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.

11-10-17 Update

Events I attended
On Friday night I watched half of the high school’s playoff game which, unfortunately, they lost. But I did get the see the band perform the half-time show in their Halloween costumes. Several members of the percussion section dressed as blind referees and one of them wandered around the field with a white cane.

On Saturday I got invited to a birthday party for one of my wife’s friends because there would be other husbands there who might need someone to talk to. We didn’t talk much, just watched a lot of college football, more football than I’d watched in a very long time. But there was plenty of good food, so that was a plus.

Then on Sunday we went to a farewell party for one of our Sayaw FilipinOH friends who returned to the Philippines today. She’s completed her studies here but she promised she’d be back. She’ll be missed.

What I’m reading
I’m still reading Dreams of Awakening by Charlie Morley though I haven’t devoted much time to it this week.

Project I’m working on
My aging desktop computer was showing signs of its obsolescence so I bit the bullet and did an upgrade. I found a refurbished desktop PC online and I drove down to the outskirts of Cincinnati to pick it up. Once I got it home, I went about adding more memory and loading Linux on it. I’ve got my data moved and I’m still working out a few issues with it. If there’s anything I’ve learned in 25 years of computer maintenance, it’s that there is no such thing as an easy upgrade. There’s always something that bites you in the ass.

11-03-17 Update

What I’m reading
I’ve been reading Dreams of Awakening: Lucid Dreaming and Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep by Charlie Morley on my Kindle. It’s quite engaging, especially with its spiritual aspect (Tibetan Buddhism). I’m taking notes so it will probably take me a while.

Events I attended
On Friday, my wife, granddaughter and I attended the Philippine-American Association of Dayton’s Halloween party. I went as a monk. When asked what order I was from, I responded with “Out of Order” because no one seemed to get it when I answered “The Order of Gnostic Heretics.” I was worried that I might be asked to give the benediction. I had nothing prepared and anything I might have come up with probably would have considered blasphemous. Fortunately, I was not called upon. There were a lot of great costumes and lots of good food.

Things I’ve watched
I just started my free trial of Hulu and the first thing I watched was the first seven episodes of The Orville, a Star Trek like series created by Seth McFarlane. Other than that, I’m finding it difficult to find anything that seems to interest me. I have the same experience with Netflix.

Quotes I’m pondering

“The art of knowing is knowing what to ignore.” ~ Rumi

“Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake.” ~ Carl Sagan

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