Starting a new year

It’s been quite a while since I checked in here. The holidays were good. I brought in the new year with a group of friends but I missed bringing it in with family.

I’ve been having mixed success with my goals and intentions for the new year but I guess that’s to be expected. I’m trying to get back into my yoga practice and other physical exercise. So far, the exercise is going better than the yoga but I’m determined to make a go of it. My meditation practice slipped a bit during the holidays too but I was getting back in the groove on that. Actually, going back to work has thrown it all into disarray.

I’m sure that getting back into the habit of these practices will help with lucid dreams by helping me find the mindset and energy to foster my dreams. I hope so because I’ve been in kind of a dream slump lately. Recently I recalled two dreams in one night and one morning I recalled bits of what might have been three dreams. Lately I’ve noticed that sometimes when I wake from a dream and before I open my eyes, I’ll try to replay the dream in my mind to commit it to memory before I write it down. What often happens is that random and obscure waking life memories will intrude upon the dream memories and soon I’m unable to tell them apart. All I’ll be left with is a vague idea of what the dream was about.

The biggest change for me so far this year has been employment. I’ve been retired for almost two years so I haven’t been looking for a job. Last week I was contacted by my supervisor with the company I was previously with. They’re starting up a new project in the area and he was reaching out to the old crew to see if there was any interest. They’re on board with me working part-time though I said I could work full-time for a while to get the project off the ground. Since they’ve already paid out my employee stock option, I’d have to pay it back if I went back as a full-time employee. I don’t want to do that.

Now that I’m two weeks into the project I’m starting to have a few reservations. Going back to work after 20 months or so of retirement has been a big adjustment. I had enjoyed quite a bit of freedom to do whatever I want and I’m giving up a lot of that, at least temporarily. I’m still adjusting to getting up in the morning and commuting. However, one thing is different from other jobs. I’m working because I want to, not because I need to, and that’s a big difference. If I decide that that I don’t want to do it any longer I can quit with relatively few repercussions.

Since I had documented my processes during the previous project, my team lead wants me to do the same for this project. It’s not as easy as it would appear. Before I’d documented the processes I’d been doing and refining over several years. This time I’m trying to write the processes from scratch as we are developing them. That takes a different strategy and it’s harder to visualize.

weird-shit

“You can only come to the morning through the shadows.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

“Here in your mind you have complete privacy. Here there’s no difference between what is and what could be.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk

The ancestor of every action is a thought.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Spiritual Laws

“We can never see past the choices we don’t understand.” – The Oracle, The Matrix Reloaded

“Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat.” ~ Audre Lorde

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Penultimate Day – 2017

It’s been an interesting year. Whoever coined the phrase, “May you live in interesting times” probably could not have foreseen 2017. We are, indeed, living in interesting times and I’m sure the next few years will be just as interesting, if not more so.

But now to summarize the year I had. It was interesting but mostly in a good way. I managed to keep most of my ranting confined to my private journal though I did make public some of my commentary on Mankind’s War on Nature.

Throughout the year I supported my grandchildren’s various activities. I worked in the concession stand with my son to support the marching band and drove my granddaughter to Sayaw FilipinOH practices and performances.. My wife and I hosted a graduation party for my eldest grandson. They’re growing up so quickly. I still vividly recall holding them has babies.

I found myself becoming more involved in the local Filipino community, attending numerous events and being asked to assist in administering social media and web platforms for a couple of Filipino and Asian groups. I’ll be getting more involved in those things in the coming year. I’m going to have to learn Tagalog. I think it’s going to be an essential skill.

This year I attended my 45th high school reunion. It was a low-key affair and since the class 60th birthday bash three years ago, we’ve been getting together annually. I think I attended three weddings but, thankfully, no funerals.

I did more reading this year on my Kindle, ebooks, online magazines, and actual paper books. Topics were diverse and included BASH scripting, quantum physics, naturist fiction, yoga and spirituality, British history, witchcraft in New England, the Children’s Blizzard, lucid dreaming, and Harry Potter.

I’ve been viewing an eclectic mix of stuff on YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu. I’ve watched a lot of documentaries on a myriad of subjects and I’ve binge-watched a few series although there were a few series that I watched for a while and stopped watching for various reasons. A lot of those that I stopped viewing were starting to bore me with the same old story lines, characters stopped developing, or the plots were just getting too incredulous or predictable. I’ve almost completely stopped watching a lot of talk and news shows because I was getting tired of hearing the same basic rants. Generally, I don’t place much value in simply being entertained, I like learning stuff.

What about 2018? I’ll continue to pursue the elusive lucid dream. I find it interesting and I see in it a lot of potential for personal growth. I’m interested in exploring my shadow and seeing what’s there. If I’m to believe all the self-help gurus out there, then I’ve been missing out on a lot damage and trauma. Even if I’m not there are still a lot of mysteries lying around in my unconscious that need looking into.

12-22-17 Update

There isn’t much to report this week. I’ve temporarily put Queens Consort: England’s Medieval Queens aside and started reading Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol again. Though I’ve read it before I’m finding parts that I seem to be reading for the first time. Is that due to failing memory or because I’m reading it again from a slightly different perspective?. It’s always been one of my favorite Christmas stories and I’ve enjoyed several film adaptations of the novel.

Although George C. Scott (1984) played the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge quite well, I’m partial to Alistair Sim’s portrayal in the 1951 black-and-white film, A Christmas Carol (Scrooge in the UK). That film is fairly close to the book and black-and-white is the proper medium to tell the story. I also like the 1938 version which featured Gene and Kathleen Lockhart as Bob and Mrs. Cratchit. Their daughter June played Belinda Cratchit (uncredited). Some may remember June Lockhart from Lassie and Lost in Space on television.

Alistair_Sims
Alistair Sim as Ebeneezer Scrooge (1951)

Much of my time this past week has been preparing for the December 25th deadline – gifts, gift-wrapping, food for the big day, etc. There have been parties to attend each week. I had an opportunity to attend a clothing-optional party on Saturday but I passed on it in order to bake cookies and spend time with my grandchildren. I probably would have enjoyed the party but I have other priorities.

Since my granddaughter is spending the weekend with her other grandmother, she got her birthday presents from us three days early. Because her birthday is Christmas Eve, I always try to put a little more thought into her birthday present. This year I got her a drum practice pad which she loved. She’s a percussionist in the school band so it will really come in handy.

With the new year rapidly approaching I’m starting to collect my thoughts for my Penultimate Day blog entries. Penultimate Day is an observance I came up with several years ago as a day to reflect upon the previous year and to consider goals and resolutions for the coming year.

Quotes I’m pondering
“There are some upon this earth of yours who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are strange to us and our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings to themselves, not us.”
Ghost of Christmas Present, from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

“Christmas spirit transcends religion.”
R.B. Romig

“It is not necessary to be a Christian to keep Christmas or the spirit of the holiday in your heart. The season does not need a specific reason; it exists independently. So let us each celebrate the season in our own way and endeavor to keep the season in our heart all year long.”
R.B. Romig

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

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
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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