12-15-17 Update

What I’m reading
I finally finished reading Dreams of Awakening: Lucid Dreaming and Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep by Charlie Morley. I made plenty of notes.

I began Queens Consort: England’s Medieval Queens by Lisa Hilton. I think watching the second season of The Crown on Netflix renewed my interest in English history. I’m only in the first chapter and I’m finding interesting genealogical information. The chapter talks about Matilda of Flanders, William the Conqueror’s queen, and mentions that her ancestry goes back to Charlemagne. Maltilda has another husband, a man named Gerbod, by whom she had a daughter, Gundrada (or Gundred), who eventually became the wife of William de Warrenne, first Earl of Surrey. There’s some speculation that Gundrada may have actually been the daughter of William and Matilda.. Genealogy works in strange ways. History seems more personal when it’s about your own ancestors.

Events I’ve attended
On Tuesday I attended my grandson Nick’s first band concert. He even had a trombone solo. He and the rest of the Sixth Grade Band have only been playing since September but, with practice, they’ll improve and sharpen their skills.

Nick-171212-04 (copy)After the band concert, we made our way to the high school for the choir concert. I don’t have any grandchildren in the choir but at the end, they bring up all the choir alumni for two songs. This is Jacob’s first alumni performance so we were eager to see him on the stage again.

Dreams
Reality-CheckI still haven’t had a lucid dream but I’m starting to see positive indications in my dreams. Two nights ago, although I didn’t remember any dreams, I did recall an image of two hands with one pushing a finger through the palm of the other. The image looked like a crude drawing.

 

This morning I had a dream in which I squeezed an egg until I broke the shell. I looked at my hand and saw no yolk or egg whites, only the shell fragments. In the dream I attributed the lack of a mess to the fact that it was a dream. I did not become lucid so I’m not sure whether or not I was actually aware that I was dreaming. It may have just been the way the way the dream was playing out. Still, the idea of lucid dreaming is working its way into my dreams which is encouraging.

Quotes I’m pondering
“The real you is not a body. Your body is merely a suit of clothes. Physical birth was not your beginning and physical death is not your end.” ~ Marianne Williamson

“No one and nothing can free you but your own understanding.” ~ Ajahn Chah

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12-08-17 Update

Events I attended
On Saturday Tina, Abi, Nick, and I attended the Phil-Am Christmas party. As usual, it was well-attended and there was plenty of food for everyone. No one goes hungry at a Filipino event. There’s another party hosted by the Ilocano group tomorrow (Dec 9) to which we’ve been invited. My wife isn’t Ilocano but that really doesn’t matter.

There are probably more holiday parties that I not aware of that I’ll be attending. At the moment, I don’t have anything on my calendar for the 16th other than the Dayton Warm Breezes clothing-optional party.

Ben-171205-00
I attended high school band concerts on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Concert and Jazz bands played on Tuesday. Abi played several percussion instruments in the Concert band and Ben played trombone. Ben also played trombone in the Jazz band and one song featured the trombone section. Before the concert began Ben and some other members of the band did a couple of songs on recorders. They sounded pretty good. (WHS Recorder Band)

Wednesday’s concert featured the Symphonic Winds and the Wind Ensemble bands. Ben played bass clarinet in the first and trombone in the others. Rumor has it that he’s also been playing the tuba. He’s quite talented and has a gift for music. The recorder band again played during the intermission.

Other stuff
Rex-171203-00.Mac_171125

I finally got around to putting up the Christmas tree and stringing the lights over the weekend. The corner where we usually put it has been taken over by my son’s video games so we moved it nearer the front part of the living room. I was concerned about having it near the cat tower but other than knocking a few ornaments off, he’s been pretty good about the tree. That’s unlike my other son’s cat, Mac, whose favorite hiding place is inside their tree.

Quotes I’m pondering
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” ~ Charles Darwin

“The reality is that when we hold back our true nature, we lose.” ~ John Douillard

12-01-17 Update

There wasn’t much happening this week, so this will be short.

I’m still reading Charlie Morley’s Dreams of Awakening and taking notes. I’m up to about Chapter 10, I think.

My daughter-in-law got an early Christmas present of a new washer and dryer set. Naturally, it fell to me to pick them up, deliver them, and install them. I have a pickup truck and I’m sort of handy. But I don’t mind; it’s what I do.

Between appliance delivery and setup, along with other assorted errands, I’ve been trying to finish cleaning up the yard. Most of the leaves are gone, having been sucked up by the city leaf sucker last week. I hauled away the brush I’d cut down after tearing down the old shed. I’ve still got the junk that had been in the old shed and a few other miscellaneous items to remove. At least the weather has been nice; I hope it continues.

My wife’s birthday was yesterday. I took her to a Japanese Hibachi restaurant for lunch and some of her friends attended as well. The chef put on a good show and the food was good too.

Quotes I’m pondering:
“Fear always springs from ignorance.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The ancestor of every action is a thought.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

11-24-17 Update

There’s not much this week as my wife and I start to get into the holiday season. Since the “official” start of the holiday season seems to come earlier every year, I’ve already publicly declared my neutrality and my status as a non-combatant in the annual war on Christmas.

The wife and I attended a birthday parry on Saturday. The celebrant was only two but it occurred to me that these celebrations for small children may be more for the adults than for the children. It gives the grownups a chance to socialize with other adults and have adult conversations.

Of course there was Thanksgiving. For the last six or seven years, we have gathered at my son’s house and this year was no exception. We ate well. I took a moment to think about my direct Pilgrim ancestors who made that perilous voyage in 1620 and the extreme hardships they faced in their first year in the New World. On the whole, the Pilgrims had a good relationship with their Native American neighbors. They were more open-minded and tolerant that the Puritans who followed them

Then there’s Black Friday. an event in which I do not participate, let alone celebrate. I consider it to be the antitheses of the holiday season as it promotes and celebrates the extremes of greed and avarice, capitalizing on the delusional idea that our value as human beings is dependent upon the monetary value of the gifts we give and receive. Black Friday brings out the worst in many as they fight for the best deals on material goods so they can boast about how much money they saved. It’s called Black Friday for an obvious reason.

I saw an interesting article the other day: A 1903 Proposal to Preserve the Dead in Glass Cubes

In 1903 Joseph Karwowski received a patent for a method of preserving the dead by suspending them in glass cubes but it was never put into practice. Early in the 20th century, a casket company in Oklahoma did produce and sell glass caskets.

At the very least, the idea of encasing the body of a deceased loved on in glass seems creepy, even disturbing. The process described in the process ignores the fact that even if the body is hermetically sealed in glass, the process of internal decomposition will continue with rather gruesome results.

In my later years, I’ve given a lot of thought to death and my own mortality. Death is inevitable so I figure that I may was well face it without fear and with a positive attitude. I have trouble understanding why we strive to persevere the dead for eternity. I have yet to attend a viewing or a funeral service where the deceased appeared natural and lifelike in the casket. I generally find they appear a bit disturbing.

When I do finally leave my body, I’d prefer not to have a funeral but if there is to be one, I’d like to it to be as simple as possible. A plain pine box (covered) will be fine. I don’t want my body to be pumped full of chemicals or have botched plastic surgery performed on it. There’s no need to preserve it as I won’t be using it again.

As for how my survivors dispose of my body, I would like it be be in an ecologically responsibly manner that benefits the world in some small way. Use my remains to nourish a tree or use my cadaver for medical research or transplant some of my organs into someone who has a need for them. I’d even be fine with leaving my corpse in the desert so the buzzards can pick my bones. Even that’s more beneficial than a perfectly preserved cadaver.

Quote I’m pondering this week:
“One must find the source within one’s own Self, one must possess it. Everything else was seeking—a detour, an error.” ~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Counting to lucidity

After awakening from a dream this morning, I jotted the dream down in my written dream journal. After going back to bed I decided to try Charlie Morley’s technique from his book Dreams of Awakening, counting “1. I’m lucid? 2. I’m lucid? …”. It’s very similar to the counting technique Robert Waggoner describes in Lucid Dreaming, Plain and Simple.

I was in bed lying on my back with my legs slightly spread and my hands at my sides. Soon after I began counting I became aware of hypnagogic imagery and once the count was well above 50 I began to notice changes in how my body felt. I felt a general tightening sensation in the center of my torso and a vague feeling of stiffness in my joints but I wasn’t sure if it was sleep paralysis setting in. (I’ve never consciously experienced sleep paralysis so I don’t know what it feels like.) I also noticed my breath becoming shallower. The images in my head seemed to solidify and become more cohesive but were still not forming into a dreamscape. I was still also aware of the physical reality around  me like sounds and physical sensations and that I was lying in bed. By this time I’d stopped counting (around 100) and mentally repeating a mantra of “lucid dreaming”. When I drifted off to sleep I still wasn’t fully in a dream state, although I felt I might be getting closer, and I recalled no dreams from that last sleep period of the night.

 

11-17-17 Update

What I’m reading
I’m still reading Dreams of Awakening but not as often as I probably should be. I’m currently reading about developing mindfulness and mindfulness meditation.

Event I attended
The Wayne High School Marching Band held its Sounds of the Stadium concert on Saturday. The concert highlights the songs they played during the season to include football games, band festivals, and various local festivals. They featured the seniors in the band for one number and it was a treat to see my grandson Ben play and dance. After the concert, the percussion section stayed on the stage and were joined by most of the band for a a bit of dancing. The trombone section came out for some trombone spinning.. It’s too bad that the after show never gets included with the concert DVD. It’s great to see the band get down and have a good time.

SOS-171111-57The band still has one more performance this season, the Dayton Children’s Parade on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It’s quite a show. Everyone in the band strings Christmas lights on their instruments. Ben uses LED lights on his trombone so it really stands out. If they spin their trombones in the parade, it should look spectacular. I’m not sure how Abigail will attach lights to her cymbals.

Projects I’ve been working on
We had a couple of really cold nights recently and the leaves fell from the trees pretty much all at once. It took a couple of days but I got all my leaves moved to the curb where the city will eventually come around with their leaf sucking truck. To move the leaves from the back yard, I get them into a big pile and then move them onto a big tarp and drag them to the curb. It”s a lot easier than blowing and raking them the entire distance.

My Linux desktop began to get a little more flaky and locking up unexpectedly at least a couple times a day. I’ve always had some minor issues with Linux Mint on this particular computer. I think there may have been a few compatibility issues with the AMD chipset. I looked around online for a suitable refurbished desktop PC and found a Lenovo M91p at Micro Center in Cincinnati at a reasonable price. It was advertised with a 500GB hard drive and while getting system information prior to installing Linux, I discovered that it actually had a 2TB drive. My lucky day! With that much disk space I decided to keep the Windows 10 installation and dual boot it with Linux. (I had originally intended to delete Windows.)

I had set up a similar computer for my wife a while back so I swapped some memory bringing her computer down from 24GB to 16MB and taking mine from it’s original 8GB to 16GB. Once I’d done a backup of of my old PC I took its memory and brought the new system up to 32GB. Once set up, I did some tweaking and it’s running pretty nicely. I still haven’t brought up and configured the Windows 10 partition. I’m not in any particular hurry as I’m not particularly found of Windows 10 though I like it better than 8. When I have to use Windows, I use 7.

2017-11-12I’m not sure that this is a project but I’ve been seeing friends on Facebook doing a black-and-white photo challenge. Though I haven’t been challenged, I thought the idea was interesting so I began taking and posting a daily black-and-white photo. This has kind of renewed my appreciation for the medium of black-and-white which I believe is a very underrated and powerful medium.

Something I learned recently
While getting a haircut earlier this week, I told the stylist that I parted my hair on the right. She explained to me how my natural part was actually on the left and proceeded to show me how parting it on the left let my hair fall naturally and that by parting it on the right, I had to force it to stay in place since it was going against its natural inclination. And to think I’ve been parting my hair on the right for as long as I can remember, for over 50 years. She cut it so that I could part it on either side and decide which I preferred. So far, going with the natural part seems to be working well for me.

Quotes I’ve been pondering
“You don’t have to explain your dreams, they belong to you.” ~ Paulo Coelho
“No man remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself.” ~ Thomas Mann

Veteran’s Day 2017

an_usflagEnlistment Oath:
“I (state name of enlistee), so solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justices. So help me God.” (10 U.S.C. § 502)

At several times in my military career I stood before a commissioned officer and the flag, raised my right hand, repeated that oath, and signed a four year contract.

For 20 years I served to defend the Constitution and what it represents. Part of that service was to support national policies as determined by whichever President I was serving under. I did not serve and obey blindly; I knew what I was getting into (at least after the first enlistment). I didn’t always agree with national policy or my assigned mission but I did my duty and fulfilled my obligations.

My motives were not selfless. I was not motivated by ideas of patriotism or being part of something bigger. When I first enlisted, I was unemployed and couldn’t afford college. By enlisting I’d have a steady job for four years, maybe see some of the world and learn a skill, and I’d have the GI Bill for college. I made it a career because it was a good life overall and I had a family to support. My reasons for retiring when I did were personal as well, and I won’t go into them here.

I wasn’t defending freedom per se, but the Constitution and the principles behind it. I believe in those principles. Freedom isn’t free but it doesn’t come from soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen fighting in some desert or jungle halfway around the world. Freedom comes from ordinary citizens responsibly exercising their Constitutional rights and holding their government officials, both elected and appointed, accountable to the citizenry.

Foreign powers and ideologies do not pose the greatest threat to the Constitution. The greatest threat is domestic. We, the citizens of the United States of America, pose the greatest threat to the Constitution when we don’t responsibly exercise our rights and hold our government accountable.

We have become complacent. Whenever we fail to show up at the polls on Election Day, informed about the candidates and the issues, we are voting to accept the aftermath of that election. By not placing your vote you are effectively voting to surrender your rights and liberties. No elected official that serves his or her own interests or those of special interests ahead of their constituency deserves to be in office.

In this century we have already lost too many freedoms and liberties to our complacency and our willingness to hand over our freedom for the illusion of safety and security? Look around you. Are you any safer now than you were 17 years ago? If anything you are probably in greater danger now.

We need to stop being afraid because being afraid and being free are mutually exclusive. Defend the Constitution from its domestic enemies by exercising your rights in an informed and responsible manner. That’s how you should show your appreciation for any veteran’s service.