The Answer Is NOT Three

There was a commercial in my past that continues to haunt my life. It was of a boy asking an owl how many licks it takes to get to the middle of a Tootsie-Pop sucker. The owl says “lets find out” and starts licking. “One…two…three…CRACK…Three!” He bites the sucker after the third lick and proclaims the answer as three since he is unable to resist the temptation to rush to the treat in the center.

I have a confession to make: I am a victim of my choices. A willing, sometimes eager participant, but a victim never the less. You see, I am possessing of a compulsive personality trait that nudges me toward actions that (in the long run) are less than optimal. As a result, I am an overly large person (allows me to make the “valid” point that “I carry a lot or weight in this [any] organization”) that knows the ultimate result of poor lifestyle choices (and even cares about the choices) but still makes them anyway..

I am not as strong a person as I like to tell myself I am. I live alone and have “complete” control of my surroundings, so I should be able to do what I want and enjoy the freedom of my choices. Instead, I am compelled to follow the Pavlovian programming of nearly six decades of historic influences. I want to go in one direction and find myself several miles off course, drifting further away as the tides of history drag me out to sea.

I was not abused as a child, nor was I raised in a (abnormally) dysfunctional home (I believe we are ALL from dysfunctional homes, some are just more dysfunctional than others). My younger sisters and I lived with both of our natural parents (no abandonment or divorce related issues) in a small(ish) town about 50 miles from here (in [REDACTED]). We were raised in neither affluence nor poverty, being raised in a rather middle class environment. We had everything we needed, much that we wanted, and were, in general, pretty normal and happy.

And yet, I have fuzzy memories of denial and hoarding (probably skewed by a childish point of view – of course I WAS a child at the time, but…).  I didn’t get to eat cookies and ice cream  when I wanted. I had to share, and sometimes (often? always?) had to let my siblings go first (because I was “older” and by extension “more mature”). I had to go to bed before I wanted to and couldn’t watch what I wanted to on TV (sometimes I could sneak downstairs late at night to watch TV when spending the night at grandma’s house, as long as I kept the volume way down). I had to do chores and clean my room at the most inopportune times (like when my mom told me to), and wash the dishes far more often than my sisters. It just wasn’t fair.

Now I am an adult and am empowered to make my own choices without needing to get input from others (the kid has grown up, married, and moved away, and the wife left, divorced me and remarried years ago). Or so the theory states. Yet when I am confronted with a choice of actions the ghosts of the past haunt me and shove me in directions I don’t necessarily want to go. I often finish the bag of cookies now rather than leave some for tomorrow (lest the invisible sibling hordes steal them away in the night). I will eat beyond satiety to make sure I get “my share” and won’t have to go without by others consuming what could have been mine. I buy things I don’t need (but think I want) to drown out the echos of “no’s” from my childhood . I stay up late to play video games and sleep in late because I can (now). My sink is full of dirty dishes (clean ones are in the dishwasher when I need them), clean clothes in the hamper from the last laundry run (dirty ones in a heap pile stack in the corner) and the bed is made twice a year (whether it needs it or not) for the annual inspections. In short, I do what I want and am miserable as a result.

What I really “want” is to be able to enjoy eating my cake without the hassle of making, baking, and breaking down the process afterward. I want to be fully indulged in my selfish desires without the downsides of effort or repercussion. I am insane (along with a large percentage of society). I read and apply (briefly) suggestions and rules from books, web pages, and media presentations about how to organize, simplify, and enhance my life, to acquire great habits and positive lifestyle changes and break self-destructive behaviors that damage my self esteem and physique. I have a juicer, rice steamer, and vacuum food saver to improve my choices in eating and storing healthy foods. (I do NOT have a Nordic-Trac in my basement. Never went down that rabbit hole, although I DID have both a treadmill and a personal gym at one time.) I have yoga and tai-chi videos, shelves of self-improvement books, follow several (many?) blogs and sites about health and fitness.

I am neither fit nor healthy. I don’t juice, steam, or suck air from the packages I put in the freezer. I am about as flexible as iron and as gracefully balanced as a still top. in short, I am only a good intention. I am a really, REALLY bad implementer of change. I have asked for answers and wisdom from others and have heard the CRACK of my desire to make hard changes shatter to get to the yummy center of self-indulgence. I lack the patience and perseverance to stick to actions long enough to implement real change, preferring instead to continue along the path of pain and weakness, whining all the way.

Yet, this project (the blog) has been different (so far…). I have been able to continue to keep up the 3-a-week schedule (barely) for over a month. This is nearly a record for me to keep up an activity without a fat/sugar/calorie-laden treat dangling on a string before me as an encouragement to continue. I may not be losing weight (except the reduced fat in my typing fingers) or becoming an Olympic athlete from this activity, but the success provides a glint of a shimmer of a shadow of a possibility that I can accomplish other dreams as well. So it is (at least in theory) worth it. I may actually be able to overcome temptation long enough to become a better, more positive person. It is worth the attempt. But maybe the announcer in the commercial got it right at the end after all…

“The world may never know.”

Phred

post 40 of n

Advertisements

Q&A: What Do Girl Scout Cookies Have In Common With Viagra?

I failed my first business in 1993. I was in a partnership providing small and medium businesses with computerized accounting software products and services. We did serious research and provided a couple of marvelous products to our clients. We did sales, setup, and training, and were able to assist companies in making intelligent decisions regarding their needs and how to address and meet them.  It only took us 6 months to drain our resources to the point where the partnership required dissolution and we went our separate ways.

What went wrong was we failed to adequately market our product. We did not generate enough sales to maintain our business (wonderful as it was) and we died from insufficient cash flow. About 9 of every 10 new businesses travel down a similar pathway within the first three years of operation. In a small business seminar I attended (a couple of years before my fiasco) the idea was presented most small businesses are made of two people coming together: someone that knows how to do/make something, and someone that knows how to sell something. Unfortunately for these people, there needs to be a third person that knows how to run a business (specifically how to manage the money, both incoming and outgoing).

We (probably) should have known better, but failed none the less. We knew how to sell and how to use the product. We didn’t know how to market it (well enough). If we had been better at marketing we would have had a larger group of people to provide goods and services for, and then we would have had a larger group of people to shower us with money…

It was shortly after this trauma in my (business) life that I came to despise the Girl Scouts. Not the individual participants, they were still cute and adorable, but rather the devious and insidious marketing methods of the parent organization. Specifically, the cookie sales machine. My ex-sister-in-law was involved in the supply channel of cookie distribution and it came to light the $5.00 box of cookies would net less than 75 cents for the local group (and that did not include the copious amount of money spent on gasoline to haul the cookies from distribution center to troop home and again to the various sucker’s customer’s location). Shame on you, Mr. Ouaker!

It quickly became known in every office I worked in I was the curmudgeon to avoid like the plague when it came to kid-based fund-raising activities. Band-based citrus fruit, troop centered candy bar sales, pack pitched popcorn tins, in general any and every possible method of squeezing cash from the associates of parental units was utilized in my various workplace locations. In every case, I was identified as the LAST person to ask as it would invoke a ten-minute rant about the evils of “guilt-driven” marketing practices and when (read:if) the victim was able to escape they would be wiser next time. The number of such encounters decreased in frequency quite quickly (to the relief of co-workers in adjacent cubicles, being subjected to the anti-sales pitch several times in any given time period), eventually diminishing to winning lottery ticket occurrence regularity.

It was even worse when my son reached marketable age. I explained to his band director in person that he would not be productive in the fund raising activity of mercilessly pleading with family to buy endless quantities of needless materials thereby  funding the parent company (less a trickle for the local school system). I said I would rather write a check to the band (where every penny was given to the project) than spend (read: waste) my money buying an inflated product, only a mere pittance of which would befall upon the needy students involved.  I was not very popular in several circles (other parents, their kids, or my son himself) but I was confident I had secured the moral high ground.

So, how does this rant connect to the “little blue pill?”  There is a great similarity in the current marketing procedure for pharmaceuticals presented on television and in magazines to the little-league candy bar sales of old. Rather than putting in the required effort to market and sell your product yourself, you enlist the efforts of grossly underpaid amateur staff to hawk your wares to the general public. In the fund raising process, it is the children (or more often in my experience, their parents) plying on the associated guilt of “I need you to buy this in order for me to be able to: go to camp/win a bicycle/get a t-shirt/keep from being beaten up by my peers….” In the slick multimedia marketing presentation from the drug companies, it is the patient (or rather the customer) plying on the associated guilt of “I need you to prescribe this in order for me to be able to: avoid searching for bathrooms/obtain and maintain an erection/lower my cholesterol/eliminate frequent heartburn/help me breath easier/eliminate painful intercourse/reduce bladder leakage….” In essence, the patient has become the unpaid sale representative of the drug companies.

In the past, agents would be sent to the doctor’s office to provide samples and encourage physicians to prescribe a companies products. Now, (potential) customers are encouraged to pester their doctors for prescriptions to relieve conditions they were not aware they “were suffering from” until watching the TV. And if you act quickly you might be able to get your “first” prescription/month’s prescription/year’s prescription free (or at reduced cost). Why pay for an employee to distribute your wares when you can have the snake-oil purchasers do it for you (for free)?

At least the cookies came directly to your door….

Phred

post 39 of n

Name Calling In Soda Culture

I have come to understand where I am changes what I get when I ask for something from a “native.” I have lived most of my life in Michigan, apart from a brief stint in the Navy where I spent a half year north of Chicago and a year in California. So I was under the (mistaken) understanding that everyone did things the right way (that is, the way WE did things). HAHAHAHA!, What a foolish idea.

Take tho process of ordering a beverage with your meal. Here we drink pop, defined as a sweetened, bubbly drink usually served over ice. Different flavors exist and each restaurant usually only serves options from one of the major brand suppliers. So if you chose a cola, root beer, lemon-lime, orange, or a citrus flavored beverage at one establishment you get a Pepsi, Mug, 7-Up, Crush, or Mountain Dew. At the eatery next door your beverage is a Coke, Barqs, Sprite, Fanta, or Mellow Yellow. Purchase a ginger ale beverage and you get a Vernors. Iced tea comes straight up (although you can have a sliver of lemon added if you ask) and unsweetened (the way nature intended). Simple and straight forward.

Except for most of the other 49 states and hundreds of other countries on the globe. Ask for a pop some places gets you a bloody nose or the senior male member of the family. A soda comes without ice cream (my first real job was as a soda-jerk in a soft serve ice cream stand… and I was the only employee other than the owner that could make a proper soda, according to a number of loyal customers) and results in one of the (again, brand specific) beverages listed above. To make things even more confusing I have been in places where asking for a coke evokes the question “what flavor?” (and they don’t mean plain or cherry). Apparently in Canada and the southern US diabetics order iced tea at their peril (my first adult trip to Toronto involved a shocking slurp of tea-flavored sugar syrup from a fast food establishment… most of which ended up on the windshield).

The year in California was one spent in a wasteland without Lay’s potato chips, Kogel’s hot dogs, or Miracle Whip salad dressing (this was in 1976, things have changed since then, but the trauma remains). I have never been inside of a Waffle House, being forced to take starch-based breakfast food at the International House of Pancakes instead.

So many names for the same products (or maybe a variety of products with the same name… confusion reigns in either case). There is indeed a strong sense of culture shock when you move beyond the hundred-acre woods for the first time.  Usually there is enough information exchanged eventually to place an acceptable order. Using the worst-case scenario, pointing at the menu and asking for “one of these” will allow for an unexpected adventure not (necessarily) soon to be forgotten (a favorite ploy at establishments offering world cuisine not commonly found in rural mid-Michigan). I keep Maalox in the glovebox just in case…

So when I travel (not all that often, nor all that far anymore, I must sadly confess) I have learned to accept (if not embrace) the challenge of dealing with nomenclature regarding the local “pop” culture. To make life easier, I eventually just end up with a glass of ice water with my meal, and a cup of coffee with desert (I like pie). But I am reasonably sure of one thing.

Ordering a caffeine-laced-carbonated-soda-beverage in most places results in a blank stare.

Phred

post 38 of n

A 1 Month Anniversary

It is official, this blog is a month old as of yesterday. I have been writing a whole month consistently and have had a ball. While it may not be important in the overall scheme of things, it is nevertheless a milestone (well, more of a ‘yardstone’ but it is progress) in my career as a writer. Eventually I will be able to add additional markers along the way, the first-quarter, 100th posting, first paycheck, first million likes, first world domination. (Aim small and hit your target.)

I was asked when I was going to quit this whole blog thing. I had to think about it for a while and I think I finally know the answer…

I’ll quit when I can no longer carry the royalties check to the bank because it’s so big…

Phred

posting 37 of n

Don’t Open This File

If this is not a printed paper copy, close it immediately, log off any connectivity and change your location immediately. You are in significant danger.

If you are reading this in printed format, be aware you are still in danger, especially if they find out you know about the program. I strongly suggest you do not keep any proof that you have read (or even know about it’s existence) the information contained here. They do not want their actions known by the general public lest an uprising should be launched.

You have been warned.

I believe there is activity to eliminate people with technological knowledge and abilities. Who is behind this activity is unclear, whether it is a shadow governmental group, a intellectual elitist think tank group, or a malevolent AI that has become sentient, it doesn’t really matter. Who doesn’t matter, what, why, and how does.

There has been an understanding of the interaction between brain activity and visual stimulus for years, that certain combination of flashing lights and colours can induce seizures in susceptible individuals. Recent research and development has brought better understanding of the process in genome action and programming. Neural networking and fuzzy programming to develop inorganic intelligence has progressed much further than is commonly understood or acknowledged. I believe the combination of these disparate activities have been combined to induce demonstrable physical and chemical changes in mental activity, to re-program the wetware program of people’s brains.

I believe there is a program (or a series of programs, probably) sending corrupted files designed to destroy the minds of people capable of detecting and defeating this menace. I think the actual file is not very large or complex, that exposure to a specific combination of images or lights for approximately 10-15 seconds is sufficient to “program” the victim to induce self destruction of brain cells. Possible methods include Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases and prion protein development, to destroy mental functioning.

It was brought to my attention by a blind friend that was working in a development firm. He received an attached file that he could not interpret and had a coworker view. A couple of weeks later the worker was hospitalized with seizures and diagnosed with mad-cow disease.  My blind friend said his coworker was a vegan and that there was something odd at work. Several others working in related industries have suggested hidden links to some kind of work-related injuries being received.

I feel this is just a small test run prior to a broad application to the general public at large. With the wide distribution of HDTV and broadband connectivity, it could easily be imagined that vast swaths of the general public could be destroyed with a clever mid-game advertisement. A subliminal message by adding a image (it would not need to be the main message, just a small part of the image would provide enough data bandwidth to program anyone looking towards the screen. Depending on the specific program the onset might take an extended time to execute, perhaps years. The increase in dementia could be the fruit of an earlier test run.

I am totally in the dark as to why this is being done, especially at this time. What perceived danger to the hidden power might exist to pull the trigger at this time is frightening. But I am centain the danger exists now and will only increase in the next few months.

That you have read this far suggests you might want to get further involved in distributing this message. I think the old methods are the best, that of manual transcription. Do not under any circumstances scan or copy this message using a xerox  type photocopier, since they have been connected to the internet for over a decade and the last thing you want to do is broadcast your involvement or intent to the power at large. A manual (non-electric) typewriter might work, but the ribbon MUST be destroyed as soon as you are finished, to prevent discovery. Manual transcription in pencil (non-photo blue is probably best, although a full chromatic scan would still reveal the text, at least a casual scan would not reveal the materials) on plain paper is best. Wearing gloves (to prevent latent finger and palm prints) while handling all materials is not a sign of excessive paranoia, rather it might just save your life.

I am scheduled to do an interview with George Noory April 20th. I hope to provide more details at that time and make the conspiracy known at that time. If I don’t make that interview, you can presume  they have gotten to me.

In the meantime, don’t open ANY attachments you can not verify the source with total certainty. Better yet, don’t use electronic media at all. I don’t think they have determined how to do organic programming using aural transmission methods yet, so listening to radio messages is still “safe.”  Be careful, alert, and forewarned.

We are the last, best hope for humanity.

[Phred]

[post 36 of n]

Fear And Loathing In The Driver’s Seat

OK, just to be clear: I am NOT a Luddite. I happen to like a lot of what passes as technology these days. I had a picture of an “etch-a-stone” with the caption “to show the grand-kids what we played with when we were young. It was a piece of granite with a chisel and hammer in a plastic frame. I enjoy having electricity (less so on the 21st of the month when the bill is due) and eating food that is caught and cleaned for me. And (perhaps the most important element of all time ) PLEASE don’t take my spell checker away (although the grammar checker is over rated). But there are limits to my credibility and tolerance for making life “easier” unnecessarily.

My most vehement protest involves the movement to make driving a car “safer” by making it (the car, that is) more intelligent. Frankly, I think this will ultimately prove to be a bad idea, because there will be the inevitable corollary that the driver will become more stupid. I am not sure how this is possible in many (perhaps most) cases but I continue to be amazed at human ingenuity, so I’m pretty sure people will figure something out. I am convinced that global intelligence is a constant…

A perfect example is the movement by car makers to include high(er) tech gadgets to “improve the driving experience.” In Michigan, it is against the law to text on your phone or tablet while driving. So why does the car designers think installing a tablet as the primary device controller will be a good idea? In every single car I have ever owned I could control the radio, heater and air-conditioner, lights and wipers by feel (usually within a couple of hours of driving). I never had to take my eyes from the road to turn the radio to another station after turning the defrosters on. Each device has its own knob or slider switch that was in a fixed position and had a specific shape. I worked by feel. “Advanced” cars have a single interactive touch display to handle navigation, entertainment, climate control, and personal communication. All at the touch/swipe of the screen. In the dark without looking, ALL controls feel exactly the same…like the surface of the mirror over my bathroom sink. I must look at the dashboard to see which icon I need to touch to bring up another screen with additional controls. Will someone please tell me HOW (and WHY) this is a good idea?

Even more scary in the long run is the intrinsic intelligence that is being added to high-end vehicles (and will eventually trickle down to the rest of the market). The cars of tomorrow (later today, actually) have sensors that look out for and announce if there is a car in your blind spot, if you are drifting out of your lane, even apply the brakes automatically if you don’t react in time to avoid an accident with an obstruction in front of your car. (In fairness, the rear-view camera is a pretty good idea as even with the best of mirrors it can be hard to see directly behind your vehicle, and the self-parallel parking car feature in a couple of models is a feature I would engage in a heart beat…I haven’t parallel parked by car in several years unless I could pull in at either end. I would rather walk several blocks than risk a stress-induced heart attack.)

Ultimately, the end result of making the car safer and easier to drive is for drivers to become less attentive and more distracted than they already are. The last thing we need is drivers paying less attention to their surroundings and other vehicles than are out here already. As a former biker and truck driver you come to realize that you need to drive every car on the road, not just yours. You really have to exercise defensive driving when you are either driving a bomb (propane truck) or are surrounded by nature rather than several thousand pounds of metal (motorcycle and bicycle). You have to anticipate the actions of everyone else around you and prepare to take evasive actions at a moments notice. (From experience, I would rather drive behind a drunk driver than one possessing a cell phone. At least I can predict what the reaction of the drunk will be…a distracted phone user is totally random.)

Now the last and ultimate direction this will go is the vehicle that you don’t have to drive at all. Google is working on self-driving cars that will be able (?) to compete with human-directed missiles. I have serious doubts about the wisdom of this as I currently live in one of the most dangerous locales on the planet. I have seen more vehicles run red lights here in [REDACTED] than driving in vastly larger metropolitan cities like Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco/Oakland. Waiting less than 5 seconds after the light changes to green in your direction is a modern form of Russian Roulette. To place enough computational power in a car to safely transit our roads without an organic brain in control seems highly unlikely anytime soon (say, in MY lifetime…or what is left of it). And besides, Google is too late, anyway. They already make vehicles you don’t have to drive.

They are called taxi’s.

Phred

post 35 of n

The Life Of A Triptime

Working with my author friend this morning I mentioned we needed to be more productive than normal as I would be leaving early. I said I would be heading for more Southern climes at noon he gave me a funny look. I told him that [REDACTED] (my village of residence) was closer to the equator than our current location (if only by about 10 km) but he wasn’t impressed. It was then I pointed out that it could be the task of generations of travelers to make the journey. If a common garden slug/snail wanted to make the journey it would take many, many generations (especially crossing the main highways along the way).

It is a matter of scale, both in time and distance. Depending on how long your measuring stick is and what a typical life expectancy extends to affects the vision of how long a journey is. A recent car commercial on TV announces their car gets an additional 2 miles per gallon in range, then states that may not sound like much until you have to walk those miles. By shifting the point of view from travel at 60 MPH to 3 MPH, the idea of a mile of distance goes from 60 seconds to a 1200 second marathon.

Fractal geometry was applied to the distance of a coastline, that the length of an irregular curve changes as you change the length of the measuring stick. Perhaps the same thing happens in life. How long our life takes depends on how large of a measuring device you use to describe it. In terms of fraction of a lifetime, a year changes from a substantial proportion to a negligible amount, a mere nibble of desert rather than a huge slice of the pie. So our four hour session would hardly be long enough for the coffee to grow cold to us while a member of the order of Ephemeroptera (a mayfly for example) would consider this the equivalent of obtaining a doctorate (starting from scratch, not just post-secondary studies).

I know I am vastly more aware of distances since my disability torched my long-distance running (er, walking) jaunts. Without my cane, a trip from the couch to the bathroom becomes an extended expedition where Sherpa guides would not only be useful, but nearly essential. A walk in the park is out of the question. Fortunately my Guardian scooter does 5.5 MPH for about 20 miles (between charges) so a ride in the park is practical. Technology is wonderful in its application. So when I depart for home at noon, my Ford Explorer will allow me to travel home in (relative) comfort in about 20 minutes (I have to pass through 8 traffic lights along the way, I will inevitably need to wait for at least 5 of them). Life is good.

Take away my tools and I can relate to the slugs in a very personal way…here comes another vehicle…

Phred

post 34 of n

Cross Your Ladders And Knock On A Black Cat

Friday was the second thirteenth of the year (yes, this post is late. It’s my fault I have been sick and the official “blame someone else day” occurs on the FIRST FTT of the year) and for many people it is a day of consternation and concern. Stevie Wonder music not withstanding, many (perhaps most) people manifest symptoms of superstition.

It is the season of beards (hockey playoffs start shortly) and “lucky socks” (and other articles of clothing). March Madness brackets are out so there are thousands of supporters performing the magical actions needed to insure their team is victorious. Players slap the appropriate spot on the trip from the locker room to the field, cryptic incantations invoke the proper deities of the opposing teams for good and for evil. Scantily clad supplicants gyrate before the masses to build up the required frenzy for the coming slaughter…er, game.

Triskaidekaphobics have their own cause for concern. Just surviving the day will be challenging enough. And November has that whole election thing disrupting their lives, not just the usual Friday fright. Broken mirrors, ominous odors and malevolent observations cascading together to bring horror to the susceptible.

What many (perhaps most) fail to understand is that because events occur in sequence does not necessarily mean they are related in a causal relationship. If the sun rises on the same day you are involved in a car accident, it is (probably) not reasonable to assert the sunrise caused the accident (especially if it happened on the way home near midnight). Cause and effect is vastly more difficult to connect than simply observing my team wins more often if I neglect to brush my teeth on game days. (Both events might occur concurrently, but it is unreasonable to assert causality!)  There has to be a reason.

“Do you know,” said Prak, “the story of the Reason?”
Arthur said that he didn’t, and Prak said that he knew that he didn’t
He told it.
One night, he said, a spaceship appeared in the sky of a planet which had never seen one before. The planet was Dalforsas, the ship was this one. It appeared as a brilliant new star moving silently across the heavens.
Primitive tribesmen who were sitting huddled on the Cold Hillsides looked up from their steaming night-drinks and pointed with trembling fingers, swearing that they had seen a sign, a sign from their gods which meant that they must now arise at last and go and slay the evil Princes of the Plains.
In the high turrets of their palaces, the Princes of the Plains looked up and saw the shining star, and received it unmistakably as a sign from their gods that they must now go and set about the accursed Tribesmen of the Cold Hillsides.
And between them, the Dwellers in the Forest looked up into the sky and saw the sigh of the new star, and saw it with fear and apprehension, for though they had never seen anything like it before, they too knew precisely what it foreshadowed, and they bowed their heads in despair.
They knew that when the rains came, it was a sign.
When the rains departed, it was a sign.
When the winds rose, it was a sign.
When the winds fell, it was a sign.
When in the land there was born at midnight of a full moon a goat with three heads, that was a sign.
When in the land there was born at some time in the afternoon a perfectly normal cat or pig with no birth complications at all, or even just a child with a retrousse nose, that too would often be taken as a sign.
So there was no doubt at all that a new star in the sky was a sign of a particularly spectacular order.
And each new sign signified the same thing – that the Princes of the Plains and the Tribesmen of the Cold Hillsides were about to beat the hell out of each other again.
This in itself wouldn’t be so bad, except that the Princes of the Plains and the Tribesmen of the Cold Hillsides always elected to beat the hell out of each other in the Forest, and it was always the Dwellers in the Forest who came off worst in these exchanges, though as far as they could see it never had anything to do with them.
      Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe, and Everything, Chapter 34

Many (perhaps most) should know better. Especially with the explosion of information and technology, we should be beyond whistling in the dark to keep evil away, pronouncing blessing after a sneeze to prevent the person’s soul from escaping, and performing ritualistic actions of knocking on wood, crossing fingers, or fondling dead animal limbs to influence the world to form more to our liking. We might not know everything (like Prak) but we certainly know more than our unenlightened ancestors did. We can use our wisdom to overcome the blind adherence to ancient ways of thinking. Prak was spot on regarding one thing…

Most of the good bits were about frogs.

Phred

Post 33 of n

March Madness Continues

My aversion to basketball just got worse over the last hour. The brackets are official and everything sports for the rest of the month will be “sweet 16” this and “final four” that. I was able to watch a hockey game (my Red Wings won) and took a nap. when I awoke, it was too late.

I am tempted to just make a truly random bracket (using a coin or die) and submit it to the local pool. Then, if (when, hahaha) i win I can show the video of my method… and maybe they will come up with a better way of spending a month on sports television programming.

WSOP anyone?

Phred

post 32 of n

Protext Is Everything

Good evening ladies and  gentlemen, this is your captain typing. I’d like to thank you for traveling with us on this trip. While checking the conditions preflight, I have been told there might be some turbulence ahead, so it is suggested your remain in your seats with your seat belt adjusted comfortably. We will try to make this trip a safe and comfortable one.

Communication is broadly defined as an attempt to transfer an idea from one mind into another. In the direct context of our foray here the method is to come up with words that will create in the minds of the readers the same images and ideas in my own head. This task is significantly easier when it involves the spoken word presented in person in conversation. The presenter can gather visual clues about the level of understanding and can obtain feedback in the form of questions for additional information or insight. Subtle shades of meaning can be provided by voice inflection and phrasing. Emphasis a single word can modify or invert the meaning of a phrase in ways nearly impossible for written text to convey (one team I worked with would change the colours of text to help show emotional charge in messages sent, red for anger, blue for indifference, green for sarcasm). In this medium, we are constrained to simply word choice and text format to attempt to convey meaning.

A hindrance that is ever present is the lack of shared experience as a base of understanding. Even the assumption of a shared language (English…I pity the non-native speakers attempting to use a translation software program to try and make clear my blogs) is insufficient to assure the successful transfer of the desired idea. In a $99 workshop taken at a Holiday Inn hotel many years ago, we listed nearly 40 meanings for the word “hog” (proper, common, and slang uses) and nearly every expression can have multiple meanings. [Editor note: the word “foray” in the second paragraph was checked in a dictionary to make sure it carried the desired “flavor”…and the third definition matched what was expected: an initial venture. To my surprise, the first two meanings, “a quick raid, usually for the purpose of taking plunder,” and “a quick, sudden attack” were totally off my original intention. My apologies if your initial read caused you to bar the door against marauding Vikings. Information from dictionary.com]

Now for the title. (Yes, my spell checker is protesting protext is not really a word, too.) I should use the word context, but there is a flaw in this word as it is written, the prefix ‘con.’ We use the words pro and con, understanding that they have opposing meanings. A person uses the word pro in places where they are in agreement with or approving of an idea or proposition. The word con carries opposition and resistance to the topic in view So to use a word in “con-text” is to disagree with or protest its use as appropriate. This seems like an anti-effective way to start an attempt af understanding.

=[TURBULENCE WARNING] Then, the same dictionary site lists the prefix actually derives from a word com (not con). More red underlines from my spell checker when typing comtext. And con (or com…) means both opposing and together in Latin, depending on usage. I think I will quit using a dictionary.

So, in an attempt to land this puppy safely and smoothly, I will try to express my main thought with clarity, simplicity, and in the best way I know how, that you the reader will form an image in your mind as closely as possible with me. Ready?

I like pie.

[I like pi, too, but that will have to wait for the day of the century posting on 3.14.15]

Phred

post 31 of n