Tuesday, November 25, 2008

With an Open Mind...

I was sitting in class earlier when my instructor said something that really changed my perception of the law profession. She said, “Keith, it is the action of a few dishonorable lawyers that give the other five percent of us a bad name.” It is comments like that for me serve as a little caveat against hasty judgment.

Anyway, I am a great lover of TED.com, and am always willing to promote it whereever I can. I think this website has done much to make available the great thinking of hundreds of people. It has ideas for new inventions, innovative solutions for troubles around the world, and incredible presentations from artists all over the world. I discovered TEDtalks over a year ago when I carelessly added their subscription to my iTunes account.

Indeed, I would have stayed away if I knew the effect it would have on me. I have downloaded at first audio talks, and then I discovered the same talks as video clips. I have not been the same since . The TED talks started as a lone conference in Monterey, California. I found a desire. I wanted so much to go tom this conference, and check it out. In my investigation, I learned that the conference is by invitation only.

So, should I creep into Monterey one day, find the conference center, and hope to catch some eyeful of someone's brilliance? I could sit in the hotel with my paparazzi gear, hoping to catch a glimpse of Bono, President Clinton, or Malcolm Gladwell. Maybe Rives will lead us in a poetry slam, as Al Gore fills the hotel lobby with Secret Service, and shares with me his apocalyptic ruminations, a pen raised while waiting for me to hand him a copy of his DVD to sign.

This is not about hero worship. The thrill comes in knowing that being around so many people, there would be a blanket of positive energy come upon Monterey, and the thought that by osmosis, I may be able to draw to me some of that fire. So, today's selection comes to me by way of scientist Dr. Christopher Charms.

He shows us how to make changes in our bodies with real-time scanning of our brain with MRI. The idea is not new here. In many ways, it seems the natural evolution of biofeedback. In my simple-mindedness, I may be losing the nuances of his presentation. But, when I see what he is talking about, I think this is exciting. The concept of us addressing the pathways in our brain for positive change is very exciting! In decades past, many people were helped by biofeedback, and now a new generation of help is being conceived.

Watch Dr. Charms short talk, and think about it. It could be fun.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Language is a Virus, and Other Thoughts

Somewhere in time, a woman named Laurie Anderson dredged up from the depths of her soul, ideas of her friend, William Seward Burroughs, and the scientist/philosopher, Richard Dawkins when she created what would be he only mainstream hit of the 1980's. Her creation came forth bas a single 45 record. That single was called “Language is a Virus.” William Burroughs had already written his own essays on the concept, and Dawkins went so far as to create a name for this idea. He called it a meme.

With the collection of Laurie Anderson's performance art available on Youtube, I have found the concept of the meme gels for me. I see how ideas infect, and I am certain that this is inescapable. I can only laugh when I think how the insanity of entire nations falling into preoccupations over anti-bacterial handwashes, counter cleaners, and towelettes to clean off shopping cart handles (just one example).

No sooner do I write about these things that I brace myself to field the objections to my thinking. Language is a medium to infect entire populations with bizarre thoughts, and now, the meme, has infected me again.... I was tagged by a blogger, my friend Annie. So, herein I will disclose the nature of this meme:

Link to the person who tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.

Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.

Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

Let people know they've been tagged by leaving comments on their blogs.
Okay, here goes.

1.I am in love with other cultures. I have lived thirty-five years in San Jose, California. I love to travel, and only made that discovery in the past five years. My passport is five years old, and marks off four treks across the globe. I have already planned my next trip, and it coincides with my plans to teach overseas.
2.I believe the truths in consular travel warnings ignore the general goodness of the universe. I believe humanity with all its faults is inclined to do good. I am certain that my great comfort came in part from reading the Bible. Still, after having read news articles, and consular travel pages -about various places I have traveled, and plan to travel- that much of my comfort also comes from the vision in John Allen Paulos' A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. In his book he shares his insights to the numbers, the scare tactics, the butchery of logic found in newspaper writing.
3.I believe that the most controversial place a man can be is in the middle of any confrontation. I believe it amazing how people want to claim virtue in their willingness to pick sides in an argument, when clearly little information would ever surface to make true clarity possible. I jokingly call myself a passionate fence-sitter, and I welcome any attacks.
4.One of my favorite books of my teen-age years is Sheldon Kopp's Rock, Paper, Scissors. The book revolves around a quest to find one's place in the world. In his book, Kopp talks about how we are always comparing ourselves with others. The comparisons always ignore the enormous amount of people more successful/ less successful , happier/angrier than we are.
5.My bodyha always been my fallback when I never developed myself to find a job in the world of knowledge. Now I am in school as a direct result of physical disability which made working in the service world ridiculous.
6.I used to listen to comedy tapes more than other people listened to music. I was a child obsessed with comedy. I am grateful that I am able to adapt to regular socialization after craving all the attention that came from making other people laugh. I took time to get quiet and reflect when my mother notified me of George Carlin's death. Afterf a moment of silence I said all the seven words you cannot say on television.
7. With each day that passes, I get more excited about the choices I am making in life. I am staying positive. I see the joy of sharing classrooms with people old as my parents, and those young enough to be my children (of which I have none).
I will tag the following people:


(Who is the kid below with the striped shirt and glasses?)
(dated May, 1977 at Aloha Roller Palace)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What Quadrant Works Best for Me?

When I blog today, I long to have fun. When I stopped having fun thoughts my writing came to an en. But, I wanted to continue to develop my world here in the blogosphere. I had to stop writing about my health. My battle with bureaucracy has failed to keep me entertained, and I am more impressed with how truly stifling, and belittling the bureaucratic system is when it comes to filling out paperwork, asking agencies for help, waiting for responses, and getting envelopes to fill out more paperwork.

It was a day like any other when I found myself in Barnes and Noble, facing the discount book racks, and seeing a book title: Overcoming Procrastination. People think I am telling a joke when I said to myself, “Oh, I really ought to buy thuis book someday.” Sadly, I do admit my need for the book, and I was serious about wanting it.... I must have been fulfilling destiny when I chose to procrastinate on this one purchase.

Remember: procrastination is a serious problem, but it is not an urgent one.

Refer to Peter Drucker and his Four Quadrants. Drucker was a genius of management, and his ideas on time management have made me a more effewctive person. His ideas on urgency and importance have done much to help me guage where I am in terms of effectiveness. Most commonly cited source for the four quadrant model is Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, also an excellent book.

Basically, if I am spending my time putting out fires, or lost in distraction, I am not managing well. The advice I was given was to build a focus that keeps me in the second quadrant. He idea being that if I stay proactive, I will not have as many occasions to spend “putting out fires” or wastes time on pointless distractions that do not propel me further towards accomplishing goals.

So, I can still write. But, now I have to readdress my time management. I am pleased that with the ideas of Drucker, the ideas of Stephen Covey, I have been able to grasp onto ideas, behaviors that have reduced the anxiety in my life.

Now then, of the things I have reported on, I am thrilled that everything is moving forward. I am receiving my first disability check, have the paperwork in to re access my medical assistance, and am sitting in classes, working on understanding the workings of the United States Government, differentiating between various forms of igneous rocks, and analyzing poetry from multicultural perspectives.

May all this hastily land me into a four year college, and lead me out of my disability payments when I can once again live simply as a cog of Industry.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Okay, now what?

Since the Tuesday election, I have had a few reactions. I remember the election party they held for President-elect Bill Clinton, and how it seemed he was heralded as the great deliverer that would save us from perdition.

Did I vote for Barack Obama? Well, yes I did. I live in a simple community where admitting such things makes people talk to you in hushed tones, and offer up business cards for good therapists.

I mention the party of Bill Clinton, just because, for all the good things that occurred during his administration, he is still spoken of as the one man who destroyed the dignity of the United States Presidency. Many people still speak passionately of his scandal, and the unsubstantiated claims of his other dirty dealings.

Now we have Barack. After his inauguration, we will see if he is the man who will be able to make positive changes in this world, or not.

I am amused. With all the realized homogeneity of the two parties, it is amazing how much of a person's identity gets wrapped up in saying with which party you vote. After all is said and done, I hope in the next eight years, the Obama Administration will be able to repair some of the damage done to our relations in the world.

I have sat in on many discussions in the past thirty-eight years where people have alternately prediccted the overwhelming success or failure of elected officials. In the past six months I have listened to outrageous discussions on how Obama will destroy America. I am somewhat startled by the wild predictions that he will bve able to overcome the messes created by deregulation, the messes created by NAFTA, the wholesale catastrophe of policy decisions that made this recent bailout necessary. I believe that of these discussions, these predictions, most fared worse than Sylvia Brown; I remain content knowing I am a man that does not see into the future.

Has any one President ever worked as hard as George W. Bush to kill the positive image of our country in the eyes of the world? When I travelled to Minadanao for the first time, I was told to be careful. I was told , "They hate Americans there!" I would calmly ask them to name which countries think highly of us now.

This is a good time, and my hope is that with a new administration, we c an start repairing all the damage that has been done. These are just a few rambling thoughts. I will retreat now to my fence post where I can dodge the cans and tomatoes thrown by the political geniuses.

For inspired political commentary....

Kevin meaney addresses the next generation of voters. Click on the link to watch.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Take Your Destiny Into Your Own Hands....

With this post, we are well into the month of November. I am excited still over my new laptop, and we have just passed three days where we address the dead, and hopefully come forth to celebrate life. From the celebration of Halloween to the many countries that take special note of All Souls Day, and Dia de Los Muertos. All across the world, at cemeteries everywhere, people have visited this week the graves of their loved ones.

I cannot say for sure what is intended here. I know many people honor the dead, some pray for their souls, while others take advantage of the holiday to gather, be with friends, and celebrate their families with food, some with music, as entire communities converge on these burial grounds to remember, to pray, and perhaps show some gratitude for the lives they have been given.

Today, I think about this as the day wraps up, and I include the song Dos Cosas Ciertas- played in San Jose- by the band Ozomatli. Following are the lyrics. (keep reading, some of the lyrics are in English)

Dos Cosas Ciertas
En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas,
Son la muerte y el cambio,
En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas,
Son la muerte y el cambio

No dejes que tu vida se safe,
Toma tu destino en tus propias manos,
Aveces las espaldas sudosas,
Se confrentan con las palmas sucias...

En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas,
Son la muerte y el cambio,
En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas,
Son la muerte y el cambio,

Handa, handa no pierdas la vista,
Persuige, persuigue tu destino,
Tu destino se decide en tus manos,
No dejes que se escape tu chance...

En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas,
En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas
Handa, handa no pierdas la vista,

En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas
En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas
No dejes que se escape tu chance

[ Find more Lyrics at www.mp3lyrics.org/ClS4 ]
It's you they card
It's you they charge
It's you they complain about
strollin the boulevard
You the one claimin' and screamin you all hard
Are you in control or is it just a facade

If Uncle Sam wants you it's you
It's you that he'll need
It's you that he'll sacrifice and
it's you that'll bleed.
I think you need to reflect
on some old Sam Sneed
And recognize in life there's
only two guarantees
Some proceed to believe
And thus we gotta discuss
Have we all lost our trust in us,
Cause you and I
We us together we must
Live change and die
Everybody's inlcuded it's up to you to decide

En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas,
Son la muerte y el cambio,
En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas,
Son la muerte y el cambio

En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas,
Son la muerte y el cambio,
En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas,
Son la muerte y el cambio

En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas,
Son la muerte y el cambio,
En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas,
Son la muerte y el cambio

Thank You for reading.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Elections This Tuesday!

It isn't pollution that is hurting the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it. -- Vice President Dan Quayle

Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis. -- Vice President Al Gore

Obviously, not all politicians are created equal. This is my simple point as I think about how to cast my vote on Tuesday. No. I do not declare my votes, and I d not try to sway others in their voting. I am thrilled that for the first time in my life, I have studied the issues on the ballot, and am ready to vote on them. In the years past, I was sure that I was not qualified to vote on most issues, and would only vote on those I had studied.

I believe that voting is not only my right as a citizen, but it is also my responsibility. Why on earth would I complain about a bill over which I had declined to vote? It is exciting to feel the election coming up. It is a thrill to know that new decisions will be made, new faces will populate many offices, and I have had my chance to speak my mind. With that said, I will be sure to mass send my voter guide on November fifth for anyone vexed with indecision.

Thank you for reading.