Sunday, December 20, 2015

Friendship

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival."

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

(Sent from my phone)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Quote on life in old age

"My father, who lived to 94, often said that the 80s had been one of the most enjoyable decades of his life. He felt, as I begin to feel, not a shrinking but an enlargement of mental life and perspective. One has had a long experience of life, not only one's own life, but others', too. One has seen triumphs and tragedies, booms and busts, revolutions and wars, great achievements and deep ambiguities, too. One has seen grand theories rise, only to be toppled by stubborn facts. One is more conscious of transience and, perhaps, of beauty. At 80, one can take a long view and have a vivid, lived sense of history not possible at an earlier age. I can imagine, feel in my bones, what a century is like, which I could not do when I was 40 or 60. I do not think of old age as an ever grimmer time that one must somehow endure and make the best of, but as a time of leisure and freedom, freed from the factitious urgencies of earlier days, free to explore whatever I wish, and to bind the thoughts and feelings of a lifetime together."

Oliver Sacks


Sunday, November 29, 2015

A pointed finger...

"A pointed finger is a victim's logo... No matter how abominable your condition may be, try not to blame anything or anybody: history, the state, superiors, race, parents, the phase of the moon, childhood, toilet training, etc. The menu is vast and tedious, and this vastness and tedium alone should be offensive enough to set one's intelligence against choosing from it. The moment that you place blame somewhere, you undermine your resolve to change anything."

http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/05/05/the-crossroads-of-should-and-must-elle-luna/



Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Brave And Startling Truth

A Brave And Startling Truth
by Maya Angelou

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

(Sent from my phone)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sensitive Souls

"Sensitive people are the most genuine and honest people you will ever meet. There is nothing they won't tell you about themselves if they trust your kindness. However, the moment you betray them, reject them or devalue them, they become the worse type of person. Unfortunately, they end up hurting themselves in the long run. They don't want to hurt other people. It is against their very nature. They want to make amends and undo the wrong they did. Their life is a wave of highs and lows. They live with guilt and constant pain over unresolved situations and misunderstandings. They are tortured souls that are not able to live with hatred or being hated. This type of person needs the most love anyone can give them because their soul has been constantly bruised by others. However, despite the tragedy of what they have to go through in life, they remain the most compassionate people worth knowing, and the ones that often become activists for the broken hearted, forgotten and the misunderstood. They are angels with broken wings that only fly when loved."
― Shannon L. Alder

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The cookie cutter life if you follow the traditional societal role out of college:

So you die when you turn 22,
But they're gonna wait to bury you.
Cause you've got a 9-5 to do,
And that's supposed to matter.
And you replace your time in between,
With other people's hopes and dreams.
And live their lives on your T.V.,
And now you don't even matter.

SOJA,
Used to Matter

(Sent from my phone)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Why use social media? What do you love or hate?

A friend was preparing to give a talk on social media use and asked, "Why do you use social media? What do you love or hate about each platform?"

Ah! A favorite topic. I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about this kind of thing.

--- Facebook

Why I use Facebook: 

To engage and have conversations. Deepen connections.

What I love about Facebook: 

Deeper connection and lots of activity.

What I hate about Facebook

The presumption or expectation that our network is in the same place we are when posting: we may open a deep and thoughtful discussion but readers may be scrolling while waiting on line and not have the time or emotional energy to respond just then. And because there's no way to remind a person to go back later, sometimes good posts get crickets.

This can lead to hurt feelings -- I think Facebook is one of the more emotionally-evoking platforms. Content and links are often passionately provocative and because it's a more visible network, it has more power to evoke feelings of social exclusion if posts are not responded to. It feels more personal on Facebook than other venues. Building a quality network on Facebook is not unlike building a social network in person. You have to show up consistently and reliably over a long time, offer quality conversation and interact with others (it's not a one-way street).

--- Twitter


Why I use Twitter: 

Basically to see weather and traffic reports in real time. There's much less expectation to interact, you can just scroll mindlessly without replying to a single tweet. The effort you must put out is very low for an entertaining rate of return. But it can feel lonely if you don't have personal connections or anyone ever responding.

--- Instagram


Why I use Instagram: 

I use Instagram as a portfolio because it's easier than Flickr for assembling one place for artistic photos, but it seems like lots of people use it like a visual diary to document moments of life. I like it because the interface is so easy there are very low barriers to entry.

I dislike Instagram because anytime there's a "feed" there is a sense of having missed content, and it's also lonely if you put effort out and don't get much feedback. I liken Instagram as almost a Twitter for pix: there's a feed (although no links for more information).

--- Blogs


Why I blog: 

To get thoughts out, especially ones that are more than 140 characters. People find posts based on keywords and that makes me feel like I've helped somebody.

What I dislike about blogging: 

High maintenance if you want a prominent stake on the web. Also, because barriers to entry are low, anyone can "publish" and this is both good and bad.

--- YouTube


Why I use YouTube:

I use YouTube to collect videos. Rarely post or share but it's nice to have the ability. I organize these in folders: a funny set, music I'm hesitant to buy so testing, meditation videos, yoga and exercise examples, educational medical vids, etc. - I group by category.

What I dislike about YouTube: 

YouTube can be a huge time sink, people leave some of the nastiest comments of all the platforms it seems, and sometimes videos disappear so I might look for something I've saved and never be able to find it again. Vimeo allows downloads to personal computers which can do away with that last issue.

--- Podcasts



Why I listen to Podcasts:

I like to play these while doing crafts or laundry. I like that my eyes can be focused on something else while I'm listening. Dislike that it's not as easy to use and organize, I often forget to check my app.

--- RSS Feeds


Why I use a feed reader (for blogs / RSS feeds):

My feedreader, Feedly, is my second-favorite web tool but I'm not sure it's quite considered social media as it's more for consuming content than interacting. I use a plugin called "Pocket" to save articles to read later straight from a browser click so it saves me from the issue of seeing a great headline and not having time to read it just then.

What is a feed reader?

Suppose I was a fan of, say, five particular columns in five particular newspapers or blogs but didn't feel like visiting each website every day to read them. A "feedreader" is a tool that automatically "grabs" the new article for you and feeds it into one place. So whenever you open your app, you see the new content.

You can customize it so if you get tired of reading a particular blog, you can "unsubscribe" or add new content anytime. Google Reader did have a social aspect where you could comment on an article for networked friends but they discontinued it. Now I use Feedly (after trying out many others) and I love the cross-integration among various devices. If I read an article on my desktop at lunch and then hop on the subway on the way home, the app will remember which I've read and which is still unread.

Downside to using a feed reader: 

Finding a good tool required a fair amount of use and testing (as a content provider and consumer, I want to spend my time either providing or consuming content, NOT managing the tools. It's the difference between getting in the car and going somewhere versus changing a tire. Heh - Schrodinger's tool: you can either use the tool -- like a car or a program or whatever -- or make it usable, but not both at the same time).

Also a downside: having to remember to open the app to read my backlog.

I read somewhere that today's average user takes in the equivalent of 17 newspapers a day and I'm always acutely aware of this when reading RSS feeds (blogs).

--- User Expectation vs. Experience


What's disappointing about social media use:

Disappointment is prominent across all forms of social media use if you dig deep. I think this is because user expectation is not in line with reality. There's so much hype over all these ways to connect that beginning users can feel a little lost and like they're out of the "cool club" if they don't quite understand why or how to use the platform and experienced users do not necessarily create a welcoming environment for newbies.

There is a stereotype of the techie thinking anyone else that doesn't immediately "get it" is stupid, and new users can sense this and be afraid to ask for help or information. I'm not sure if that's because the web was started by techies and the most established people have the most understanding/audience. Or if it's because the power-hungry hoard information. It would be nice to make everyone feel welcome.

Building an audience is tough, whether personal or professional.

Monday, September 21, 2015

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person | Cracked.com

"But I'm not good at anything!" Well, I have good news -- throw enough hours of repetition at it and you can get sort of good at anything. I was the world's shittiest writer when I was an infant. I was only slightly better at 25. But while I was failing miserably at my career, I wrote in my spare time for eight straight years, an article a week, before I ever made real money off it. It took 13 years for me to get good enough to make the New York Times best-seller list. It took me probably 20,000 hours of practice to sand the edges off my sucking.

"Don't like the prospect of pouring all of that time into a skill? Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the sheer act of practicing will help you come out of your shell -- I got through years of tedious office work because I knew that I was learning a unique skill on the side. People quit because it takes too long to see results, because they can't figure out that the process is the result."

David Wong

http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person_p2/


(Sent from my phone)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

See Paris First

A photo posted by Wavian Arts (@wavianarts) on


Suppose what you fear
could be trapped
and held in Paris.

Then you would have the courage
to go everywhere in the world.
All the directions of the compass
open to you,
except the degrees east or west
of true north
that lead to Paris.

Still, you wouldn’t dare
to put your toes smack dab
on the city limit line.

And you’re not really willing to stand on a mountainside
miles away
and watch the Paris lights
come up at night.
And just to be on the safe side, you decide to stay completely
out of France.

But then danger
seems too close
even to those boundaries,
and you feel the timid part of you
covering the whole globe again.

You need the kind of friend
who learns your secret and says,
“See Paris first.”

—M. Truman Cooper

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Just Believe in it.... by S.H.

"My cause is more important!"

"No, MY cause is more important!"

"You're both dumb, you should be passionate about what I'M passionate about!"

"Look, there's pictures of other people on the other side of the world agreeing with me. I am right, you are wrong."

"You're all missing the point, THIS is what you should care about."
 Whoa, whoa, whooooa. Whoa. Folks. Stop a second.

Firearms. Poverty. Racism. Law enforcement. The 2016 US Presidential election. Body image. Global warming. Endangered species. Gender discrimination. Rape culture. Justin Bieber. What XYZ or ABC politician or corporation got away with. GLBT issues. Minimum wage. Veterans. Who was and wasn't inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Immigration. Taxation and government spending. Our definition of bravery. "First World Problems." ALS. Privacy rights. Net neutrality. People who leave their kid/dog in a hot car & people who bust them out. Walmart shoppers. Healthcare. Domestic violence. How Native Americans are treated. Fossil fuels. Douchebag drivers. How much attention one person's death gets over another's. Israel & Palestine. Vaccines and anti-vacc'ers. Plus another 50,000 things I can't even fit into a FB status field. All stuff people can get really fired up about.

But meme-shaming people who are fired up about something one day is as unhelpful in gaining support for your cause/theme/issue as meme-shaming people who donate to one charity over another.
Unhelpful.

I'm particularly disappointed in friends/acquaintances I consider to be pretty high-consciousness people doing this daily. Come on, y'all know better than to fight anger with nastiness or condescension; it only serves to lower the common consciousness. Compassion in ANY direction is always a good thing. We are all products of trillions of moments and experiences all mixed together, influenced by more factors than there are people in the world. There are lots of things that ethically people ought to get really fired up about. The prioritization of these things is *subjective*. Also dropping some major truth here, wait for it . . . waaaiit for it . . .

It truly IS possible for a person to feel passionate about more than one thing. AND try to raise awareness of all of them! You can do that!

Moreover, if someone isn't fired up about something in a given moment, it doesn't automatically imply they are apathetic about it. Not to mention that it does not behoove anyone to encourage apathy towards any issue in favor of their own strong beliefs. To those who are fond of the "you're only fired up about XYZ because you're a sheep and the media told you to be angry!" meme I can only say that I try to give my fellow humans a little more benefit of the doubt -- we are not all cattle who stupidly stampede every time we hear a clap of thunder and go back to chewing grass the moment it passes. Conversely I know you would not say about yourself "Every single thing I like I only have affinity for because the media told me I should." Come now, that's not always true either. So while it is part of our evolutionary programming to experience a negative emotion when we see something that we object to, often it's more profound than that. People are complex. Issues are complex. We used to be more selective what we discussed with other people because the newspaper, magazines, radio, or evening news were our only exposure to current events. Now we have a continual flood of events and issues passing through our awareness every minute. Not everything will have equal meaning or gravity to every person, nor to the same person on different days. And yeah, while the media (esp. in the US) has lots of bias because Profits, and there are A ZILLION important events and causes we should care about that never make it to our screens, it does little good to belittle that which someone does speak up about.

So perhaps could we, instead of barking at each other through the fence to stop focusing on certain issues, rather *invite* each other to *also* raise our awareness to multiple issues? Can we maybe *listen* to other perspectives AND *constructively voice* our own perspectives? Are we able to say, "Hm, I do hear what you're saying. Another way to look at it is . . . "? And most importantly if we feel that strongly about making a change about something in our status quo, would not the best way to do so be to take action and change it, rather than complaining and judging others? The more we argue about "what's really important" the more we sound like the comments section of YouTube videos.

If you've made it the whole way to the bottom of this post, you're probably already looking at the bigger picture most of the time. And thank you for reading it. I hope some constructive discussion comes of it, or at least a little inspiration for action, maybe.

For those who skimmed the whole way (and that's ok!), I give you:

TLDR version: In the immortal words of Shepherd Book from Serenity, "I don't care what you believe in, just believe in it."

~S.H.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

This is my symphony

To live content with small means;
Illustration by Takot Ako Krakotz
to seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable,
and wealthy, not rich;
to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart;
to study hard;
to think quietly,
act frankly,
talk gently,
await occasions,
hurry never;
in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious,
grow up through the common –
this is my symphony.
–William Henry Channing (1810-1884)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Photo by Timothy Brown
I saw many humans on whom there were no clothes,
I saw many clothes in which there were no humans.
- Rumi

Oliver Sacks' autobiography

One of my favorite authors, Oliver Sacks, has written an autobiography and the review alone is gripping:
"As Dr. Sacks bids the world adieu, he leaves us with this miracle of a book — the ultimate gift of 'love, death, and transience, inseparably mixed.'"

http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/05/18/oliver-sacks-on-the-move/

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday, April 27, 2015

On the need for diversity


"Schools, workplaces, laws, norms, the media – they all need to make it clear that there are other ways to be a woman or a member of one minority group or another." Hazel Markus

(Sent from my phone)

"Grief is big and can fill a house.

"Grief is big and can fill a house.

"As you may remember, we've been renovating our bathroom and, as we enter week four, we're finally at a stage where we are tiling. Our tiler is a lovely, congenial man and he is also in deep, deep grief. He lost his 28-year old son to a heroin overdose just four weeks ago and he comes to work at my house, because he doesn't know what else to do with himself. He doesn't know the future. He's not sure about the present. He's lost nis only son and his daily work companion -- his beloved boy and the young man he had hoped would take over the business one day.

"I hear him, trudging up and down my stairs, each step reminding him that his son is gone.

"'The steps are hard. I'm sixty years old, you know? And normally...' His voice catches in pain. "Well, normally my son would help with this part of the job..."

"'But it is what it is,' he says with finality, as he signs and turns back to his work.

"His grief is big and it fills my house. But it's okay, because this home is built with enough love and joy to hold space for his sorrow--for any sadness that comes into our lives in whatever form.

"Up and down the stairs he goes, each step a reminder of the love he has for a boy he lost and I send him peace. And I send his son peace. And I also send you peace, for whatever sorrow you may have today, big or small. This house is big enough to contain whatever is within you, too.

"Your grief is welcome here."

-- Jessica Steward
stewardcoaching.com

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mass media; mass disappointment

"I get in the elevator at work, and see CNN playing on mute in the little screen above the numbered floor buttons. They flash up a screen shot of a tweet: "Why does the media keep showing the young, pretty Hillary? They should show the old hag that she is today." (I don't remember this type of discussion ever going on about any male presidential candidate.)

"I read 'Girl in a Band,' Kim Gordon's new memoir about her time in the seminal experimental band Sonic Youth, and the book is threaded with asides about her appearance-related worries due to her being the only female in the band: Should she downplay her naturally good looks, try to look ugly and androgynous? Should she be sexier, to help 'sell' the band's inaccessible, dissonant sound? Should they put her front and center on the stage (they did), should they feature her prominently in band photos on their album covers (they didn't)? (None of the guy members of the band dealt with any of these concerns.)

"Just you try and tell me we no longer need feminism in our modern, enlightened Western world."

Christie Kimball

Sunday, March 15, 2015

On the grit you need to be an artist

"You may not know this, but in terms of artistic endeavors or craftsmanship, people don't really think all that highly of shirt-makers. Not everybody, but when you're out there selling shit, people kinda talk down to you like "oh shirts, how cute" and sort of talk about how screen printing is this thing they could do some afternoon if they felt like bothering.

"And it's like, sure; screenprinting isn't heart surgery, and there are a million easier ways to get a shirt made these days than opening up shop; so when people ask me about getting into making shirts it's like, Do you really want to make shirts? Do you believe in your clever idea enough to see it through to fruition, to tear up half your place and buy a bunch of nasty chemicals and expensive equipment, to research technique and learn through practice, trial and error; is your shirt design good enough to work all night printing them out, in every size and shape and color, just in case! And after ALL of that, can you handle folding up your heart and soul and laying it bare on a sheet-covered table, and stand there and smile while people saunter by, sometimes for hours with only a scattering of pauses, points, and maybe a polite chuckle? CAN you swallow back all of your pride and fury in place of a resolve; that against all odds, your own thoughts and ideas, the ones you loved so much as to create them from nothing, will resonate with another person, enough they want to pay you for the privilege of wearing it on their body?

"Motherfucker do you really want to make t-shirts??"

~Nick Min D'Jacquette

Monday, January 12, 2015

The most successful people in life recognize this:

"The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you." ~Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Everybody needs to be understood.

"When you recognize that pain — and response to pain — is a universal thing, it helps explain so many things about others, just as it explains so much about yourself. It teaches you forbearance. It teaches you a moderation in your responses to other people’s behavior. It teaches you a sort of understanding. It essentially tells you what everybody needs. You know what everybody needs? You want to put it in a single word?

"Everybody needs to be understood.

"And out of that comes every form of love.

"If someone truly feels that you understand them, an awful lot of neurotic behavior just disappears — disappears on your part, disappears on their part. So if you’re talking about what motivates this world to continue existing as a community, you’ve got to talk about love… And my argument is it comes out of your biology because on some level we understand all of this. We put it into religious forms. It’s almost like an excuse to deny our biology. We put it into pithy, sententious aphorisms, but it’s really coming out of our deepest physiological nature." Sherwin Nuland