Saturday, September 22, 2012

Not Very Enlightening

There are some words that we probably need, but they do not exist.  One that comes to my mind is:  endarkening.  This is the opposite of enlightening.  It means making things much worse in a cosmic sense or, more specifically, leading toward political or national armageddon.  (Since I assume this is MY word, I think I should be entitled to supply MY definition of the word.)  For example, "The extreme partisanship of the current Congress is endarkening."  Usage may evolve further.

What God Is

Somewhere -- I wish I could remember where (maybe Ken Wilber ?) -- I read a story about a conversation between two men (or two people -- it doesn't matter).  It went like this:

Person #1:  Do you believe in God?
Person #2:  What else is there?

This seems, to me, to be the best explanation for what God is.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Love and Marriage

Here are some words of wisdom for people whose lives (or childrens' lives) don't turn out exactly as planned.  Helen, who was a friend of mine long ago, once said, "All of my children fell in love, got married, and had children,  . . .  but not necessarily in that order."

I Know How You Feel

I've always felt that for someone to say "I know how you feel" is rather presumptuous.  No, I feel like saying, you definitely do NOT know how I feel.  How could you possibly know how I feel?  How could anyone (except me) know how I feel?  I can appreciate the generally good intentions that people have when saying this, but it still bothers me.  I think that people should find other ways to express empathy.

Once, when I was talking with a coworker in the hallway, I mentioned how much this phrase bothered me.  She said that, yes, it bothered her a lot, too.  Only then did I remember that she was a transgendered person -- a woman who was formerly a man.  Wow.   Here was a really great example of the point I was trying to make.  After all, how many people could possibly know how she felt?

Mixed Messages

All the while I was growing up, I felt like I was getting mixed messages.  One set of mixed messages was that, on the one hand, everyone needs to get married; on the other hand, all married people are miserable.

Monday, April 30, 2012

My Uncles in Texas

When I was a kid, my family occasionally visited our relatives in Texas.  My great-uncles (grandmother's brothers) always seemed larger-than-life to me.  One uncle and his wife were big people -- big in every way.  When my mother told them that they shouldn't make a big breakfast for us, my aunt said that they usually made a package of biscuits every day -- just for the two of them.  A package of twelve biscuits was divided into seven for my uncle and five for my aunt!  (This was in addition to eggs, bacon, etc.)  . . .  They lived in a small town.  My uncle said that they had lost the keys to the house a long time ago, but just went to bed each night without ever locking any of the doors.  (I doubt that they would do that today, even in a small town.)  . . .  We were always amazed by these people!

Murphy's Law -- Variation

Whenever you find a product that you really, really like, they stop making it.

Everyone knows about this variation of Murphy's Law.  I could give you hundreds (well dozens) of examples.  I once bought the perfect pair of sneakers.  Perfect fit, perfect color, perfect in every way.  I went back to the store six months later to buy another pair.  The store no longer had these sneakers AND the company had stopped making them.  . . .  I once found the perfect lipstick.  Perfect color, perfect consistency, etc.  The next time I went to the store, I learned that the company no longer made this color.  I would think that I was dreaming these things, or imagining them, except that this seems to  happen to everyone.

(Corollary:  If you find a product that you really, really like and buy lots of it, so as to store up, they will continue to make it, possibly forever, or will come out with a much-improved version of it, usually for less money!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Storm Before the Calm

My sister and I both came up with this concept almost simultaneously.  (Discoveries, like calculus, are often made by two or more people simultaneously.  It seems as if, when an idea is "ready for prime time," it sometimes jumps into existence in two places at once.)  Anyway, the idea is "the storm before the calm."  It's that period of time, in housecleaning, when everything's been hauled out and things are in disarray, but before everything is put back into its proper place.  For a while, in other words, things look worse on their way to looking better.  (This can also be used an excuse when you didn't get as much done as you hoped to get done!)

Never Enough Time

People often say that there is never enough time to do whatever it is they want to do.  Here is my theory as to why we experience this.  . . .  If I'm not mistaken, some physicists, including Einstein and Godel, believed that time does not exist.  This concept is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for humans to grasp.  Certainly, we have the perception of time passing, right?  We seem to experience things happening over a period of time.  But, if time does not exist, then of course we never have enough time!  There is no time, zero time, so there is never enough time.  . . .  If you read (or re-read) the beginning of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, a lot of it makes more sense against a background of no time, or timelessness.  . . .  Just my theory, anyway.

Joke About Geese

Q.  When you see a "V" formation of geese in the sky, one side is usually longer than the other.  Do you know why?
A.  Because it has more geese in it !

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Idea: Violent Movies, Hold the Violence

Here is an idea for you movie producers out there.  (It's not technically an invention, so it probably can't be patented anyway.  It's just an idea that I haven't seen anyone try yet.  But if you do use it, you could give me a cut of your additional profits, or at least invite me to Hollywood or New York for an opening.)

There are a lot of us moviegoers who would love to watch a movie, but shy away from it because it is too violent (e.g. gets an "R" rating for violence -- whether gratuitous or not).  Companies that make violent movies could offer a non-violent version, perhaps available on the same DVD disk as the original (in the same way that a "director's cut" or other version is often available on the same disk).   At the points in the movie where violence occurs -- maybe anything worse than a slap on the face -- the screen would turn black (with no sound except maybe a voiceover) and a non-threatening message explaining the action would appear on the screen.  An example would be "Mr. Smith fires a rifle at Mr. Jones at close range, killing Mr. Jones."  When the content is again acceptable (i.e. less violent and less gory), the original movie would continue, possibly showing the dead Mr. Jones lying on the ground.  . . .  Similar "editing" could be used to eliminate bad language or sex scenes for young or sensitive viewers, but eliminating violent scenes would be what I could use most.  I'll be waiting to see "Pulp Fiction" in this non-violent format.

Recipe -- Pumpkin Spice Toast

Occasionally, I'd like to give you a recipe.  These are usually simple and made with very few ingredients.  Here is the recipe for Pumpkin Spice Toast.  It is similar to cinnamon toast, but using different spices:

one slice bread
butter (or substitute)
pumpkin pie spice (purchased or can be made from scratch by combining the spices that are in pumpkin pie recipes)
sugar (or substitute, e.g. Splenda)

Instructions:  Toast bread; spread with butter (or substitute); shake on pumpkin pie spice; then shake on sugar (or substitute); mash toppings together with a fork.

Voila!  Pumpkin Spice Toast! Enjoy!

My Favorite April Joke

Q.  If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring ?
A.  Pilgrims !

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Art -- Seen and Unseen

Art could probably be called a way to express ourselves with a result that is visible.  But art can be a very strange thing.  In one story I heard, most of the art work in The Hermitage (St. Petersburg, Russia) was sent to Siberia (or some remote place) during World War II, to keep it safe from bombings.  (This, in itself, was a very noble effort in war time to save what was best in a society.)  While the art work was gone, a museum guide continued to conduct tours of The Hermitage, describing the paintings from memory -- i.e. describing paintings that were not there !  Just amazing.  . . .  In another story demonstrating the strangeness of art or artists, it is said that Salvador Dali once looked at a painting ("The Angelus"?) -- showing two people with their heads bowed in prayer -- and declared that it was very sad.  He couldn't say exactly why he felt this way.  Many years later, when x-rays could be used to examine layers of paintings, the painting was x-rayed and found to include the grave of a child between the two people on an earlier version of the painting, which had been covered by paint and not visible when Dali saw it.  Very strange.  Very intuitive.

Parkinson's Law

The other day, while looking for a totally different word in the dictionary, I came across the term Parkinson's Law.  (This has no connection with Parkinson's Disease.)  It is the idea that work expands to fill the time allotted for it.  I had always known that there was a concept like this, but never knew there was a name for it.  . . .  Upon further reflection, however, I realized that in retirement, work (or any other activity) expands quickly and dramatically to fill the time allotted.  You could think of this as Parkinson's Law on steroids.  . . .  So, now you know what you have to look forward to when you retire.  If you're already retired, you now know where all your time goes.

The Love of His Life

I must tell you that I have a real problem with obituaries (and other pieces of writing) that describe someone as the "love of his (or her) life."  Unless you know for a fact that you two were destined, for all eternity, to be each others' soulmates (not likely!), AND actually do spend your entire lives together rather than with other people, this person is not (by my definition anyway) the love of your life.  . . .  A situation in which someone might possibly be called the love of one's life gets complicated in societies which permit divorce (i.e. most societies, hopefully).  Here's an example.  John and Mary get married.  They have two children, John Jr., and Mary Jr.  John and Mary later realize that they are (long story short) not compatible after all.  They divorce.  John later marries Beth.  Mary later marries Jim.  Many years later, John dies.  His obituary reads, "Beth was the love of his life."  How do you think John Jr. and Mary Jr. feel about this?  It's too bad that he married Mary and had two children with her before he realized that Beth was actually "the love of his life" !  There are plenty of other ways to say that you deeply love someone or spent X number of wonderful years with someone without saying that this person was "the love of my life."  OK, that's the end of my complaint.

Invention: Coffee Syrup

From time to time, I will describe an idea for an invention that occurred to me.  Since I probably don't have the time or money or energy or motivation to actually develop any of these into actual, patented inventions, you can feel free to develop any of them yourself.  (If two or more people read about a potential invention on my blog, and both (or all) of them develop an invention simultaneously, I guess you will just need to fight it out amongst yourselves.)  Anyway, here goes:

Coffee Syrup -- sort of a non-alcoholic form of coffee flavored liqueur -- to pour over ice cream.  It could be made in one-to-four different forms:  regular coffee, decaf coffee, regular coffee chocolate, and decaf coffee chocolate.

Now doesn't that sound like a good idea?!  I'd buy some myself.  It would also be nice if it had very few calories and very few carbs, but that's probably asking too much.

Murphy's Law -- My Favorite Variation

Here is my favorite variation on Murphy's Law:

Before you do anything, you have to do something else first.

(And this might explain why I never get anything done !)

Moving Law # 2

O.K., if you didn't pay attention to Moving Law # 1 ("Don't Move"), and you have decided to move (for whatever ridiculous reason), you should definitely heed Moving Law # 2.  Here it is:  Don't ever move immediately after a 20-inch snowfall.  (You should know that the way I "discovered" all of these laws was to break them myself and suffer the consequences.  I only want you to benefit from my experience.) Moving in the worst heat of summer (e.g. 105 F degrees) is also not a good idea.  Moving whenever "unseasonable" weather occurs (i.e. any time of the year), is not a good idea.  Professional moving company employees generally leave doors wide open, in order to facilitate moving stuff in and out, and this results in indoor temperatures that can vary from 20 F degrees to 100 F degrees, necessitating the use of a parka or anorak all day in cold temperatures, or trying to kill dozens of flies in the first few days after a move-in when the temperatures are warm or hot.  (Word to the wise: If/when moving in summer, take a fly swatter, or several, with you in the car, so as to be immediately available at your new location, without having to unpack boxes.)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Moving Law # 1

The first and most important rule of moving (i.e. moving from one location to another, often involving moving from one state to another) is: Don't Move.  You might "think" you need to move or (worse) want to move.  Believe me, you do not.  The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence; it is not.  It is not only not greener, it is filled with weeds, ticks, chiggers, and things worse.  If you follow this first simple rule of moving, you will not even need the other rules, since you will not have moved!  But for those who do not heed my advice and decide to move anyway, there will be other rules to help you along your (misbegotten) way.