Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Time-Wasting Meme From Slywy

Stolen from Slywy, author of The Dark Side of the Moon...

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Not that I'm aware of.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Within the past six months, at a movie.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? It changes depending on my mood. I like it when I'm feeling confident and composed. I dislike it when I'm feeling scatterbrained and confused.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Coleman or Applegate Farms organic Roast beef.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yes, one human daughter, one canine son, one feline son, plus several illegitimate dust bunnies that I'm rather not fond of.


7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Why shouldn't I?

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? No. I'd expected they give 'em to me in a jar after taking them out. That's what you think when you're five years old and someone says he'll remove something from your body, right? But no. When I asked for them, the doctor just laughed. And that set the tone for my relationship with medical professionals.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Absolutely not.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Arrowhead Mills Maple Buckwheat Flakes, but I have to doctor them up with a lot of nuts or seeds and yogurt.


12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Physically, my strength is above average. Emotionally, (because Slywy included this type of strength) no. Intellectually, I have bursts of insight, so I can say I'm above average.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Ben and Jerry’s One Sweet Whirled.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Their eyes. I read somewhere that the eyes are the window to the soul. Could that have been in the Bible?

15. RED OR PINK? Red.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? The distended abdomen that makes me look preggers.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Short answer: Dad. Long answer requires a new post.


19. WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? I'm wearing slippers. They're red, and I got them in this color because they were Overstocks at Lands End.

20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Brown Sugar Cinnamon Toaster Pastries with sunflower seed butter and organic chocolate chips.

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Wife is closing the entertainment center door and walking to the kitchen.

22. IF YOU WHERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Forest Green. It's my favorite color.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS? Lamb roast with rosemary. Coffee, esp. Hazelnut. Forest Green crayons.


25. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? I enjoy her blog because she does things that I enjoy and writes about them.

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Hockey. Dog shows.

27. HAIR COLOR? "Just For Men" Medium Brown. ;)

28. EYE COLOR? Green.


30. FAVORITE FOOD? Steak Tacos.


32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? "Happy-Go-Lucky".

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? White v-neck undershirt. Well, it was white when I bought it.

34. SUMMER OR WINTER? Winter. The days start to get longer as it progresses.

35. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs. Probably pick up fewer germs that way.

36. FAVORITE DESSERT? Death by chocolate cake. Or perhaps Apple Crumb Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream.

37. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Perhaps Slywy or maybe Lynne or Karen.


39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Please see My LibraryThing Currently Reading List.

40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? My mouse? Okay, it's a design by Quantex, which is the company I bought my second computer from.

41. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? My wife lit a candle and put it on top of the TV. I watched that. I don't watch the actual TV.

42. FAVORITE SOUND? Cat purring.


44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Physically, Seattle. Mentally, there's no way to describe this distance.

45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? What do I look like, Tinkerbell?

46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? I haven't the foggiest recollection. My parents said it was somewhere on Earth, but I never believed them, especially since I doubted they were my actual parents.

47. WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? Robin Williams', but if he's too busy I'd settle for Ford Prefect's.

So is that it? There are only 47 questions? Not 50? Or 42? That's an odd thing.


Today Christians celebrated Advent -- the beginning of a new year in the Church.

The main themes of Advent are of preparation and expectation. We must stay awake, alert. This nicely parallels how Eastern religions encourage Mindfulness.

At this time of year, it's easy for us in the Northern Hemisphere to daydream or even nap. All is dead and brown outside. The cold and darkness of our Winter Solstice creeps over us like an oppressive fog. Christianity keeps us occupied by promising a Savior whose arrival will vanquish darkness.

This second theme of light replacing darkness can be found in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. After you die, you're supposed go toward the brilliant white light to break the cycle of rebirths.

It comforts me when such diverse religions as Buddhism and Christianity have something in common.

Dream: The Subterranean Master Bedroom

My wife and I are viewing a home that we're thinking of buying. We're in the master bedroom. I notice that the windows are small and near the ceiling as if this room were in the basement. It is, in fact, mostly underground.

I look closely at the walls to see evidence of moisture -- mold, mildew, peeling paint. The walls look really bad, actually. They appear to be painted cinderblocks, and the paint has pulled away in several areas.

I point this out to the owner who is in the room with us. He denies that the walls are made from cinderblocks. "Oh no, this is poster board." He goes on to say that the child that used this room had pinned lots of things to the walls. That's why there are many tiny holes in the surface, like acoustic ceiling tile. I look again and notice that the grooves that outlined the cinderblocks are now closer together and outline bricks. The poster board has a faux gray brick pattern.

I concede that the wall covering is not bare cinderblock. But I don't trust this owner and I want to know what's underneath. I suspect that it's cinderblock underneath, and that it's in bad shape.

I go to a different wall which is also faux brick. But the "bricks" are different colors -- bold primary colors as one might find in a pre-school classroom. I manage to wedge my finger in between two of the bricks and separate them enough to verify that there are cinderblocks directly behind it.

I'm outside now. My wife has seen the entire house. But I have only looked at the master bedroom. I'd like to go back inside to see the rest of the house, especially the basement. But the owner has a BBQ planned and is expecting company any minute. In fact the caterers are arriving right now.

So reluctantly, we get in the car. My neighbor is with us, too, and I discuss the house with him. I think it's a great buy. But then I wonder what kind of road it's on. At first I think it's on a quiet side road. My neighbor and I try to remember. But then I remember it's on a two-lane state highway, a road that's even busier than our current house. So I'm not too keen on the house anymore.

As we drive, I see a red pickup truck hanging from a tree....

Dream: The Red Pickup Truck in the Tree

I'm driving along in my neighborhood and see a red pickup truck hanging from a tree.

I pull over to see if someone needs help. I look inside and see a young man with a thick red wire wrapped around his neck. The veins in his neck are bulging. He says, "Help me," very faintly.

I see that the red wire is caught in the window and pulled taut, but it's loose on the outside of the window. So I squeeze the window's rubber gasket and feed the wire into the car. It works to relieve the pressure of the wire.

Now I go to work to lower the truck and get the guy out. I go to the back and pick the lock of the trunk. (Now the truck is a compact sedan.) Then I walk around to the driver's side door. I'm about to do the same -- pick the lock and open it -- but then Cindy, the police supervisor rides up on her motorcycle. I'm afraid that I might get in trouble if she sees me pick the lock, so I stop what I'm doing and let her take over. I'm sure she'll ask me to do it, so I wait for her to tell me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Obama -- Hope For Teenage Fashion

Even before Barak Obama is sworn in, his daughters are having an impact on girls' fashion. I'm hopeful that the election night excitement about Malia's ensemble will repeat itself throughout Barak Obama's entire four-year Presidency.

What was so great about Malia's outfit? Well, she wore an off-the-rack spaghetti strap dress and topped it off with a matching cardigan sweater to make it more modest. Maybe the Obama girls will be wearing high-cut jeans that don't let their panties show. And modest blouses that don't show off their budding boobs. And clothes made from opaque material.

I'm hopeful that we might start to see stylish clothes for teenage girls that won't make them look like sluts. And, that our daughters might actually want to wear them. Otherwise, I don't know what our daughter will wear after she out grows Lands End girls clothes.

Please see Malia Election Night Fashion for background on this post.

Friday, November 28, 2008

How Hoarding Can Lead to Weight Gain

One of the things I blame weight gain on is hoarding.

People who hoard tend to save things either because they have an emotional attachment to the items, or they think they may need them.

But with food, my tendency is to eat the item before it goes bad. I'll do so even if I'm not hungry.

I may have picked this habit up at an early age. My father was "the human garbage." Mom scraped onto his plate anything we didn't eat each supper. If dad wasn't around, it would go into the garbage if there wasn't enough to make another meal from. The other thing dad would do is cut himself a piece of brownie "just to even it off" as he'd say. And eat just the broken cookies.

Well, the nut doesn't fall far from the tree. Most days, I'll finish what my daughter leaves in her plate (or in the yogurt cup). Sometimes I think I can live off what gets throw out. And I have actually reached into the garbage, mimicking George Costanza to pull out something special to eat. But I've recognized this as a bad habit, and I'm starting to change.

Today my wife complained that the dark chocolate I bought was too bitter (it has cacao nibs). So I wrapped up the unused portion and placed it in the treat drawer. Later she offered the last bit of chocolate ice cream that she was eating out of the container. I took the container away and threw it out.

What eating habits did you pick up from your parents? What habits are you passing on to your children?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Wishes

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope no matter how bad things might be that you can find something to appreciate and be thankful for.

Thank you for reading and commenting!

Dream: Field Trip Bus Ride

I'm on a school bus with my classmates. We're going on yet another field trip. This is the eighth one so far this year.

I'm wearing a T-shirt and shorts, and I'm wet.

We arrive. It's an up-scale department store. And suddenly it occurs to me what I want to be when I grow up -- a fashion designer! I know that boys don't normally pursue this type of career. But it's what I really want to do, and I'm not making any compromises even if people will make fun of me. I pretty sure that people won't make fun of me, and they'll admire me for my boldness and talent.

It's time to get off the bus. I can't go in the store dressed the way I am. I do have a change of clothes, a heavy red sweat shirt and tan slacks, so I take off the T-shirt and wet shorts. I'm near the back of the bus. I look to the front and see that people have debarked quickly. Soon it's just the driver and her young son who's about five years old.

I say, "Wait for me!" But she drives the bus away from the entrance. I'm not too concerned because I realize that she will simply find a parking spot from which I'll be able to walk to the store.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-In 20081126

Today's result is brought to you by Pepperidge Farm cookies, Friendly's Ice Cream and my daughter's 5th grade class, whose Pow-wow project required a large batch of Sioux Indian Pudding.

Waist = 38 & 1/8 "
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dream: Defecting Water Bottle at Band Practice

I'm attending high school band practice as a spectator.  I arrived there with two car loads of band members, whom I'm friends with.

I'm starting to feel thirsty, so I look for my water bottle.  But RD the tenor saxophone player has it.  He rode in the other car.  For some reason my water bottle was in that car, too.

I say, "It looks as though my water bottle has defected.  It would rather be with you than with me."  I'm chipper about it.  RD responds, not in a mean way, "It looks that way."  He chuckles.  But he makes no effort to return it or even apologize or ask to use it.

Although I'm disappointed, I am not angry.  These are my friends, and what's mine is theirs.  Besides, playing saxophone must make one extremely thirsty.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

From MS to Spinal Stenosis

After my wife's attack of Transverse Myelitis in September 2006, the follow up visits with her neurologists consisted of ...
  • Cursory reflex and strength tests.
  • Discussions of pain med dosage.
  • Comments like, "You probably have MS."
But the most recent visit went like this ...
  • Cursory reflex and strength tests.
  • Discussions of pain med dosage.
  • Comments like, "You probably don't have MS."
This time, we actually had an MRI we could look at and actually see Spinal Stenosis.

My wife is still reeling from this new development. After more than two years of hearing about how she harbors rare, inexplicable and incurable diseases, we now have something that's common and treatable. So on the one hand, she's certainly glad that she not under the sentence of MS. However, she's extremely apprehensive about having surgery to remove the impinging tissue.

There's also the uncertainty of how much pain is caused by the lingering effect of myelitis, and how much is due to the stenosis. If she knew that an operation would mean that she could stop taking Neurontin, Baclofen, Cymbalta and Ultram, she'd probably be hopeful. But suppose she undergoes a successful operation and still has the same pain as before?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-In 20081119

After one week of trying to avoid the sugary / starchy snacks, but eating more beef products, I come in 1.5lbs lighter and 1% less fatty. But a change from 20% fat to 19% could be just 0.1% difference due to rounding. Perhaps I was at 19.5% last week and am now 19.4%.

Also, as I was measuring my waist, I noticed that the measuring tape doesn't start at zero. So last week's measurement was 38 & 3/8 " which means I lost 1/8"....

Waist = 38 & 1/4 "
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Dream: Hawk Feathers

I'm in a wooded area next to a wood pile.  I notice a dead mouse on top of a pointy fence post.  I figure some cat must've caught it and left it there.

I come back to this spot after a little while and notice hawk feathers on the ground.  Some cat or cats must've attacked and killed it.  I start to pick up the feathers.  The second one is broken near the base and has blood on it.  The cats that did this must've been true Warrior Cats.  But why did they leave the mouse?  I decide to remove the mouse to a less prominent place.  I pick it up by pinching the skin of its back, and I'm surprised to find out that it's alive.  It was just stuck there.  So I let it go onto the ground.

My dog is snuffling about in the heavy cover of crunchy dead oak leaves.  I notice his keen interest in something.  Sure enough, he discovers a treasure -- the rotting corpse of a large rodent, a squirrel or rabbit perhaps.  I grab him and try to force him to drop it.  I can tell he loves this "game."  It's the "Pick Up Something I'm Not Supposed to Have and Keep it Away From the Humans" game.  Eventually, I get him to drop the disgusting carcass.

Fascinating Dolphins

In this video, dolphins are playing with "bubble rings" that they make themselves.

Read Mystery of the Silver Rings for a wonderful explanation.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pemmican Serendipity

Our daughter's class is doing a project on Native Americans.  Her role is to help research the foods Native Americans ate.  That includes bringing in some sample food items to share.

This is right up my wife's alley.  She was born to be the Classroom Snack Provider.  But she didn't like the idea of making Pemmican.  She decided that we (meaning I) would order it online.

Her search led her to the US Wellness Meats website, which, unbeknown to her, I had been secretly fantasizing about.  She left it to me to place the order.

I figured that 6 pemmican bars could be cut into enough pieces to satisfy our daughter's class, and I ordered two for myself, because I'm supposed to be eating high protein, low carb foods anyway.

Then I noticed the minimum order requirements of 7 pounds and $80, which meant I had to order about 6.5 more pounds of product.  Delighted, but feigning frustration, I said to my wife that I'd have to order more stuff.  "Okay," she said grudgingly.

I proceeded to order some "safe" items like ground beef, burger patties, sausage.  These are safe because they're things my entire family tend to eat.  Then I allowed myself the extravagance of a pound of ground lamb, which I'll probably use to make breakfast sausages.

I've been eating the pemmican because, as my good luck would allow, the teacher wanted only home-made stuff.  The only way this could get better would be if the teacher felt bad that we ordered it and decided to reimburse us for the expense.

Anyway, if you've never had pemmican before, let me describe it.  Imagine eating a pat of lumpy butter that has a meaty flavor, with an aroma tending toward high quality dog treats.  It certainly isn't the best thing I've tasted.  But it has the advantage of making my wife and daughter scream from the room if I offer them some.  After all, what good is a tasty snack if someone else has already eaten it on you?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dream: The Bus Crash That Never Comes

I'm a passenger on a bus that's being driven by two people.  The man in front at the steering wheel is steering the bus.  But there's another driver in the back who is operating the throttle.  I wonder how he can tell how fast he should go if he's way in the back.  He can't see the road or traffic!

It seems the bus is going too fast, and yet it keeps accelerating.  I'm sure that a crash is imminent.

As we navigate a left bend, my perspective shifts suddenly so that I can see the bus from outside it.  I watch with trepidation as the bus approaches an overpass and starts to veer off the road.  This is it.  It's the worst possible scenario.  Not only are we going off the road, but we're going to plunge several dozen feet and smash into a cement bridge support.

I'm back inside now, knowing that we're plunging, yet there's no sensation of falling.  I don't really know how to brace myself.  I turn to face the back of the bus.  I just wait for the explosive impact and hope I don't suffer.  And I wait some more and wonder why it's taking so long.

It seems we're frozen in time.  Our progress must've been slowed somehow by soft branches.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sake, Ikura Sushimi and Quail Egg

The highlight of my trip to NYC yesterday was my lunch at Monster Sushi.  I had:
  • Hamachinegi, which is a cut roll with Yellowtail and chopped scallions.
  • Sake Sushimi, or Salmon without rice.
  • Ikura, which is Salmon caviar.  It was presented in a cup carved out of a cucumber and topped with a...
  • Quail Egg
I wish I had a picture of it.

Salmon Caviar looks like translucent pink pearls that are about the size of green peas. When you bite them, they burst open in a delightful manner and release a vaguely pleasant salty liquid. The shell itself disappears. My daughter was actually willing to try one. In fact, she asked for more, twice.

She also asked whether it was a good idea to eat the eggs of a fish.  She was concerned that the salmon wouldn't have babies.  It made me pause for just a moment.  But I was so enamored of my treasure, any concern I had evaporated quickly.  I rationalized that salmon are an abundant species and that many eggs are eaten by predators in the wild anyway.  Besides, we (humans as a whole) consume a vast amount of chicken eggs.

I ordered the quail egg as an option.  The Quail Egg is a GenoType Diet Explorer Superfood, so I wanted to try one for nearly a year.  I don't think it added any flavor.  But since it was raw, it served partly as a decoration and partly as a sort of gravy.

The service was really quick, even right at lunch time. And I got plenty of ginger and wasabi, too.

They don't call this "serving food."  They call it "Culinary Arts."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday Card Project

After yesterday's bout with extreme self-absorption, it's time for me to switch gears and think about the needs of others.

deviantART is kicking off its 5th annual Holiday Card Project.

In a nutshell, you make (or buy) holiday cards and send it/them to DeviantArt, who will then distribute them to hospital patients.

Quoting from the website:
What is the deviantART Holiday Card Project?
The purpose of the Holiday Card Project is to have deviants [members] create holiday cards for people who are hospitalized during the holiday season. The idea behind the project is to simply try and bring a little cheer to those who are undergoing hospital stay.
You don't need to be a member of deviantART to participate. Come to think of it, you could just send your holiday cards directly to your local hospitals and nursing homes.

And you can spread the word!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

OMG I'm Friggin' Fat!

Yesterday I unveiled my Wednesday Weigh-In.  And Petra was kind enough to comment that the post didn't really tell her what kind of shape I'm in.  So I decided to add my height and waist measurements.  I figured I'd just measure my waist this morning and quietly edit yesterday's post.

That was before I saw that my waist is 4" bigger than I expected!  WTF!

Okay, I know that my 34" waist pants are a big snugger and my muffin top would alarm any competent cardiologist.  But 38"?  That's serious fatness!

I suppose I might not be pulling the tape tight enough.  I was able to get it down to 37" with just slight tautness.  And I breathe diaphragmatically, like a good singer does (but I sing like a bad one), so my girth changes constantly.

Or maybe the tape, being cloth, somehow got in the wash and shrunk about 10%.  Yes, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the measurement is in error.  You believe me, don't you?

Oh well.  It is what it is.  I know my readers will appreciate the honesty and motivate me to slim down.

Thank you.

(As I select tags for this, I'm tempted to choose "Personal Growth" just for hahas.)

Dream: The Glowing Skull From The Library

I'm at the university library checking out a book.  There's an intriguing skull on the counter.  It's not real.  It has plastic lights in the eyes.  I notice that it's available for checkout, so I check it out.  The librarian warns me that the late fee is very steep.  And if I lose it, the fine is tremendous.  So be very careful with it.  Then I realize that I had a lot of stuff to haul around.  This skull is going to be very hard to carry.

Well, I put my library card away, take the book and all my gear, and I exit the library.  After going about twenty feet, I realize with horror that I left the skull in the library on the counter!  Crap.  So I walk back with a rather quick pace and find with much relief that it was still there.

So I take it and resolve to be more careful.

Now I'm crossing a field with some friends.  The skull is proving to be a burden.  I wish I didn't borrow it.  I have a wagon, so I arrange my belongings to make them easier to carry.  Then I continue walking.  After a while, I become aware that I again don't have the skull.  Crap.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-In 20081112

Here's a new weekly feature, where-in I make my weight public knowledge. The idea is if I know I have to reveal weight increases, I might stop binging on those sugary after-supper treats. I might even lose weight.

So feel free to check in each week to see how I'm doing!

Waist = 38& 3/8 "
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Edited on 20081113 to add waist & height measurements and the note about the Javascript requirement.

Edited on 20081119 to add 3/8" to waist measurement to account for the fact that the measuring tape doesn't start at 0.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Design Your Own Internet Radio Station

Imagine if you could go to a website, enter the name of your favorite song, and have that website play that song and others like it.

Well, you don't have to imagine it. The website will let you do this for free. And it works for your favorite bands, too!  Try it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dream: In a Trance at Group Therapy

I'm in bed trying to sleep.  I'm supposed to get up early for an appointment.  I wake up too early several times and sleep poorly.  Then I wake up, and I'm shocked to find that it's 1:20 in the afternoon!  Crap!  Why didn't anyone wake me? I get ready and go to my appointment anyway.

It turns out to be some sort of new-age group therapy session.  I'm sitting at a table in a classroom with a few others.  The instructor wants us to meditate.  I completely relax and go into a trance-like state.

After about a minute the instructor asks us to come back out of our meditations.  I open my eyes but the instructor doesn't seem ready for people to open their eyes yet.  It's like she's getting a surprise ready.  I wonder what the surprise might be.

And then I see it.  The entire classroom has relocated.  A large passage opens in a wall (it's more like a garage door, I suppose) revealing a pleasant courtyard.  Wow, that's a nice trick.

[The beginning of this mirrored real life.  I did have an appointment, and I was waking up and slept poorly.  But I got up at the usual time and got to my appointment in time (dentist).  Oversleeping is not an option when you have a vocal cat with a big appetite.]

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wake Up -- Freak Out

I hope you have time to watch this video.

Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo.

Mainly it discusses how positive feedback loops can cause Earth's temperature to reach a tipping point beyond which it may be too late to keep it from rising to levels that would drastically alter Life.

But that's not why I like the video. I like it because of its message that "we simply need to consume less."

But [consuming less] is out of the question in a society which is founded on the ever-increasing consumption of materials and energy [my emphasis].

Nobody has all of the answers; but we do know that this is not the only way to live, and given that it is almost certainly going to kill us all, we had better start looking urgently at some of the alternatives. It is now very clear that in order to actually win the fight against climate change, making big changes to the way we each live our own lives is not going to be enough; we’re also going to have to actively confront powerful vested interests who will stop at nothing to prevent the changes we need from taking place [my emphasis]. We have to be more than just consumers.

- Leo Murray's Script for Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip.

Also, near the end, you can find images of rampant consumerism. Extremely fat corporate types ride on the bent backs of spindly citizens. Video monitors (presumably showing commercial television programming) are dangled in front like carrots to keep the citizens moving. This is set up by showing a member of Congress with his greedy corporate-pig friend.

It's a great illustration of the modern form of slavery you and I are trapped in. We have been brainwashed to want a large home, two big, gas-guzzling SUVs, all sorts of electronic gadgetry that needs to be replaced every year or two, and new fashions every year. So we're willing to work at jobs whose wages consistently fail to keep pace with the cost of living. We work harder and harder and have less and less to show for it. Meanwhile, the fat pigs of corporate America get richer and richer.

Now we have to bail them out. It's amazing that this video came out before the need for the bailout.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Kreativ Blogger Award

On October 31, Kerry awarded this blog with the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you so much!

Kerry writes a blog called LEMON-AIDE and received the award from Maureen at Being Chronically Ill is a Pill. This award comes with the condition that recipients share six things that make them happy and pass the award onto six of their favorite blogs.

I tried looking for the originator of this award to link back to that person's blog. Unfortunately, that turned into a huge time sink and proved fruitless. So I'm posting this now (before I waste more time), and if I find out more, I'll update the post.

As I try to think about what makes me happy, I end up thinking about what I'm grateful for. I suppose I'm grateful for the things that make me happy:
  1. I'm happy when I'm with my family and friends, and they're healthy and happy.
  2. I'm happy to get a steady paycheck each week that meets our needs.
  3. I'm happy when I'm hiking and working out.
  4. I'm happy that I exchanged "I love you" with my parents before they died.
  5. I'm happy when I write or draw something that seems nice.
  6. I'm happy when I help people and they appreciate it.
I'm awarding this to these 6 blogs:
  1. Karen Caterson's Square-Peg Reflections
  2. Jenny Ryan's Using My Powers For Good
  3. Cardiogirl: 19% body fat 100% fun
  4. The Dark Side of the Moon
  5. Lynne Morrell's Musings for the Soul
  6. Transforming Stress Into Personal Power
One more thing... Horay!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Changing Times

In most parts of the USA, Sunday was also the day we revert from Daylight Savings time back to Standard time.

Personally, I'm trying to stay on Daylight Savings time. I'm perpetually late, so the extra hour puts me back in the running. Besides, my job has flexible hours, so I work during whatever eight hours I happen to be there at.

I don't use an alarm clock. I just awaken naturally by noticing the sky getting brighter. Lately I've been prone to getting up later and later each day. Thanks to the time change, I now get up an hour earlier.

In past years, I've tried to sleep for another hour, but I couldn't do it. My sleep cycles run for an hour and a half, so I'd end up sleeping for another 90 minutes or forcing myself to get up after that extra hour and feeling extra tired.

I just need to go to bed at a reasonable time, and not squander that extra hour reading, surfing the web or playing my daughter's video games.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Life in Heaven

Christians celebrated All Saints Day today. We remember the dead, especially those who departed in the past 12 months (since the previous All Saints Day).

Our Pastor based his sermon on the civil war poem, "The Faded Coat of Blue," by J. H. McNaughton. The chorus is:
No more the bugle calls the weary one.
   Rest, noble spirit, in thy grave unknown.
I'll find you and know you among the good and true
   When a robe of white is given for the faded coat of blue.
It made me wonder again about Heaven, something I haven't done in a very long time.  What if I get to Heaven and someone whom I never liked finds me?  Will I still dislike that person?  Or what if I find someone who doesn't like me?

When I find my mother and father, how will they appear?  What age will they seem like?  I last saw them weakened and broken by disease.  They won't be like that in Heaven, right?  Are they still going to argue?

Then I started to wonder about pain.  Do we really know what sensations we'll experience in Heaven?  Will my wife's pain really leave her when she dies?  I realize that sounds silly.  Most people believe that pain is of the body, which the soul leaves to enter Heaven.  But when you live with chronic pain, it takes over your life.  How can anyone be sure it won't take over your death, too.

Dream: Joy to the World Calvacade

I'm viewing on the computer a home movie that my cousin K sent to me.  Apparently it's a celebration, perhaps the wedding of one of her children.  My uncle D is very happy and energized.  He's about 75 years old, yet he's running down a steep hill like a teenager.

Now I'm at the celebration.  I live in another state, so I'm ready to make the long drive home.  Many other family members are there, but they're not leaving; they're going to another place to continue the celebration.  As I drive away, the others follow me in their cars.

I hear them sing "Joy to the World."  They sing the second verse, which starts, "God save the Queen..."  I don't recall that those are the proper words.  Yet everyone sings them, and I wonder how they can drive and sing at the same time.  I'd have to read the lyrics off a sheet of paper, not an easy feat while driving.

Personal Growth (Part 1)

Friday is the day Cardiogirl delves into her Book of Questions and writes a thought-provoking post, one that encourages her readers to respond.

Last week's question was about personal growth.  In what three year period did you grow most?

I chose not to answer. I explained that "Square Pegs are constantly in a state of re-evaluation and growth due to the insecurity of not fitting in." Besides, her comment box is too small, and I didn't want to take two hours of my work day to answer. It might've taken me most of that time just to decide which burst of personal growth was my greatest.

But now it's Saturday night, our daughter's in bed (and so's the wife) and I'm primed for a wild night of introspection! Yet, I don't plan to describe my greatest period of personal growth. I want to list them all and let you decide!

Our first candidate arose from a traumatic event. In a previous post, the first "Why Meditate" post, I describe the car crash and how it caused me to question consciousness and start meditating. I also started doing yoga and karate, and I stopped eating meat.

Candidate number two involves adversity. After my father was diagnosed with ALS, I started to go to school part time to get a degree in engineering. He died about a year and a half after I started school. But I continued to work full time and go to school part time, which was made easier because I was still living with my mother. Then, two years later I quit work to go to school full time, although I worked full time at temp jobs during the summers. In a previous post called The Way of the Peaceful Warrior I wrote about the period leading up to graduation. Therapy helped me through that time. And with a B.S. degree, I started my new life by moving into my own apartment. To me that felt like stepping off a cliff and trusting that I would stay afloat.

Candidate number three involves the birth of a child, our daughter. I wrote a little bit about this in a previous post called, "How to Change the World." Before our daughter was born, my wife and I were both working. I was brought up a frugal saver, so I only spent money on things I needed, but only when I thought the store was losing money on it. I was working and saving for my retirement. Although we were paying off a mortgage, I still felt that if I got tired of my career I could cop out and slack off with a less demanding job. That all changed very quickly when our daughter was born. Suddenly I had a life insurance policy and someone to provide for.

The last candidate, number four, will be the subject of another post. It's a delicate subject, even for this anonymous blog.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dream: At the Pool Without a Swimsuit

I'm with K, my daughter's friend's father.  But I'm a boy, and he's the parent in charge of me.  We're at a health club that also has outdoor facilities, including a pool.

K encourages me to go swimming.  I tell him that I didn't bring a change of clothes.  He says to go ahead, and he'll go to my home and get my clothes.  Then I tell him that I don't have a bathing suit either. I also wonder to myself (with the mind of a grown-up) how he will enter the home and find where my clothes are located. And I wonder where his kids are and whether I should look after them.

No matter.  The weather has turned cloudy and windy.  A storm is imminent. Yet, I think I can borrow a swimsuit from the health club and go swimming. I don't care about the weather. I would swim if I can get a suit.

But now I see that the pool is closed. Someone actually pulled a tarp over the pool. I see a boy jump onto the tarp. He shouldn't do that. Someone should tell him to get off. He might puncture the tarp and fall in.

Analysis: K's daughter, T, is someone whom we often have over or take on outings. Her mom spends most of the time in bed and sometimes doesn't provide meals for her family. So K works all day, and he has to prepare meals and entertainment. This dream features a sort of role-reversal wherein I become T and K becomes me.

Dream: Really Long Woodwind Instruments

I'm in a department store.  There are several musicians lined up.  They are all playing things that look like bassoons, except these instruments are much longer.  The musicians are standing, but their instruments are a few feet taller than they are.  There's also a piano player.