Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tension in America

Is tension / strife (racial or otherwise) getting better or worse in America?

Internet discussions and TV and print news tend to go for the most discord they can drum up to get you to click or watch or to buy the paper. Headlines may be misleading just to draw you in. Perspective may be slanted to make the story irresistible. They say “sex sells,” but how do you make a story irresistible? Give people something to be angry about.

In a workshop I took a few years ago, the instructor said that anger is just a way of putting the focus on someone else. We don’t want to look at parts of ourselves that make us uncomfortable, so we find a reason to put our attention on another. We make them our scapegoat without considering that other person is a human being with reasons for what they do and with desires and needs no less worthy than ours.

I think most of us as children were taught not to discuss religion or politics. But did anyone ever tell you why? I wasn’t from a background that would cause discrimination for our family’s religious beliefs or politics. So I assume it was because people in our society cannot simply state their views and reasons and expect to receive the same without offense.

It would be wonderful to say “I think this,” and the other person could say “I disagree and here is why.” Or “I think you are looking at the issue from perspective A, but these other people are looking from perspective B.” Then the first person could say “I don’t agree” or “Oh, I hadn’t considered that.” All without calling each other "stupid".

Some of my Facebook friends post or share posts of impassioned mini-speeches. I’ve noticed they rarely get through a paragraph without calling their opposition “stupid,” and those are the ones being fairly restrained. I wonder sometimes who they think is reading their posts. Just a bunch of like-minded friends who want to be angry about the same subject in the same way? Or do they consider that their posts may be read by someone who disagrees?

If your post is read by someone who disagrees, do you want to reach that person and ask them to consider a different viewpoint? If so, calling them names, insulting them, shaming them and their side will only cause them to reject what you say, even the reasonable parts of your argument. When was the last time someone called you stupid, greedy, or mean and you responded with “yeah, hey thanks – now I see the error of my ways.” It’s more likely you would not only disagree with them, but look for other reasons to dislike them. What kind of friends, hobbies, job or whatever do they have that could be ridiculed? Anything to get back at them. And the “discussion” goes beyond ill thought out venting to increasing anger and so it pushes people further apart.

Maybe we need speech and debate classes to be mandatory to teach people how to discuss a topic. They could now be "speech, debate, and internet posting" classes.

Are you trying to change someone’s mind? Then ask yourself, are you open to having your mind changed? Do you accept the idea that you could be wrong? If not, then don’t try to make the other person “wrong”. 

This blog topic is part of a monthly series wherein a group of bloggers will all write their take on the same topic and publish on the same day without having read any of the others. Here are links to the other blogs:

·                              William Pora:
·                              Rebecca Harvey:
·                              James McPherson:
·                              Jon Lundell:
·                              Leslie Farnsworth:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Does Travel Change You?

I want the answer to be yes. When I travel, especially internationally, it gives me time outside of my normal routine and forced downtime while on a plane, in a car, in an airport, to think about my life and how I want it to be. Maybe the thrill of being out of the office and on vacation mixes with the thrilling idea of a whole new, better life and the euphoria makes it all seem so possible. I make lists of changes I want to make, even if it is just how to save money to afford my next trip.

But do I really make a lasting change when I get back to the daily grind? The fact that I refer to my life as the daily grind hints at the answer.

Coming home on the plane from a trek in Nepal, it occurred to me it’s not good to live your whole year just looking forward to the next trip. You have to find adventure and joy in your life each day. So I asked the question, how do I do that? I considered things that had made me happier in the past. I started meditating again. I started The Artist’s Way to see if it would help me get on with my goal of writing several novels. And I started looking differently at deaccumulating.

I am often stymied by the overflow of stuff I have. I can’t find things, I can’t invite people over without jamming it all in a closet, and yet I keep buying more. The combination of being in a place where the average daily salary is about $1 and the fact that I was only traveling with what could be carried up the mountain by a porter means that I was looking more closely at what I actually needed and what I didn’t. My sunburn taught me good quality sunscreen was a necessity, the two books I didn’t read were a waste because I was always hanging out with other trekkers. Water purification was a necessity, more than one set of warm clothes was unneeded bulk.

My apartment is covered with things I worry that I might need if I get rid of them. But if I can learn anything from travel, I hope it will be that I can have a great time with very little. As for the things that would make the trip a little more comfortable, I can usually do without them and the fun I’m having and the lightened load makes up for any discomfort.

So on the one hand, no, I did not come home and radically change my life. But each trip I’ve been on has been an education in some way, even if it is just finding out I can do something on my own or survive travel disasters. I look back at these when I consider whether I can accomplish something new that is out of my comfort zone. Did I change and am I changing due to my travels? Yes, even baby steps count. And they add up. 

This blog topic is part of a monthly series wherein a group of bloggers will all write their take on the same topic and publish on the same day without having read any of the others. Here are links to the other blogs:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Is Having A Pet Worth It?

        I didn’t expect this topic to be so difficult and personal. The question of whether pets are “worth it” (the time, money, emotional giving and getting) is not so much about the pet as it is about the owner. I’ve been flirting with the idea of getting another pet for years now, but currently have none.

I get the feeling that in our society it is considered shameful to not like pets or children. You don’t have to have them, but you can’t say you don’t like them. Think I’m exaggerating? When was the last time you heard someone come right out and announce they do not like one or the other? And what was the reaction of those around them? I like both pets and children, but in small doses.

Maybe in some ways I’m selfish. On the one hand, I would feel bad that my pet is home alone all day while I’m at work, but then I also don’t like the idea that when I am home they would be demanding my time and attention. And yes, I guess that also means I’m more of a cat person. Although on my recent trek in Nepal I saw all these big, mellow dogs that just enjoyed lying out in the sun and would allow themselves to be petted, but wouldn’t get in your face for attention. 

I weigh what I got from my past pets against the pets’ quality of life. Of the pets in my adult life, one puppy was given to a new home after two weeks of no fun and lots of trouble (puppies are supposed to be fun as well as work, right?) One rabbit had to be put down due to health issues affecting his quality of life. This was, by the way, one of the hardest things I ever had to do. And one cat led a long and happy life, but the majority of it was after I gave her to my parents because I moved to a friend’s “no pets allowed” apartment. My father, Mr. “I don’t want anything in the house that poops or sheds” was secretly thrilled to have her keep him company after a medical retirement curtailed his usual work and activities. Then after dad died she became mom’s cat, and mom seemed glad to have the company as well.

Now that I look at all of my past pets, my track record is worse than I thought. But still, when I think about my reasons for not getting one now, I feel a little societal pressure that maybe others would argue against those reasons. “Having a pet will make you a better person (more loving, generous, compassionate.)” But it’s hard taking the plunge knowing I may have another bad experience. 

I have considered signing up to take in foster animals for the SPCA. I could be a serial temporary pet owner, which may be the right fit for me. 

This blog topic is the first in a monthly series wherein a group of bloggers will all write their take on the same topic and publish on the same day without having read any of the others. Here are links to the other blogs:

Monday, March 31, 2014

Blogging Your Blog

I'm being mentioned in my friend's blog! So that's almost like posting, right?

No? ?

I guess there's no way around sitting down and writing in your blog. And I want you to remember that I said that, because soon we'll be getting "business oriented" blogs that are written by robots. And it will be a sad, sad day.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Back From the Dead

Yay! I'm posting.

I try to learn from the experience of others. I've noticed that many people (perhaps most?) write a blog just the way most people journal. They start off with a few entries, fully planning and expecting this to be an ongoing thing. Then they disappear for a long time. They come back, apologetic and promising to get back on track. Usually that is the last post / journal entry. The fact that it's out there for everyone to read, unlike the dusty journal in your bedroom, doesn't seem to help. And the sad, neglected blog continues on like a discarded rocket part floating through space.

So I'm back after a long absence, but will bite my tongue before apologizing or promising anything. The following is not an excuse, as I am not apologizing, but I guess it's blog-vent.

I tried starting a new blog on my webpage and I hated it. It was not user-friendly. I had enough trouble with discipline and writer's block already, but throw in a really good excuse like "I can't remember the two or three passwords necessary to access the new blog I can't figure out how to use" and you're set to put the flowers on its little bloggy grave.

Meanwhile, I had the occasional blog-worthy idea, but nothing seemed significant enough to go through the above mentioned hassle. So I fell into another old trap: needing everything to be perfect and awesome before it's worth writing about.

In July I did "Camp NaNoWriMo" (see or for info on this wordpile craziness), and I started to learn that I can push myself to write even when I have no idea what to write and, perhaps more importantly, that the world doesn't end if what I write is no good. In fact, for the first couple weeks I kept a toy skunk by my laptop to remind me to keep writing even if what I come up with is stinky.

Keep going....keep going...keep going. No matter how perfect you think things ought to be, it's always better to show up and create something than to keep the hope of perfection and have nothing to show for it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

One Down....

Today I finished the first draft of my first novel. It is a very rough first draft, but finished none the less. I'm going to take a week off, then start revising. I would love to start my next one within a month or two. We'll see...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No Squeak Zone

If you live upstairs from another human being and are going to do anything in your apartment, anything at all – even just situps or moving around while you talk on the phone – do it on a part of the floor that does not squeak. I'm just saying...