Friday, March 29, 2013

Broken Relationships

Some relationships are robust vessels and weather many a storm without concern.  Others are fragile and easily break apart or lose their balance in the onslaught of experience.  Among the fragile ones are those of youth, when the bond is a shared experiment when neither partner has the experience to steer and batten down the hatches.  These tend to have a rapid, painful passing, moving on to the next pairing with relative ease.

Far more destructive than these is the class of relationships with and between the mentally ill.  One or both partners actually have a broken relationship in many ways with themselves and it is extraordinary when pairing with another can truly succeed.  It is almost like trying to create a construction bond between parts using some form of cement while one or both of the parts is constantly in chaotic motion.  It is generally the healthier partner that eventually separates for their own survival, but the wounds often last well beyond that point.

I am careful on this blog to not point to individuals in my close experience as examples, especially in such a way that they might read my writings and be hurt.  Nonetheless, I have had several examples around me that are still being dealt with in a myriad of ways.

Some are aware of the difficulty they present in the care they require, but none are fully aware of the cost to others.  Of course, which of us is aware of that?  Two should probably be under institutional care.  Our society is taking less and less institutional responsibility for mental health care and trying to shift the burden to families.  The result is often financial failure coming from fixing all that the ill destroy or the cost of the medicine they require.  It can also lead to physical abuse and in one case in our family ultimately led to murder.  The end destination of many of these people is now prison, which is not really equipped to deal with mental illness.

The problem is achingly real and the questions it raises for those involved are some of the most difficult and ambiguous they will ever face.  I venture to say that not a one of my readers has fully escaped this challenge.  Have you?

This topic was brought to the Loose Blogger Consortium by Ramana.  His link and others of the LBC are available on the right hand side of the page.  Find writers and thinkers all, I encourage you to see what their views on this topic are.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Not only is there synchronicity, there is humor behind it!

I fully agree with Ramana about Synchronicity, meaningful connections between seemingly random events, because I believe consciousness underlies it all.  And that consciousness has a sense of humor!

My most recent post was on panoramas and it basically said nothing, but showed two panoramic pictures I had created in New Zealand, just for people to enjoy.  So, this is the spam tossed up against it with obviously no true consideration of the content or lack thereof:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "I Love a Nice Panorama":
Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. An excellent
read. I will certainly be back.

Interesting.  Pics is all it was. Smile

And … no, I will not give you the link that Anonymous included in the comment.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Love a Nice Panorama

Today’s cameras and computers make taking a panorama picture relatively easy.  It is actually a series of pictures taken side by side and then stitched together.  As evidence of how nice they can be, I offer you two that I took on our New Zealand trip and stitched together at home.

The first is from an observation deck at Queenstown.  The rainbow over the lake was nice enough to oblige Flash and Lafawnda as they looked out across Lake Wakatipu:



The second is from the world renowned Milford Sound centered on Mitre Peak.  The “snow” on the mountains on the right is actually a glacier:


Now it is even easier with an iPhone.  It will take the panorama on the spot and coach you on your sweep from left to right.

Technology definitely has its advantages in some areas of life!

Friday, March 22, 2013


Frugal: Sparing or economical with regard to money or food.

Some don’t choose it, necessity does.  When I was in college, I had not spent my money with care at one point and left myself with only $30 to live on for a month.  I went to the store, bought a very large bag of brown rice and a very large container of raisins and powdered milk for my meals at home.  At the student union, there was hot water for tea, ketchup in a very large pump container and crackers, so I would make myself a cup of tomato soup with pepper every so often.  I spent $15 on rent (it was 1970 after all and five of us shared a house) and at the end of the month, I was none the worse for wear having neither gained nor lost weight and felt just fine.  I was just ready for some variety!

That isn’t how I recommend anyone live, but it isn’t the worst thing.  I proved to myself what I could do with little if the need arose and that is a lesson all young people should learn one way or another.  As my wife and I have faced tighter times, we are a good team when it comes to living frugally.  For example, it was necessary when I was laid off the very day the mortgage on our house went through.  We, as in my college days, haven’t felt – nor are we – deprived, but we look forward to more variety when our personal economy frees back up.  We are creative with inexpensive pleasures in tighter times.

Why is it good to be frugal other than to just meet necessity?  Because it reminds a person of the difference between want and need, for most of the time we acquire things we want but don’t necessarily need and we can lose focus on those things that are essential and important.  Many youth too rich too young fall into grievous traps very difficult to escape.  Many rich adults end up trying to buy happiness and forget the beauty of simplicity, as well as losing compassion.  Acquisition becomes an end in itself and true happiness wanes.  That is part of what the Hippie Revolution, silly and misguided as it sometimes could be, was all about, freeing ourselves from these traps.


I have no objection to the occasional splurge and I’m no longer a Hippie.  Our best friends are coming from their home in the mountains to visit this weekend and we will eat all we desire and party over by the ocean.  Personally, I think that qualifies as an occasional need!  Don’t you?

See what the other members of the LBC (with a clickable listing on the right side of this page), a loose collection of bloggers both interesting and good of heart whose read on a shared Friday topic is always worth it.  I know I’ll be making the rounds and rewarding them with comments, which by the way are rewarding to bloggers at very low cost to the reader.  Please let them know what you think.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Super Fly!

When I got home from a brief outing today, I noticed that my fly was unzipped.  I am at the age and the pants were of a design where it caused me virtually no distress at all.  Then the universe threw in some synchronicity to keep Ramana reading.  I just ran across this headline for

An estimated 17,616 people wound up in U.S. emergency rooms between 2002 and 2012 because they caught their genitals, almost always penises, in zippers, according to a new study.

So, I wasn’t being careless when I didn’t pull up the zipper.  I was being careful.  And where do I get one of those lungis?

Where I’ve been lately

Sometimes, life washes over the top of me and I don’t object.  It is a mixture of difficult and delight, the former a necessary duty, the latter the recharging antidote.  I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and we are blessed with beauty abundant if a person will go out into it or stop to look.

It is a good thing, for so many around me have been suffering the ravages of mental illness – not Lafawnda, who is doing great! – and the fallout is a terrible and expensive thing indeed.  The Lady F and I have realized there is only so much we can do to save the world and we have definitely been doing our share.  Then we take off into the beauty that surrounds us so our souls and our psyches can recover.  All the pictures I am going to put in this post are from within 15 miles of our house (except for the Napa Valley, which is 60 miles away) and all were taken within the last two weeks.

The Lady F and I have joined the Regional Parks Foundation Trails Challenge 2013 program in which we will hike 5 parks or 26.2 miles minimum this year.  The parks are part of the largest urban park system in America.  We’ve already hiked 3 and are hoping to hike as many more this summer as we can fit into our schedule.  Our kids are catching the fever, too!

Trails Challenge Website

Only about 30 of the 65 East Bay parks are part of the challenge this year, but we have hiked some that are not on the list, too.  We also hike further than the minimum even though we don’t get “credit,” Smile because it is for the beauty, the fresh air and the exercise that we are doing it.

These images were from our hike of the Coyote Hills Park.  We hiked a bit more than 3.5 miles through marshland, hills and bayside.  We saw a fox up close, egrets and a muskrat along the way along with a wide variety of plants:


In between, we went to Napa to help Lady F’s mother, 87 but doing really well.  While there, the three of us took off to enjoy some of the valley.  Oh, and then do some cleanup of yard and windows although one of the workers seemed decidedly hostile!  LOL


Wednesday, while driving home, I turned the corner two blocks from our house and ran right into a gorgeous sunset!  I pulled off the side of the street and took this photo.  The photo is unretouched and all these photos in the post are from a Canon Powershot ELPH that I carry in my pocket at all times.


This past weekend, we took the kids to Tilden Park sitting in the hills right above Berkeley, part of the Trails Challenge.  The first view is over the Bay and we were all looking at San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.  The rest were inland on our 7.1 mile hike!


Life can be very challenging and is often busy.  But when we head back into these beautiful park lands, it is like leaving civilization behind.  Ah, sweet nurturance!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Music that changed my life

Maria, the Silver Fox brought this to the Loose Blogger Consortium for our Friday writing.  I’m late (unavoidably), but I wanted you to see how Les Misèrables was not just a movie or another movie or musical to me.  It really did change my life, for the lead, Jean Valjean was my newly minted son-in-law and this was my daughter’s first musical as a freshman.  I even had a part, building major portions of the set from scratch, so it truly was a family affair.

Now, I present to you some highlights and I remind you that every bit of singing you hear is live singing by kids of one of the top choirs every year in the country.  This was created by me taking the VHS tape I made of it, playing it on the TV and recording it with my iPhone.  You can imagine the loss of quality and you can imagine what it was like live.

I present to you the marvelous Mt. Eden High School Choir of Hayward performing the musical Les Misèrables!

Friday LBC Topic Delay 3/15/2013

As W.C. Fields once said in explanation of being late and quite bedraggled, “Things happened.”   Perfect explanation for why I don’t have my entry yet.

I’ll get there, but not for about another 12 hours or so.  In the meantime, make the rounds of the folks listed on the right hand side of this page and I’ll be seeing you soon.

Friday, March 8, 2013

My childhood goals for my life

This topic was brought to the LBC by Delirious and I find it fascinating in that my early goals were very clear … and very relevant to my life.  Kind of something a person might not expect.

When I was five years old, I told my folks that I was going to be a scientist in the winter:


and a Major League Baseball player in the summer:


Well, I did start college as a Physics Major and I taught science on graduation.  Now, I make my living as a computer scientist and I think that isn’t too bad for the first part of my proclamation.

Baseball?  It was always and by far my favorite sport.  I had a talent for it, too, but I doubt you ever heard of my Major League career.

You know how five year-olds exaggerate!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stupidity, Take Two: Science and the Media Oscars

First on the plate, CNN anchor asks whether Global Warming had anything to do with the asteroid that came close to the Earth.  So, the Oscar for “dumbest question of the week” goes to:

The Oscar for dumb question of the week!

Second, for Fox can never be left out of the “we will just make it up if we need to” game, an anchor asserts that solar can never work in America like in Germany because we don’t have as much sun.  Which is totally incorrect …  So, the Oscar for best “Lie to serve a purpose in a fantasy” category goes to:

After watching these two, I have to admit that maybe there is no evolution.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Lowering Your Stupid Quotient!

I dug this out of the archives, written in 2007.  I am uncertain if it was ever posted anywhere, but it is as relevant today as it was then, so I decided to repost it:


I've got enough IQ. No one ever says that (with good reason), but I'm breaking the taboo for a very specific purpose. Mention of your own IQ is taboo, because we have forgotten that it is an artificial invention of the human mind trying to understand itself, not a God given supernatural score so that the ego can say, "I win! I beat you by three points." Besides, in practical human affairs, the IQ isn't very important!

You are born with the essential IQ (Intelligence Quotient) that you are going to have going through life. It is a measure of your brain's potential to master academic matters, to reason. Unfortunately, having the horsepower to work through Relativity or Quantum Mechanics is irrelevant in most life situations. If I just want to take a trip to the grocery store, I'm probably better off taking my Honda station wagon than taking that Ferrari I have in the garage (fantasy is also part of the brain's activity). I need more groceries day-to-day than I do conversations with colleagues on spatial dilation as the speed of light is approached. Most daily activities leave me with IQ to burn! Add to that the fact that I can't really change that IQ much (although I can leverage it with education). I'm pretty much stuck with the cards dealt!

When it comes time to play that hand you've been dealt, there is a much more important factor in most situations. I recently worked my way through a very important effort to keep a top faculty member at my daughter's school, an effort that ended in the Superintendent's office around a conference table with the key players from the school district. A large number of people had failed to bring the situation to a resolution until it had devolved into full crisis. I went into the situation with only one determination -a total refusal to be stupid! Not to have day-winning insights, not to dazzle anyone with intelligence, hardly to use intelligence at all. 100 IQ points was plenty for this situation. The dogged refusal to be stupid won the day!

Let's contrast that with the behavior of some very intelligent people in the news. Larry Craig and his "wide-stance" nudging of the cop's foot in the Minneapolis Airport - stupid! The clothes police busting Terry Francona in the middle of a baseball game because he was wearing a pullover in the dugout due to a medical condition that causes him to become chilled - stupid. The Chinese Shaolin Temple (and, indeed the Chinese Government) are demanding an apology from someone who wrote in a blog that the warriors of the Shaolin Temple were once beaten by a Japanese Ninja, saying that they “strongly condemned the horrible deeds” of the user - stupid. Jimmy Carter, with a posted IQ of 175, a few years ago telling the press in Mexico that he was suffering from Montezuma's Revenge - stupid. Now, as we said, there isn't much you can do about your IQ, but your SQ (Stupid Quotient) is something that you can actively change. It is a matter of attention and discipline. You really can refuse to be stupid, thereby lowering your SQ.

So, let me give the kids out there some advice. The next time you find yourself in a job interview or around the conference table working on a project or sitting in front of the boss, be positive. Be friendly. Let your ideas and your creativity flow. But, in the midst of it all, REFUSE TO BE STUPID!

Now … I get to add the American Sequester!  The most STUPID of all!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Fog Over the Bay


The San Francisco Bay is really a bowl surrounded by decent sized hills and an opening through the Golden Gate to the Pacific.  This is what we looked like this morning, with the fog settled in.

And this is how it looked out the door:


I’ve always been enchanted by the fog.  Add the foghorns over by the Golden Gate and the spell is complete!

Getting Things Wrong in a Foreign Language

Paul of Blackwatertown fame brought the Loose Blogger Consortium this Friday topic.  But, he's got an advantage!  He's in Europe.

In America, we don't have enough close neighboring countries that I have been in for enough time to get in trouble.  I mean, I know a few Spanish cuss words, but I know when to not use them.  And I accidentally used a Japanese cuss word with our exchange students that stayed with us years ago.  My Dad didn't translate it as a cuss word when he used it after being part of the occupation force in Japan in WWII.

That is just too boring.  However, America is bigger than most Europeans are used to one country being and we can have misunderstandings based upon the region of the country you are from.  For example, in Kansas, the 3 meals of the day were breakfast, dinner and supper.  In California, it is breakfast, lunch and dinner.  That type of translation won't get you in much trouble.

But ... I did recall one that caused a real problem.  My wife said we were doing something NEXT Saturday.  So, Saturday showed up and ... I wasn't ready at all!  I expected the trip to be a week off still.  In Kansas, the coming Saturday is THIS Saturday and NEXT Saturday is the one following.

That's as good as I can do.  I haven't had a topic I couldn't dig something out for in a coon's age.