Overwhelmed? Stressed? Use Your “Safe” Thought

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Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed by a relentless to-do list that never seems to get shorter? I know I do. I have found that feeling like I can never really get on top of all I have to do can lead to a downward spiral of stress, anxiety and frustration. Feeling such pressure can often put me in a bad mood, making it difficult to enjoy and appreciate all the things I’m doing while I am doing them because I feel so rushed. Can you relate?

I have found something that helps: Taking a moment to think my “safe” thought.

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A Garage Full of Nouns

I have been reading Rob Bell’s latest book, “Love Wins”. Enjoying it a lot. Many fresh perspectives. One thing that struck me:

There’s nothing wrong with possessions: it’s just that they have value only when we use them, engage them, and enjoy them. They’re nouns that mean something only in conjunction with verbs.

That’s why wealth is so dangerous: if you’re not careful you can easily wind up with a garage full of nouns.

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20 Feet From Stardom

Last evening, I had the pleasure of seeing the documentary film “20 Feet From Stardom” at the SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) cinema. It shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the past sixty years. In addition to telling the story of “old-timers” Merry Clayton, Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, among others, it also shines a light on Judith Hill, …
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What is reblogging?

Deb's Answers

Do you reblog? Do you like to be reblogged? Is reblogging sharing, stealing or curating?

When I first encountered reblogging on Tumblr, it looked a lot like stealing content from other people. Various platforms use reblogging differently. Tumblr and Pinterest seem to be about curating, Facebook and Twitter are more about sharing. I hate following a link from Pinterest to Tumblr and only finding reblogs, sometimes you can go through several layers of reblogs without ever finding the original source. At least Pinterest does save the source link and not just the repins although it still depends on the original pinner to choose a good source page.

To me, it’s only legitimate sharing when the original source is obvious and available. Sharing on Facebook does include the link and when it is an article, only a small portion is shown, you have to follow the link to read the full article…

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Les Brown Quote

I love this famous quote I just learned:

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will still land among the stars.

The idea of this is the importance of setting at least one “wildly impossible” goal. Having a goal like that helps maintain your energy toward all of your more attainable goals.

Do you have a wildly impossible goal? What would it be?

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Resurrection

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Hello all… Consider this post as if I were writing you a letter. It’s been too long since I shared something on this blog. My apologies. I used to post at least a couple of times a week, but that slowed down considerably by the beginning of fall. I have been through a rough patch, emotionally, and I doubted that I had anything to say. Then, I started having problems with my hand, experiencing chronic symptoms the likes of which I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, other than the occasional flare up.  Even now, it would be better for me to start using my Dragonspeak software so I wouldn’t have to type. I just bought an upgrade, so I am going to finally learn how to use it.

Yesterday was Easter, the holiday in which people of Christian faith and/or family tradition celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This is the third Easter where we didn’t attend a church service. I am still in the midst of working out my issues with the Church at large, but I firmly believe that God is okay with that and is patient, so I am at peace with it.

Instead of dressing up and doing church, we visited my wife’s father’s gravesite to honor him, bringing him fresh spring flowers. He passed away just last October. She also bought a rose for her mom and cast it into the waters of puget sound. I never met her mom; she passed away a year or so before I met my wife. My parents are still both with us, at 89 and 87 respectively, but they are steadily fading. I am going to write about that in a different post.

Yesterday, Easter, Resurrection Day, was significant for both of us. For me, it is a reminder that in order to come to new life, one must die first. We see that happen every spring, but it would have no significance if there is not a period that precedes it which involves dormancy, decay, and death.

It’s funny that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves when New Years comes around: I’m going to do this different or that different, we convince ourselves. In my particular case, to think that way is to set myself up for disappointment and failure, and that is because I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and it is very hard for me to hit the ground running come January 1st. In general, our mindset about making New Years resolutions is to recognize our disappointment over how we did the previous year and resolve to live differently the next year.

After yesterday, I realized that Resurrection Day is more meaningful to me than New Years will ever be. I don’t think that it always requires letting things die in order to experience new life. Some things just seem to die on their own whether we want them to or not. Such has been the case with my dreams. My dreams of finally pursuing my music after many decades of it being only an avocation at best, and only a hobby at worst. I was full of hope when I first started this blog three years ago. And the hope had slowly drained away, leaving only a residue of disappointment and despair. Things had not turned out like I expected. And so I started to think that the dream was only a fantasy, and it was time to let the dream die.

There is a purpose in death, and we rarely see it. Not until new life begins do we understand that there are parts of the old life that needed to die. I had worked so hard to make this thing happen for two years, and although there were accomplishments and high points along the way–my “Passage” CD the chief among them–so much of my activity was unsustainable and by last fall I was burned out. Still wanting to make something happen, but no energy left.

This year I was faced with a choice: Throw in the towel and settle for something less than what my dreams would inspire. Or…don’t give up, pick myself back up, and start again. Up until last week, I was starting to resign myself to option 1. Supporting that decision was the fact that my hand issues had really gotten bad these past few months. How could I possibly push forward when my body won’t let me?

As they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn. I don’t think it was coincidence that the resurgence of my hand issues happened as I felt the last vestiges of hope drain away. And I don’t think it was a coincidence that as hope started to return, as it has the past couple of weeks, that Easter happened and that this year it has been more significant to me than before. And my hand situation is starting to get better too.

What needed to die before I could experience new life? My way of doing things. My way hasn’t worked. So, I am now looking at new ways to do things, and praying for divine guidance.

And I am filled with hope once again. Details to come. Stay tuned.

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Do You Want to Feel Really Dumb?

I was searching Wikipedia for an indie band named “The Octopus Project” and happened upon two entries: one about the band, the other about some software package called “Octopus”. Intrigued, I clicked on the link. Here is what the description says:

question-markoctopus is a software package for performing Kohn–Sham density functional theory (DFT) and time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) calculations.[1]

octopus employs pseudopotentials and real-space numerical grids to propagate the Kohn–Sham orbitals in real time under the influence of time-varying electromagnetic fields. Specific functionality is provided for simulating one, two, and three dimensional systems. octopus can calculate static and dynamic polarizabilities and first hyperpolarizabilities, static magnetic susceptibilitiesabsorption spectra, and perform molecular dynamics simulations with Ehrenfest and Car–Parrinello methods.

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Wow, these guys are really smart. What is this, physics? Sure ain’t the E! Channel.

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Day After New Years Day

2012aHere is 2013–although I started to type 2301 and totally freaked out for .7 secs. Fresh from time travel, let me state the obvious. It is a New Year. And I am thankful. Generally, yes I am thankful–what do I have to complain about? But specifically thankful that 2012 is over. A year I don’t want to repeat.

I was originally tempted to title this post “2012 Is Going to be a Good Year”. Ironic humor at its best (or so I think). But a lot of people don’t get ironic humor (or so I think). Actually, it’s more like a lot of people don’t get my ironic humor, so to those of you in the exclusive club of kind souls who tolerate me out of love or pity: Bless you.

And now, out of consideration for those who don’t get my ironic humor and have therefore concluded that I didn’t proofread my title and am therefore challenged in some way and must feel compelled to pity me but then recoil at the prospect of thinking so un-politically correct: First, let me point out that I have spared you such moral torment by not using the afore-temptative title. Second, I want you know that I just made up a word: temptative. I just checked Websters because I was surprised that WordPress put that little dotted underline under the word. It seems like it should be a word. But before I go there, share in my bemusement by the fact that WordPress used the dotted underline thingy on itself. Literally “WordPress” doesn’t recognize itself as a word in its own dictionary. How ironic.

And third, (yes, if you were paying attention, there was a “first” and “second” buried somewhere in that big paragraph), I have made a New Year’s resolution to limit my blog posts to 200 words or less, so must end now. Don’t count them, but this blog post has more than 300 words. In fact, one more for each word I type. Fascinating…

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Why Not Write a Zombie Novel?

Our DVR is running out of room and there is Glee and Person of Interest to record tonight, so it was time to clear out some shows that my wife doesn’t watch. One such show is “New Girl” which stars Zooey Deschanel (who I totally got into upon seeing “Failure to Launch”).

“New Girl” is both disgusting and hilariously funny. In the latest episode, Nick sets out to finally start his zombie novel yet comes up with all sorts of procrastinating moves. It got me thinking: Why not write a zombie novel? I could make it a serial here on my blog site. I could give it less thought and time than it takes to write serious blog posts. Yes, I have had bloggers block and I am totally burned out on the internet. What better way to break back into blogification than writing a zombie serial. (I started to write “cereal”–hmm, “zombie cereal” could be and interesting idea.)

To write a zombie novel I need help. I know nothing about zombies and the whole zombie universe world view genre type thing. Perhaps the eleven (or so) people who read by blog can provide me with some plot ideas. It would be especially fun to ask for suggestions along the way. We could write a group novel, get it published, fully crediting the eleven (or so) contributors, watch it become a New York Times Bestseller, become filthy rich, retire and buy our own private islands–there would have to be at least eleven (or so) private islands for sale.

So, any takers? Any plot ideas? Characters? Let’s do it!!

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My Presidential Voting History

For what it’s worth, I thought I’d share my voting record for President ever since I was able to vote. Looking back, I see both a change in me and a change in the political climate. I remember how excited I was when the minimum voting age dropped from 21 to 18 shortly before the election of 1976, the year I turned 18. So, here is who I have voted for all these years, and as best as I can recall, the reasons why:

1976 – Jimmy Carter – I considered myself mostly a Democrat during the 70’s. It was hard not to be embarrassed about what happened to our country in the wake of the Nixon scandal and Ford’s immediate pardon of him after he assumed the position. Carter represented “change” by not being a Washington insider. And I remember how cool it was that he walked down Pennsylvania Ave after his inauguration.

1980 – Ronald Reagan – Like many, I was so disillusioned with Carter’s political ineptitude, and fatigued by runaway inflation, the energy crisis, the Iran hostage crisis, on and on. It was time for a different type of change. And furthermore, I returned to my Christian faith after a few years of rebellion, and “real” Christians were supposed to vote Republican, weren’t they?

1984 – Reagan – I can’t quite remember who ran against him that year. Was it Mondale? This was a case of “don’t fix what’s broken” and I still strongly identified myself as a bible-carrying conservative. Only in hindsight am I aware of the damaging policies Reagan put in place to allow corporations to eventually run roughshod over our political system.

1988 – George Bush – Back then, he was simply known as “George”, not “George H. W.” Again, this was a case of staying the course. Hey, the Iron Curtain has fallen. Who can argue against that? But I do remember the pit in my stomach when Operation Desert Shield commenced and our military started launching attack missiles upon  Iraq.

1992 – George Bush, who lost, of course to Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton, of course, was evil because he was a Democrat, who were inherently evil because they were all Godless socialists.

1996 – I didn’t vote. I know: no excuse. I didn’t like Clinton but I also didn’t like Bob Dole, who to quote my mother, “was a prune”. I find that amusing since my mom has always been a staunch conservative, so much so that she belonged to the John Birch Society back in the sixties.

2000 – George W. Bush – I thought Gore was a buffoon and I still strongly identified myself with the “Christian Right”. Be that as it may, I was shocked about the outcome of the election, never witnessing before that quirk in presidential elections: an electoral vote at odds with the a popular vote. I felt that Bush stole the election and was both pleased and repulsed by it. (Hey, our guy won the battle. That’s all that counts right?)

Little did I know that “W.” had an agenda from day one to cook up any pretext for a war in Iraq. Like many, I was torn about the U.S. waging war against Iraq. I think it was great that our country never adopted a culture of despising our men and women in uniform like what happened during Vietnam. But history has clearly shown that where was no justification for the war in Iraq. Yes we deposed a bad guy. But there are a lot of bad dictators out there (many like Hussein who our government installed)  who have terrorized their people and we haven’t gone after them.

2004 – John Kerry – After reading the last paragraph, it then comes as no surprise that I didn’t want to see W. get a second term. I had soured to the war on so many levels, not the least of which was the extent to which Bush thumbed his nose to the rest of the world community and decided to wage war without a coalition of support, something his father didn’t do. But frankly, I was changing too. I no longer identified myself as a card-carrying conservative. I started to see that there were other valid perspectives and started to be open to them.

2008 – Barack Obama – Something needed to change. And a young progressive like Barack represented that change. The primary reason I voted for Obama was his conciliatory attitude to the rest of the world. It was time for us to again join the world community, not play rogue cowboy.

And by this time, I could no longer identify with the Republican agenda, which has now for over two decades not truly represented the interests of its constituents, but rather a much smaller number of special interests promoting the agenda of big business. All attempts at enacting regulations against the abuses of corporate power have been thwarted by Republican-controlled congresses. And most regulatory agencies have been stripped of their power during Republican administrations. For example, how many people needed to die from hamburger tainted by E. Coli before before the remaining handful of meatpacking corporations were finally forced to actually test their meat? How many people have to have their life’s savings robbed by the capriciousness of investment banks, who due to deregulation, had merged with commercial banks and once again could gamble with other people’s money? How many people have to lose their jobs here in this country to have them replaced by offshore workers, which is real reason our unemployment rate remains high?

And I have been sickened by the Republican political agenda these last four years: Do anything to make sure Obama fails. Damn the country, just make sure Obama is a one-term president.

So you can probably guess who I voted for this year. My vote for Obama this time around is more a vote against Romney, who built upon his millions by orchestrating corporate buyouts and shipping jobs overseas. I don’t want to see our country return to the policies of the past that enabled the very rich to further consolidate their wealth at the expense of the poor and the middle class. That is not the way forward.

I wish I could have some hope for the next four years, even if Obama gets reelected. But unless the people who consider themselves Republicans actually take back their party by wresting control away from big business, I don’t expect the Republican politicians to give up their obstructionist tactics. Four more years of deadlock? I shudder at the thought.

Now that I have cast my vote, it’s time to pray.

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