Life Q & A

We should all be required at about age 18 to sit down and do a Q & A about our views on life, religion, children, or education. If not 18, then whatever age we stop going to school or actively learning. Most people disengage from active learning at the end of school, so that’s a great benchmark. (Although I know many who mentally left school at a much earlier age, even though their bodies still went to and from school for several more years.) Possibly, we could do one Q & A after high school and another after college, with followups every 20 years.

The Q & A should be filmed so that we not only get to see our words, but also hear our voices, see our bodies and clothing, and get an idea of the our “vibe” from the past.

Anytime as adults that we forget our previous ignorance, we should be forced to watch the Q & A. If the stupidity in our lives is large enough, the Q & A should be posted on the internet for a varying circle of people to watch. Humility and forgiveness would be much more likely in our hearts, as we observe people who are the age we once were – and as they do incredibly stupid things, we would be less likely to jump in and judge them. I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but I did and said some ridiculous and stupid things. Some of them seemed smart at the time. Only time and looking at things differently convinced me otherwise. No amount of ridicule or shame back then would have been able to show me the truth of that.

We should give today’s younger generation the same leeway to run off the rails so to speak. Did we quit school? (Or do poorly when we had such great opportunities?) Did we make horrendous decisions about love? Did we drink, smoke or joyride at the expense of other priorities? Did we turn our backs on friends and family due to our own selfishness? Did we ever steal or take advantage of someone? Did we use or threaten violence instead of just rolling our eyes and ignoring our own self-importance?

One immediate advantage of this type of “life Q & A” is that it will prove to us (once we’ve forgotten) that we are constantly wrong about things, or at least that our beliefs have changed. If they’ve changed, that means we weren’t as smart as we thought we were at the time. Being able to go back and compare our thoughts along a timeline will also allow us to see that our opinions can and do morph as we see more of the world. Many of us unwittingly go through life falsely thinking that we’ve been steadfast in our beliefs and opinions. (Which I think is dumb. Unlike most, I think changing one’s mind is a great sign of learning. It’s not wishy-washy or flip-flopping.)

A record of our words also might make us shriek in bewilderment at some of the things we once thought were important.

If we die, we then have a video record of how we feel abut the world. Would people be honest on these or would they be cautious with their words? I’m a huge proponent of letting our daily lives be our eulogy. If we’ve done it right, each of us has already left our legacy imprinted in the way we would have liked.

 

Miscellaneous 7

“I didn’t mind the 4 deer in my yard. But the fact that 2 of them had shovels and the other 2 were wearing hard hats concerns me.” – X


“Nothing defines old age more than a disdain for current music.” -X

“No one is ever right. Even if they are, they are still often wrong.” – X

“I don’t mind that you don’t believe in evolution. In fact, I’m counting on it.” – X

“Twitter is akin to a sly fart immediately prior to a quick exit from the elevator. Facebook is a bellicose drunk with copy and paste.” -X

 

The Same Stupid Arguments

To be clear, even an implication of a criticism toward one member of a group does not imply equal condemnation toward any other member, nor does a criticism regarding one aspect of a specific person or idea reflect on all possible affiliations of said person or idea.” 

(If I say I don’t like someone’s choice of shoes, it doesn’t mean I don’t like how they slice their cheese, nor that I hate everyone who wears the shoe in question or whether they wear shoes at all.)

If I criticize someone, it is possible that person could be or has been: a veteran, a husband or wife, a conservative or liberal, a fisherman, a politician, a collegiate sports fan, a christian, or a rodeo clown. Criticizing an aspect of someone’s life does not allow the careless reader to expand any such criticism toward all other members of the same group, membership, or interest – or even to stretch it inappropriately to include attributes or issues not even mentioned in context to the criticism.

For example, if I criticize a politician for being dishonest in the context of his policies, nowhere in my criticism is the fact that he is a veteran mentioned. It is immaterial to my argument. I’m not condemning other veterans, either. Likewise, if I point out that a female sports coach needs to focus more on academics, I’m not condemning her or any other woman – I’m discussing er commitment to academics. If a gay man hits my car and I sue him, I’m not suing him because he’s gay, I’m suing him because he was driving blind-folded in reverse, at night, with no headlights.

There are several argument fallacies that apply to this of idiocy:
Argumentum ad hominem, Confirmation bias, Ecological fallacy, Fallacy of quoting out of context, Red herring, Ignoratio elenchi…

No matter how harshly I might criticize someone’s political leanings or policy, someone’s possible status as a veteran is irrelevant, as his attendance at Harvard or the University of Oklahoma. It boggles my mind how stupidly people jump to say that I’m criticizing a person based on a criteria that the person objecting to has erroneously included in his argument. 

If you’re going to reframe an argument, at least try to do so properly – or in such a crazy fashion that no one will notice that you’ve pulled a fast one on everyone. 

An Easy Laugh With a Gift

Much of my enjoyment with giving gifts has nothing to do with the actual gift, who it is for, or what is inside the actual box. (If there is one.)

If you buy someone a gift, stop and think about how many times you have wished your gift were of a different size, in a different box or packaged in a different way.

Why should your creativity be limited to how your gift is packaged or boxed?

I suggest a better way, one which allows you to decorate boxes and gifts in advance and without being concerned for the box size, breaking something fragile or any other such mundane consideration.

Instead of wrapping the actual box containing the gift, wrap another box of your choosing. It can be a shoe box, a cracker box or even a battery box. Put something in the extra box to give it weight. Now wrap it as creatively as you want.

When the person opens your present, observe the look on his or her face when they find 3 old novels instead of a nice, new present. Or fill the fake box with paper, canned goods, etc. After a few seconds, hand them the “real” gift. Most people will laugh and at least appreciate that you’ve tried to be a little different.

Also, the diversion method described above works really well with overly-curious kids and snoopy mothers-in-law, too.

Irish Goodbye

Ghosting or Irish Goodbye Link

Click on the link above and read the general idea of ghosting.

I feel like an absolute genius!

For years, I’d advocated a modified version of this. Not ghosting, but rather the system wherein it is very easy to extricate oneself from social interactions without being rude. Or not so rude, anyway.

Everyone who tries it finds it liberating. Here’s my version: once you’ve announced your intention of leaving somewhere you’d been invited to, agree beforehand how much time you will spend before literally leaving. 1-2 minutes is ideal if you are someone’s house. And do it – leave.

If you are the one leaving, the hosts will be astonished that you simply left without all the fanfare. Later, when they ask you about it, explain the how-and-why of it to them. Without fail, most people seem intrigued and attracted to the idea.

Otherwise, you know the drill: standing and engaging in idle chatter, making future arrangements to meet again, your feet go numb, the children are demanding to leave, etc.

If everyone were to adopt my version of the Irish Goodbye, it would be much easier to engage and disengage in social visits.

Toward the end of the linked article, a mention is made of the Northern Irish Goodbye, which is similar to the X Irish Goodbye, except it is to be done at larger social events and the hosts already know ahead of time when your vanishing act will occur.

(P.S. Going out the window drunk is rude and dangerous!  🙂     )

 

Mothers Day / Fathers Day And Commentary

Mother’s Day was started by a woman named Anna Jarvis, one of 13 children in her family. (For grammarians, Anna was insistent on the singular possessive form of the holiday, indicating that the celebration should be specific to each family – and not a celebration of all mothers in general.) Anna’s mother had founded an effort during the Civil War to get mothers on both sides of the conflict to foster peace, a movement she called the Mothers Friendship Day. After Anna’s mother died, to get Mother’s Day celebrated, Anna incorporated a business, as well as trademarked certain words and phrases to keep others from using it. Anna became increasingly agitated over the crass commercialization of the holiday. When the candy, card, and flower industry appropriated and then changed her traditional emblems, she fought against it. Unlike everyone else, she didn’t profit from the holiday and was relatively poor when she died. (No one told her that her stay at the place she died at was paid for by a group of florists.)

Anna wanted Mother’s Day to “to be a day of sentiment, not profit.” She fought to get people to stop buying flowers, cards, and candy. She referred to these industries as “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.” Anna thought that you should go see your mother and spend time with or write her a sentimental letter. As she said:  “A maudlin, insincere printed card or ready-made telegram means nothing except that you’re too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone else in the world.” And “Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card.” Anna worked as hard to abolish the holiday as she had to get it started and celebrated, so angry and reviled by the commercialization of the holiday.

Fathers Day is widely credited to a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, an Arkansas living in Spokane, Washington. (Her own mother died when she 16, giving birth to her 6th child.) She initially got the idea after hearing about Mothers Day. Sonora originally wanted the holiday to be celebrated on her dad’s birthday, but local ministers didn’t have time to prepare their sermons and thus agreed on the 3rd Sunday of June. When Sonora moved to Chicago to attend art school, the holiday faded. She returned to Spokane and then revived the holiday. From several sources, I’ve learned that the holiday was very much resisted by most people, as it was considered to be a crass ‘cash-in’ on the Mothers Day holiday. There are a lot of satirical words and pictures on the internet about it, if you are interested. Even Congress feared it would become nothing more than a commercialized observance. (For the grammarians among us, Sonora wanted the day to be titled “Fathers’ Day,” but due to previous bills, the apostrophe was placed before the ‘s’ in the name.)

If you are interested, please google and read some of the links. Like most history, what lies beneath, behind, and sometimes out in the open is much more interesting than what we commonly know.

Since this blog is supposed to be about my opinion, you probably can guess my general attitude about such holidays. I’m in agreement with those who scoffed at the ‘necessity’ of a Mother’s Day. Again, though, I’m not preaching to those who feel the emotions that the day was supposed to have elicited. As the creator of the day learned, nothing is sacred and commerce trumps what lies in the heart. While not everyone who honors their mothers succumbs to the superficial meaninglessness, many do, and we all suffer from the relentless commercial obligation of it all. It creates a societal pull of guilt and artificial inclination to do and say things that aren’t spontaneous, true, and authentic. I’ve never understood the need to adhere to a nationally-agreed upon day of honor for any person or group in my life. Those who love me and those whom I love and value know that this is the case. If it were my decision, all such holidays would fall to the wayside, with the emphasis being placed on interpersonal appreciation during our daily lives. Everyone would be encouraged to express their respect and acknowledgement of those in their lives – without the expectation that such expression could be warehoused and shared on a pre-arranged day.Collective observance would be a relic of the past.

If I were to have had children, instead of encouraging them to participate in Mother’s Day, I would have instead talked to them about the importance of not waiting to surprise someone with words of love, shared time together, or a heartfelt gift, one given at the time the urge to express overcame them. It is too easy to be molded by incessant commercialization or to put off expressing what you should express often and at your own prompting. I would also encourage my children to ignore the precepts of Father’s Day and instead surprise me some other time. We would make a game of rebellion. (On the hand, I had mercy on my imaginary children by not having them at all. Not everyone should have them and genetics and/or environment have proven this to be all too true with my family tree and genetic lottery.)

In general, I have the same attitude about almost all modern holidays. The things I find meaningful in these holidays are not the same as what most people find worthwhile. There are few days that pass me wherein I am not thankful, not only because time and circumstance have chosen to allow me to continue walking the earth, but also because I have a good life with some great people in it. I am always more welcoming of shared time and eating, even if the turkey is disguised as pizza and the wine is cheap stuff from the bargain bin at the store. We too often focus on the pomp and pageantry, when the spirit of the occasion lies within each person smiling, laughing and celebrating. We sometimes salute the flag without taking the necessary time to learn of our shared culture and history, for it is a more honorable thing to learn about the circumstances of our country and its reasons for sending people to fight for it than it is to salute in general to idea of patriotism. We sometimes take too much time to go to church and sing our hymns, instead of stopping to help someone who needs it.

Holidays need their spontaneity and meaning in every regard.

 

 

Life’s Angry Residue

Who specifically I’m referring to in this post isn’t the issue. No one will ever know unless the people involved decide that I’m talking about them. Anyone reading this might as well assume it is a work of fiction, especially since I’m often accused of living in a fantasy world, or of egregious exaggeration. 🙂

I recently practiced sentimental minimalism and it was much more difficult. This time, I was trying to eradicate vestiges of archived anger. This archive contained recorded voicemails, texts, and emails from people whose intention was to seed anger in my mind. Sadly, much of the intent was successful. Some of the effort came close to dragging me into seemingly infinite pits of negativity. There were a couple of points last year that got the best of me.

To listen once again to some of the insanity and read some of the written poison was worse than I expected. It reminded me again of how vicious people can be, especially when their pride is at stake, or when someone insists that another person treat them with respect or stay out of their lives. It was quite the task to recall being accused of some of the stupidity I had been accused of. I don’t blame some of the behavior, though, as I wouldn’t have wanted to accept responsibility for some of those words, both written and spoken, had I authored them. It was easier for them to vilify me than to simply stop bothering me. I get that. It’s the stalker’s mentality of being righteously right – and of getting the last word.

Most of the threats and profanity weren’t even interesting; rather, it was the garden variety stupidity that life tends to dole out with much greater frequency than the interesting type of hate that I find more interesting. (Most of it, too, falls into the category of: “You horrible person! I’m a great person, though. I am going to kill you because of how you acted or what you said. Meanwhile, please allow me to poison your eyes and ears with foul words and language.” The people spouting this nonsense rarely stop to think of just how stupid and crazy they sound when they talk like this!)

If you are more or less normal and reading this, I know you don’t understand how abnormal of a thing I’m describing. I’m not talking about someone you know or love being upset with you for your views on politics or for being late to Thanksgiving dinner. No, I’m describing situations where someone close to you calls or writes and vividly describes how you are going to be killed, or your house set on fire, and how your life is going to be ruined, including all the well-planned details to accompany the threat. Over and over. Normal people rarely need to contend with this level of idiocy and anger.

Since this blog should at least hint at my life, I have to admit that some of it was leftover from someone close. Especially with the audio content, some of the things that were said gave me chills. The anger in that stuff was beyond normal behavior. Some of it lingered in my digital life because I just couldn’t quite get past the idea that I might need to preserve some evidence of how mean they could be. As always, I’m not writing here to ruin anyone’s legacy. Like anyone else, they did good in the world. But the cloud of the misbehavior is more indicative of her true legacy, at least in terms of me. Nothing good comes of me being needlessly harsh toward another person – but it is also true that no good comes from trying to maintain a falsehood of someone’s life, or one not tortured by alcohol.While I haven’t deleted all of the craziness, I rid myself of 95%. In the years to come, it won’t be my opinion which determines someone’s legacy. It will be the collective anecdotes of everyone who knew them, both good and bad. My opinion weighs very little in the balance.

For the very few who have read and listened to some of the things that I had archived and just couldn’t get rid of, the sheer shock and surprise was apparent. I wanted them to see this person with my eyes and ears and a get a glimpse based on evidence, rather than just my word, of the level of evil that could come from people.

I try to delete this stuff with the idea that if I die without notice, the people I love won’t have to weed through the craziness and need to focus on it. It tends to stain everyone it touches, regardless of who is “right.” Those who are close to me know well what was said and done and what my motivations were. Everyone else can and will freely be revisionists to history.I know that if I were to die unexpectedly, there would be a lot of anger from some people about their inability to change history, or at least to change the minds of people who experienced some of that toxic stupidity with me.

The same is true of another family member. Reading some of the anger sent to me in the past was an error on my part. It should have been deleted almost immediately. Unfortunately, some of it had to be kept in case of legal action, which sounds crazy when I write it out like that. I can’t quite get my mind to accept that someone can be so angry that they would actually send some of that anger to another person. But I’m not surprised, given that the vitriol was over years and not limited to single outbursts. That’s a pattern and such long-term anger needs to be met with caution.

As for the last paragraph, it was difficult to let go of the attempt to control how this person had infected people’s opinions of me. The angry person had no choice except to reframe the problem and get attention away from their own life. I was acting in good faith and had attempted to calmly get the person to stop spewing anger – at least toward me. I failed. And at the end of the ordeal, at least in some people’s eyes, I was the villain.That’s the way life is and probably always will be. It’s up to time and friends to watch everyone’s life and to use what they say and do as a litmus to determine who has been lying and spreading dissent and hatred.

Ridding oneself of sentimental baggage is still one of the hardest minimalism challenges for many of us. It’s one thing to get rid of our four extra George Foreman grills or Reader’s Digest condensed books, quite another to trash powerful emotional residue.  I have looked at a couple of my archives over the last year and was simply unable to delete them entirely- even though just looking at it added misery to my life. Digital stuff can be just as depleting as piles of old hangers in one’s closet. It doesn’t enhance your life or make you happier – and it crowds out the “new”in one’s life. One thing I could do was to minimize the volume by writing a synopsis and having it notarized. Some day soon I will discard that, too.

I love photos, but hate photography. Another digital leftover were hundreds of pictures of an old friendship. I was close to someone who lashed out in anger and told me to go fly a kite. While I kept a very few pictures of our shared times, I finally was able to delete almost all of the pictures from that time. It wasn’t easy, but I felt better about it after all the photos and backups were gone.I was hoarding my past, or trying to. It’s difficult enough to keep one’s mind trained and focused without veering off into neurosis without adding constant reminders in the form of pictures, emails, texts or voicemails.

 

 

Colors? Normal? There Are No Real Rules

I’ve written several different ways about our tendency to choose the visually boring, usually due to a misguided belief that ‘normal’ is a real thing or that another person’s aesthetic should set our standard for us. Some of it is our growing expectation of perfection, which is laughable to me. Chaos and entropy always get the veto in our lives, yet we tread on this planet as if they don’t. Concepts of beauty, style and even art evolve. No matter how much you strive for ‘the look,’ your clothes, houses, cars and hair will all fall from fashion.

Sometimes, bland is easier, but sometimes it isn’t. We have to exert more effort to make things look ‘normal’ or ‘appealing,’ instead of allowing the different style to flourish. Just as I think that a broken voice is usually more interesting to hear, I think we lose much of our individuality through adherence to imagined rules about what looks good.

Whether it is the dark blue paint on our bathroom walls, a metal ceiling in the bathroom, wood trim made from abandoned tree limbs (and then painted yellow), shoes deliberately mismatched, or clothing of multiple colors, I think we do ourselves a disservice.

Occasionally, I’ll have an insight wherein I realize that I have once again drifted away from interesting for no other reason than to look ‘normal.’ This word almost universally translates into boring and without creativity.

Our tombstones should be distinct, without symmetry. The cars we drive should be as differentiated as wildflowers and the colors we choose should be infinite.   But somehow we persist in painting the world in that horrible shade of “Desert Tan.” Blah.

 

Irrelevant Blog Post Title Goes Here

“Propaganda masked as news, ignorance disguised as politics & greed dismissed as capitalism are the woes that plague us.” – Internet

“It is no accident that those who scream the loudest for you to speak only when you have something positive to say are usually the ones with the most interest in keeping you quiet.” -x

“Once you’ve stood on the shore of a vast ocean, you have no need to smell the pond.” -x

Pro-Choice

As an avowed liberal, it should come as no surprise that I am pro-choice.

Having said that, I don’t like the horrid labels of “pro-choice” or “pro-life.”

We are either for abortion (whether we are totally in agreement or not) or against it.

Stop clouding the subject with misleading political speech. Stop trying to control the negativity that comes with either opinion.

Abortion is a terrible choice. I find it hard to imagine that people take the choice lightly.

It’s easy to judge people, isn’t it?

I wish that the conservative crowd would also FUND an alternative whereby anyone who would forego an abortion would be provided for during their pregnancy, as well as having an adoption arranged. A true alternative, rather than rhetoric.

What I find most interesting is that absent a disaster, we will one day control every aspect of procreating. I’m convinced of it, based on an optimistic view of humanity’s ability to survive.

From the internet: “Abortion is another issue that gets conservatives all worked up. Look, no one likes abortion. I’m pro-choice but I’m not a fan of abortion. I am, however, a supporter of giving women the right to choose what it is they want to do with their own body. Would God agree with abortion? I sure as heck don’t know. But guess what? Neither do Republicans. There’s not a single person on this planet with a direct link to God, getting play-by-play analysis of what is and isn’t right.”