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Neko

Monday, May 31, 2004

The scariest day yet 


Today, I was awakened by the phone ringing; our loved one had been unable to breathe properly even with the oxygen, and had been rushed to the hospital. I came out of a dead sleep with my heart in my throat, scrambled to get dressed, and we raced out the door; NOT a good way to start the day.

She looked so tiny and frail in the hospital bed, and so happy to see us!! A nurse told us that she'd had a big buildup of fluid in her chest, and that was what was making it hard for her to breathe; they gave her some meds that were supposed to get her to pass the fluid fairly quickly, and they worked gratifyingly well-in 2 hours, she was ready to go back home.

She was in much better spirits once she could breathe better, even though she was on oxygen most of the day, and she ate a pretty good dinner and was quite animated while going through old photos with us, but the increasing "leakiness" in her chest, and her inability to walk even a few steps without getting winded, shows very clearly how her body is shutting down... and would have already shut down for good if she hadn't been having around the clock care to make sure she got oxygen and was taken to get medical care when needed.

Perhaps the biggest sign that she feels the end approaching is that, although she's tough as nails and was raised at a time when they were taught to never complain, ask for help or be demonstrative in any way, she now needs medication for anxiety and depression, and, heartrendingly, has taken to extending her little arthritic hand for me to hold when she's frightened or stressed-something totally contrary to her normal behavior.

Her spunk and determination are still evident, though, and she may well manage a few months more than the doctors predicted; that's all we can hope for now, and then only if she'll still have some sort of quality of life-she'd rather be dead than to linger on in a hospital bed. We'll give her as much love and strength as we can between now and when we leave Tuesday evening, and hope we've made this final chapter of her long life a little easier.


Sunday, May 30, 2004

Dismaying update 


Thanks to the hotel-provided DSL connection malfunctioning in my room and ONLY my room, and my husband failing to bring what was needed to use dialup despite claiming he DID have it, I missed my first daily blog entry in my 5 MONTHS of blogging, GRRRRRRRRRRR.

On Friday, we had a wonderful day with our dear one, including what she said was the biggest dinner she'd eaten in a long time-HOORAY!! We took her on a drive to somewhere she hadn't been in a long time, and she really seemed to enjoy seeing something different, especially when we parked at a spot where she could watch the river. I was SO pleased to see how much she loved the gift we had for her, too; her face lit up like a little girl's.

Her lawyer showed up unexpectedly before we took her out, and had already spoken to her about the photos, it turns out, so we have THAT settled... but, in exchange, he wants us to prod her into revealing what she wants done with her other personal possessions. WE don't want any of her furniture and such, so it doesn't feel quite as ghoulish to have to ask her about that stuff; I'll have to ask about her jewelry, though, and that WILL be a little grim, as some of it is valuable and I'm one of the most likely inheritors.

She REALLY freaked us out today, though, because she needed oxygen a bunch of times, including when we had her out for dinner and WE had to handle it; she seemed so TIRED by the end of the day, it just broke my heart... and scared the wits out of me, too, as the last time an elderly relative got so worn out by a visit from us she DIED just a few days later.

Earlier in the day she had seemed happy, at least, as she and I went through drawers full of her painstakingly handcrafted items, and I asked her about all of them, as I have before, as she loves to talk about them; this time, she announced that she wanted me to have all of them, AND her mother's china that's over 100 years old, because no one else cared about any of that old stuff but me. (Is it asking so much for each of us to spend a little time listening to the old folks talking about the things they've loved and cherished all of their lives? Her other relatives sure seem to think it's too much of a bother, the jerks.)

We'd planned to take her around to all the cemeteries with family members buried in them on Sunday, but I'm fairly certain that she won't be up for it; we'll maybe just take her to the local ones and let my husband go to the other graves while I stay home with her. As it seems clearer and clearer that this WILL be the last time we see her, the important thing is to keep her happy and spend as much time with her as we can.


Thursday, May 27, 2004

Devastating news 


We'll be on our way to the airport in a couple of hours, and we'll be going with heavy hearts; I felt very strongly that we should call the elderly relative who's our primary reason for this trip and remind her that we were coming, so that she wouldn't forget and have her aide drive her off on a day trip and lose us one of the few days we have with her, and... the aide answered the phone, and told us that certain health issues had taken a drastic change for the worse, and that our loved one, who seemed so lively and able to last another decade or more, has between 2 weeks and 2 months left.

I don't have the words to express my grief over this.

We just lost another dear one in October, and she had died literally a few days after we left, as if she'd been hanging on just to see us again and then was ready to go; now we're looking at a possible instant replay of that when we haven't recovered from the first loss.

I have a present for her that she's really going to like. A couple of months ago, I picked out another present for her, and at the time the weirdest thing came out of my mouth; "We'll give the other thing to her first and save this one for a later trip, because, if she passes away, [friend] likes this same sort of thing and we'll give it to her." It seemed like a silly thing to think about at the time, given that this relative seemed strong enough to outlive US, but... now she'll never get this 2nd gift, and the friend WILL get it. I'd do anything for this not to be so, for my intuition to have been wrong this time.

Our dear one has a collection of family photos that go back over a century; we LOVE those photos, and have looked through them with her many times, and she has always said that no one else has ever expressed an interest in them and that she wanted us to have them. We'd prompted her as to had she "made sure" about this, and she said she had... but it turns out that she had NOT, as I discovered when my intuition led me to call her lawyer and talk to him about it right after I got the bad news and got myself mostly composed. He's been TRYING to get her to tell him what she wants to do with her personal effects for YEARS, but she's never been willing to accept her own eventual passing and the need to talk about it, so now.... now... this is so GHOULISH... the lawyer, who's also is a neighbor, is going to come by her house Monday morning, and we're supposed to be there and ask her in front of him what she wants to do with the photos, so that he can know her wishes. How REVOLTING, to have to maneuver her like that!! Yes, it will be making sure that her wishes are carried out, but the thought still makes me CRINGE.

If you're a repeat visitor to my little corner of cyberspace, you've deduced that I'm an intensely emotional person. I'm now faced with what will be the biggest emotional challenge of my life; to visit this loved one and make the visit one that will fill her with joy, as this will be our LAST time together, without letting her know that WE know that she's dying, without her seeing any signs of our grief... and I have to stay clear-headed enough to make sure that the photos that none of the other relatives care about go to US and don't get split up and mostly thrown away. I have to do all of this despite barely having slept the past few nights trying to get our project finished in time, despite being ready to EXPLODE from the stress of that and of the trip for the past couple of weeks, despite wanting to howl like a wounded animal at the thought of losing someone I love so much...

What I have to do now is look at this trip as a GIFT; if her heart had failed sooner, she would have died without ever seeing us again, and if it had happened later we wouldn't have seen her anywhere near the end, wouldn't have been able to fill her with our love to sustain her for the journey she's getting ready to make into the unknown.

If I can't pull this off, then I'm not WORTHY of the love she has always shown me; none of her other few remaining family members (none of whom we know) cares to be involved with her life, so as far as we know they aren't going to be there for her.... there's just US. I HAVE to come through for her. I HAVE to.

I'm going to try to pull myself together so I can finish packing and getting ready to go. I'll have my laptop with me on the trip, so I'll still be posting what I can every day; I hope with all my heart that I'll be able to report that each day I've added a little happiness to a sweet old lady's final days.


Indirect precognition 


Most people think of precognition as just being the seeing of something specific that hasn't happened yet, but another "flavor" of it is becoming aware, through no perceptible means, that something is about to happen that requires us to alter what we're doing to deal with. I don't mean hearing a train whistle and "anticipating" the arrival of the train, and so moving off of the tracks, either, I mean going about your business and suddenly realizing that you "have to" change what you're doing because... well, you don't KNOW, and that's what makes it different than, but no less valid than, standard precognition. You can even make a case that it's MORE important, as it happens more often and is more frequently a warning that needs to be heeded (regular precognition is as often as not totally useless info); I think it's important enough to give it its own term, "indirect precognition," with the name being chosen because you're perceiving indirectly that something's up, or even just being indirectly influenced to alter your actions without knowing why, rather than actually visualizing the upcoming events and "seeing" what the problem is.

I had an episode of this in my life today, as you probably guessed. My husband and I are going out of state Thursday, and before we leave we needed to rent a piece of equipment to allow us to finish a project we're working on, one that must be handed in, stressfully enough, also on Thursday. There is exactly ONE place to rent this piece of equipment in my entire city, and they only have ONE; my husband had therefore reserved it in advance, and I never gave it a moment's thought after he told me about it. All I had in my mind today was packing and the other preparations for the trip, which I was doing according to a schedule that he and I had discussed; I had gotten to the point where I needed to get into the bathroom and color my hair, so as to be done and showered by the time he got home... and I found myself compelled to continue packing instead. I kept eyeing the clock, envisioning the schedule becoming more and more of a shambles because I wasn't getting started with my hair, but my feet kept moving between the closet and the suitcase.

Then, the phone rang.

I went out into the family room so that I could hear on the machine who it was (in case it was my husband with a problem), and the caller turned out to be the owner of the place where we had reserved the equipment, saying since he hadn't heard from us since the reservation had been made (THE PREVIOUS DAY, it's not like it had been weeks, and there was no agreement or REASON for us to have called him again!!), he had decided to rent it to someone else!! As soon as I understood what the call was about, I snatched up the phone and assured the man that my husband fully intended to be there to pick it up AS AGREED; the jerk actually tried to worm out of it, asking if there was a way to call my husband to verify that he was coming, and then trying to argue that he couldn't get there by the time they closed in an HOUR, all in his eagerness to hand the thing over to a customer who was right there rather than the one he'd RESERVED it for. I made it perfectly clear that my husband DID have time to get there, WOULD be there, and that we had arranged to have it because we NEEDED IT, and on an emergency basis at that. He reluctantly agreed to hold onto the frigging thing until my husband got there, which is what he should have automatically done, and which we would have never thought to question that he WOULD do, and I thanked him (through gritted teeth) and hung up the phone... and belatedly realized that if I'd colored my hair when I was "supposed to," I would have been in the shower when that call came, the owner of the shop would have handed something we desperately needed over to someone else, and my husband and I would have been very, VERY screwed.

My husband, as always, thinks that the way things worked out is a "coincidence"... LOL!!


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Wealth and fame 


Do you want them? Are you SURE?

You assume that the people in your life are reasonably honest with you; if you're rich or famous, people tell you what you want to hear.

You expect your private life to be private; if you're rich or famous, you don't HAVE a private life.

You have a fairly accurate sense of self; if you're rich or famous, people throw such constant, exaggerated compliments at you that, unless you're the super-rare person that totally tunes out what others say, you'll have wildly warped perceptions about yourself, which other people perceive as you being a jerk.

You have a variety of people that you feel safe in trusting; if you're rich or famous, you can't trust anyone, because people will stand in line to take advantage of you and then sell the story to the Enquirer.

You know who your friends are; if you're rich or famous, you can never be sure who's your friend and who's just using you.

You know that your romantic partner loves and desires you; if you're rich or famous, chances are that it's the wealth and fame they love, or at best your wealth and fame creates excitement that greatly enhances your actual appeal... and not being loved for yourself gets old, not to mention hard on the ego.

You'll spend your life pursuing your hopes and dreams, and that pursuit will bring you excitement and pleasure; if you're rich or famous, you've already gotten everything, and your boredom will force you into compulsively spending, or partying, or whatever you can think of to fill up your days.

There's no harm in having enough $ to get some of the finer things in life, but don't wish for wealth or fame; wish for health and comfortable lives for yourself and your loved ones instead, and you'll have a chance at the best goal-happiness.


Monday, May 24, 2004

Synchronicities abound 


I had the urge to call someone I rarely talk to today; as soon as she realized it was me, she freaked... because she'd been walking to the phone to call ME when the phone rang. I told her that another woman I know always has the same thing happen with me... and guess who the next person to call me was? When you think about someone, it activates the connection you have with them and gets them thinking about YOU; it happens so consistently that I don't know why anyone is ever surprised.

A forum that I spend alot of time at has been down for several days, giving Error 404 and associated messages when I tried to access it; today, the thought popped into my head that I should go to a site that had a link to that forum and... I didn't know what, but I followed the instinct, found the link, clicked it, and ended up at a NEW site that the forum is being moved to. The first thread put up by a non-admin in the temporary posting area there had gone up just a few minutes before I got there, how's THAT for timing?

There was a item on eBay not long ago that I didn't get because I bid less than it was worth, which I do NOT normally do... and now I got a gimme letter from a charity telling me that, for a donation of FAR less than I'd valued the eBay item, I can get that EXACT thing, AND another gift, AND a tax deduction. My check is in the mail.

We all get odd whims and urges to do things; if you go along with them, rather than brushing them off and continuing on your preplanned way, the "coincidences" will come too frequently to ignore. Try it and see.


Responsibility and morality 


If you do something, are you responsible for the outcome created by your actions? ALWAYS? What if you're legally insane, either temporarily or overall? What if you're under the compulsion of addiction? What if, unbeknownst to you, you lacked information crucial to making the right decision, and/or had false info? What if you were ordered to do it by someone with valid authority over you? What if you were certain that you or someone you cared about would suffer dreadful consequences if you didn't take that action? What if everyone in your peer group is doing it, and you'll lose them if you don't join in? What if everyone else in your exact circumstances would be driven by basic human nature or other psychological factors to do it? I'D say that ALL of those thing are mitigating factors, and some of them completely cancel out responsibility; sadly, not everyone agrees.

How do you judge the morality of the things you do? In particular, how can you tell if what you do is wrong, and "how wrong" it is? (How GOOD your actions are is a whole other topic.) The results of the actions, and your degree of responsibility, are crucial, but so is one other concept that's widely ignored; you're just as morally accountable for what your actions cause indirectly, and what you allow to happen through inaction, as you are for the results of direct actions you take (subject, as always, to certain sorts of exceptions).

If you've ever had a lover become attracted to a friend who, although not interested in them, is the sort of person that struts their stuff all the time, and gotten mad at that friend, you already understand about the INdirect results of actions and the blameworthiness, and perceived moral laxity, of the perpetrators. Moral responsibility for bad results due to inaction (in other words, immorality because of actions you did NOT take) is just as real, but rarely considered; what if a terrorist planted a nuclear warhead in the middle of your city, and you were the one in charge of getting him to tell you where he put it, and how to disarm it, before it went off and killed many thousands of innocent people? What are you willing to do to him to make him talk? Question him politely? Threaten to slap him around? Follow through with the threat? What if he still won't talk? Do you shrug and give up, or do you escalate your "persuasion"? Do you beat him with a baseball bat? Do you wire him up to a car battery? Do you go to work on him with pliers and a blowtorch? If you fail to make him talk in time, if you're too squeamish to make him suffer intensely enough to talk, you, YOU, will be personally responsible for the deaths of all those thousands of innocent people. Which is the lesser evil, the suffering of a person who is attempting to become a mass murderer, or the deaths of thousands of innocents? If you're thinking that you would NOT be responsible for the potential deaths in this scenario, think again.

Studies show that people believe themselves to NOT be responsible for the consequences arising indirectly from their actions, or that arise from inaction... and it just ain't so. It's this sort of mindest that makes people so unwilling to come running when someone is screaming "HELP" that people in self-defense classes are instructed to yell "FIRE" instead; people pretend that they bear no moral responsibility if someone is beaten, raped or killed because they did nothing... and it just ain't so.

The next time you hear something in the news about some alleged wrongdoing, whether in Iraq, America or Timbuktu, before you leap to judge the perpetrator(s), take a moment and think about the possible extenuating circumstances... and what WORSE news you might have been hearing if those actions had NOT been taken.


Sunday, May 23, 2004

Karma leads you to what you want to know 


The 2 major areas of interest and study in my life have been psychology aka human nature, which has been the primary focus of my studies since I was a kid, and what I call by the umbrella term "karma," by which I mean all the unknowns, the connections between them, and the patterns and rules that underlie reality, which has been the focus of my most intensive study in recent years. Yesterday, I was given information that lead/will lead to amazing insight in BOTH areas.

In a place where the realities of human nature are persistently denied, I read references to the following psychological experiments:

Milgram experiment:

http://www.new-life.net/milgram.htm

Zimbardo experiment:

http://www.prisonexp.org/

I did searches to find info on them, and those URLs are the best I found... and what I read on those sites is mindboggling. The Milgram experiment demonstrates the willingness of people to blindly obey anyone they see as an authority figure, even if they believe that their actions will cause injury or DEATH to another person. The Zimbardo experiment is a blood-chilling demonstration of how people given power over others become savages within DAYS, and also a fascinating, if horrifying, look into how psychological manipulations can be carried out. My understanding of human nature has taken the biggest leap in a long time thanks to this information; my gratitude for this is boundless.

Then, on a site devoted to frivolous nonsense (I DO go for some of that to give myself a break), someone posted about a book that discusses various Eastern philosophies, science, and how it's all connected... and yes, karma and quantum physics are included!! I haven't read the book yet, obviously, but I'm going to, and it can't help but give me some food for thought, probably quite a bit... and it has gotten me thinking about other books that cover this sort of material-where one book exists on a topic, there are usually others. I'm VERY excited to see what other people have come up with in this area of thought.

The more you seek the truth, the more it will be revealed to you.


Saturday, May 22, 2004

Dreams, both dirty and clean 


Voyeurism is a big thing online, so here's a little peep into the warped domain of my subconscious. ;-)

I had the "back in high school" dream last night, and I saw again that my interpretation of how not having/understanding my schedule in the dream ties in with stressful events in my life that feel out of my control; the length of time since "classes had started" was the length of time since we made reservations for our upcoming trip, and the amount of time I was told in the dream that I had to finally get to my classes and see if I could catch up, or decide to drop them, is the same as the amount of time until the trip. I also saw, more clearly than before, that the theme of "not having gotten my grades" is a reference to an ongoing event or phase in my life that I haven't seen the outcome of yet; in the dream, I set a record by believing that I hadn't gotten my grades for THREE YEARS, and I just mentioned to a friend a couple of days ago that I'd hit the 3-year anniversary of a MAJOR event in my life, one whose repercussions are still being felt; this is NOT a coincidence.

If you have a recurring dream, it's always worthwhile to try to connect the main elements of the dream to what's going on in your life; your brain gives you those dreams over and over for a reason, after all, and once you learn the reason you learn something about yourself.

As for the "dirty" stuff; yes, I actually had a sexual dream last night, and no, my husband was NOT in it. I find that my sex dreams get more graphic as I get older, which is presumably a hormonal thing; while most people's sex dreams tend to be big on the feelings and not very detailed, MINE would put a porn movie to shame... or is it that most people just don't remember the details, and I'm just more obsessive, lol?

The lucky guy who "co-starred" with me is someone famous, and when that happens, while it CAN be a simple matter of your subconscious giving you a hottie as a sexual subject, it's often symbolic; qualities that you associate with that person, or a character you associate them with (in the case of an actor) have special meaning to you. This particular guy is VERY cute, as in "grab your heart and fall to the floor when you see him," so the "access to a hottie" thing was clearly going on, but there's more to it; he's much younger, which I think is probably the standard "wish to recapture lost youth" thing that so many people foolishly pursue in real life, and, more interestingly, I associate him with certain nurturing and caretaking qualities that are rare in a man, and I probably want those things as much as his little butt and hairy chest.

Well, ALMOST.


Thursday, May 20, 2004

How many of us have experienced "the unknown"? VOTE IN THE POLL (upper right corner)!! 


Do you know one single person who has NEVER seen or heard a ghost, NEVER predicted the future, waking or dreaming, NEVER been freaked out by eye-popping incidents of synchronicity that defy any possibility of "coincidence," NEVER experienced anything that can't be explained by science? *I* don't. No one I've asked about this does, either. Even people who are staunch believers in there being NOTHING beyond what science can perceive, like my husband, HAVE seen examples of "the unknown" in action; they just insist that there "must be" some sort of explanation for each event that will somehow magically make it fit into the laws of physics, even though no amount of searching ever turns one up (and they call US illogical, lol).

So, we've pretty much ALL experienced this sort of thing; why do you suppose that is? What do you think it MEANS? Is it possible that things that nearly every human being has experienced are a mass delusion... or is this a not-too-subtle hint that these things are REAL?

Vote in the poll, and let's see what YOU think. :-)


Results of the partner equality poll 


Here they are:


Partner equality poll

Should both halves of a couple be "equal" in things like intelligence and success?

I'm a woman, and I prefer for me to be smarter, more successful, etc, than the man. 6.5% (9 votes)

I'm a woman, and I prefer to have the same level of intelligence, success, etc, as the man. 41% (57 votes)

I'm a woman, and I prefer the man to be more intelligent, successful, etc, than me. 5.8% (8 votes)

I'm a man, and I prefer for me to be smarter, more successful, etc, than the woman. 5% (7 votes)

I'm a man, and I prefer to have the same level of intelligence, success, etc, as the woman. 34.5% (48 votes)

I'm a man, and I prefer the woman to be more intelligent, successful, etc, than me. 7.2% (10 votes)

total votes: 139


Interesting, isn't it, that slightly more women AND men want WOMEN to be smarter and more successful? Who'd have thought THAT?!!

You should still be able to vote in the poll here:

http://www.blogpoll.com/poll/view_Poll.php?type=java&poll_id=3825

and view the results here:

http://www.blogpoll.com/poll/view_Results.php?poll_id=3825

Thanks to all who participated!! :-)


Youth is wasted on the young 


The older I get, the more I realize that that old saying is TRUE. Everyone I know who's young enough to have an unlined face, a body on which nothing is dimpling, drooping or dropping, skin and muscle tone that are at their max with no work, and nothing that is chronically sore or can easily become sore with a little exertion, is so busy with their angst and uncertainty and wanting it all rightnowrightaway with no idea how to get it, so caught up with making emotionally-charged relationship and life decisions that will haunt them forever, that they don't appreciate what they've got.

If you're young, take a moment to be glad that you can: pig out and not gain weight... not exercise and still look sleek and firm... lay down and fall right asleep, and STAY asleep... never think about your gums, your fiber intake, or the potential failure of any part of your body during normal activities... stay up all night and not feel it... wear the latest fashions without looking ridiculous... eat ice cream for dinner while sitting on the couch and watching a cartoon marathon without feeling remotely silly... become best friends with someone in an hour... fall in love and think about how wonderful they are, rather than whether they're long-term-relationship and parent-of-your-children material...

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't exchange the life I've made with my husband, and the "wisdom" and understanding I've gained, for ANYTHING, and overall it's FAR better to be "older" than to be a teen or twentysomething, but it sure would be nice for my back to never ache, and to not have to battle a slowing metabolism, and to not have to buy moisturizers by the gallon.

If there were one thing I could alter about my younger years, it wouldn't be to change the "bad things" that happened, and thus lose the strength I gained and the lessons I learned, it wouldn't be to change ANY significant actions, as that could cause me to not have gotten the life I've been blessed with, it would be to be aware, and appreciative, of all the benefits that go along with youth... and that the BAD parts of being young DO go away over time, so there's no need to fret over them.

Nowadays, I try to be grateful for things like my still-perfect vision and hearing, being able to walk all day at the zoo without needing breaks, having dark roots instead of GRAY roots, and all the other things that won't always be this way; who knows, maybe sending out that sort of positive energy about those things will help me hang onto them longer-it can't hurt to try.


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Just when you think people can't get any stupider 


You've probably received a slew of emails asking you to "boycott gas," and/or seen postings about it on every forum you visit; the upshot of them is that we're supposed to be able to make the gas companies take some ridiculously huge loss by not buying gas on this ONE day, thereby somehow making them lower prices.

Say WHAT?!!

Gas isn't some frivolous thing that we just buy on a whim, it's a NECESSITY that we need to get to work and the other places we go as part of our lives, and we'll need it just as much today as any other day. If people don't fill up their tanks today, that just means that they filled them up yesterday, or will fill them up tomorrow-the same amount of gas will be used, and the profits to the gas companies will remain the same for the week, either way.

Might not people eliminate a few errands, or some such thing, and thus lower their gas usage for today? Sure... but those errands will just need to be done on another day, and the gas will get used then.

What if people restructure their driving, so as to lower their gas usage overall for as long as the prices are high? People have already been doing that, for as long as gas prices have been going up, as the gas companies KNEW they would-they took that into account when they decided to raise prices, and they knew that the total revenue would STILL be higher, even with lower usage... because the cold hard truth is that we CAN'T lower our gas usage by much, as nearly all of it is for necessary trips, and no matter how much they raise the prices, we STILL have to get to work, take our kids to school, buy food, run errands, and occasionally see our loved ones... and the gas companies know it.

It's nice to THINK that we can "make" gas companies lower prices, but the reality is that we CAN'T. While a boycott CAN work if it's of a store, since there are other stores, or of a restaurant, as there are other restaurants, there is NO substitute for gas to make our cars run, so we can NEVER boycott gas companies successfully. We need to quit getting caught up in these ridiculous schemes that a 2nd grader could see won't work, and do the only thing that DOES sometimes work; call and write our elected officials, and tell them that our votes will go to those who work to lower gas prices.


Here, at last, is some commentary on the war 


War is hell.

You've heard that saying before, right? Everyone has, right? It's clear what it means, right? So why is everyone acting as if every death, every injury, every bit of bad behavior from emotionally-wrecked military types, and every bit of destruction were some shocking, unexpected thing that needs to be screamed and wept over endlessly?

The entire PURPOSE of war is for people to do their best to hurt and kill others, and destroy their stuff... that's what a war IS. So why is it that we treat every report of perfectly normal and expected goings-on as if it were happening in a quiet suburban neighborhood instead of in a WAR ZONE?

In every war that has ever been, people on BOTH sides have treated prisoners in ways that don't look good when looked at by polite society; when tensions run high, every minute of every day, day after day, week after week, and finally month after month, it messes with people's heads, and if they get power over some of the enemy, who they've been trained to see as evil, who they've been trained to see as less than human, who they've been trained to KILL, who they've been trained to understand are out to kill THEM, who HAVE killed people they knew, what exactly do you EXPECT them to do? Throw tea parties for them? Of course not; they're going to abuse them in some way, at least some of the time. We need to stop being naive and accept that that's the way things are in wartime. No, that doesn't make it right, that doesn't make it ok, that doesn't mean we shouldn't take steps to prevent it and to punish those responsible, but it DOES mean that we have to take these actions IN CONTEXT, and not act as if we have no idea WHY these things happened.

The other part of our current hysteria is that we are saturated with in-depth info on the war, and we're becoming virtually OBSESSED with knowing everything. As a nation, we need to STOP slavering after every possible gory detail about the war. We need to STOP the morbid interest in every drop of blood that is shed. And we need to heed the wakeup call provided by the stampede of people rushing to watch the nauseating footage of a man getting his head cut off an inch at a time and realize that we're getting SICK about this whole mess... why would anyone WANT to see something like that? What sort of ghouls are we becoming?

What sort of nation are we going to be when our brave military men and women come back here? Are we going to be grateful to them for having fought while we remained here safe, or are we going to leap at them and demand that they recount every bit of human suffering that they encountered? Are we going to welcome them home, or pester them for photos of corpses and rubble?

War is HELL; it is NOT a debutante ball, nor is it a Hollywood extravaganza. We should be neither shocked by its realities nor entertained by them. Whether you're for the war or against it, for Bush or against him, the war EXISTS, and nothing that you know or say will change that, so instead of treating it like the ultimate reality show, how about we all just hope with every bit of strength we have that it ends SOON, so that our sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and friends can come home, hopefully leaving behind them a stable situation that will need no further involvement by us?


Monday, May 17, 2004

Yum yum YUM!! 


I've discovered one of the tastiest snacks in the world, and it's something that's not only unusual (which is cool) but ecologically friendly too (which is VERY cool); they're called Paisanitos Plantain Chips, and we got them at Whole Foods (other health food stores might have them, too).

If you don't know what a plantain is, that's not surprising; the dictionary defines them as "starchy banana-like fruit; eaten (always cooked) as a staple vegetable throughout the tropics," with the subtext being that they aren't commonly eaten anywhere else except by people with ancestors from that part of the world (like me)... and that's too bad, as they're very nutritious as well as tasty (especially in the fried form called tostones).

I wish I could describe the flavor of these chips, but it's like trying to tell someone who's never even seen a potato what a potato chip tastes like; just trust me that they're crunchier and with a better flavor than any potato chip ever made (and yes, I DO love potato chips).

If you prefer to eat "natural" foods, these fit the bill; all they contain is: sustainable fresh plantains, palm oil, and salt. "Sustainable" is the bit that'll make the ecologically-minded among you happy, since it means that they "use environmentally-friendly production practices"; yes, that's a direct quote from the package, and it's a good thing to see, especially given where these chips are produced-Ecuador (the chips are exported by Valdesa, which appears to be an Ecuadorian company, NOT an American company taking advantage of cheap labor in Ecuador). Like any developing country, they need some sort of dependable way for their people to generate income, and producing products that Americans will consume means that they can get $ from us in a way that doesn't destroy their dignity and their pride in their heritage.

It's not often that you can support sustainable farming in a disadvantaged country by eating a tasty snack; if you're going to eat junk food, why not try something that you have SOME reason to feel good about?

See if you have a Whole Foods, which is FULL of unusual snacks (like BLUE potato chips, made from actual, Peruvian BLUE Potatoes), here:

http://www.wholefoods.com/stores/index.html

Happy munching!! :-)


Sunday, May 16, 2004

The myth of car alarms 


Car alarms are supposed to prevent your car from being stolen; the idea is that, if the alarm goes off, concerned citizens will come rushing over to see what's going on, and sprint to their phones to call the police.

Have you EVER seen that happen?

When a car alarm goes off, everyone within hearing distance groans in disgust and starts grumbling about how the owner better march their butt out there pretty quick and shut the stupid thing off. This deters crime HOW?

Some people want an alarm to alert THEM if someone tries to steal their car; the reality is that all the alarm alerts them to is that cats like to jump on their hood, or that some kid lost control of a ball, or any of the 10 billion innocuous events that cause car alarms to go off. This can get REALLY annoying for the neighbors if the owner is ever away from home without that car, because then the alarm just has to shriek on and on and ON... even the ones that have a time limit for how long they run can sound like they're going forever when it's the middle of the night-trust me.

Why would you think you needed an alarm on a car that's in your garage or carport anyway; do you think that anyone is desperate enough to steal it that they're going to break into your garage, or walk openly and visibly into your carport, start the car and drive away, as if you can't HEAR your car starting up?

And what's the point of putting on the alarm when you go to work, or the mall, or anywhere with a parking lot... it's not like you'll HEAR it if it goes off, or like anyone else will care. Heck, even if you DID hear it, do you usually run out to the parking lot every time a car alarm goes off? Does ANYBODY?

Some people want an alarm so that if they can't park their car close enough to where they live, or where they're visiting or sleeping for the night, they'll feel sure that if someone tried to drive off with their worthless tin can on wheels that no one wants anyways, the alarm will alert them; the problem with that one is that, as we're ALL used to ignoring distant car alarms, one's own alarm can blast endlessly before it occurs to us to check our own vehicle.

This happened in MY neighborhood just last night-no surprise there, right, lol? I first heard the alarm at about 1:30AM; it went on for several minutes, enough time to wake everyone in a 3 block radius, before it finally shut off. This sort of thing happens frequently in urban areas, so I didn't give it much thought... until it went off again about an hour later, and again took forever before it stopped. About half an hour later, it happened again. Then, at 5AM, it happened again... and, 5 minutes later, again... and, 5 minutes later, AGAIN. At this point, my husband, who had gone outside to write down the license plate # so that we could report it to security the next day, saw a woman walking down the street towards the noisemaker. It wasn't until she made a mortified reply to the comments he was making about the situation that he realized that this was the OWNER, at long, LONG last, who had apparently been staying at a house far enough away that it took the alarm going off 3 times in a row before she finally woke up and realized what had happened-I guess her hosts were too embarrassed to DRIVE her down the street to shut the alarm off a little faster. She apologized profusely to my husband, who filled her in on what her car had been up to while she, and ONLY she, had been sleeping undisturbed, and in front of him, and a neighbor who had also come out, and however many of us were watching from our windows, she drove the vehicle away-she must have been afraid of having it vandalized if she left it there.

Too bad the stupid bitch hadn't thought to park the car in whatever spot nearer to where she was staying that she belatedly moved it to BEFORE she went to bed, huh?

Folks, here's a reality check; in virtually every situation you can imagine, the traditional car alarm, that goes off if someone touches the car, or breathes on the car, or comes within 20 frigging feet of the car, is a waste of your $ and a major pain in the butt to everyone around you. The more modern alarms, that go off if your windows get broken in, or similar extreme action that undeniably IS evidence of vandalism or attempted theft occurs, are fine; they get you a discount on your auto insurance, and are unlikely to ever be a bother to people. Other than that, just accept that no one cares enough about your car to steal it, and if they DID, an alarm wouldn't stop them, or cause anyone, including YOU, to come rushing to the scene to prevent them. Lock your doors, roll up your windows, don't leave any valuables or tempting packages visible, and donate the $ you saved by NOT getting an alarm to the nearest homeless shelter.


Friday, May 14, 2004

Eternal love in the modern world 


Have you ever promised to love someone forever, and/or had someone make that promise to YOU? Did it ever occur to you that, without a corollary promise to endure a great deal of unhappiness over the years and not give up on the relationship because of it, promising eternal love is meaningless in a culture where it's so easy to walk away from our partners?

The cold hard truth is that these days all too few people have the will, or even the desire, to continue to dedicate themselves to a person for whom the first bloom of mindless love has faded; once the intense, early feelings wither, most people just walk away no matter what they promised or how good they are at keeping all other sorts of promises.

True, deep, lasting love DOES exist, but in order to get it you must prove worthy; you must stick by your partner through the times when you hate them, or, worse, are indifferent to them, through the times when you're stressed, or bored, or are wildly attracted to other people, or have to make sacrifices if you want to stay in the relationship, or have tragedies happen that make you want to run for the hills and never come back. Are YOU willing to do that? If you said "yes," ask yourself: Have you stayed in all your PAST relationships until you were either abused or abandoned, and done your very best until that moment? If not, why would that change in the future? The initial infatuation, which most people wrongly call love, ALWAYS burns out, as we're biologically incapable of keeping it forever, so won't you always act the same way? Won't every partner you pair up with act the same way?

Statistically... YES. But WHY? Why are we losing out on what our grandparents' generation, and every generation before them, took for granted, that we'd be able to love someone "until death do us part"? As with most relationship problems these days, the sexual revolution and the women's movement are partially blame, for making it acceptable to engage in behaviors that are NOT to our long-term benefit, but there's even more to it than that. It used to be, not that long ago historically speaking, that we wouldn't stand to gain much by abandoning one partner for another, even if we moved away so that those around us were unaware of our past, because life was hard, and life was short, and once the flush of romance wore off we would just have exchanged one hard, short life for another in a different place, and withOUT the benefit of family, friends and familiar community... so why bother?

Nowadays, we have much longer lives, and way more free time, so even taking community approval out of the equation it's become much more "worthwhile" to switch to a new partner... at least, from the perspective of the sorts of effortless pleasures we value today.

The final culprit is the media: "Pre-media" people had what we'd think of as low standards for what was considered attractive, because they never SAW that many people, and those they DID see were unenhanced by surgery, makeup, hairstyling products and, more importantly, the special lighting and airbrushing that makes modern hotties look FAR better than they ever could in real life; this allowed them to be happy with anyone they married who seemed attractive to them, because they'd probably never seen anyone who looked significantly better. Furthermore, cultures which focus on survival are rarely "sexual" outside of what happens in the beds of married couples, which prevents them from walking around with sex on the brain all the time and so from looking at everyone as a potential sexual partner; OUR culture, on the other hand, is permeated with sex on every level, with every newspaper, magazine, song, TV show, movie, ad and store display using the simple truism that "sex sells" to blast our brains with erotic imagery every waking moment, which means that WE think about sex CONSTANTLY. The net result is that we've become maniacally obsessed with the eternal search for that ideal partner, possessed of unnaturally-perfect face and body, agreeing with us on everything, and inexplicably eager to have frequent sex with our totally-normal-looking selves. Once we cease to be enraptured with whoever we're with, even if we're married to them, we hear the siren song from every side that tells us that we have the "right" to be happy every moment, the "right" to be treated in whatever unrealistic way we've decided is what we really want, the "right" to have sex on tap with someone so hot that we don't need to love them to find them desirable, and it all seems so easily available that it makes it seem ridiculous to make unpleasant effort for, and endure unhappy times with, someone we're not madly in love with rather than bailing so that we can "trade up."

The only problem is that it's NOT ridiculous, it's the ONLY way to get to the sort of "eternal love" that so many songs and movies dangle before us, and that we all claim to want, and SHOULD want, but no longer have any idea how to GET. We have to accept that, although no one should have to stay in a relationship where they're being beaten or otherwise mistreated, we in general need to look at relationships in the traditional way, as things that we MUST grit our teeth and endure sometimes, the same way we do to train to run a marathon, or get a business started, or do anything else that is indescribably sweet when it has been achieved... we need to go back to what has always worked in the arena of love, and stop pretending that playing with emotions and sex like kids do with tinkertoys leads to solid, lasting relationships.

Forget promising to love someone forever; promise to be willing to work through the bad times forever, and to still treat them well, and then DO IT... eternal love will follow.


Karma on Dr. Phil 


One of Dr. Phil's guests today was a man who had had an affair some time ago with a woman who lives in his area. Recently, he ran into the woman, whom he hadn't seen in a long time, at the gas store and talked to her... and never told his wife. When it was revealed on the last show they were on that this had happened, all hell broke loose, and the point was driven home to him that he HAD to tell his wife when something like that happened, and not treat her like a parent from whom things had to be hidden; he agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to do so. On today's show, he revealed that he'd run into the woman AGAIN; he was so stunned that it had happened again, and with that sort of timing, that he was almost babbling when he tried to describe what had occurred.

He was able to talk openly, if somewhat incoherently, about it because he HAD told his wife this time, thus showing that he had learned his lesson; the REALLY interesting thing about all of this is how karma had provided him with a chance to demonstrate his new behavior patterns as soon as he'd promised to adopt them. HE was amazed that that woman showed up again right then, but *I* wasn't, because I've long recognized that every time *I* have an epiphany and make a change, karma immediately throws ME a test with just that sort of eerie timing, and so of course I EXPECT it to happen to other people to... karma doesn't make special rules just for ME.

When you have a major, life-altering revelation, when you've learned something BIG about yourself or how the world works, you release a HUGE surge of energy, and, as always, karma responds by sending you something similar to what you were projecting (and usually SOON). Be aware that this is going to happen, because, if you FAIL to implement your new concepts to deal with what karma sends you, karma gets into a loop where you'll keep getting the same sort of chance over and over again until you get it right... only then do all the energies balance out and "close the case."


Thursday, May 13, 2004

A couple more synchronicities 


I was doing a search today to research a possible blog topic, and the engine I was using apparently gives you a quote to look at while you wait, because the following popped up:

"A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change. "
~Earl Nightingale

Sounds like Earl is a believer in karma, doesn't it? Positive attitude creates positive energy, which leads to good karma, which brings good things to you seemingly out of nowhere... and it DOES often seem like magic. I've never seen a quote like this before, and it gave me a chill to see this nod to how karma works; even though I know Earl probably never thought of that word when he said this, he sure has the concept down.

My husband and I just purchased plane tickets last night for an upcoming out of state trip. Today, I was using eBay, and it started doing this weird thing of giving me random search results instead of results for the search I was trying to do. I was thinking about the trip as I retried my search, and the search result came up with the name of the place we're going to!! What kind of search would anyone DO on eBay that consists only of the name of a state... do they expect the government to be auctioning off states now, lol? I hit my back arrow to see if *I* had inadvertently entered the state name because I was thinking of it, but I hadn't-there were my search parameters just as I thought I'd entered them.

I find myself wondering if these 2 things are connected, as my attitude about this trip has been one of grim resignation. I'm going to try to focus on some little thing about the trip that will be good, like the likelihood of several good restaurant meals, and see if that brings me a little serendipity.


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

When Metal Ruled the World 


Apropos of nothing, one of the "glam metal gods" that I idolized in the 80's popped into my head today. I found myself trying to remember where and when I'd seen him, and then started thinking about what other bands I'd seen, and musicians I'd adored; I was amazed at how hard I had to think to remember some of it, considering how that scene was the center of my life for a decade. I kept turning it over in my mind, as the day and then the evening progressed, not knowing why I'd suddenly fixated on it... until I was looking at the TV guide at midnight and the abovementioned show was just starting on VH1.

I watched the screen, transfixed, as bits of videos I hadn't seen in nearly 15 years were shown. It was nonstop deja vu as I found myself lighting up like a pinball machine over the heart-attack-inducingly gorgeous guys that had rocked my world in my late teen and young adult years, re-experiencing them in their prime, all long hair and tattoos and lace-up leather pants... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!

You know that scene in "The Big Chill" where they're teasing the friend who won't listen to any music except 60's stuff? I'm like that with 80's music. I gave up watching videos and going to shows in 1990, and, as radio in my area had never played anything I wanted to hear, I never got exposed to any music after that. Oh sure, you can't help but hear a LITTLE bit of everything that gets popular, but none of it ever interested me in the slightest; the 80's sound was "my music," and everything else is just Musak to me.

What made me suddenly think of those bands, and those MEN, today, the same day that I'd stumble over a show about them in the TV guide? A final flicker of the same thing that used to wake me up out of a dead sleep knowing that whichever metal video I was obsessed with was just about to start on MTV, the same thing that used to tell me without fail if a band I was going to see had finished soundcheck and left yet or if they'd still be there when my friends and I got to the club; aaaaaaahhhhh, for the long-gone days of my youth, when I was obsessive enough about music to kick my telepathy into overdrive.... heck, I'd settle for a few guys who look like 80's musicians and find older, married women attractive. ;-)


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Sometimes I despair of the human race 


There's no criminal so despicable that they don't have people visiting them in jail, sending them letters, calling them, and telling the media how swell they really are (aside from those few moments they spent butchering an entire family, raping a child, or whatever)... and meanwhile, our nation's elderly are stuck into horrific nursing homes and forgotten about by the families that they spent decades taking care of.

Our everyday lives are filled with far less dramatic, but still aggravating, examples of this warped mindset; with far too many people, those who are good and nice are too "boring" to get noticed, those who are having bad times or, even worse, have been dissed by someone, are cause to head for the hills, but anyone who screws up or does the dissing will have their admiration.

It even happens online; people who post politely get no replies, while those who are blatantly trying to cause trouble get chatted up right and left. If someone gets flamed, people will come charging in to add insult to injury and kiss up to the attacker(s). If someone is trying to share something good, like their writing or art, people yawn, but if someone puts up something mean-spirited, or perpetrates a hoax, people will come out of the woodwork to support their right to do so, post friendly messages to them, and scold anyone who dares to suggest that doing something wrong is, um, WRONG... it's truly terrifying how much less nice, or even logical, or even SANE, people show themselves to be when they go online and become anonymous.

What is this love and admiration that some people harbor for the wrongdoers among us? Why do they think that nice folks don't deserve their attention, concern or support? What caused these demented individuals to decide that those who thumb their noses at the rules, and give the finger to the well-behaved masses, or even break the law, are worth their time and effort, but those who are nice, who are victims, or are even related to them but "inconvenient," are NOT worthy?

I know, I know, none of the above applies to most people, but I ardently wish that I could gather up those who treat their elderly relatives like garbage and hand them over to the criminals that are getting plenty of attention... and have a zapper button on my keyboard that I could use to send an electric shock to anyone I encounter online who likes to use the internet arena to be a jerk.


Monday, May 10, 2004

What is American culture? 


When we talk about a country's culture, not its modern lifestyle but its CULTURE, we generally mean those things that all its citizens have in common that go back many generations, such as songs, dances, stories, artwork, clothing, and traditions.

What songs do WE still sing that our forefathers sang? What dances do we do that go back that far? What stories are there that have been passed down from those days? What can we point to that is "our art" (and no, we can NOT take credit for what the Native Americans were doing before we got here)? What's the identifiably "American" clothing that harks back to our earliest era? What are our traditions that have been passed down for the paltry 2 centuries that we've been a nation, while other countries have had, and cherished, all of these things as part of their national identity for far, far longer?

The sad truth is that cultures evolved all the way back in each nation's tribal times, and we as a nation never had that, so we never got a culture; we had Great Britain's, sort of, in the early days, but we rejected much of that early on, and did things our own way as soon as we became a nation. We've always wanted things to be bigger, better, faster, and newer, so we had rapid evolution, which, although leading to many wonderful things being invented and perfected here, is the OPPOSITE of the long-term sameness that leads to a culture being developed.

Unlike other countries, which had been established on all the land they would ever have for centuries, we had a huge continent to spread out onto, and so we developed our pioneer spirit, our thirst to have and work our own land, our willingness to brave the unknown for the hope of making a better life for ourselves, and our eagerness to work hard because what we created was OURS... and, while these things are what made us the richest, most powerful nation that has ever existed, and made the American worker the most productive worker in the world, this didn't give us culture either.

What it DID give us is what we have INSTEAD of culture; our work ethic, our love of $ and of the things it can buy-this is what we all have in common, as any foreigner can tell you (they might not give us credit for the work ethic part, of course). Don't get me wrong, I think that working hard is a major virtue, and that there's nothing wrong with being paid for your work, or with taking the $ you earn and spending it on whatever pleases you... but, it's NOT a replacement for having a culture.

People from other countries, especially younger people, often turn their noses up at the foods, costumes, and traditions with which their ancestors celebrated their connection to each other and the past, and, while it's their right to embrace the "modern" if it suits them, it still makes me sad, because these things have a richness and a wonderfulness which no technical doodads can ever replace. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way that some of their traditions could magically become ours, so that we could tell stories, dance dances, and do things in special ways all together and feel a connection to past generations?

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, to want these things when those that have them often don't value them, but paychecks and credit card bills just don't produce those same warm feelings, that sense of belonging to something more long-lasting, that feeling of being HUMAN, that comes from having a culture...


Sunday, May 09, 2004

Is religion just the anthropomorphization of karma? 


Where does religion come from? Much of it is clearly based on the desire of adults to still have a parental figure or figures out there that will handle things, dispense rewards and punishments, and make there be more to the world than just what we see. Very primitive people tend to see every major force or aspect of nature, such as the sun, lightning or the sea, as being a god; it's the only way they can explain things that are particularly large and powerful.

With that said, I personally have found it hard to talk about karma without using terms that make it look like there is some sort of central entity involved, even though I KNOW that it's a force that's spread throughout everything; it's not much of a leap to imagine tribal people going from the unconscious perception that there are hidden forces at work to believing that there is a "magical" entity or entities involved.

When you see documentaries about "simpler" peoples, doesn't it always seem as if they have deeper perceptions than we do about spiritual matters? It makes sense that they would, because these sorts of people live in harmony with nature, and with an awareness of the importance of taking only what you need, showing gratitude for it, and giving back when you have received in abundance... which sounds just like how you keep your karma clean, doesn't it? These people don't have western morality or religions teaching them this stuff, so where do you suppose they got it, on every continent, in every culture? They have an instinctive understanding of the forces that they live with so intimately.

If you don't think that primitive cultures think differently than we do, read some studies on their languages, and you'll see that they tend to have far fewer words than we do, and I don't just mean because they don't have words for computers and such; they don't even have words for things we see as basic, like COLORS. The simpler a culture is, the fewer words they have to differentiate colors, all the way down to having only TWO color words in their entire language... but they all have words to describe their spiritual view of the world. And what do people think about? Things they have words for.

Why do they always have animism involved in their belief systems? Sometimes they see a god in every rock and tree, sometimes they think it's spirits, and sometimes they just think that there is some sort of sentience and feeling in every part of nature... what are they perceiving that leads so reliably to that sort of worldview? You can see my essay on the connection between science and animism here:

http://omniverse.blogspot.com/2004_03_14_omniverse_archive.html (scroll down)

but what it boils down to is that for consciousness, sentience, thoughts, feelings, to exist, the matter of which we are constructed must contain a precursor of those things, in other words that some tiny fragment of thought and feeling MUST exist in EVERYTHING... and our so-called "primitive" cousins are still in tune enough with the world around them to perceive it, and their spirituality reflects it.

Is it so different when a Christian says that God is everywhere and in everything? How about the New Age concept of Gaia, that the Earth itself is alive, and maybe even a "goddess" if one has a wiccan inclination?

We nearly all have some degree of perception of the energy that's at the base of everything, on which our reality is constructed and which controls everything that happens; does that perception automatically lead to the idea of there being a deity or deities involved? Do we have to give some sort of human-like form and motivations to EVERYTHING, not just to animals? Do we have to imagine a greater being or beings so that we don't have this omnipresent energy left unexplained? Does our perception of the energies of karma make it necessary for us to have religion? Could it really be that simple?


Saturday, May 08, 2004

Why do some people REFUSE to learn? 


A person who treats people badly is a BAD person.

Is there anything difficult to grasp about that? It doesn't seem like there is, it seems like the most obvious sort of truism, but based on what I see every day this is apparently a new and incomprehensible concept to many people. Not a day passes that I don't hear about someone with a history of rotten behavior who was given the chance to do dirt to someone and DID it... to the surprise of all, inexplicably.

Is it that people don't know what constitutes bad behavior? I've certainly seen plenty of cases where someone mistreated, betrayed, or attacked another person out of sheer spite or ugliness, starting a fight, and mutual friends and acquaintances failed to see it as a case of bad behavior, and brushed it off with something like, "It takes 2 to fight," or "Both sides are equally to blame." No no NO!! Self-defense is everyone's right, and it does NOT alter who the attacker is, or who bears 100% of the blame. If someone you know acts in an ugly way to even ONE person, that's your wakeup call; they're a BAD person, and you need to take appropriate action-cut them loose, because they WILL diss YOU eventually if you don't. Feel bad dumping a "friend" who hasn't done anything to YOU, at least not YET? Trust me, waiting around until they spit in YOUR face will feel alot worse... and they WILL do it, because you possess no magic that will shield you from it.

Is the problem that people are unwilling to see ugly behavior as illustrative of what a person is really like? We take trivial things like someone liking the same sorts of food as we do to be important indicators of what sort of people they are (people like US, and so automatically "good"), but if someone betrays a loving partner just because they can, THAT we're supposed to ignore? Puh-lease.

Is the problem that we don't accept that someone who "seems nice" or "is nice to ME" or "is so pleasant and charming" is in fact a bad person? Catch a clue; even Hitler managed to be "nice" when it suited him, and every serial killer is described by those who knew him as pleasant and charming; these qualities do NOT tell you what sort of person you're dealing with. If you see someone accept love and support from a friend and then badmouth them behind their back, RUN.

Is the problem that we think on a deep level that anyone who gets mistreated "asked for it" somehow, and so the wrongdoer isn't to blame? While it's comforting to think that because we are "good" that no one will mistreat us, and that even criminals will stay away from us (rapists are STILL walking away free because juries believe that the victims MUST have "provoked" them), the cold hard truth is that when we see someone being evil, we MUST judge against that evil, rather than leaping over it to judge against the victim, even though that means that we can't go through life with a false sense of security.

Is the problem that we all believe that "it won't happen to ME, because they like me more than the victims"? Even if by a miracle the bad person dumped on everyone EXCEPT you, why would you WANT to be friends with that sort of person? Do you not know anyone nice? Do you not have other friends? Do you not think you deserve better than to be around that sort of person? Do you not realize that karma will come crashing down on them eventually, and you won't want to be anywhere near them when it happens? It's a moot point, because they WILL get to you eventually.

Is the problem that we don't want to admit that we made a bad choice of who to be friends with, or don't want to "lose" the time and emotion we invested in someone by admitting that we've hooked up with a bad person? These may be the hardest reasons to break free of, because it's a deep part of human nature to want to hang onto whatever we've got no matter what, because we don't EVER want to feel like we've been fooled into trusting an unworthy person and letting them have access to us and our lives, or like we've wasted our efforts on anyone (or anything, for that matter). You can't go back in time and alter your choices, but you CAN make the right choice NOW, so that you don't have to be crying later on about how you didn't walk away when you had the chance, and wasted even MORE time and effort on that person.

Even if a person has ALL of the above problems, what possible excuse in the star-strewn universe do they have for not cutting ties for good with someone WHO HAS ALREADY DISSED ***THEM***?!! When someone announces that they've accepted a friend or lover who has betrayed and abused them back into their life, because "we talked it out," as if talking changes or erases anything, I want to shake them until their teeth rattle, because I know that they'll be weeping and wailing about that person again sooner or later, probably sooner. I tell people and tell people, reason with them, even PLEAD, to try to get them to not put their necks on the chopping block for the bad people in their lives, and they brush my concerns aside as if I hadn't been right every OTHER time I told them that someone was going to do them wrong. Why is it so impossible for people to grasp that, barring endless therapy and soul-searching, leopards do NOT change their spots? GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

A person who treats people badly is a BAD person... and a bad person has no place in your life. The next time you see someone in your life acting in an ugly way, ask yourself; do I want to reward this person with my love and friendship, and thus give them a shot at ME, or do I want to walk away BEFORE they make me the next notch on their belt?


Friday, May 07, 2004

The perfect family 


They exist. Really, they do. I don't mean in a movie or TV show, but right here in my suburban neighborhood (I don't know if they actually live here, but some elderly relatives of theirs live here, and the relatives babysit for them).

I see most of them almost every day. They pull up in a large, new-looking white van that is always unbelievably shiny, as if it gets washed and waxed every day. The woman gets out first; she is slender, fit, has long blonde hair that I'd bet $ is natural, and the sort of beautiful face that makes one think of head cheerleaders. She opens up the side door of the van to offload her 2 little kids (I'd guess the girl to be about 5, and the boy 2-3 years older), both of whom are VERY blonde (the girl's hair is waist-length), very gorgeous, slim and poised like their mother. There has been a recent addition, a tow-haired baby of indeterminate gender; the mother never got very big during the pregnancy, didn't seem to gain weight anywhere else than her barely protruding belly, and now looks like she was never pregnant.

I had been seeing them for many months without seeing the man, and wondered many times what he looked like, what kind of man had this wife and these kids. Shortly after the baby was born, I finally saw him; tall, trim, blonde and good-looking, and driving a vintage convertible sports car that my husband says is very valuable. He showed up at my neighbors' home alone, but the instant I saw him I KNEW that he had to be the missing husband/father; I've since seen him with them several times, confirming my guess.

Two adults possessed of every aspect of physical attractiveness, blessed with 3 beautiful blonde kids, and obviously well-to-do; don't you wonder what it feels like to be them? Can you imagine the awe and envy with which their friends view them? What sorts of jobs do they have, to fund their expensive vehicles? Can you imagine coworkers going past their desks and seeing the family photos that look like advertisements from upscale magazines? Do they have siblings, and if so what do THEY think when they compare themselves to their more fortunate brother or sister? Do they lord it over their families for being so astoundingly lucky, or are they sweet and humble?

What do they argue about? What have they GOT to argue about? Does she buy too many pairs of shoes? Does he spend too much time playing racquetball?

Are they religious? Spiritual? Politically active? Do they do volunteer work? Do they paint pictures or write poetry in their 5 minutes of spare time each day?

What's sex like for them? It's not like either of them could have body issues... or does she have stretch marks, does he have a pip-squeak pipecleaner? I wouldn't count on it. Is she too tired from the baby to do it now? Is he eyeballing his secretary? Probably not.

Then again, how can you tell? Certainly the famous beautiful people tend to have dreadful marriages... might this golden couple be the same? Or are they the American dream in private as well as in appearance?

I don't normally have much curiosity about the lives of strangers (I don't even care about the lives of famous people, and yes I know that's un-American), but if it was possible to interview this couple, and take clandestine videos of their lives, so that I could see, so that we ALL could see, what the life of this "ideal" family is REALLY like, for good or for ill, I'd be as interested as anybody.

Maybe I'll go out to the mailbox the next time they're out there and say hi, look into their eyes and see what I can pick up...


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Have we got it backwards? 


One of our cultural imperatives in America is to be a go-getter; if you want something, figure out the best way to get it and go right after it. I've always done this, and haven't had great results; my husband, on the other hand, has always lived life as if some magic is going to occur and handle things without him lifting a finger... and it generally works out for him. (And yes, this ticks me off no end, lol.)

During the first few years with my husband, I gritted my teeth and kept on doing things the way that it rationally seemed HAD to lead to the best chance of success, but, as I started accepting more and more overall that things don't always work in a way that we think is rational, or in a way under our direct control, I decided that it would be foolish not to try a method that consistently worked better than the way I'd been taught, and have started letting some things slide to see if they'll resolve themselves... and they usually do.

The New Age Christians say things like "Let go and let God"; since this directly contradicts the line from the Bible about God helping those who help themselves, I don't give Christianity credit for this one... it just represents the realization that if you lay back and wait for things to work out, you'll usually end up with a better result than if you hammered away at it.

What makes things move forward to the "right result" without you pushing it along? Karma. The patterns of karma are already laid out, and, while you DO have to keep your personal karma clean, get out of bed in the morning and live your life (if you don't, karma will NOT send people to feed you grapes and give you sponge baths), and show some basic common sense, most issues that seem insoluble will melt away if you give them some time.

Does that sound crazy? Heck, it sounds crazy to ME, and I've been testing it for YEARS now. I flinch when I talk about it. I'm still stunned when it plays out the way it does. My deeply rational conscious mind wants to reject it... but, I can't let it, because the truth, however outrageous, however contrary to our cherished cultural beliefs, is still the truth. Try it, and see for yourself.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Karma can us give hard choices 


A friend of mine had a sick pet recently; because she has faith in my abilities as an animal communicator, she sent me a recent photo so that I could "take a reading" and add my input to whatever the vet was going to tell her... but due to the vagaries of free email systems, it was WEEKS before the email showed up. There was no reason to think that the animal was still sick after all that time, but I felt honor-bound to take a look, so I focused in on his sweet face to see if I picked up any of the tummy distress that his mommy had seen in him... and instead I got an odd sort of pressure and pain in my chest that I couldn't explain. I wrote her back and told her that, along with the reason for the delay, and asked her how he was, wondering if what I'd picked up meant that he had pneumonia or something; her response, as you've probably guessed, was that he was dead. :-(

So, now I know what a dead animal feels like from the inside, as it were; I can't say that I like it much. What I like even less is the karmic quandary this has presented me with; a different friend has an equally beloved pet that she had allowed the previous "mommy" to take away for a visit, only to have that woman tell her that their beloved had been run over by a car. My friend felt strongly that the ex-mommy had just decided to keep the pet and was lying to cover up, but she had no way to prove it, and no $ to travel to confront the woman, who continued to stick to her story, and... my friend just accepted that her baby was dead, and mourned him. Now, after all these months, there's a way for us to know the truth... and it's up to ME to decide whether or not to pursue it.

I went to a site where I was reasonably certain that she'd have pics of him still posted, and they were there. I looked at his little face, and what I picked up bears no resemblance to what I felt from the dead animal; if what I felt WAS the touch of death, and not a wild coincidence, then that animal is ALIVE.

His mommy has seen me perform many "miracles" with animal communication, and if I tell her that I think he's still alive, she'll believe me... and then what? Would this not just rip open wounds that are mostly healed, making her long for the pet that she has no way to get to? Or will she just be glad that he's alive somewhere? And what if what I picked up from the photo of the dead animal was his mommy's grief, which I didn't get from the other animal's photo because his mommy no longer has fresh grief? What if I'm just plain WRONG, and I get this sweet lady all worked up for nothing?

What if I'm right, and there turns out to be a way for her to pursue this... and I don't tell her?

I don't know for sure what the result of any of my actions would be; sadly, that is all too often the case. All I can do is try to analyze it as best as I can, weigh the options, and try to do the right thing.

This is one of the many occasions where ignorance would indeed be bliss, sigh.


Monday, May 03, 2004

A step forward in understanding the quantum  


The quantum world is stranger than anything else known to science. What occurs there, in the world of the extremely tiny, violates all the laws of physics that govern our lives, violates our very ideas of reality... but somehow "becomes" our familiar reality when taken all together. How does this happen? We don't know, but they HAVE found at least one way to make matter switch from following the laws of regular physics to following the "laws" of quantum physics. Something so basic that it's mind-boggling that this is a new discovery... HEAT.

The June 2004 issue of "Discover" provides the following revelation on page 15:

"In some ways, the world seems divided in two: our classical world, where objects have well-defined locations, and the quantum realm, where particles seem to be everywhere at once. University of Vienna physicists designed an experiment to traverse these worlds with a change in temperature.

Using a laser, Anton Zeilinger, Markus Arndt, and their team heated giant carbon molecules to more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit in an airless environment. Above that temperature the molecules acted in a classical way. But as the temperature dropped, they switched into a wavelike state in which their location could be described only in the statistical terms of quantum physics-they no longer seemed to be in any one place. This transition may depend not on temperature but on the particle's relationship to its surroundings. When the carbon molecule was hot, it emitted radiation that interacted with nearby walls, giving it a definite location. When cooled, the molecule stopped radiating and became an isolated quantum-style object.

The transition from quantum to classical, called decoherence, has never before been demonstrated using heat."

However widely separated various parts of reality are, or seem to be, there are ALWAYS paths between them. If something as simple as heat can transition matter between "normal" physics and quantum weirdness, might not something equally as simple be the bridge between what we can access directly now and energies that are currently beyond the grasp of science?

Every time a new insight into the quantum world pops up, I see us moving a step closer to whatever it is that controls it and links it to all the other "unknowns" out there, from synchronicity to telepathy to souls... all the aspects of my philosophy of karma. I sometimes refer to "the engine of karma," and, although I speak metaphorically, I do sometimes wonder if there IS a central thing at the helm, guiding the energy that underlies all that is unseen, or if it is merely a structure that surrounds us, full of twists and turns and surprises, like one of those fantasy games where you travel through a 3-D maze, with unknowns all around, but with rules that exist in the programming where you can't see them directly... rules that CAN eventually be learned. As the rules of the much more complicated and subtle "game" that we call "reality" can, and will, eventually be learned. Even a first-time player of a game can make some progress, and it doesn't take a degree in physics or any special training; look around you, REALLY look, and you'll be amazed at what YOU see.


Sunday, May 02, 2004

Food as religion 


This is one of my pet peeves; people who structure what they "can't," "don't," or "must" eat as if they were following religious doctrine (I am NOT referring to people whose religion has dietary restrictions).

I went to college with a guy who refused to drink anything with carbonation in it; even when someone bought him a soda and tried to give it to him, he refused to take a single sip... not because he didn't like it, not because it made him sick, not because of some sort of medical condition, but solely because he'd chosen on a whim for that to be something he'd refuse to consume, and he wouldn't make an exception even to protect a nice guy's feelings.

I read recently about someone who refused to consume caffeine for "spiritual reasons"; what on Earth is SPIRITUAL about whether or not you consume CAFFEINE?!! Why eliminate eating something particularly tasty, chocolate, because it naturally contains a minuscule amount of caffeine? If you're allergic, sure, I can see not eating any, or if you're dieting, or diabetic, but just because you invented a spirituality that doesn't allow caffeine, that's going to keep you from eating one bite of someone's birthday cake because it's chocolate?

There are all sorts of claims by people that you'll be more or less spiritual based on what you eat, as if that could possibly have anything to do with your SOUL, as if your soul will shrivel if you eat sugar or expand because you ate raw seaweed... and these folks will treat their self-created food do's and don'ts as if they were handed down from God, and refuse to be flexible or reasonable.

Then, there are those that heard some wild rumor 10 years ago that some sort of food was particularly good or bad, and, even though the rumors have been repeatedly disproven, will continue to choke down or avoid that food, as if showing "faith" in the virtue or evil of certain foods will magically promote health or long life. You know the type; their diet overall is dreadful, but they make a big issue out of whatever the food is that they won't eat or force themselves to eat, as if that bit of foolishness counteracts their overall dietary moronicism.

Then, there are the folks who won't eat yellow food because they don't like the color yellow, or create a nutritional imbalance because they've decided that fat, or carbs, or proteins are "bad," or won't drink chilled water because they think it slows their digestion, or think that as long as their 600 calorie, fat- and sugar-filled muffin has one gram of oat bran that it counts as health food, and on and on and on.

If any of this sounds like YOU, here's a news flash; unless your doctor has told you otherwise, there's no such thing as a food, or component of food, that you CAN'T eat, or MUST eat, or that will have magical effect on your health based on whether you eat it or not... and no matter what ANYONE says, these things have no bearing on your spirituality. Don't get your jollies by denying yourself some random tasty thing, or by chanting "no no no" to friends who'd just like to see you enjoy a little treat with them without your making a Federal case out of it in a pitiful bid for attention. If you want to be healthy, eat healthy foods in reasonable amounts. If you want to enhance your spirituality, focus on spiritual matters. In either case, find something more appropriate to apply your willpower to than whether or not you'll allow yourself to have fruit after 7PM or mustard on your hot dog.


Does it matter what's real online? 


You chat online with someone who claims to be a hot member of your gender of choice... does it matter if they're lying? They send you pics that could be of anyone, claiming they're pics of them... does it matter if they're not? Do you care more about reality, or about enjoying the fantasy that you're talking to a real live babe?

You chat with someone online who seems to really like you, and to be a real friend... does it matter that they're probably lying about every aspect of their lives, and will eventually bail on you, or do you just care about feeling for a while like you've made a new friend?

You post with a group of people on a forum, and you all seem to get along so well... does it matter that you're almost certain to fight and "break up" within a few months, or is all that matters that you get to feel part of a cool group for a while?

You get emotionally involved with someone online, and are convinced that you have a romantic future together... does it matter that they've probably been leading you down the garden path all along, never intending to be with you, and are probably having the same "heartfelt chats" and cyber sessions with several other people, or just that you got to feel that new-love rush?

Online socialization is so quick, so easy, so without impact on our real lives and real selves, for the most part, that we dive eagerly into it over and over, even after we've been burned countless times; let's face it, it's better than nothing, and we're so busy, stressed and distracted these days that being able to socialize at any time, for 2 minutes or 2 hours, at our whim, is immensely appealing.

BUT... don't we lose something for every moment we spend on these throwaway "relationships"? Couldn't we invest that time and energy into REAL relationships? Are we losing our ability to meet and befriend people face to face? Are we forgetting how to commit and emotionally attach? Will we all be waking up one day and realize that the only "friends" we have are school chums we haven't exchanged more than Christmas cards with for 10 years, and IM buddies that we won't be talking to in a month? Doesn't THAT matter?

What about those of us who just use those emails and IM sessions with online strangers that we call friends as sort of a virtual reality game, a way to destress and have a little human contact with people who can't mess up our lives, as just one part of a full and busy life? Does it do any harm? Does it matter if we fantasize that the person we're talking to is a hottie that is interested in us, so that we can be excited and feel desirable for a while? Does it MATTER what's real if we're never going to take it beyond a certain level, never going to get sucked in or have things drag out?

I don't know. No one does. We all have guesses, but online life hasn't been around long enough for anyone to actually KNOW how this stuff will affect us in the long run. I'd probably spend alot of time worrying about it... but I've gotta go write some emails. ;-)


Saturday, May 01, 2004

Eternal childhood 


Think there's no such thing? Maybe not, but we're sure TRYING.

It's not that long since TEENAGERS were considered adults; by the age of 20, nearly everyone was out of their parental home and married, and working on whatever they'd be doing for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, in the current era, I know several people who are 40, FORTY, or older who are still living with their families, aren't even dating, and are working menial jobs or none. When do THEY become adults, I mean REAL adults?

There's a far bigger group of people out there who, in their 20's and even their 30's, are living like college kids; their homes are hardly better than dorms, with hand-me-down furniture and mismatched kitchenware, and no hint of the tidiness and graciousness that used to be associated with a home inhabited by adults, their cars are garbage cans with wheels (which are rarely paid for), they dress like street people outside of work and sometimes AT work, and they date casually, and play house together just as casually, as if it's possible, or even desirable, to never reach true adulthood... and thus perhaps live forever?

Why are we waiting longer and longer to live like adults? What do people GAIN by being kids with crow's feet? The main thing you hear from these folks is how they don't want to lose their freedom and independence by settling down; do you suppose any of them know how childish that sounds? After all, ONLY a child should expect to be able to live their life with no responsibilities, without having to take other people into account when making choices, without having to plan for the future, so why do we have so many so-called adults holding that up as an ideal?

We've become unwilling to appreciate any sort of pleasure that doesn't come running up to us and shove enjoyment down our throats, so to speak. Because the countless deep satisfactions of being married to someone you want to be with forever, having a well-cared-for home that you don't plan to leave after a 1-year lease is up, and forming a real family, aren't glaringly obvious when you haven't experienced them, it's easy to be seduced by the familiar pleasures of being a slob, spending $ faster than you earn it, and blundering through life with no goals... hey, I didn't say that *I* thought those things were great, did you expect me to make them sound glamorous, lol?

The point is: If you don't commit to real adulthood, and someone to share it with, you'll be missing out on the most intense enjoyment available to homo sapiens. Don't put it off until you're too old to build a good life; the sooner you get started, the sooner you'll get to the REAL good stuff.





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