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

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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

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.

10-27-17 Update

What I’m reading
I finished my notes for Lucid Dreaming, Plain and Simple and began reading Charlie Morley’s first book, Dreams of Awakening: Lucid Dreaming and Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep. So far I’m finding it quite interesting, maybe it has something to do with his more spiritual (Tibetan Buddhism) perspective on the subject.

What I’ve been watching
I was sick one day this past week so I spent much of the day either in bed or a recliner watching the television, particularly Netflix. My daughter-in-law had recommended that I watch Sausage Party so I took advantage of the opportunity and viewed it. I’d probably seen a trailer for it on TV and I figured it was a CGI-animated frat-boy movie where a bunch of guys get drunk and try to get laid. It was nothing like that, nothing at all. I can’t really describe it yet I thoroughly enjoyed it – beliefs meet reality.

I also watched a series called Norsemen. Again, I didn’t quite know what to expect. The program description on Netflix – “The residents of an 8th-century Viking village experience political rivalry, social change and innovations that upend their culture and way of life.” – kind of led me to think it might be a documentary. It turned out to be a Norwegian sitcom and a very funny one at that. I later learned that when they filmed the series, they shot every scene twice, once in Norwegian and then again in English. I’m hoping Netflix will pick up the second season.

Quotes I’m pondering
“No costume that has ever been invented is equal in comfort to perfect nakedness.” ~ C. Crawford (1881)

“Lying naked on a beach is still a source of suspicion and contempt.” ~ Unknown

“The demand that we always wear clothing while in society causes at least four kinds of alienation: it alienates us from ourselves, from others, from nature, and from the Divine.” ~ Mark Storey

 

Just a little rant, quit nagging me

I have a small irritation about social media, particularly Facebook and some blogs. Whenever I “like” or make a comment on a post, I get inundated with notifications and emails about other people commenting on the same post. That I commented on a post doesn’t imply that I’m interested in anyone else’s commentary on it because I’m probably not. I said what I wanted to say about it and I’m done with it. I don’t really give a rat’s ass whether or not anybody agrees with me. I’m not seeking affirmation, my personal worth and self-image are not dependent upon anyone’s approval. If I’m interested in the discussion I’ll follow it at my leisure.

07-14-17 Update

What I’m reading
I finished reading The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlsen. I found it interesting and quite informative. Although these witch trails occurred over 300 years ago, I see similarities in the way the conservative movement’s attempts to regulate women’s heath care and reproductive rights. In America we have nearly a 400 year history of fearing independent women and and in the current regime that fear is as prevalent as it was in the 17th century.

Our society still holds centuries old assumptions about women’s place in society and how they ought to behave. We also have a deeply embedded tendency in our society to hold women ultimately responsible for violence committed against them. That tendency and those assumptions still grip us as much today as they did in 17th century New England. However, that paradigm seems to be in its death throes and the longstanding patriarchy is desperately trying to hold on to them as women continue to voice their discontent and dissatisfaction. I say good riddance to it.

I’m now reading Lucid Dreaming by Charlie Morley. I’ve had an interest in the subject and I want to learn more about it. I’m finding that it’s not as easy as I’d thought it would be. Maybe I’ve perceiving it as more difficult than it is or I just need more practice and open my mind to it.

What I’ve been listening to
This week I listened an episode of Star Talk Radio, called Let’s Make America Smart Again. The discussion talked about what draws scientific talent to a university or a country for that matter. It’s not necessarily about the money but rather the quality and intelligence of the colleagues and post graduate students they work with. By cutting funding to public universities and dumbing them down, we do our nation a great disservice. We can make America great by shoring up its educational institutions, particularly in public education and by making Americans smart.

We become great by attracting greatness and being in the company of greatness. We cannot create greatness on our own. We are not great because we declared ourselves to be great but because the world perceives us a great.

What I’ve been watching
Though it’s in the ‘chick-flick’ genre, I recently watched the first season of Anne with an E on NetFlix. It started with my granddaughter wanting to watch it and I kind of got hooked.

Quotes I’ve been pondering
“The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.” ~ Aung San Suu Kyi

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” ~ Aung San Suu Kyi

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today is National Nude Day and this week is Nude Recreation Week. I don’t have any particular plans for these occasions. I really don’t need a special day or week, just a place and an opportunity. Here are  a few related quotes:

“Nudism is about comfort, freedom, friendship, and acceptance. Nudism is a way of life and a belief that the nude human body is not inherently sexual or obscene. We only have one body and one life to live. We should learn to accept ourselves and others as they are and for who they are.” ~ Anna Smith

“Don’t be so serious. Don’t make nudism a religion. It is a thing of joy. Try to get some joy into your own system! Let it overflow, so that it may spread among your friends!” ~ Julian Strange (1934)

“Why should we think nudity is such a revolting thing in a land where there is so much violence and corruption and racism and hatred? Nudity seems like a welcome relief from all the bullshit in life.” ~ Anthony Kiedis