Archive for October, 2008

Soul’s Window

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Eye to eye, face to face, hand to hand — that was the way deals were made. A handshake was the absolute promise to uphold the deal and its ramifications. The eyes told the tale.

Somebody said eyes are the window to the soul. I don’t know if that is true but the look in an animal’s eyes is very revealing whether it’s your dog, your lover, or an acquaintance in your club. I cited dog first because a pet is familiar. The eye is a simple organ that occurred millions of years in the simplest of organisms. Odd isn’t it, that the eye has remained so critical for our survival in so many ways?

Perhaps not so odd when you think about it. An organism had to see to know. Just simply to know. Organisms could feel their way out of the water but when they did, the ones who had a desire to figure out what was going on had to be able to see what was going on. And without the opaqueness of the water, the opportunity to develop the lens could not be denied. The eye had to reflect everything. It had to give the organism the information needed to eat, sleep and be merry, so to speak.

The eye has always been connected to the part of the animal that could act. Turns out the eye is not so simple after all. It remains connected to the brain in many places as recent research shows. You can read expectation, wonder, apprehension, and joy in the eyes of your pet. You are admonished for leaving it with strangers while you go off playing. You are received skeptically when you clap your hands or speak harshly. You are welcomed in joy when you come into the house. Oh that joy is often accompanied with a wet kiss but the emotion shows in the eyes first.

Just so with any person you come face to face with. The expression the eyes impart comes from the emotions of that person. The expression your eyes send comes from your emotions. Those interchanged looks are followed by action. Walk on by. Turn away in disgust. Whoop with exhilaration. Wrap arms together. No words required.

After serious business we sign our name to seal a deal, no longer is a handshake considered enough although in our society we end with handshakes anyway. Robert’s rules require that the aye’s have the final say. The eyes having done the haggling and compromising before hand – the deal is made.

Yes, indeed, the eyes have it.

Dream On

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Sitting among hundreds of people in gym bleachers was a puzzle to me when I simply asked for directions to a special arboretum from the owner of the small coffee shop. The accommodating woman promptly sat down at her desk and drew a map because it was common knowledge that my destination was difficult to find. In the meantime she suggested going with a group of others who were apparently headed for the same destination.

Then a door slammed and my eyes opened and I realized it was morning. I had been dreaming. I recalled other dreams and wondered at the meaning. Should the dreams have meaning regarding other aspects of my life? Psychiatrists and psychologists and dream analyzers think they do. Some go so far as to consider dreams a revelation of mental problems and difficult social relationships.

Maybe so. I can envision that which I experience or imagine. That is what is embedded in the neurons of my brain.

My experiences. My imagination. My biases. All available to the synapses in my brain. This is so personal that for any other person to draw conclusions from how I describe that stuff is mind boggling. And more than a little ridiculous. No one else could come up with the same dreams for the same reasons. We are too individual. No two of us are alike therefore only broad generalities can be drawn by an outsider.

So my point is this. Share your experiences, biases, and opinions with others if you choose, but keep your dreams sequestered. They reveal your synapse activity that is yours alone. If you must, figure out the connections for yourself.

Just a YouTube test

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

This is a link showing the 2007 Disneyland All American College band.

My grandson, Alex, is playing the “quads” (the 4 drums)

A Boy And A Dog

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

The trip ended at the Burbank airport. Dan was waiting and I got my hugs. Dan is my number 4 child, my number 3 son. He towers above me, has for some years, with a smooth flair of very black hair on his jaws, like a wave gently sweeping over a shallow sand beach. I admire the black color – I had that once, probably where his came from. We missed the train, it is a block from the airport and very convenient for commuters, but it comes every hour so we had time to chat – about the sunset because of the recent and ongoing wildfires, about my impending computer a gift from all my kids, about food because it was about time to eat (when isn’t it time to eat?), about the powerful engines of planes taking off overhead, and about the snazzy Boeing plane I arrived in decorated with the special anniversary the company is celebrating.

Then Ashton unlocked the door and I called out “I am here.” Wow! was I surprised! A whirlwind of snarling canine accosted me. A weird welcome that, I must say. So I backed off, not in fear but in amazement because that dog was no bigger than a slick cat. Debbie picked him up, the offshoot of the Doberman family, and told him to behave himself, cuz he was going to see a lot of me for ten days.

I was treated with hospitality, food service and gentle conversation so Fido studied me and all those ramifications. I watched his eyes and could tell he was processing all the information to judge me. Finally I put my elbows on the back of the couch and leaned over to him. He slithered up to me from his regular spot and licked me a real welcome. I passed the ancient wolf test, I was one of the family. I reached my destination.

Accident? No Way

Monday, October 13th, 2008

The popularity of Barak Obama is no accident. He has democratic ideals from which he will not waver. None of his ideas are new but because he lives those ideals and is able to articulate them from his heart they are understood. People who use their human logic feel his honesty and dedication. And this brings me to an important point about influence from the human mind.

The bullying tactics of white supremacy has no place in the world. Homo sapiens did not progress for fifty thousand years by accepting this type of behavior for long. People of other countries in the world want America to return to the politics of concern. Our constitution and our history makes this country a natural for world leadership. Successful communities require leadership. America was the world leader and will be again.

The collective desire for such a role is apparent in the manner in which potential President Obama is supported by millions who are opting for change by donations of ten, twenty-five, or fifty dollars. The dollars show the visible desire for change. What is making the real difference is the mind set of those millions — a determination to do their part in bringing about the change. That is the mental part of our humanness that will make the difference. So far science has not figured out how thoughts work but researchers find that beyond the neural synapses in individual brains, thoughts are the basis of action. They are “something” and go “somewhere.”

My point is this: the thoughts and hopes of peoples in the world community are having a profound effect. Those concerned humans cannot vote for Obama but I believe with all my being that because our species is connected by our spirituality, not religion, but spirituality – the altruism embedded in our genes – Obama has the support of the world.

Steel Backbone

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Homestead, Pennsylvania, home of US steel, that’s how the song begins. The story relates the role of steel production in the building of this promised land and the sorrow that came with the closing of the steel mill along the Monongahela river. Tom Russell Band sing the dejection of the workers sharing their one last meal. The doors will close and the mill won’t run no more. I listened and thought of my Dad telling me of his years of shoveling coal into the furnaces of a steel mill and I realized what I had never thought of before.

I owe my existence to US Steel. That’s a startling revelation coming from one who spent years of protesting against huge conglomerates which took advantage of American workers with poor pay, long hours and company stores. It’s true. But not for the indentured servants brought in by the steel companies to put their sweat and blood in the production of steel, I would not exist.

In 1905 my Dad escaped the Austra-Hungarian Empire via one of those steel ships before he reached the age of eighteen where he would have been inducted into the army and sent into the war with Russia. The only men in his village who returned at all were hopelessly mutilated. His mother foresaw a better future in the “new” world — the promised land where the streets were paved with gold.

That was over one hundred years ago and it took a song, recorded in Norway decades past, to bring me to the realization of what big industry means to me. And to millions of others. Conglomerates were broken and real prosperity bloomed, so much so that eventually new industries combined to fix prices and control products here and abroad. Will we break the circle?

Talk about history repeating itself!

Archie Bunker And My Day

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Focus — that’s what a camera does. Focus — that’s what the human mind does to direct the body toward accomplishments. But I have to laugh when I discover what an herculean task that really is. From conception onward, experiences and concepts are imprinted on the brain. Just think of what a conglomeration of neurons pop those imprints around the synapses in a brain. My brain. Your brain. Makes me dizzy just to think of it. And that is a problem.

To focus takes effort, and lots of it, if I am going to stay at a task until completion. You see the first part is to think of the task. I mean that. The thought begins the process. That is fairly easy. O.K. So I want to put on my shoes. The toughest part begins because the task is ordinary and through years of practice is something I can do with my eyes closed.

And that is the problem. My hands are occupied and do the job. However the stuff of thought in my brain does not close the shutter as my camera would. And what does my capricious brain do? Reminds me every time of Archie Bunker ridiculing his son in law for putting a sock and shoe on one foot instead of putting on a sock on each foot before picking up the shoe. Why does that episode rise up in my memory every time I put on a sock?

I have no idea why. But it does. Monotonous, but it happens. Repetition keeps that in the forefront and it leaps out without a prodding. Even against my will.

That may be the lesson here. Focus. Repetition. To make things happen I must think them first. And I must think them often. To stay healthy I want good things to happen. To make good things happen I must think good thoughts. So I begin my day with a shoestring. On the way for another great day, focussed on the positive things I want to happen. I know what mine are. You have to think and focus on your own.

A Watt At A Time

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

How much power does it take to force a kayak over water? My body got very weary after wielding a paddle for five hours. I likened my efforts to working like a horse. So could I measure my expended energy in terms of horsepower?

Horsepower was used to measure energy output for centuries before James Watt came along. It just took somebody like him to write little itty bitty notes and calculations for others to contemplate and make a record of history. He studied a steam engine he was given to repair. Like all critical minds he imagined improvements to effect the machine’s efficiency. He added a wheel here and a cog there. Puttring around was probably frustrating, especially when he wasn’t all that satisfied with his changes.

But he couldn’t sit around fiddling with steam. He had to eat. Making extra money didn’t hurt, Scotsman that he was. He worked in construction and in mines when ponies began to replace children and women in hauling coal. I suppose Watts was trying to design the best way to transport ponies down into the mines so they could pull the cars of coal back to the surface.

He learned that a pony working one eight hour shift might haul 30 tons of coal in tubs on the underground narrow gauge railway. He was good at math and was intrigued when he found on average, a mine pony using a pulley could lift 22,000 foot-pounds per minute. Pony power didn’t sound very impressive so he figured the additional size of a horse and called the results horsepower.

Now we call each power unit a watt. Pretty cool, huh? Can you imagine a label showing how many horses power your toaster? Or your razor?

I found those facts interesting but they helped like so much smoke to shed light on how much power it takes to push a kayak. Not just for anyone either. Me.

My aching muscles tell me it takes lots.