Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Addicted to Happiness and Sunshine

Addicted to Happiness and Sunshine

Whenever I go to Florida or Central America, I find that I am happy.  Yes, I admit it.  I love warm breezes and sunshine.  I don’t even mind the occasional rain, whether a drizzle or a downpour, if it is warm.  A warm rain is wonderful.  It’s like a tepid shower at a health spa.  I don’t think anything really feels quite as cleansing as a long walk in a calm rain.

Then it stops and the sun cracks through the clouds and maybe it gets a bit steamy and begins to dry everything.  It is simply wonderful.  There are the bugs; you have your spiders and snakes and minor annoyances like that.  There are inconveniences in everything.  And that’s how I like to view those things.

Actually I am fascinated by snakes.  Sure the super-poisonous viper type snakes frighten me.  Although I also have to admit to considerable ignorance on that subject.  I truly would not know a deadly viper from a garden snake.  Unless I happen to be in the company of an expert on snakes, I leave them alone.  Like mushrooms; if you don’t know what you are doing, best to just look, admire and leave alone.

Now spiders are another matter.  I am also fascinated by spiders, especially the really big ones.  And being aware that the bigger they tend to be, the harder it is for them to actually hurt a human.  It’s the really little plain looking ones that are the most deadly.  The ones you don’t see until it’s too late.  I have had a number of spider bites from those guys and whoah!  They do hurt.  Getting treatment is pretty much mandatory.

But a reasonably healthy person can recover without too much permanent damage.  What you gotta do is educate yourself on where those kind of spiders tend to hang-out, and avoid those places.  Like Black Widow spiders.  Black Widows like untraveled out-of-the-way darkish places.  Very distinctive looking, with the red hour-glass abdomens, but they are slow as slugs.  Their webs are easily recognized by the crazy insane patterns and are extremely strong and sticky.  In warm to hot climates, anywhere that is dark and unswept for any period of time WILL have a Black Widow in residence.  So you just need to dust and sweep a lot and help them into the next incarnation when found.

And then why is it that in the warm and sunshiney places are the people so much friendlier?  Smiley with a tendency to be helpful and just a tad more polite.  At least in my experience. 

There are paths wherever you go.  Paths that will avoid much of the bug, snake, etc. (alligators) and other matters that can inflict conflict.  I find it’s fairly easy to find those paths, if you just allow yourself to tune in to them.  Maybe it’s a matter of looking for the tiny bit of extra sunshine you can catch just out of the corner of your eye.  It’s there, I swear.  I think a big part of it is giving yourself the allowance of just being happy.  That might seem to be obvious, but is it?  I have found I have to work at it a little bit.


Monday, January 26, 2015

On Becoming a Wüss …

On Becoming a Wüss …

I admit it.  Today I have to admit it, I have become a wüss, or would that be whuss – in American – or maybe woos.  Mostly we say pussy, meaning a sort of a weakling or a weeny.  Or, when the going gets tough, a wüss sits down and takes a nap.  The internal dialogue says, “Nah, that’s too much trouble.  Looks uncomfortable.”

It’s a beautiful January day here in southern Virginia.  Relatively warm.  Sunny.  No real wind.  I got up thinking, “It’s Sunday.  I could ride my bike to the coffee shop.  Weather looks perfect.”

Then I thought, “Well-l-l, it is a little cold.  Just a trifle chilly.  I’ll have to put on my riding chaps, wear the heavy leather bike jacket.  I dunno.  I really don’t feel like going through all that … “  So I used my car.  Chickened out.  Wüssed on the bike.

I used to ride even if it was cold, really cold.  After decades I actually finally bought a pair of insulated chaps.  For years I just rode with frozen legs.  Just did it.  Too cheap to spend the money on upgrading my comfort level.  I finally bought a windshield.  Years and years riding what bikers call naked, or without a windshield – the wind just blasting into your face and chest.  That made a cold ride freezing.  There were days I’d have to stop at 7/11s every ten miles to warm up.  My hands just frozen blocks.

It can take any extra ten minutes to gear up to ride a motorcycle in the colder seasons.  A lot of the time, by the time, I actually throw a leg over the tank, I’m sweating buckets with all that gear on.  I hate that.  But that’s a side issue.

Of course for years I either didn’t have a car – yes, no car – or the car I had was a real piece of shit truck.  True red-neck p.o.s. pickup.  Damn!  I hated that truck.  It drove like a weasel on greased tile, ground in every gear, sometimes it wouldn’t shift at all.  I’d have to double-clutch it into every gear.  Reverse would just block itself out.  The inside smelled like a wet dog – all the time!, no matter what I did to de-aromarize (defume) (get the smell out of) it.  Thick oily grunge on the floor.  Some kind of damp hoarder pile of stuff behind the seat.

So, in essence, I had to ride the bike.  But now I do have a really nice little two-door high gas mileage nifty cartoon car.  I really like it.  I don’t have to spend so much sweaty time strapping my laptop case onto the sissy bar and stuffing extra cold weather gear in the saddlebags.  Worrying the whole time that all the expensive computer stuff is going to stay put.  The worth of the equipment in that briefcase exceeds the worth of the damned motorcycle.  – Really.  That’s a fact. -  And the briefcase is not waterproof.  It’s not even water-resistant.  Tears would go right through it.

It makes it tough to get on the bike some days, just because the car is so much more comfortable and convenient.  I can throw my computer stuff in the back, along with my workout stuff.  Just carry a lot more stuff and if I want to go into a store, I can just lock the car.  When I’m on the bike I always take the fifty pound computer bag with me, and I do have a bad back.  Ouchies!

It’s not just riding the motorcycle too.  I used to be quite a tough guy.  I’ve skied all day what it was -60 (with wind chill).  Yes, the whole day.  Days when the mountain was more like a vertical hockey rink than any kind of snow cover.  When I was a ski coach, I had training days when we played football in knee-deep snow.  Lots of things like that.  I’ve kayaked in storms with five-foot waves coming in my face.  I’ve kayaked in blizzards – before the big lake froze over, of course (like in early November).
I complained to my wife for years about not having winter riding gear.  So when the weather changed this year, I pulled out my dusty wallet, took out my shiny looking credit card (which is like not at all new) and bought winter gear.  I got the insulated chaps.  I got the windshield.  I got the hundred dollar winter gloves.  I got the thick leather high riding boots.
And I turned into a weather pussy.  ???
I blame it on finally getting a nicer car.  I mean now, I’m always thinking, “Why suffer, if I don’t have to?”  Still, it’s a true rush riding the bike.  I’ve become kind of bipolar about my transportation.  Is that a bad thing?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Deep Knowledge v. Knowing A Lot About …

Deep Knowledge v. Knowing A Lot About …

To know something means … what?
To know a lot about something, say a particular thing – like, “I know a lot about movies.” Does this mean you have deep knowledge of that thing?

acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition:

Now, of course I first went to my favorite authority on everything Wikipedia, which said, Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning.”  A definition I prefer.

I also went to the Oxford Dictionary of English, but the ODE refused to let me have access to a search without signing up and logging in.  I am soooo tired of having my name and email tagged into a million web sites.  I wonder when these guys who force you to set up accounts for any kind of service, at all, are going to realize that almost everyone who does this, uses a junk email address.  An email account that you never ever check, because it’s all just spam and crap.  So screw the ODE. 

Side note: 
With all the information and data that is available today on the Internet, who is to say what, or which, of any of it is totally factual – or even mostly accurate?
With a simple search line, you can get thousands of volunteer answers to anything.  If you bother to check the sources of each source it’s like watching your curiosity spiral down a toilet of frustration.

I believe the only real thing left is to use your own personal sense of reason and logic.  Plus with all the data that’s available at the touch of a qwerty keyboard, the whole concept becomes like is often said about statistics, “You can prove anything with statistics.”  (I have no idea who said that first, but it wasn’t me.)  I think today you could say the same thing about research, or even knowledge for that matter. 

Under the right circumstance, in the right conditions, you could prove “pigs can fly”.
Look for the connections.  A pig is a mammal.  A bat is a mammal.  Somewhere in the evolutionary circle, they had a common ancestor.  Etc..  I am surprised it hasn’t shown up yet, but somebody is going to strap a hang glider on a pig and you’ll see the video on YouTube.  It won’t be an American though, because if anybody did that in this country, the Animal Rights people would just simply shit their pants.

You can shoot your neighbor in the face if he gets in your way on the sidewalk, but you had better not kick a dog!!!
End of side note:

I am going to have to write an addendum to this blog, because I am over-running my self-established length quota, but for the nonce; “What is deep knowledge v. knowing a lot about…  something.” 

I have a deep knowledge about making pottery, because I was a professional potter for nearly twenty years.  (visit http://dalepeterson.us and you’ll see)  But Mostly I just know a lot about painting because other than doing hundreds of paintings, I never sold more than a dozen or so, and never deeply studied the topic.

I see this as a cultural issue (problem) today with the prevalence of authority available through on-line research, because there is a massive preponderance of information that is not composed through deep knowledge.  Simply knowing a lot about  seems to be enough. 

Art Shows juried by a bunch of wealthy housewives, who have good taste and know a lot about Art?  Singing and dancing judges who obviously have never sung or danced, but are really just celebrities; i.e. they have national face recognition.

TV shows hosts with questionable degrees, giving out advice – because they assume they know a lot about … ?

Scientists (?), wilderness survivalists, cooks, chefs – the list is nearly endless.

Politicians arguing about economics when, if they have a college degree, it is in Divinity (?) and they have never owned or run a business ???  But they convince people that they sure know a lot about it!

More later


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Falling Through the Ice

Falling Through the Ice

So the Scientific Community – all the scientific biggies – (can’t remember all of the organizations), but ALL of the big ones – have just come out with the latest ecological and environmental studies.  Their big conclusion – we’re screwed.


Big time screwed.  On the bright side, once again the cockroaches and reptiles are gonna be fine.  But humans and equally higher life forms, like ferns, are screwed.  Say two decades and the oceans will no longer support very many species of fish.  The oxygen producing guys – algae or protozoans, or whatever those guys are – are gonna all gasping their last.  Which means the days of long marathon running are numbered; at least without a helmet and a fifty pound O2 tank of your back. 

Of course the politically Conservative elements are waiting for, as they have put it “We’ll wait until the scientists have proven there’s a problem.”  Dudes!!  They just did!  I think of course another possible bright side is that a good portion of the southern United States, apparently, will be underwater and the more northern and mountainous regions will soon be as warm as the southern ones.  This, kind of, means that all the ones who seem to have trouble accepting that all of their overconsumption of stuff in general will soon have to take place on houseboats.

Anywize … what bothers me the most is the disappearance of ice.  Imagine it, no ice.  The whole planet so hot that water will no longer freeze.  Talk about screwed.  Who is gonna drink warm Red Bull?  Forget about beer.  Most everybody but Americans drinks it warm already anyway. 

It means the end of the Winter Olympics.  No more NHL.  (Gawd, that’s a depressing thought – no more hockey.)  Everybody will have to wear oxygen masks outdoors, even the dogs.  No more birds shitting on the statues – that’s a plus maybe.  All the rats and other vermin will simply move into the air sealed houses.  Gnawing through two foot thick walls with the new huge razor sharp teeth they will evolve to possessing, in like two generations – or about a week and a half.

I spent many of my brighter childhood years in the northern latitudes of this country, where ice was just a normal part of the year.  In New England this part of the year was maybe nine or ten months.  Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire is a huge lake, like twenty-six miles long and six to eight miles wide.  There are over 350 islands on Lake Winnie.  Some are miles from shore and there are huge mansions on these islands.  And some of these island mansions are over 200 years old.

So the question arises, “How the hell did they get all the building materials out there 200 years ago?”  Well, in the winter the ice on Lake Winnie can freeze two feet thick, or more.  So they just drove big wagons out there with all the stuff they needed and did the actual building in the summer.  And of course without the winter freeze and the cycle of snow runoff, etc., now most of those mansions are going to become fish farms.

What I loved was ice skating outside.  As a young boy I loved that.  Now in my dotage I just hate being cold.  But at that time, I could hardly wait for the first good freeze.  My buddies and I would go to our closest pond and everyday we would chuck bigger and bigger rocks, higher and higher, testing the ice.  Usually until after Thanksgiving, our rocks would ka-plunck through.  Then one day the biggest rock we could hoist for a big cannonball drop, would plank! , skid a bit and refuse to go through.

Even so, our biggest rock was maybe a twenty pounder and even with a good high heave it couldn’t have impacted with more than … maybe fifty pounds.  The biggest of us was say 100 pounds, the smallest …sixty pounds.   So our rock heaving test didn’t always prove that the ice was safe.  Necessarily.  Factually.  We were always wa-a-ay anxious to skate, play hockey, crack our skulls doing really stupid stunts.

A few times we … well, we … we got out on the ice a bit … premature?  The lakes and ponds in New England can be much deeper than might be expected.  Going through the ice has taken out many northern dwelling child, generally dumb boy childs.  Even if you are a good swimmer, the shock first of having the surface you are standing (or skating) on giving way is a very very shocking.  Then the bitching cold water is like being punched in the stomach.  Then your clothes become like wet sandbags.  The experience is unpleasant.

Maybe more like deadly?  Or, it can be.  It did happen to me a couple of times.  Being the type of kid I was though I survived.  Not because I was not really stupid, but somehow I was always a bit on the lucky side when it came to near death stupidities.
I did know of a number of other kids who were not lucky. 

There were always warning signs.  Even if the ice passed the rock test, but it wasn’t actually safe, there was the cracking.  When you got out on the ice and it started cracking, it was not only visually obvious, but you could hear it.  A creepy and easily recognizable sound.  Ignoring those signs was frequently a ticket for a dance with the devil.

It is possible that the newest generation will have children or, if they are lucky, grandchildren who will never know what real ice is.

So it would seem to me, if all of our scientific geniuses are telling us that we are on really super-thin ice, maybe we ought to pay attention.