Saturday, June 18, 2005

Whimsy: Sugar Bling

I enjoy coming up with schmaltzy romantic names (as do the writers Jimmy Neutron and Fairly Odd Parents, among other shows):

Sweet Cheeks
Pudding Puss
Sugar Booger
Button Butt

Today, to update the schmaltz, I came up with (prepare to groan):

Sugar Bling

Email: The examined life [SD]

Of course it would be "great" in many people's minds if God just handed us the perfect job, marriage and so on, on a silver platter -- but then we wouldn't be worthy of those gifts, since we'd be spiritually and literally sitting on our asses, being spoon-fed everything without using any effort or intelligence of our own. Like our muscles, our minds and spirits get stronger with exercise; witness any Olympic athlete for a shining example. I prefer to look more at the positive benefits and results of this divine arrangement than the messes and failures.

(Fundamentalists and evangelicals tend to show an inherent pessimism towards humanity as the flip side of their God coin, but this is mistakenly dualistic all-or-nothing thinking instead of viewing God and all creation as collaborators in the divine plan. You see, they believe that any plan of God's must proceed perfectly, without branches, switchbacks and mistakes; whereas salvation and secular history shows that God can deal with humanity's worst mess-ups and still deliver us from the evil of Hitler and so on. Good ultimately triumphs over evil -- even if some fundy parents are convinced that Eminem is a sign of the Apocalypse.)

By equivalent partners in a relationship, I meant complementary partners: A man and a woman accepting each other's weaknesses and strengths, trusting that two are stronger than one when together, and that it all balances out (with a few loose ends, but nothing glaringly dysfunctional). The problem with marriages today then becomes couples who chose marriage relatively blindly, without taking reasonable stock of each other's true compatibility. (This explains why secular divorce rates are equivalent with evangelical divorce rates; if anything, "true believers" can show more "blind faith" than anyone else, albeit in matters that should stand in plain sight.) An equivalent relationship also trumps the equal relationship idea in that a marriage between two control freaks can't sustain itself; a union between two persons of low self-esteem is unhealthy and unstable; while a relationship between a dominant person and one who is willingly subordinate can succeed (even if it's not as mutually healthy and preferable as an equal relationship).

Friday, June 17, 2005

Email: The examined life [SD]

Many men are just too brash or macho (foolishly deluded into feeling invulnerable) -- that is, STUPID -- when it comes to thinking and practicing safety (theirs and others'). Why people drive boats, cars and bikes unsafely is not only incomprehensible, it is a waste of good testosterone. ;-)

Quotes: "Live such a life..." (Phillips Brooks)

Be such a man, and live such a life, that if every man were such as you, and every life like yours, this earth would be a God's Paradise. -- Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)

Press: Security Breach Could Expose 40M to Fraud - YN

Security Breach Could Expose 40M to Fraud - Yahoo! News: "A security breach of customer information at a credit card transaction company could expose to fraud up to 40 million cardholders of multiple brands, MasterCard International Inc. said Friday."

It is absolutely unconscionable that month after month, tens of millions of people are exposed to financial and identity theft by the lack or failure of common-sense security measures at major financial firms and other vendors. In fact, it should be considered criminal behavior and redressed to the degree that people's funds and lives have been exposed to risk of devastation.

Quotes: life's small pleasures (Unknown)

Most of us miss out on life's big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel. Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. But we're all eligible for life's small pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss behind the ear. A four-pound bass. A full moon. An empty parking space. A crackling fire. A great meal. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. Cold beer. Don't fret about copping life's grand awards. Enjoy its tiny delights. -- Author Unknown

Quotes: constructed vs. created (Charles Dickens)

The whole difference between construction and creation is this; that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists. -- Charles Dickens

Quotes: trust yourself (Goethe)

As soon as you trust yourself you will know how to live. -- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Quotes: cause of human failure (William James)

There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man's lack of faith in his true self. -- William James

Quotes: If I listen to criticism (Abraham Lincoln)

If I care to listen to every criticism, let alone act on them, then this shop may as well be closed for all other businesses. I have learned to do my best, and if the end result is good then I do not care for any criticism, but if the end result is not good, then even the praise of ten angels would not make the difference. -- Abraham Lincoln

Words: Latin bone names

It occurred to me that clavicle (collarbone) is actually Latin for keybone, so I decided to provide vernacular translations of other major bones of the skeleton (source is Merriam-Webster):

Skeleton - skeletos - boneshell (New Latin, from Greek, neuter of skeletos dried up; akin to Greek skellein to dry up, sklEros hard and perhaps to Old English sceald shallow)
Collarbone - clavicle - keybone (French clavicule, from New Latin clavicula, from Latin, diminutive of Latin clavis; akin to Greek kleid-, kleis key, kleiein to close)
Kneecap - patella - dishbone (Latin, from diminutive of patina shallow dish) or skimbone (patina 1 a : a usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color b : a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use 2 : an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, or established character 3 : a superficial covering or exterior)
Elbow - (h)ellbent or (h)ellbone (Middle English elbowe, from Old English elboga, from el- (akin to eln ell) + Old English boga bow)
Skull - cranium -headbone (Medieval Latin, from Greek kranion; akin to Greek kara head, more at cerebrum)
Foot - tarsus - flatbone (New Latin, from Greek tarsos wickerwork mat, flat of the foot, ankle, edge of the eyelid; akin to Greek tersesthai to become dry -- more at thirst)
Breastbone - sternum - broadbone (New Latin, from Greek sternon chest, breastbone; akin to Old High German stirna forehead, Latin sternere to spread out -- more at strew)
Backbone or spine - spina - thornbone or stembone (Middle English, thorn, spinal column, from Latin spina; perhaps akin to Latin spica ear of grain)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Email: Communication [VI]

Couples can either schedule in their communication times (if they are that busy) or at least expect to communicate when they are together. (Brainlessness when together generally does not build a relationship.) Rather than "just doing things," it is good to discuss what is important and meaningful in each others' lives. I will see a movie if I want entertainment or an artistic experience, but when I want to talk with a friend or a date, we go somewhere that is conducive to hearing what each other is saying.

Learning to listen is not that hard. Like most things, you just have to first be aware of the need and then choose to adapt to the need. Plenty of techniques are helpful, such as repeating what was said or "reflecting back" what you understand was said. People actually consider listeners to be the 'best" conversationalists. As I often say, the world would be a much better place if people spent at least as much time developing their relationship skills as their careers.

Email: The examined life [SD]

Of course I am hoping to find someone compatible. One thing is, I don't know if I should seek an equal partner or an equivalent partner. (Certainly, I have met and will meet women who are smarter, more intuitive and better gifted in any of a number of ways; and we all have weaknesses that a partner may complement with a strength. This is seeking an equivalent partner. An equal partner is more of an attitude or approach; for example, "All men are created equal." You would be amazed, however, at how many women want a shining knight to rescue them -- which I can do, on occasion -- instead of an equal partner -- no matter what they say.) Another thing is, I am still learning key things about myself, which affects who is most compatible with me. (The road map is not only blurry at times, but a moving target.) A final thing is, we never know whether someone is compatible immediately; it takes time to get to know a person in order to make a life-changing decision.

I don't know why the woman's desires often challenge the man's reality; if I did, John Gray and the rest would be out of business. I suspect it boils down to women having one perspective and men having another, and every person wants what they want (instead of truly listening to their partner's needs and being patient when necessary). I propose that no partner should be able to criticize the other's decisions without offering a workable alternative! Compromise also helps, but only when it is a two-way street. I will say that for the most part, women's perspective is more clear and true than men's, because women understand relationships much better as a rule. In other words, there are better reasons for patience than promiscuity ("sport f---ing"); communication than reticence (strategic silence); and risk-taking than control (agenda-setting).

Listen, I spent 30 years in a community called Servants of the Lord; I know all about servant theology! This is why I prefer to rely on practicality now instead of fundamentalists' rigid roleplaying. I feel I am being flexible and spontaneous in responding to the leading of the Lord. It is easy for me to let go [of a rut], because it is written in my bones!

Email: The examined life [SD]

I think what I'll do is take things like "Don't overdo yourself" in the general sense of nostrums like "Take care" or "Have a nice day": You are wishing me well, sometimes with a specific context, but one that is not to be taken literally (or else I would actually be a clumsy oaf who cannot take care of himself and must be warned not to overexert himself lest he truly do so). Scary thinking!

Heart knowledge comes closer to the human experience but head knowledge comes closer to (ensuring) the truth. Anyway, it is not an either/or contest, so there is no need to choose between the two when we truly need both at the same time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Quotes: "To be nobody but yourself..." (e.e. cummings)

To be nobody but yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. -- e.e. cummings

Quotes: shortness of time (Seneca)

We all sorely complain of the shortness of time, and yet have much more than we know what to do with. Our lives are either spent in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do. We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them. -- Seneca

Quotes: respect and accept differences (John Gray)

When men and women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom. -- John Gray

Email: The examined life [SD]

I am still single because I haven't yet (to my knowledge) met anyone like me, who understands me, who would make an equal partner. (You asked.)

My advice is to stop thinking in terms of your "role as a woman" or "what is expected of you" ... and start thinking of yourself in terms of being an individual woman with unique goals, aspirations and so on.

Email: The examined life [SD]

Yes, I am unique. (In a certain way, everyone is and deserves to be treated that way.) Even so, I am aware that I am indubitably unique! :-) "An original edition," as I have said before.

Well, I am glad you write email more than watch TV (sometime I'll explain my hierarchy of media) but I think you should find some activities you love to pursue too. I say this because email ends up filling the time gaps in some people's lives, rather than getting out and meeting people or doing things that are significant. Just ask yourself if you have anything more important to do than email, or should have something more important to do than email; that should help [keep] it from turning into an escape from life as opposed to an involvement in life.

Email: Hello Martian... [MS]

Relationships might be the top selling book category among women! Probably the last among men though. :-( Still I have focused on it a great deal myself, whenever I dig for answers. We all know intuitively and joke about the gender differences. I am a fairly optimistic kind of guy, but lately I have been noticing just how deeply these differences really run! The Mars/Venus (or any typology-based) books always struggle to convince me, because they use circular reasoning (generality vs. example and vice versa). I see many little bits of corroborating evidence in them, though.

I recommend Pia Mellody's The Intimacy Factor, which is very insightful about boundaries and hence trust, respect and so on. I feel it is life-changing probably for almost anyone.

I have spoken with Bill Ferguson; I think he does great work [here in Houston]. John Gray is well-known nationally and beyond, though some say he wrote the same book four times.

Email: The examined life [SD]

I am not saying you have "totally made a mess of things" so please don't conclude that for yourself. My point is always that it takes two people to make a relationship (whether platonic or romantic); so I acknowledged my part in the misunderstanding, and I think you are doing the same for your part. However, I don't feel right in accepting a total apology or a misplaced one! I offered my suspicions for "what is really going on" here, and you are free to accept or reject any surmise I make. (Do you agree or disagree?) Yes, it is true that other people have told you stories in the past, but this is not the past; of course, I am not those people; in fact, you are (or can be) a different person today than you were before. (You have no idea how many times I find myself repeating the gist of that last sentence to divorced people; it seems like once a day -- sometimes to the same person for days on end!)

I am not sure why people are so surprised when they find out that, in general, I am how I say I am. How many times have I told you I am patient? How many times have I shown you I am patient? I am sad to learn that patience and honesty (among other things) are less common than I believed. Listening skills seem to be quite rare too. Of course you can always ask for clarification; what are friends and communication for? Staying connected is healthy, however, being dependent solely on another is not.

About "major life decisions," you are speaking again in generalities, which over the years I have found not to be very helpful. I have specific things in mind when I use the phrase, and could explain them [another] time. Suffice it to say that I am not letting my life fritter away, unless it is by explaining repeatedly that I am not letting my life fritter away.

Of course I don't mind you writing me. I've said so, and you need to understand that when I say something, I mean it. My only concern is, Do you have so much free time as to write me all these pages per day? I find in general that the rest of life is more important than writing emails. It is up to you to manage your time, however -- as it is up to me to manage mine.

Quotes: "Adversity causes some men to break..." (William A. Ward)

Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records. -- William A. Ward

Quotes: "You can chain me..." (Mahatma Gandhi)

You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Quotes: "We are all in the gutter..." (Oscar Wilde)

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. -- Oscar Wilde

Quotes: "The superior man..." (Confucius)

The superior man [...] does not set his mind either for or against anything; he will pursue whatever is right. The superior man thinks of virtue, the common man of comfort. -- Confucius

Quotes: "The things that will destroy us..." (Mahatma Gandhi)

The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Quotes: "Read, every day..." (Christopher Morley)

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity. -- Christopher Morley

Quotes: "try to be that perfectly" (St. Francis de Sales)

Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly. -- St. Francis de Sales

Quotes: Little minds vs. great minds (Washington Irving)

Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them. -- Washington Irving

Email: Why women play 'head games' with men [VI]

I thought what you shared with me was very interesting because it goes completely against the grain of all that seems intelligent and reasonable in dating. You'd think that if men and women were just honest and sincere and treated each other with respect, the opposite would happen, when in point of fact, everyone seems to assume dishonesty and insincerity and dumb luck will rule the day, so they act in the manner of the lowest common denominator -- most men and women take the low road instead of the high road.

The author of Double Your Dating and the essay (ahem, promotional email) you shared with me recognizes that most women act on instinct, not intelligence, when it comes to dating. And his logic is right insofar as young, beautiful women are all but forced to play hard-to-get in order to weed out the determined skirtchasers from the opportunistic ones. But a determined skirtchaser does not make for a good relationship partner! The woman is throwing away her freedom to choose by letting any man who is merely persistent have her phone number. She would be much better served to consider a dating partner who means what he says, and is what he says he is. Yes, persistence and a sense of humor are important allies when a man hopes to catch a woman's interest; but any scheme that leaves out (or negates) honesty, sincerity and the truth is bound for disaster.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Proverbs: There is no compassion without suffering first

Press: Lost Vivaldi Opera Finally Gets Its Music and Words Together - NYT

Lost Vivaldi Opera Finally Gets Its Music and Words Together - New York Times: "'The arias are also immensely difficult,' Mr. Sardelli said, none more than the dizzying coloratura of Mitrena's aria closing Act I, which Vivaldi is said to have written for his protegee Anna Giro and which was performed with panache on Saturday by the Canadian alto Marie-Nicole Lemieux."

Press: Some Cafe Owners Pull the Plug on Lingering Wi-Fi Users - NYT

Some Cafe Owners Pull the Plug on Lingering Wi-Fi Users - New York Times: "Independent cafes have experienced mixed results with free Wi-Fi, however, according to many cafes and hotspot operators. A cafe's nature can be classified as 'office,' 'social,' or a hybrid, according to research by Sean Savage, who recently earned his master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley. His thesis focused on the intersection of technology and society in cafes.

In his work, Mr. Savage found that an office cafe discouraged conversation and was filled with people who came alone and were focused on their work. Social cafes have customers who arrive in groups. 'If you come into a place like that and it's a particularly busy time, you get dirty looks if you open a laptop and start zoning out,' Mr. Savage said. But the hybrid cafes were more complicated. Many of these hybrid cafes, like the Canvas Gallery in San Francisco, are a 'different place at different times of day,' he said."

Press: Upheaval on Los Angeles Times Editorial Pages - NYT

Upheaval on Los Angeles Times Editorial Pages - New York Times: "Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, the institute of interactive journalism at the University of Maryland, was heartened by Mr. Kinsley's changes.

'It's great that a mainstream newspaper has the spine to innovate so aggressively,' Ms. Schaffer said. 'What's really fresh about what The L.A. Times is doing is it's not just blog central. They are creating new entry points for readers to weigh in with their collective wisdom and enrich the journalistic commentary.' "

Press: Take My Privacy, Please! - NYT

Take My Privacy, Please! - New York Times: "We cannot even begin to control the growing army of businesses and industries that monitor what we buy, what we watch on television, where we drive, the debts we pay or fail to pay, our marriages and divorces, our litigations, our health and tax records and all else that may or may not yet exist on some computer tape, if we don't fully understand everything we're signing up for when we avail ourselves of one of these services."

Nostalgia: Senor Wences

Senor Wences: Loved as ventriloquist on TV:

April 21, 1999


NEW YORK -- Senor Wences, the master ventriloquist who delighted 'Ed Sullivan Show' audiences with his puppet-head-in-a-box, Pedro, and his falsetto-voiced hand-puppet, Johnny, died Tuesday at 103.

The Spanish-born ventriloquist, whose real name was Wenceslao Moreno, died at home in New York City.

During the 1950s, Mr. Moreno bickered and bantered with his puppets while he drank, smoked and juggled.

He conversed with Pedro, a head in a box ('S'OK?' 'S'AWRIGHT'). And he was defeated by Johnny, who boasted, 'Deefeecult for you; easy for me.'

Mr. Moreno created Johnny by scrunching up his fist, drawing a mouth where thumb and index finger met, and draping a blond wig over the top. [...]

Quotes: "the storm of thought" (Mark Twain)

"Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thought that is forever flowing through one's head." -- Mark Twain

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Quotes: "God is the friend of silence" (Mother Teresa)

"God is the friend of silence. Trees, flowers, grass grow in silence. See the stars, moon, and sun how they move in silence." -- Mother Teresa

Quotes: "The Truth against the World" (Bardic proverb)

"An Fhirinne in aghaidh an tSaoil."
"The Truth against the World." -- Bardic proverb

Quotes: "Act as if what you do..." (William James)

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." -- William James

Quotes: "Your own words..." (Sonia Croquette)

"Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Your words are the greatest power you have. The words you choose and use establish the life you experience." -- Sonia Croquette

Quotes: "The world is moving so fast..." (Elbert Hubbard)

"The world is moving so fast now-a-days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it." -- Elbert Hubbard

Quotes: The fear of change (Thomas Merton)

"The fear of change is the fear of disruption, disintegration of one's own inner unity and the unity of one's accustomed world. A personal crisis occurs when one becomes aware of apparently irreconcilable opposites in oneself. If the tension between them becomes strong enough, one can no longer 'keep himself together'. His personal unity is fractured. Then the half of oneself that is still acceptable becomes 'right', and the  rest of the world becomes wrong. If the conflict becomes intense, then the outer world, other people, other societies are regarded as heretical, malicious, subversive, demonic, etc.
"But a personal crisis can be creative and salutary if one can accept the conflict and restore unity on a higher level, incorporating the opposed elements in a higher unity. One thus becomes a more complete, a more developed person, capable of wider understanding, empathy, and love for others, etc." -- Thomas Merton

Email: Left vs. right [SD]

[It is] impossible to do both [whatever you set your mind to and allow others to help you] at the same time though, so how does one choose which it will be and when? By not giving up the trivial, easy or totality of tasks (since that would constitute laziness or excessive dependence). For example, a husband may ask for (or accept the offer of) a beverage if his wife is already in the kitchen, but it is probably codependence if the wife feels compelled to run into the kitchen and offer to get the beverage when the husband was already opening the fridge to get it for himself. In other words, what is the simplest means to accomplish a simple task? And isn't being excessively scrupulous -- even if it is about being kind and generous -- a sin -- or at least a dysfunction?

Quotes: brand new ending (Carl Bard)

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." -- Carl Bard

Quotes: "immortal horrors or everlasting splendors" (C.S. Lewis)

"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption which you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations... There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts civilizations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendors." -- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Quotes: "I am the decisive element" (Goethe)

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element.
"It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person humanized or de-humanized.
"If we treat people as we are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming." -- Goethe

Quotes: "God have mercy on the sinner" (John Crowe Ransom)

God have mercy on the sinner
Who must write with no dinner,
No gravy and no grub,
No pewter and no pub,
No belly and no bowels,
Only consonants and vowels.
-- John Crowe Ransom, "Survey of Literature"

Quotes: "Build a better world" (anonymous)

"Build a better world," said God
and I answered "How?
The world is such a vast place,
and so complicated now,
and I'm so small and useless;
there's nothing I can do."
But God, in all His wisdom, said,
"Just build a better you."

Email: Left vs. right [SD]

I just don't believe in not being able to do things.

Press: Enough Keyword Searches, Just Answer My Question - NYT

Enough Keyword Searches. Just Answer My Question. - New York Times: "When it comes to digging up a specific name, date, phrase or price, search engines are unstoppable. The same is true for details from the previously concealed past. For better and worse, any information about any of us - true or false, flattering or compromising - that has ever appeared on a publicly available site is likely to be retrievable forever, or until we run out of electricity for the server farms. Carefree use of e-mail was once a sign of sophistication. Now to trust confidential information to e-mail is to be a rube."

Quotes: "words-in-a-row guys" (Don Webb)

"I know at one time people thought there would cease to be writers as new technologies bloomed, but as long as humans have a left hemisphere there will be a place for the words-in-a-row guys." (Don Webb, "The Five Biographies of General Gerrahn," Science Fiction Age, January 1997, p. 69)

Quotes: "I am language driven" (Don Webb)

"I am not a narrative-driven writer. I am language driven. This means sound and philology turn me on, and money is something that other writers get." (Don Webb, "The Five Biographies of General Gerrahn," Science Fiction Age, January 1997, p. 69)

Email: Left vs. right [SD]

So you had to see my ambidexterity to believe it, hm? [...] I suppose I will have to tell you how I learned (while driving delivery in high school) to open any door with just the tip of one little finger available.