Spring 2018 random notes

I ordered the book Homecoming by John Bradshaw tonight. I checked http://finderscheapers.com for prices, but pretty much ignored that website. It listed two used bookstore services I have accounts with, http://alibris.com and http://abebooks.com Alibris lost the sale because their checkout screen failed. Amazon, I avoid on principle.

I conjured up some one-time-use credit card numbers. They’re great for online purchases because they put a (lower) limit on the risk from bad people stealing my information from a vendor’s databases. It comes from Bank of America’s “ShopSafe” which is a service on their online banking site.

I got a long, relaxing nap this afternoon/evening. I woke up at 7:05 which was a little late for some events I wanted to go to that started at 7. I could have gone late, but I chose not to.

I really like my new sofa. The old one was tore up by my cats. I’d had it for years. I have been having trouble with back pain sitting on the old one so I needed to take action. Thanks mom!

I’ve got to the Y three days in a row which is a big accomplishment for me.

I made an appointment for Friday with the nurse with my cardiologist. I am concerned how badly winded I got moving the furniture with my dad. It shows that blood pressure might be an wishful explanation of my cardiac condition. I was upset the cardiologist had let my blood pressure be dangerously high for months while he said it was ok. I canceled my last appointment in March when I finally forced the issue. At that time, he told me my goal level was quite below those levels. Right now it is quite consistently a good number. It’s in the universally recommended range so I’m happier…. Also that I’m only taking one medication instead of the 2+ that I’d been taking until March.

There’s an famous-ish song Dragostea din tei that had a viral video that made it famous. Back when I first learned about the song, I found a musician Craig Anstey https://www.youtube.com/user/Canstey84 on youtube that had done a cover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFonM543atg of it. I have a copy of his cover that I have for making a mix tape (BQM XVII). It’s not a literal translation of the lyrics, but its text is well known.

My last cousin is engaged. The wedding is Sept. 15. We’ll all be packing up and going to Louisiana for the festivities. Of the 15 in our generation I’ll be the only one not married and it is most likely going to stay that way. There’s also been only 2 divorces among us which is a point of pride for me — of the 6 pairs of married aunts and uncles, they have a combined 300+ years married.

On the most recent royal wedding in Great Britain I liked that the officiator of the wedding said “I proclaim them man and wife.” I don’t think “proclaim” is used much (at least it sounds more elevated than the language I remember from my family’s weddings.)

I was able to run the media for my church this week. I had someone behind me helping my confidence. There were a couple of places where he suggested I black the screen that I didn’t notice on my own. The social media feed was a little messy to turn off, but I remembered the right way to do that so it was not broken for long.

I guess I’ve typed enough….

Violences

Thought bubbleI was reflecting recently about different forms of violence. Some of them are pretty obvious: killing someone, attacking a person with a firearm, knife or club. Shouting at and belittling a person is easy to count as violence as well.

There are more subtle forms of violence. One form attacks, instead of a person, a relationship. By backbiting between two people, it’s possible to poison the relationship, violate trust and companionship. Gossip can be considered a form of violence, striking the victim from behind their back. Violence against a relationship can take varied forms, but it often kills or injures trust.

I realized that their are further forms of violence not visible from the outside. One can attack or berate a person from within your imagination. You can wish they would suffer harm or die, but not take any steps to plan to carry that out. These inner violences can still have negative consequences because they can be reflected in interactions with the other person… acting cold or rude in a manner not characteristic with other people. One can reveal the negative attitude when talking to other people about the target.

One further form of violence is against oneself. That can include suicide and physical self harm. Through self-sabotage, one can thwart ones potential by giving up too easily because of inner voices saying you’re no good, you’re not worth it, you don’t deserve any good things.

The form of violence that I’m most prone to is the latter kind. I project from my past what will happen next. My pattern-recognition is so attuned to detecting negative qualities of myself that I find fault in many things.

I didn’t recognize it as violence until I was writing a letter to a friend and thinking about how I treat myself. I’m most certainly rarely a good friend to myself. It’s hard for me to accept and forgive my mistakes because I can focus blame on the things I do as I participate in my life.

One poignant way that this has played out in the past is insecurity on relationships. I have a much too sensitive hair trigger on rejection. Although I am getting better, I still worry that I’ve done something wrong when i don’t reach someone for a while. Either I did some slight to make the person reject me or they don’t want my friendship anymore. I attack myself and usually no criticism is even necessary, just my hypersensitivity.

Being famous vs. being important

A thumbtackFor a while I’ve imagined that I’d like to be famous. It’s easy to see plenty of examples of famous people in the news. You see their glamour, the attention they get. I can imagine that that attention is what I need.

When I reflect a little, though, I see a lot of downsides of being famous. People see you for your fame and not as a person. I would need to be careful to not hurt friends that don’t want all of the attention. My beat up car, messy yard and deficient house cleaning could lead to a callous remark in the grocery line.

Impermanence is one strike on the heart that shows why being famous is a down. You write the awesome novel. Then what? If you don’t write another, you’ve become a flash-in-the-pan. Your academic work is lauded in textbooks. If in 20 years, an unexpected discovery overturns all of your scholarship, the fame fades quickly. If you made a mistake, even more so.

Selective vision is another strike. Who will really care that you have a life-long commitment to support the local civic club once you’ve create a substantial industry? Incidents where where a president answered a child’s letter with compassion and kindness are lost behind the glamour of a successful career in politics. In the end, a celebrity has their life’s work washed down to one paragraph in an obituary.

Superficiality strikes darkly at fame’s aura. A famous person could really proud of something small, but in fame, it would be pushed from their mind. Their one giant success will blot out the little things that meant more before fame hit. To most, a famous person is little more that the avatar for their social media.

Fame is a very fickle mistress who has an insatiable appetite for more.

Being important is not so negating.

I can be important in many different ways. What is important to me is based on my values and experience. If I’m important to someone else, it means that our paths crossed in some way. I can be grateful that I said this right thing or listened at that right moment.

A small effort of kindness, really nothing in my eyes, could make a lot of difference in someone’s life. It could allow them to make a difference to others I’ll never meet

If I am important, I don’t have the expectation that I keep up the poseur’s show to protect any fleeting fame.

I can be important without any demands on my time. It doesn’t matter that I won’t be important tomorrow. I can go back to bed and do something important the following day.

House version 2.0

For several months, my bedroom was a shambles. I had hired someone to rip out the plaster and replace it with drywall. Unfortunately, he wasn’t qualified and left the place a mess. He had planned to do more work to finish it, but the quality wasn’t satisfactory. My bedroom was on standby as I slept in my living room for several months.

I was hospitalized in March for 10 days. Mom and dad made the room livable again. However, mom was operating under the direction “do not throw anything away” while also not knowing what different things were for or how to organize them.

She did her best, but one person’s organization can be another person’s chaos. I’m rearranging things in a big way–my vision is that it will be better than the original ever could be.

I’ve got various goals. One is to turn the house into a refuge from the storm for people needing help. I’ve already failed at having people stay with me, so that’s not an option. However, housing is not the only refuge people might need.

I’m hoping the living room can become a party room. While a typical party has loud music and posing, I’m hoping for the opportunity for small groups of people to share something unique. The current kitchen might double a room for people to meet in private.

The bedroom and office are in flux. On one hand, I’d like the current bedroom to be an office. I’ve got a map, but it would be cramped and the current computer room would become a bedroom and library. That’s a middle term goal while my primary goal is to close down my storage unit which costs about $40 per month. I’d also like to create a place for producing music and videos.

The expensive goals are to fix the plumbing, electrical outlets and lighting. This month I need to get a lot of quotes on the many different sub-projects.

I have big hopes and am looking forward to getting stability in what is currently very shaky. I’m tending toward having a tent theme to the house where the rooms will not be divided by modern plaster. I’d rather have a form that harks back to humanity’s experience as wanderers in a big world. Our world is hard to understand. Making something simple seems worthwhile.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma and Kobayashi Maru

An Octopus

At group today, I found a way to Kobayashi Maru the prisoner’s dilemma.

The prisoner’s dilemma is an example in game theory that has no obvious solution. John and Frank were arrested for an alleged robbery, in our example, a warehouse. The idea is that the two prisoner’s are separated and interrogated independently by the police. The police say that if you confess and implicate the other person, you’ll only get 1 year in prison and the other will get 20, but if both of you confess, you’ll both get 10 years.

The prisoner’s dilemma that pits loyalty against self-preservation. There isn’t any clear way to behave. It’s a test of character and the relationship between two people.

Kobayashi Maru is a famous incident in Star Trek history. It’s a simulation of a battle with the Klingons. Basically, the captain can’t win and will end up dying along with the rest of his crew.

Kirk, famously, cheated and reprogrammed the simulator to let him win.

So me and my partner come up with a backstory to the alleged crime. The two of us had been friends since 7th grade. When were were 20, we went to prison because of a automobile theft. Now the pair was 35. About a month before the arrest and warehouse incident, we’d had a falling out because of a mutual love interest.

So, my out-of-the-box solution: I confessed that I had done it, but the other person was innocent. He had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time and it was actually a third person who was my co-conspirator in the robbery. In my mind when we played out the game, I was telling the truth and not just making up a story for the friend. But, regardless, I think it would blow out of the water any deal that the police had proposed.

In the experiment that we did today, the other person confessed as well, so according to the rules of the dilemma, we would both get 10 years in prison. The group leader didn’t reveal my actual note….

In summary, I had used my loyalty to my friend to help him out. It threw the whole situation in the air so that a prosecutor be required to sort it all out and the police wouldn’t have the tidy mutual confession.

It certainly would not be good for me in my solution. I used my loyalty to my friend to, potentially, put my life at risk. If the third person was vengeful, he could easily arrange for me to be killed.

So, I broke the dilemma, just as Kirk had broke the Kobayashi Maru simulation.

An open letter to Jimmy Carter

I wish a falling star
would light that perfect candle.
Its wick would consume the darkness
and its fragrance perfume the night.

Faith does not regret its weakness
because its firm foundation is hope.
Our horizons are lighted by its joy
and its love glows all around us.

Each war must end one day
despite their evil power.
If rulers bare their steely eyes,
let our light blind their stare.

The swords of love and faith
can cut them from the story.
They should have no page to find
when history’s book is seen.

We have the tools to light that candle.
We have the pens to write the story.
We have love.
We have faith.
We have joy.
We have hope.

Dear Jimmy Carter,

Although the world loves its money and power, I believe the prayers of a child are a better guide. When they sing, they have no fear. When they hope, how can we explain the hate?

The boy from Cyprus can love a girl from Bogota. The child in Zanzibar could kiss the elders of Harbin.

To find a new world is all they ask: A world where children cry out of love and compassion and not sorrow or fear. It is a world that we can give them. Let no one take it away.

May God bless you this day!

Holy week is unique in 2018

On April 1, 2010 I had a cardiac arrest at work. I was able to survive, but have been disabled since them. Despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to work and the biggest long term accomplishment is that I’ve lived independently since then. Considering the length of time I was on CPR before my heart rhythm was restored, that’s no small matter, although I tend to take it for granted.

In addition, I was never in a coma and woke up the next day which was Good Friday. I had no broken ribs from the CPR and had no coronary artery disease when they did the heart catheterization.

This year, the 8th anniversary of the crisis, April 1 is Easter. That’s hard not to notice and it has a symbolic significance, if nothing else. Some of my friends with special dates such as the date of a death in the family, getting off drugs and alcohol or a divorce, the period leading up to the anniversary can be difficult.

This month I had a psychiatric crisis and was in the hospital for 10 days. Although it was triggered by a medication change, the day before my admission, my computers were doing impossible things. For example, one spontaneously started playing a recording of an learning day event I had recorded from a couple years ago. I do not even know where the files are and the tablet playing them had never had the audio files on them. One computer had the icons in the task bar counting in binary and there were other peculiar things as well. It was more than I could handle at the time and I haven’t looked very closely at it either–I don’t need to freak out again thinking dark agencies were at work against me. There were more than 8 files identified as being corrupted with viruses on my laptop and it was too much. However, I didn’t fold, throw down the cards and run.

It freaked me out extremely. As the last day unfolded, I became unable to do even some basic tasks like organize my medication tray. I discovered when I got home that some medications were causing bad effects when I took them.

This years, the weeks leading up to Easter are turning out to be difficult. Despite my decreased level of functioning (Now it *is* an accomplishment to be living independently), I’m hopeful that I can begin working again. No one has told me that it is not realistic, but they don’t want to dash my hopes. As a result, I haven’t got feedback how it’s unlikely that I’ll succeed, but I notice that unlikely and impossible are not the same.

I’m really thin emotionally and get sad and weepy really easily. I also have a lot more empathic understanding and am really good a recognizing other people’s challenges and try to help them as much as I can in a kind manner when I can.

I’ve made it through difficult times in the past and never given up trying to reach a fulfilling life. I have a lot of strengths, but putting it all together isn’t possible (today). I don’t have to run from my painful experiences and have faith that they are leading me forward. Easter is a celebration of rebirth and new beginnings.

I hope that I have a similar experience.