Thursday, December 18, 2008

NPR - Reality of Being

I wrote a post, what lies beneath, about living with the body we're given in our life, whether you like it or not. It's simply the reality of our own being. And when we see other people, we sometimes wonder what it's like to be them. We are lost in our own being, and in our imagination, lost in theirs.

It's about acceptance, self and social. But as the saying goes:

"To be nobody but myself --
in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else --
means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting."

-E.E. Cummings, poet (1894-1962)

it's about the mirror and the front door.

Facing what we see, what we want to see, what we wish to be, and what we want the world to see. Sometimes they're attainable or at least most of the way there. But we are still hampered if not restricted by our genetics, the gift our parents gave us to be who we are. The rest is up to us. At least we have what and who we are and we can find what's changeable. And we can see what's ahead if we try.

It's the reality of our own being, the same as everyone else but not equal as everyone else. Equality isn't in the cards or the rules, just what is and what can be within our own mind and body. And reality.

And for some, that is the issue and the problem. When you don't like what you are based on who you are, and told throughout your childhood, it's not about who you are but what you are, you're forever stuck with the contradiction, and have to decide which is true. And then make decisions that are both best and right for you.

So, what's my point?

I don't really know except thinking out loud about what and how I see myself. The majority of people are verbally pummelled from their early years to dislike their body, and if not that, then strive to make it better, such as stronger, faster, quicker, and on and on. Some of those pressures are due to what we're doing, sports, dance, ballet, or any physical activity.

And sometiimes it's to be better looking or more beautiful or achieve some measure of someone else's idea of physicality, such as a model. We never hear and never learn to just be and enjoy our own body. There's always something wrong with us or something we can do more or better. But never just be and be ok.

And strive as we do, eventually we see the truth and reality. We just won't get there. And it becomes a point where we have to accept that reality and accept ourselves as we are. We can still strive, but success isn't a goal anymore, but simply striving. The journey from ourselves to ourselves.

And when we pass our 40th birthday and onward toward 50, we discover the work is harder and the results less. We've passed the optimium. The optimium where change can occur for the good and we are just working to stay, and not lose what we had. It's not about gain or better, but simply existing as best we can.

And to make any type of major change, no matter how deeply felt and needed, isn't a reality without some concessions to the truth and to yourself. And what medical science can do to help. It's about trying to understand and accept what limits are there and what we can do within those limits, and then find comfort and maybe satisfaction with the achievable.

In the end, it's still our reality and the truth we live with. As Randy Pausch said, "We can't change the card we're dealt, but we can change how we play the hand."

NPR - What lies beneath

I didn't know where to put this post, life, my story, Taoism, whatever, because it's about what lies beneath the surface of each of us. We all have a public persona, the external and public expression of our personality, character and temperament, and we all have the complexity and diversity of ourself underneath the exterior and expression. Like that's new or news?

Not really. I was just thinking how we see other people and how that reflects within ourself and with others, and how we compare ourself to others. Within ourselves we all hide our deep, personal fears and dislikes about ourself, either mental or physical. It's part of our society to be or achieve better looking, smarter, and on and on. And why we have so many mental health therapist, cosmetic surgeons, and on and on.

And studies have shown we routinely seem to wonder what it's like to be someone else. Not always, but often, out of hate for yourself or our body, but out of curiosity. To the extreme it's body dysmorphic disorder, but sometimes it's not always about something small about us, but the whole of us, as is often expressed by people with gender identity issues (it's not a disorder or disease, just a normal human expression proven to be genetic, biochemical, mental and real).

And sadly, much of this happens when we're young, from our parents when we're children, from others when we're teenagers, and from all the messages we get from our family, friends, other people, doctors, etal, and in our world, media, ads, etc. throughout our life. We're told we're not good enough and so we struggle living inside a body we don't like if not hate.

And it's what lies underneath everything else we think, say or do the rest of our life. It's always there and always present. Try as we might, it never goes away and the best we can do is hide, hide it, or disguise it, and something will happen to find it long or deeply buried, to open the mental and emotion wound again. To bleed in our mind, heart, soul and spirit, leaving us empty, again.

The reality is that what lies underneath just is, and who we are, like it or not. Whether we accept it or not, we still have to live with it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

NPR - Reading the News

I've written that I read 3-5 newspapers 4-5 days a week, and look at on-line newspapers almost every day, from local to international papers. But as I learn to read on-line newspapers I still like the plain paper ones, and am disheartened the daily Washington Post isn't available here with the other major newspapers (NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.). The Christian Science Monitor would also be nice but it's dropping print editions in the spring of 2009.

What I've found is the obvious, I read the paper and on-line ones differently, vastly differently, and why I like the paper ones. I'm one of those folks who loves getting it, sorting the section in the order I read, and then spread each section out on the table one at a time and scan each page thoroughly, even the ads. I usually spend 30-60 minutes with each paper depending on the paper. Our local ones aren't all the thick with news, and even then usually articles from national news sources.

This takes time. I usually read while eating breakfast or a snack, with coffee. It's the old-fashioned joy of the world in front of you, there to choose to read or not. It's doesn't hide in a link or in sub pages on a Website, it's all there, front and present in your view and available for your consciousness. All you have to do is read.

Internet newspaper Websites require a totally different sense. Instead of seeing the headline and the text, where you can read into the article to see if it's interesting. Instead of knowing newspapers tend to follow a general pattern in the organization of the paper by and through each section, each of the Web news sites organizes and structures their pages differently, and while similar to print news, not the same.

Most of the Web news sites tend to layer the news, from the front page through the sections on the navigation bar. And if all you want is today's news, you have to navigate to that Web page or set of Web pages, and read the headlines and links to the stories. In short, instead of having quick access to the content, you have to click through Web pages, just to read the introduction for the idea of the article.

In a way it's the difference between sequential and parallel thinking. The print paper is sequential. You have to turn and read each page. You simply can't read more than the page(s) in front of you. The Internet paper is parallel. All the choices for sections and articles are there on the home page. First you have to discern the structure and organization of the on-line paper, and then decide which articles to read or subpages to follow.

And the Internet ones don't put the current paper up front, but they give you a series of days of news. If all you want is today's paper, you have to find the link "Today's Paper" and go there, and start the visual and mental process (above) again. I don't find this frustrating or troublesome, just different, something to adapt and adjust my senses and thinking.

But what I find is that I get through the Internet ones quicker and faster, and spend less time reading pieces of articles than just selecting whole articles. And often, I just hit the print version to print and read than read the on-line version. This is because I don't pay attention to the ads and find them distracting, which is the opposite in the actual print version. I like reading the ads.

I realize this is the obvious. I learned Web design from a former journalist, and I design my Website more in the mode of the news style than a Web style, something I'm revisiting with WSR version 3.0, but that's in the future. For now I read both types of newspapers, but I still like the real print ones.

Friday, December 12, 2008

JMO - Auto Bailout

I've been only half-following the auto bailout bill in Congress, not reading all the details about this or that Representative or Senator's view of the bill or the issue, but still getting the jest of it, and while I'm still personally against it and recognize it's an unfortunate necessity, I've come to the conclusion it won't work, and therefore shouldn't be allowed to pass. Why?

Because first and foremost, the big 3 auto companies got themselves in the mess. We didn't create the mess, they did by building and selling low(er) mileage cars and especially trucks and SUV. They bet the farm on trucks and SUV's and it's not working now. They had years to set aside profits and develop better cars, and they simply didn't, until it was obvious the other (foreign, many now building cars in the US) were building better or better priced cars.

And second because a significant cost of their cars are due to union wages and benefits, namely wages, healtcare and pensions and to require them to become lean enough to be cost and price competitve would mean jettisoning their healthcare costs and pensions. As it is right now all three are $Billions behind on their pension oblgations with no clear plan to repay it, excused by the President and Congress too.

And restructuring the wages would be mean invalidating the union contracts or worse allowing them to hire non-union workers, at the same or lower wages than other auto companies currently in the US. This would be mean a long protracted fight in the courts over the contracts or in Congress over either requiring it or allowing it, and the political backlash would be enormous against the company and Congress.

And it's clear providing short term loans won't work because none of the big 3 companies will use the money for the long term change necessary to build better cars at affordable prices. It's taken 50 years to get here, you can't fix it overnight, but the companies have had the information and resources to be in a better position than they are now, they just didn't do it.

And now when at least one is facing chapter 11 protection or worse bankruptcy, we're supposed to panic and give them our money? With what for assurances they'll actually change when the problems are systemic to their history, structure and operation?

I'm against the bailout but not for the reasons the Republicans are against it. They want the companies to jettison worker rights with their contracts giving them affordable wages, healthcare and pensions. They want to cheapen the American worker to benefit the companies. I'm against the bailout because it's not what the Republicans have long believed and sold us, about free enterprise and the market economy, and it's failed badly.

The question is if we're willing to change the big 3 companies into something similar to the foreign companies producing cars in the US, which is likely the better solution, but without sacrificing the hard earned benefits the employees have worked hard for all these decades. We can't jettison them at the expense of making a better company, unless the taxpayer is willing to pick up the bill for their healthcare and pension plans.

And that would essentially get the companies off the hook, which I suspect is their goal, which leaves the question, since when is the government the one to decide what business should do when they (companies) have long argued and won the right to decide and act on their own, free of government intervention. Simply because they failed isn't ground for them to ask government now to see them through their stupidity.

Shouldn't they face their own music? Is it fair for the taxpayer to bailout the big 3 auto companies who simply want to jettison the workers' wages and benefits for their own profit? I don't think so. Any deal has to ensure the workers have longterm liveable wages with affordable healthcare and pensions, and not push them back on the public for corporate profit.

It's time the drive the car they're selling, and if they can't sell it, who's fault is that? Certainly not the taxpayer and definately not the worker. So why should we accept the blame and write the check?

Monday, December 8, 2008


I've never liked all the rules the Transportation Security Administration has imposed on airlines, airports and airline passengers, especially the last, namely us travellers. I've always maintained we're not the enemy. And when looking for a needle in a haystack in a field of haystack, it doesn't make sense to look at every piece of straw when you're you looking for something/one sharp and shiny.

My point is that to date since 9/11 no terrorist has every been captured, indicted and convicted by TSA's airline passenger rules. The TSA has never found anyone being a terrorist(s) and many tests have shown that many people have managed to get banned items through their inspections and some employees have been found to have criminal records due to poor applicant screening proceedures. And many airport baggage employees have been discovered to searched and stolen items from unlocked baggage from the mandatory rules about baggage.

And we know the No-Fly list is a fraud and bogus. It doesn't work, but to fix it TSA wants to know the full name, birth date and birth place of everyone in America to compare with airline fligh manifests. This is even more unnecessary rules as has been shown that most of the 9/11 terrorists would have passed all the tests currently in use or proposed. They simply looked normal except the FBI could have prevented 9/11 if they had acted properly and timely. They failed us, and TSA can't fix that.

In short, TSA is a waste of taxpayers money. But now a journalist writing a book says the same thing. Becky Akers is saying the same thing, with the research to support the view. Give us the right and freedom to travel and stop making us the terrorists.

The best thing President Obama can do is trust the American people, and killing TSA would be a good step toward that goal. Otherwise, it's only shows our political leaders don't trust us beyond demanding our money for things we don't want, don't need, and isn't working for us, the people who elected you. Get the point?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

JMO - Chasing Money

I've been a fan of Formula One since the early 1960's when Dad took my brother and I to several races in Germany in our British Commer camper (introduced before the VW Westphalia camper). That's a whole other story about travels in this camper. But it hooked me then and has kept me hooked even as the sport has evolved into an entertainment business and under the leadership (which he gets a large share of the revenues) of Bernie Ecclestone has evolved into chasing money.

Simply put Mr. Eccelestone has bled the traditional circuit owners and their sponsors who have been in F1 for decades dry while recruiting countries to build new circuits and venues for even more money to cancel contracts with former circuits. And he has pushed the cost of the racing into the hundreds of millions of dollars annually spent by each time, now totalling about $1.6 Billion. For what?

And now Honda has announced it's pulling out of F1 because it siimply can't afford to stay in at the cost of $220M annually for team operations, not count research and development for cars and engines, which some say doubles or triples the annual cost of F1 teams. The prices of competing has become too steep. And now this will reduce the number of teams to 9 with 18 cars, of which less than half are competitive, the rest there just for show.

So, in trying to personally profit from fans, teams, circuit owners and sponsors, and some nation - who provide some resources and money as a national event, he has bled it dry to where it will only go downhill for the next few years as the global financial crisis increases causing even more hardships to continue with F1 teams. Now it has no more money to give Mr. Ecclestone, and for what?

If anything Mr. Ecclestone has proven is that chasing money has its own rewards, and while some can say wealth, I will say hate toward the very cause of the problem, the person. He chased money for the sake of money and not for the sake of the sport, and now everyone will be hurt and pay the price, and Mr. Ecclestone will simply fade into the background with his wealth, knowing money can't by you respect and love, only fear and hate.

The best thing F1 can do is jettison Mr. Ecclestone and Mr. Mosley and get back to the sport of racing, and find solutions where all the teams, preferably more than 10, are all competitive and still individual, as is now, designing and building your own chassis. We don't need a common engine, the problem with the IRL, because diversity builds competition, but we do need to find ways to contain the costs of engine development programs.

We need to return to what made F1 great, competitiveness, drivers, cars and tracks. And get just enough money for that and not for personal profit. I watched the best at German Grand Prix races 1963-64. I miss it and know we can't go back. We have to go forward, but not with egos in the way. Chasing money isn't the answer.

Monday, December 1, 2008

JMO - Freedom to wade

I've been an on and off fly-fisherman for over three decades now. I often buy the license and carry the equipment during the year but never stop and fish. It's about the freedom to wade a river and fish (and always release). I've fished in Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and now living here in Washington. I even used to fish after work streamgaging, since I was already wearing my waders, work hours were done and I was staying at a local motel anyway, so why not.

And now the Montana State Supreme Court has upheld the right of fly-fishing people to access more streams via public access. This is great, but what was more interesting is the people for the right to restrict streams that flow along or through their property. It's the list of the rich, including rock star Huey Lewis who owned land the stream went through.

Sometimes when it comes to land, we all become libertarians.

Almost every state in the West allows wading streams and rivers or walking along the banks, below high or high-high water and accessing them from any public access point, usually a boat landing, bridge, or along a highway. This is because these states have declared state, meaning public, ownership of the stream/river bed and banks. Only Colorado has a more restrictive laws given landowners the right to the stream/river bed and banks, and only allows floating on rivers through private property.

While fishing in Colorado once I encountered people who put barbed-wire fences in and over rivers to stop floaters. I kept my fishing to the Rocky Mountain NP but drove around outside to discover the fishing was limited to on and near a state highway bridge. I loved it when I returned home and could fish freely anywhere I could wade.

And that's the point, fly-fishing is like nothing else, both realistically and philosophically. It's just about being there and standing in the river with your fly rod and hope. And catching anything is extra.