also on Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, which is the Christian acknowledgement of the Passover Feast, or “Last Supper”.

I’d always known some of the names indigenous people have given the full moon; a time, in many thought-systems, of great power. This April moon is known as the “Pink Moon“, and when I looked it up, I found that “Pink Moon” is also the name of the last song and album by Nick Drake. I found, further, that this song was used in a rather nice Volkswagon commercial ad.

I wondered why the Pink Moon made me feel a bit melancholy. Drake’s song contributed to the mood. These religious feasts also coincide, roughly, with the Spring Equinox, and generally with celebrations of a time of rebirth or renewal; the dawning of the season’s fertility. The earth wakes up from her long winter sleep (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), seeds begin to stir beneath the soil. There is a sense of wonder regarding new life; new hope.

Usually in southern Arizona, we don’t have a “spring”, per se. We tend to have three seasons: Hot, Not-so-Hot, and Coolish. This year we do have a spring, the season that “comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb”. It’s the season that “breaks your heart”: just when the daffodils bloom, sometimes there’ll come a late snowstorm and the early daffodils wither and won’t be seen again for a year—those delicate blossoms of seasonal passage.

We don’t have daffodils in the desert, but when I lived in the mountains we did, and I would literally shed a tear if the late snows came and covered them too soon. In California, where I also lived, there was a large hill planted with the bulbs of spring. A wonderful woman had spent years planting this slope, on public land. She’d add a few bulbs each year as her energy and budget allowed. It was truly the most glorious sight, and again, marked the passage of seasons.

Perhaps I am a bit melancholy because it snowed on Saturday. While not unheard of, it’s most uncommon for snow to be seen in this desert land, this late in the season. I generally like to see the rare snow we have; but this one just seems wrong; out of place. I sense change in the wind; whether it be climate change; a change of heart; small change, or changing times.

By the way, I don’t mind a bit of melancholia. It brings perspective; balance. It causes reflection, reevaluation, contemplation. I’ve had quite a nice holiday week, as I hope you have, as well.

zpflow15

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Just call me ‘Grumpy Toes’

Posted on April 9, 2009. Filed under: Health, HowTo, Musings |

Let’s face it; my toes weren’t my best feature to start with. I inherited my father’s toes, and well…it’s best not to go there. Now, however, I’m waiting to see if they are going to end up looking even more, um, prehistoric.

A couple of days ago, I got up during the night to get something to drink. I didn’t put my shoes on. I didn’t put the lights on. I stumbled right into the corner of a bench, and yelled “OW” very loud. I thought I had broken my toe. I put down my glass of water, half of which had spilled on the carpet, and turned the light on, and looked at my foot.

My left second toe really, really hurt! I felt it, gingerly. It seemed to be intact. Good. I didn’t want to go to the emergency room and have it set. The whole front of my foot felt kind of weird, though.

The next morning, all five of my toes, and the areas in between, and part of the bottom of my foot were the most extraordinary combination of colors! What on earth could I have done to get my foot into this condition?

I reminded myself to always wear slippers if I go to the kitchen at night. You’d think I would, anyway, just because of the chance encounter with a scorpion—rare, but possible.

I had work to do the next day, so I hobbled around. I wore my sneakers, the shoes with the most protection, but I still walked funny. I wasn’t able to go hiking, and it still looked weird, and I thought I might be turning into a swamp creature. So I was grumpy. Too grumpy to blog; too grumpy to care I wasn’t blogging. I managed to publish a post that was already in the hopper, waiting for a few finishing touches it didn’t get. I didn’t want to tell you about my toes, because I felt like such a doofus, but I didn’t want to write about anything else, either!

Why is it that a localized injury like this takes up so much of our attention? Yes, it hurts, and all, and it’s a bit of a challenge to walk around, but the rest of me is fine, and my typing fingers are perfectly functional. It seems bashing one end of the body affects the other (brain) as well.

I had to ask myself why I needed to slow down. Isn’t it symbolic to have a foot injury at a time when one is running around too much? I will say, that in spite of being grumpy (there’s a part of me that enjoys being grumpy, I must confess), I’ve also experienced great calmness. “Hello, my foot is indisposed at the moment, perhaps I can do that next week.”

The tricky part is figuring out how to parcel out the tasks without having to have a case of zombie-toe first. I think injuries can be traced back to an imbalance somewhere—not that I’m blaming the injured, myself included, because it’s all too easy to become unbalanced as the busy humans we are.

I sat still, with my foot elevated, and asked myself what I needed, to bring myself back into balance. A little grumpy blogging perhaps? Getting the money thing sorted out (ongoing)? Maybe getting that blasted electronic keyboard out of the closet, and spending quality time with it every day (or almost) no matter what! Ah, that one hit home. And, “coincidentally” my foot started to feel better, too—how about that?75993-virtual_piano1

I was able to set up the keyboard on my stand. It had been in the closet for a while, because it, well, it DOES sort of take up a lot of room. When it’s not in the middle of the room, I have the illusion of more space, but there’s also a void. It’s better to have it out, and to connect, and to let go. I only have one pedal with my keyboard, and since I’m right-footed, it works just fine! :D
Happy Passover, y’all!

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What I’ve learned from Blogging, Part 17*

Posted on April 7, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Games, HowTo, Musings |

It amazes me I’ve learned social skills here in blogland that I’ve actually used in Real Life. Usually it’s portrayed quite the other way in the media: those of us who spend large chunks of time in the fantasy worlds of WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, or Role Playing Games are at best geeks, and at worst clueless social misfits.

I beg to differ.

I have learned, for one thing, to moderate my emotions. Note that I’m not saying to “not have” them, but rather to moderate their expression. During the first year or so that I had this blog, I would sometimes receive comments that were critical, or challenging, or argumentative. One person even said “That’s just…wrong!” (Actually, that one didn’t bother me much, because it was just…so…blatant.) But I will admit that I’d sometimes feel “attacked” and have an immediate emotional reaction. The most useful practice I’ve learned for these occasions is: “Do not respond to such a comment when feeling great emotional intensity!” One of the things I most like about blogging is that there is time…(if time really exists, but that’s another discussion) ;) Time to calm down. Time to meditate and do energy releasing practices. Time to realize that no one can really “attack” me on a blog. A person can type her/his words, opinions, thoughts, and even rants, but they belong to that person, not to me.

What I can do, is sort through the comment for a “learning”. I know, I’ve just stated that the comment is theirs, not mine, but I also believe (somewhat contradictorily) that it shows up on my blog for a reason. It’s my job, should I choose to accept it, to observe the learning opportunity, compare and contrast it with my values, and internalize what I find does have value. Fortunately, I rarely receive comments which disturb me anymore! (Perhaps I’ve learned!) I am so blessed in the amazing and wonderful people who visit my blog. I’m truly grateful for that.

So, now, I don’t often respond to a comment the moment I log in and read it. This not only goes for comments I “don’t like” upon first reading, but also the ones that delight me immediately. I always feel that if a person has taken the time, care, and thought to comment on a post of mine, I owe it to them—and to myself—to provide a thoughtful response. These can change in tone depending upon the nature of the topic, from lighthearted to deeply serious. Each comment is a gift.

Another thing I’ve learned I’m still learning is: “Don’t justify yourself (or anyone else, for that matter) on a blog!” Again, if upon first reading of a comment I’m feeling my ideas are “attacked”, there is such a great temptation to try to explain them further, or show why “the other guy’s” position is inferior, etc. When I step back, and lose the emotional reaction, I am certain that my blog friend’s opinion is every bit as valid as my own. I remind myself that I’m not here to convince anyone of my point of view, because that’s all it is—my point of view. I’m pretty attached to it myself, but, heck, I wouldn’t read any of your blogs if all you did was repeat exactly what I’ve said on mine, would I? So now, if a commenter challenges my point of view, I do what I can to find common ground, and then try my best to celebrate diversity! I still catch myself out in this regard more often than I’d like, so if I’ve argued with you at all recently, please forgive me. I’m working on it! ;)

And that’s another thing I’ve learned—an expansion upon the last point, perhaps: “Do not argue upon the blog!” I know there are some bloggers and commenters who enjoy igniting “flame wars” where they’ll post something controversial or inflammatory and wait for the angry responses to start pouring in. In many of our cultures, negativity is much “juicier” or “energetic” than positivity, so I can understand how stimulating this can be. It’s not what I’m here for, though, and, in the end, I’ve found that in a “discussion” I learn things; in an “argument” I don’t. The difference is in the emotion I bring to the exchange. If I’m “getting all defensive”, my mind tends to close, restricting understanding and joy. I suppose it goes without saying that I seek to refrain from criticizing others on my or their blog. Or in my or their life! Another ongoing project. ;)

At this point, I almost don’t want to publish this post. When I look at “what I’ve learned”, it seems I just have a list of “behaviors to avoid”. I do think these are valuable, and have helped me have a pleasanter blogging experience, but I would be remiss were I not to include some of the many joyous things I’ve learned!

I already pretty much knew this, but it’s been reinforced from blogging: People everywhere in the world are more alike than they are different. We all want to be loved; to be acknowledged; to feel our existence matters.

I’ve learned that I CAN write (relatively) consistently. I don’t write here every day, but I do get something out once or twice a week, at least, and have been doing that for nearly two years. When I started, I wasn’t sure I could do that! :)

I’ve learned that I have a greater variety of companions here on the blog than I do in other parts of my life, as I’ve met people online who, if meeting me in person would run screaming from the room perhaps decide instantly I wasn’t “friendship” material because of my social status, age, other people I hang out with, or blah, blah, blah. Here we’re all in the same living room. There are a couple of qualifications. Once must own or have access to a computer—and I realize that still leaves out many world citizens I might like to meet—and the ability and fortitude to string a few sentences together fairly regularly. Other than that, anything goes! Whee!

And finally (at least for this post), I’ve learned that this is a fabulous place to learn! Not only do I get to explore my own ideas in a way I would not otherwise, but I get to explore YOURS, too! Does it get any better than that? We’ll just have to see! :cool:

* There are no Parts 1-16 on this topic; at least not here. It’s just that I’ve learned So Much From Blogging that it didn’t seem right to confine it to one set of ideas held in time.

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More on Being

Posted on April 1, 2009. Filed under: Health, HowTo, Musings, Philosophy |

As I looked at the title I gave this post, my mind immediately read it as “Moron Being”. Hah! It WILL call me names. I almost changed the title, but realized it would entertain me more the way it was! ;) I’ll discuss those charming little mind games we play on ourselves in a little while.

My last post was on the qualities I wish to embrace as I go forth into my week. It’s important to choose the qualities one wants, I believe. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about being “crabby”, or “impatient” or “anti-social”. I seem to be able to embody those quite well without conscious intervention :D If I’d rather replace those, or at least diminish their prominence, I’ve found that making lists such as I discussed, does wonders.

These words are the result of my thinking about a great comment on the previous post, made by ellaella. I responded to her that I hadn’t thought about the interconnectedness of the qualities of “being” I mentioned there. Once I did think, it came out rather longer than I would have predicted. So thank you, ella, for encouraging yet another post! I owe you a coffee and chocolate. :) A disclaimer: Neither ella, nor anyone else should take this as me “lecturing” them. I only ever lecture myself. (And there are times I sure wish I’d stop!) ;) But ella HAS stimulated further reflection on my part, the results of which are spewed out upon this post.

Being>Having>and Doing are all points on the triangularity of how we experience life. The “being” one is just that—being. It’s challenging to not think of all the things “to do” once we have our being list in place. In fact, I think it’s a good exercise just to let those go. I’ve even said to myself “You will “do” NOTHING this week!” ;) (Of course, that’s impossible.) There really are no goals associated with this being-ness exercise. I’m just acknowledging qualities I already have, because we all do. I pick and choose the ones I like; that I feel I want to exhibit more in my life. Until ella asked, I didn’t think about the inter-connectivity amongst them. So here are my thoughts about that now.

What I do think is that if I were a person with all the qualities I listed, you would begin to recognize me by those qualities. Each of us would have our own unique lists. As the weeks go by—and I’m going to experiment with this—I believe that the more I declare my preferred mental states, and refine my lists each week, the more I’ll step into the kind of person I really want to be (and on some level always was). We get so distracted with the daily minutiae of our lives that we often forget “who we are”. A quality ella and I share is a desire to be “rested”. All I do with that one is sit quietly for a few moments, and say to my self: “Ah… rested.” “Rested” is a nice, restful sort of word, isn’t it? ;) If I don’t, at that moment, feel quite rested, then I can speculate (perfectly OK!) “Wouldn’t it be nice to be rested? Wouldn’t it feel great to embrace the day knowing I’ve had all the sleep I need?”

Now, my mind will chime in with things like: “OK, so I have to start going to bed at 8:30, and stop drinking coffee, and stop having stress, and win the lottery so I can quit my job which is causing stress, and remove certain personality characteristics from my partner…” ;) Well. We can each make our own mind-lists, too. And the mind is very good at it, and will tell you everything that’s wrong with you, and what you need to do about it—completely uninvited. When that happens to me, and it does, like, a hundred times a day; if I remember to, I’ll say: “Funny little mind, you! Playing your games. Thank you for wanting to keep me safe, and busy, and feeling useful. Now go away for a while, and I’ll take it from here.” A “mind game”, naturally! :razz: But it seems to work.

What I most emphatically will NOT do at the end of this week is ask myself: “OK, on a scale of 1 – 10, how rested (peaceful; musical; helpful) were you?” The answer, even if there were one, doesn’t matter at all. All that does matter is that I seek the qualities that give value and meaning to who I am in the world. There are some forms of Buddhist and Vedic meditation which teach us to hold certain qualities in thought, such as “beauty” or “truth” or “compassion”. These lists that I make are my way of personalizing such practices to fit my own joy. :D

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