Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nights at Bad Ass Coming to an End?

I am at the sadly closing coffee haven, Bad Ass Coffee Company here in Redding, California.

Two bands re playing tonight, and I am typing away, listeniong to the bass, and the reverb, the electric guitars, and inspired vocals of two different bands, from where? Salt Lake City? OMG. I am having a blast. They are wrapping up one band, and moving onto the next. I have little to add, except I want yopu to know, napkins, chewed up, and molded make fabulous ear protection. I know that is gross.... I am not into protecting your delicate sensibilities as i am into reporting the truth.

The bands playing are Goodnight Sunrise, and The Larusso Band.

I suppose I have to accept the fate of my favourite blogging hole. I love the coffee. I love the convenience. I am sad that so many of my friends are now going to have to find new work, and the beautiful people that run this store are hopefully moving on to better ventures.

As for the bands... They were all excellent, and I am duly pleased with the music. I hope they are able to get on to ntheir next destination safely. They ended up holed up here in Redding. The roads were closed off due to snow.

I am here, just keeping it real.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thoughts on Integrity

Men, in general, seem to employ their reason to justify prejudices, which they have imbibed, they cannot trace how, rather than to root them out. The mind must be strong that resolutely forms its own principles; for a kind of intellectual cowardice prevails which makes many men shrink from the task, or only do it by halves. Yet the imperfect conclusions thus drawn, are frequently very plausible, because they are built on partial experience, on just, though narrow, views.

Mary Wollstonecraft , A Vindication of the Rights of Woman 1792*

Written over two hundred years ago, this passage seems to make to root out much of a battle that comes to the forefront in my brain. I have been bound to develop myself as an individual. I have to be clear on who I am, and what I believe. Of course, I also have a counter thought, one to whom I cannot ascribe due credit, and that is , “convictions only make convicts.” So, when I see myself talking aloud, I always find my own opinions, my own prejudices, my hurts, my fears, all bubble to the surface, and on such occasions I am almost always in the presence of someone who would call out to me, “Do you really believe that, or are you just talking out of your ass?”

I think it a blessing that I count as my friends people not afraid to challenge me on my thoughts, not afraid to hurt my feelings, investigate the breaks in my own internal continuity. I hope to have the highest ideals for myself, but in thje end, I know my own cosmic egg has its points of breach. No longer do I need to fret over the breach in anyone else’s egg. In do not have to challenge your precious beliefs, your holy relics, your spurious dreams. I was startled when a close friend of mine said, “I do not like it when anyone questions my integrity.” I could only wonder, of what are they afraid will be found. I strive to always welcome investigation.

I have been told in the past phrases like, “I do not mean to burst your bubble, but…” Or maybe that was , “I do not mean to burst your bubble butt.” Either way, I remain suspicious of anyone who claims a motive incongruous with their actions. If you are about to burst someone’s bubble butt, it is my contention that that is precisely what you intend to do. Rarely doing anything to hurt anyone anymore, I find it silly to claim falsely about my intentions.

The opening quote holds me to a standard. I am here to root out my prejudices. I am here to clear my mind of anything questionable or negative. I have to understand that if I am starting conversations where I speculate on others’ motives when some person’s actions do not involve me, I am involved in spreading poison. I could easily say that if I am prejudiced against anyone for a personal reason, I could easily “employ reason to justify prejudices.” Given enough thought, I could always explain why I feel a way, why I believe someone is wrong, why someone else is beneath me, and in that I am only clouding my path to truth.

If someone else sets out to hurt me, it is up to me to resolve the situation in my mind. When that someone is someone loved, however, restraint is a must. It is amazing how even a level headed, sane minded man like me(many people will feel challenged by that statement), could find himself drowning in his own obsessions when attempting to wrangle with his own unmanageability. Indeed, rationale takes on peculiar shapes, and can seem most unwieldy when placed under examination.

I guess I believe, then, that my integrity can be questioned, because I have nothing to hide. I know what is wrong in my character, and am not afraid of the boy calling out “he has no clothes on.” I leave this blog here, open to you. See it for what it is: a jumble of ideas from a man who is learning to love life. I hope you all come in, say hello, and maybe share your own ideas.

Thank you for reading.

*Note: Mary Wollstonecraft died at the age of thirty-eight, ten days after giving birth to her only child, also an author known in adult life as Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. Wollstonecraft was a marvelous philosopher, and wrote much on many topics, though, in modern day, she is only popularly regarded for her accomplishments as a eighteenth-century, English feminist.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Day Off From Work

When I was at home, I was looking at a copy of a book, Unlimited Power, by Anthony Robbins. I have to laugh, because I read so much in the 1980’s and 1990’s on the nature of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and the ways it is used to change a man’s world.

Of course, I laugh, because one of the authors that made NLP most user friendly to me was Anthony Robbins, and his books are amazing. I think it funny how in the last few decades, I would never have thought him either effective, or worth my time. I know my mind can have a quick closing valve on it, and only after years of discipline have I learned how to keep it open. This openness resolved much of the problems I have experienced, and still, like the gag reflex, I still have to exercise extreme discipline to stay calm enough to let new information flow in.

As a child, I had a doctor tell me I am hyper-reflexic. This was made in response to a reflex exam where, one hit of the rubber tomahawk resulted in me almost kicking the doctor. It is these reflexes that sometimes need to be examined. My throat gags when eating some foods I do not like. My leg has given out momentarily due to random neurological problems.

I also know that some systems, some manmade systems, also work without my assistance. I have a valve in my brain that opens automatically when the fluid pressure in my head builds up, and drains off the excess. So, as much as I would like full control over all systems, I have to admit there are plenty things in my life for which I am best left uninvolved.

When it comes to judgment, I like to believe that through system management, I can adjust myself to keep from making quick snap judgments about people, things. I am grateful I do not have to take credit for these changes. I have had a support network that taught me how to restrain my tongue from saying harmful things. I have learned how to keep from getting myself mired into these messes.

Anyway, back to Tony. I loved watching the infomercials back in the 1990’s when he would have all these testimonials, and all these praises. I waould watch the video clips of this enormous man swinging on a rope, or a trapeze to the stage. I was thoroughly disgusted. I thought he was a buffoon, and his testimony was unconvincing to me.

So, today it is different. I love the stuff I have learned so far. I love that I am viewing the world with a little more optimism. I am pleased that with this life, I am given a new day, every day that I can use to bring my goals closer to home, as well as the goals, the dreams I am already realizing in my life.

I alsdo have loved revisiting my copy of Purpose Driven Life, and am reminded each day of the men that come here to study that book in this very coffee shop. So, my life is shaping up. My friends can call me Barbarosa, now. My beard is growing in, and after a decade since I last sported any facial hair, I am gratified that it still is red (with a smattering of white and gray hairs).

Thank you for reading.

Tonight my roommate and i will be playing a most inspirational board game, Cashflow. I hope tonight I will win.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

January 23, 2008, another day of wonder

My world is unfolding in many wonderful ways. I am sitting here in Bad Ass Coffee Company, looking at how opportunities have fallen in my lap for growth, for change, for excitement. I have little to share on specifiocs. I do not count chickens before they hatch, but I will share a little with you.

I have seen family and frienbds down in San Jose. Unlike past visits, I felt a draw, a connection, a hunger for the connection with people I have known many years.

I got to eat good food, and spend hours in the presence of truly beautiful people. I have been low in spirits in past weeks. I had to vist the doctor, had to look at my dwindling income, where I spent a day's income on a day when I was not working. How does one turn this around?

Some of the people more critical of my writing (going back many years) would ask me, "turn what around?" I would have to say tjhat I have had momentsd of pure desolation, and still I keep moving along. I have learned how to adjust the settings on my web cam (see my beautiful countenance?) and am ruminating over business offerings from friends in San Jose.

I have said in the past. I will say again, God is Good, All the time.

Fortune is a thing I celebrate. I have been encourfaged to open my heart to God's abundance, claim His goodness in my life , so each day, I make some change to show my love and respect for myself, and I leave all else up to God.

I hope you can celebrate your life as well as I celebrate mine. It just seems to get better every day.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Where is Aubrey DeGrey at a Time like This?

The chief problem about death, incidentally, is the fear that there may be no afterlife -- a depressing thought, particularly for those who have bothered to shave. Also, there is the fear that there is an afterlife but no one will know where it's being held. --Woody Allen

Having found this marvelous clip, I have to ask myself, what does Aubrey DeGrey, Gerontologist -and great proponent for the shunting of resources to study ways to prolong human life indefinitely- believe about Jung's fatalism. Indeed, we have come a long way since Harrington penned The Immortalist in 1969, but still, I have to say my money is on brother Carl above.

Jung certainly did not have the obsessions of Harrington, nor did he carry the vision of DeGrey, but still many people are fascinated with the concept of this quest to live forever. DeGrey says people living now can be supplied enough assistance to make it to the next breakthrough period. If you are fifty, and your body might give out by eighty, maybe ninety years of age, perhaps we can find enough clues to keep you alive another thirty years. I may sound dismissive saying the word clues. DeGrey is a true scientist, and is actually getting a lot of acclaim in his home in Great Britain.

Of course the excitement happens when you realize that these efforts are only so you can live long enough to get the bugs out of the procedures that would get you to live until you are two-hundred years old. From there, we will then figure out how to make you live longer.... DeGrey outlined seven points upon which the human body degrades in aging. Therefore, his research is focused on outlining how to isolate, and eliminate these system failures

I am not a scientist, but I do love the idea of people learning to redus=ce suffering, and if one can reduce the wear and tear on the h8uman body, I am all for it. Many times I have heard how my dna degenerates from generation to generation. I have heard how mitochondrial evidence that was once claimed could trace the DNA trail to Eve, the original woman. I then read how, well that is not true, becase the mitochondria degrades from pass to pass.

My little brain cannot handle all this. Everything everyone has shown me tells me that everything breaks down.

In a motor oil commercial, I remember they showed an engine fired up with all the pistons firing. Then, they discussed 'viscosity and thermal break-down.' Just as the metals in every engine breakdown, so is true of the tissues in my body. Can DeGrey halp me stop this? I remain skeptical. Still, his research does show promise and hope to many millions of people.

If I should embrace any one thing, it is that I have a decision to make everyday. That decision is to embrace life, or drift towards death. I make decisions everyday to make myself feel better. Are eros and thanatos (life and death) truly the two warring drives in man? Well, I cannot muse on the veracity of freudian ideas. I can say that if I continue to suplement my blood, and continue to eat lighter than I had, I will live a happier, healthier life. I hope you enjoy the clip.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Random Reflections on Sisyphus

I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy. –Albert Camus, “ The Myth of Sisyphus”

Where am I is a question I like to ask myself. I stand at the foot of the mountain, and I am trying to regain my own sense of peace. I stay resolute that, though times are frustrating for me, I should not be in a hurry to find my burden again. My friend at work assured me I am free. I received an email today where I was told the feelings of freedom I have will come into focus more and more. It is silly, seems almost stupid, for me to have placed so much faith in a relationship with a woman who clearly held different values than I do.

No, I said in a post past that I do not drift in sardonic reflection. I have a friend who was tickled at that twist of phrase. Still- when another friend read that- he told me I am a bitter man, who is lost in depression, and that I have real trouble with being honest on my own blog. So there is disparity in the way I portray myself after a couple cups of coffee , and the way others see me… Understand in weeks these whiny reflections will be buried, and my writing will be raised to a higher plane

I will say that it is true I have enjoyed more energy, and enjoyed more satisfaction in that past few weeks. I have to admit, I do get down over falling out of a love relationship in which I had hoped to move, to share, to live out my life with a woman, in whom I find still great amounts of love, insight, passion, and intelligence. Still, when values clash, and dreams no longer coincide, I feel gratitude I can transcend this with help from friends, family, and God.

“Again I fancy Sisyphus returning to his rock, and the sorrow was in the beginning. When the images of earth cling too tightly to memory, when the call of happiness becomes too insistent, it happens that melancholy arises in man’s heart; this is the rock’s victory… these are our nights of Gethsemane.”

This is a myth I have remembered since childhood. No one in my childhood ever gave a face to Sisyphus. They just told by rote that he was a man who angered the gods, and how he was punished, but, in Camus’ essay, Sisyphus is shown for a couple differences. First, unlike other mortals, he was entitled (cursed) to remember his life above. Second, he is forced to live out eternity with full knowledge of his condition.

He never traveled down Lethe, the River of forgetfulness. He was not able to pay Charon for passage. He woke up in the underworld, aware of the torment that awaited him. The gift Camus found for Sisyphus was one of acceptance. Camus’ Sisyphus found that in living out eternity in full acceptance, he would- in his most simple rebellion- curse the very gods that put him there.

Still, my life continues to grow. I have no eternal peril planned for me. I am not a “proletarian of the gods. ” I am bound, however, to find purpose in my existence. I get to continue to celebrate each day with awe and wonder. My burdens show up everyday. I was told that the happiest people on the earth are the one’s with the lowest expectations. I was even told, ironically, that a study was published on the subject. I could not understand why someone needed to study something the Buddhists have known for centuries. ( one man told me the other day that his life had fallen apart faster than his ability to lower his expectations)

So I, a Dane by heritage, an American by birth, I embrace that part of my heritage that one study says Danish folk are the happiest people on the planet. Hamlet, indeed- a disgrace to the race with all his depression- should be forgotten . The other thing I hope to accomplish is to find one study that supports my belief that reading too many studies is bad for my health.

I thank you for reading…


Linus Speaks on Trust

I had received this quote from a friend recently, just thought I would pass it on

I – if you think about trust the way you think about trusting a personal relationship, you don’t get trust and you don’t even really build trust knowingly. The trust either comes or it does not come and it largely depends on your actions.

So, the way to build trust is not to think of it as building trust, but trying to make sure that your actions speak louder than whatever you’re saying and maybe what your internal strategy is doesn’t matter. What your external actions are is eventually what will either give you trust or not give you trust.

--Linus Torvalds

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Pink Locust, a poem by William Carlos Williams

I'm persistent as the pink locust, once admitted

to the garden, you will not easily get rid of it.

Tear it from the ground, if one hair-thin rootlet

remain it will come again.It is flattering to think of myself

so. It is also laughable.

A modest flower, resembling a pink sweet-pea, you cannot help

but admire it until its habits become known.

Are we not most of us like that? It would be too much

if the public pried among the minutiae of our private affairs.

Not that we have anything to hide but could they

stand it? Of course the world would be gratified to find out

what fools we have made of ourselves. The question is, would they be generous with us- as we have been with others? It is, I say, a flower incredibly resilient

under attack! Neglect it and it will grow into a tree.

I wish I could so think of myself and of what is to become of me.

The poet himself, what does he think of himself facing his world?

It will not do to say, as he is inclined to say: Not much. The poem

would be in that betrayed. He might as well answer- "a rose is a rose

is a rose" and let it go at that. A rose is a rose and the poem equals it

if it be well made. The poet cannot slight himself without slighting his poem- which would be ridiculous. Life offers no greater reward. And so, like this flower, I persist- for what there may be in it. I am not, I know, in the galaxy of poets a rose but who, among the rest, will deny me

my place.