Homer and Hospice

This has nothing to do with cartoon characters named Homer; not directly, anyway.

Homer the First was a poet-entertainer who lived about 3,000 years ago.  The only works we have that are attached to his name are about the city of Troy, and then the adventures of a gentleman named Odysseus.

The reason he’s headlining today’s story is because he gives us intimate details about the behavior of people.  Today’s microscope is on how we deal with valuables worn by those who are dying.

I’ve heard that some people attending a funeral will steal things from the corpse.  In Homer’s stories, the same thing happens during battle.  One warrior kills another, and the next thing you know there’s a feeding frenzy around the dead body.  Everyone gets a piece of the victim, literally: helmet, shield, spear, lance, buckler, and so on.  The more famous the victim, the better the spoils, and the greater the enthusiasm.

Ancient history, never happens today.  Right?

Up until recently, I thought so as well.  However, Dad was in Hospice for what seemed his final days.  We all worked hard to make his stay as comfortable as possible, including almost everyone on the staff.  Certainly the vast majority of those working in this industry are on the short list for angels.

However, we made a tactical error.  We left him alone one evening.  The next day, his expensive hearing aides were missing.

Did they fall out?  They never fell out before.  If they did fall out, why did both fall out?

Did they get tossed into the dirty laundry?  A nurse checked ALL the soiled linens (yuck!), finding nothing.

Did he toss them somewhere in the room?  It’s a small room and we looked everywhere many times.  Nothing.

Here’s where it gets fun.  I talked with a policeman friend, with no relationship to Hospice, and he says portable computers and hearing aides are frequently stolen for quick street cash.  A $2,000 hearing aid would sell for $50.  Each.

Then I happened to be talking to a nice nurses assistant one morning, and she confided that hearing aides and dentures were the two most frequently “lost” items.

Dentures?  DENTURES?

Yes, there is a market for stolen dentures.

Stripping a dead or dying body of its valuables isn’t new.

What’s “new” is the fact that we are still doing this.  Our society hasn’t changed as much as we like to think.

As students of behavior, we can use this knowledge to our advantage.  It means we can learn from old stories, ancient cities, and buried civilizations.

As someone caring for his Dad in Hospice, I’ve learned something else.

Stay with your loved one 24/7, and share this information so that someone else can learn from our mistake.

May everyone rest in peace.

 

Stalling for Time

WARNING: Behavior means everything we do as people.  One of the things we do is go to the bathroom, or as most people put it today: poop.

Public pooping means sitting in stalls.  This article deals with sitting in stalls.  If you are sensitive to this kind of discussion, chances are you aren’t cut out for the dark underworld of behavior.  You’ve been warned.

Spoiler alert: Everything comes out alright, in the end.

I’m not fast, especially with this.  Age plays a role.  Take my word on this.

I have recently noted three incidents where I’ve entered my stall, seeing that someone else is sitting nearby.  Judging by only the feet, thankfully, they’ve been younger.  And men.  Did I mention that?

Here’s the fun part.  I’m all finished and cleaning up (hint hint) and my partner in poop is still at it.

In two cases the cause was evident.  One guy was having a conversation.  Ugh.  It was in Chinese so I couldn’t eavesdrop.  Another was playing a game; zoom sounds were his accompaniment.  Guy three was deathly quiet.

Now that I’m noticing this sort of thing, I realize it’s been going on all around me, so to speak.  There was even a guy at work who was known to spend a half hour at a time on the toilet, twice a day.  Did he think no one would notice?

My prediction is we’re going to see more of this, whether we like it or not.

Our mobile, our cell, our handy, or whatever you want to call the computer in your pocket, has become an emotional link.  As a society, we used to invest our emotional capital into other humans.  Now, the most exciting apps are those that act as emotional surrogates.  Google, tell me a joke.  Siri, what’s my horrorscope?  Alexa, find me a restaurant.

There are other words describing the behavior of giving pleasure to yourself, but I’m not going to go there.  Instead, I’m going to take the long view.

Time.  Time is the most valuable gift we are given.  When young we feel like we’ll live forever.  We celebrate 30 like it’s a major milestone.

So we learn to spend hours a day with our personal emotional surrogate.  It’s so important to us that we’ll waste that time, literally.

What could those three guys have done with that time if they’d behaved differently?  Would our employee still be with us if he wasn’t spending an hour a day, for whatever reason, in the bathroom?

We don’t know.  You and I never will.  However, there’s a good chance that students of behavior, many many years from now, will be able to look back and determine how good, or bad, “stalling for time” had upon our society.

For now, I can make a guess.  And for the moment, I’m keeping my hands off my phone.

Thanks for reading.

 

First Names

Quite literally.  FIRST names.  Not just your name that comes first on a traffic ticket, or what you call yourself online.

No, this is about your very first name.

I dreamt I was zoning out at this Beverly Hills party when a popular actress came up and asked what I was doing.  She was worried I was either a bit too “happy” to drive, although she thought I might be meditating.

I was in baddha konasana, and I had my mind and breath exactly where I wanted them, so she was mostly right.

Anyway, she wasn’t bothering me.  She’d seen me someplace and knew my name.  I didn’t know hers and asked.  She gave me her famous name, and I asked her for her REAL first name, the one that she was born with.

Why? she asked.

Give me your hand, I said, holding my own out palm up.  She rested her hand on top of mine.  I didn’t move a muscle, but looked into her eyes.

This is your hand, but it’s not yours.  It was given to you by your parents, their parents, and unknown numbers of other living things long forgotten.  You have had this ever since the universe created you, and it will remain in your possession for a short time.  This is a gift, and you take care of it precisely because it is a great gift.  A gift of love from all those before you.  When you are done with it, it returns to the universe to become a gift to someone else.

I put my hand in my lap and she took hers back, looking at it, then looking back at me.

Your name, your first name, the one that was given to you by your parents, tells me something about you that can’t be told any other way.  That name was created by your parents and bestowed upon you as a brand new life within the universe.  That name holds their hopes, and their fears.  It tells a story about them, as individuals, and a couple.  It may also hold clues to your own history, ancestors who struggled so that you would be here, now.  That name is important not because you were born with it, but because it contains your history.  When you are done, that name remains as part of your family’s memory.

Your Hollywood name, like my stage name, is for publicity.  They want something to remember us by, but you well know that what they know of you is artificial, created on the screen.  The real you is inside, just the same as your real name still resides, here.  I pointed to her heart.

Her friends came up to us at that point and wanted to know what we were talking about.  I smiled and told them I was going back to sleep.  Being an old man lets me get away with stuff like that.

Tusok

 

Teaching Romance

Many people complain that romance is dead.  I usually hear it from my wife, but that’s another story.

What is romance?

I’m not going to bother thinking about that now.

Hmmm, that may explain my wife’s complaint.  I’ll let you do your own research.

My guess is that most of you would like to see more romance.

In that case, why don’t we plant the seeds of proper romance where they belong…

… in High School!

You heard me right.  After all, high school is where we start teaching sex-ed, right?

Whoa!  We teach it even earlier nowadays?

That doesn’t change my mind.  Maybe it’s even more important to teach the romance part early, then.

Kids are able and willing to learn.  In school, they are going to learn about these things anyway.  In my day we had street corners.  Today they have internet corners.  I think the streets were safer.

Along with hormones and organs, let’s teach them about long dates and conversations.  Alongside the stages of menstruation and pregnancy, let’s include stages of building a relationship.  And if we really must teach things like contraception and abortion, let’s include an equivalent “romance” section on divorce.

Now that I think on it, teaching about bad relationships and divorce may do more to lower teen pregnancy rates than any contraception program.  Imagine all the single parents just waiting for the chance to tell a whole classroom about their ex.

So the next time your significant other wonders where the romance is gone, you’ll have a ready answer:

They didn’t teach it to me in school.

Good luck with that one.

 

Squeezing Boobies

Our male-biased cultures have many issues, like dealing with feminine beauty.

Our culture turns each woman into a canvas.  From an early age she’s trained to decorate, disguise, even disfigure herself into something other than what she was born with.

With all due respect, other women are at least as culpable as men for perpetuating this cycle.  How many little girls have been given earrings, nail polish, or pretty clothes by their grandmothers?

Which brings us to today’s titillating title.  Why do men focus on a woman’s breasts?  And when given the chance, why do they insist on squeezing them like a water balloon they are trying to burst?

I’ve linked the results of a quick internet search, leaving only the “best” sort of internet knowledge to be offered.

However, as students of behavior, we should have a good “feel” for the answer.

First we can look to Mother Nature, and assume that she has inserted a “breast seeking gene” into a man’s heart so that he wants to pursue women.  Let’s face it, if men didn’t seek women in general, there wouldn’t be many of either.

On the other hand, this may not be as big a factor as some claim, including me.  I firmly believe that female breast sizes were much smaller and had much less variation a hundred thousand years ago.  That’s more than enough time for women to evolve highly variable breasts that they use as a source of decoration, but not enough time for men to evolve a phenotype-specific attractor.

Second, we can look to our culture.  Our young minds are taught from a very young age to consider the viewing of a feminine breast as sacrilege.  Pre-pubescent girls wear tops that cover their chest, even on the hottest days.  The only possible reason is that we’re teaching everyone that a woman’s breasts are erotic.

Given their erotic standing, what can we deduce?  We can figure that breasts will be envied by other women for use as decorative objects.  They will seek to increase them by any means possible, which they do.  They will use them as decorations when necessary, like when they wear low-cut dresses or with a push-up bra.

There is a third, natural, force at work that drives men to want your breasts, and that has to do with psychology.  Men feel pleasure during sex.  Mother Nature has programmed that into male genes at the deepest levels, going back hundreds of millions of years, maybe even more.

As a female, the pleasure part is dubious.  When the sex is forced, pleasure is no longer the issue.  For a normal man to inflict pain on someone he cares about, even if for the moment, sets off a psychological condition of conflict, dissonance.  How can I feel both pleasure and good about myself if I do something painful to you?

I can’t.  For that reason, I want to do other things to you that bring pleasure.  And if society teaches that your “on” buttons bring you pleasure, then I’m happy to oblige.

Do you women want this to continue?  If yes, then do nothing differently.

If no, then do something about it.  Stop objectifying and training little girls.  Stop using your own breasts as decorations.  Stop envying larger breasts.  If they get sick, lop them off.  And if you don’t want someone to squeeze or suck on them, let them know.  They exist for a specific purpose; enjoy them with someone who can really use them.

You are not your breasts.  You are inside, and are going to be exactly the same person no matter what they look like, and no matter who wants to squeeze them.

The next time someone wants to squeeze your boobs, squeeze that boob right back and teach him how to really please you.  Your chest will thank you.

So will I.

 

How Much Does a Harem Cost

The wonders of technology FINALLY include an upswelling of women speaking out against sexual predators.  From movie moguls to MPs these disgusting men are being ferreted out, and it’s about time.

My personal thanks goes out to those women of #MeToo who are taking that very courageous step of standing up for yourself, for others, and for all of our daughters,

THANK YOU thank you thank you.

That said, even these disgusting events can teach us something.

First, as dispassionate observers of behavior, let’s appreciate how far most men have come.

We used to live in caves.  Like today, many wives were met at clubs.  Literal clubs.  Lack of hygiene and clothes required that most men use a club to knock their wives unconscious.  In all fairness, a few husbands may have been acquired this way.

Through the eons men have learned some manners, from those very same wives no doubt.  The Etruscan society may have been the first to practice sexual parity, but the Romans stamped that out.  None the less, concepts like the sanctity of marriage and monogamy became official, if not popular.

Not to say that there wasn’t some fraying around the edges.  We have lots of stories of people fighting the whole monogamy “fad.”  The funniest parts of the Canterbury Tales have to do with wives and husbands rethinking their relationships.

Today, the vast majority of men appear to respect the humanity of a woman.  On average, giving her room to move and grow; giving her respect to explore and create.

Second, part of us is primal.  All of us.  For men, that means they want women, all the time.

Sad to say, the largest industry on the internet is very likely pornography.  The vast majority of that is satisfying the appetite of “normal” men.  I try not to judge, but I wish it wasn’t.  Get a hobby!

This primal urge usually gets satisfied without anyone getting hurt, directly.  There are a few men who can’t handle the virtual world.  So they do nasty things and reveal themselves as monsters.

Those monsters without resources do things that we hear with horror: abductions, murders, mutilations.

Those monsters with resources are the ones we are starting to hear about today.  And here is where the harem comes in.

Third, being primal bears a cost.  For those without resources, this cost is being born by society.  We spend money and time and emotional turmoil in order to root out these monsters.

For those with resources, the cost is being delayed, or can be found in their payments to those women they have harmed.  The payment could be made immediately, in cash or in the form of a job or promotion.  The payment could come later, also cash, or abortion, or child care, or as a court case.  In the case of the movie mogul, his costs also include the loss of his career, and a number of legal cases being pressed against him.

Those with resources include the late Hugh Hefner, the man who helped define the modern version of popular pornography in his magazine and on his estate.  It appears that he actually maintained his own harem on his estate, sharing those assets with male guests.  Was that harem a cost center?  Of course!  Was it on his financial statements?  Very likely.

Finally, consider the harems of history.  One Pharaoh sired a century of sons.  We should assume there were an equal number of daughters.  Scheherazade saved many of her sisters by entertaining the Shah with a thousand stories.  As a member of the harem, she knew that he was killing one of them each day, yet still had a ready supply.  Lastly, the Emperor of China may have set the record.  The Forbidden City concubines were organized into levels and platoons.  There’s a good chance they had their own HR department with formal training programs.  Seriously.

Conclusion.  Whether they are a Saudi Prince, North Korean Dictator, or modern real estate president, the point is that men with resources will expend resources to have many women.  How much they are willing to spend is a real question that we should be asking ourselves.

How much women as a class, especially poor women, and society in general, are willing to put up with this, is a whole separate topic.

Thanks for reading.

 

Canary in a Coal Mine 4

This series was about a little bird that saved coal miners from dying, saved people from being watched by authorities, and someday might save women from predators.

Yesterday I thanked all the women who have recently come forward about powerful men that have taken advantage of them.

Those who have the strength and resources to fight these monsters, I salute you.

For those who are truly weak, truly at risk, and without any resources at all, I wish to suggest a bit of technology that *might* help.  This is where our knowledge of behavior comes in handy.  We can learn from the canary that died in the mine and the canary that watches for government warrants.

We also see the number of women who have come forward against monsters in their midst, and knowing human nature, understand that these are but a small fraction of the total number of women those monsters preyed upon.

Consider this.  Give each young woman a canary as a gift.  She carries it on her phone.  If she’s too young or poor for a phone, let the canary live in a protected place that someone else cares for, on another phone for example, or a school computer.

Let that young woman (for she will surely be young) feed that canary regularly.  She will feed it with her love, her trust, and with assurances that she has not met any monsters.

Should she not feed that canary, it will die.  And those of us who care about her will notice.

We are not asking her for any details that will put her at risk.  Those are unimportant.  What is critical is that we know.  Once we know, we can start the process of hunting out that monster.  If we can do it without her involvement, so much the better.  If it requires her help, we can help her be strong.

But all of this must start somewhere.  Those women who have come out against today’s monsters have taken the next step.

I humbly suggest that this new “Confidence Canary” be another step.  Let every young woman be so equipped.  Let her know that she is never alone.

Thank you for reading.

 

Canary in a Coal Mine 3

This series is about how a little bird has saved lots of coal miners from a lack of air, and can even save people from being watched by a government that wants to know everything.

Today’s post is also going to be about a canary, but first it’s necessary to salute all the women who have recently come forward about powerful men that have taken advantage of them.

As a man, I salute all of you for standing up to these scum.

A long time ago women were stolen as prizes, sold to the highest bidder and treated like slaves.  In fact, it’s been so long that doing any of those things today are crimes.

If you are a woman who has had such a crime committed against you, I urge you to say something, do something, even hit something if necessary.  Letting these creeps go free and unscathed only means that they will do it again.  I don’t care if he’s a film mogul.  I don’t care if he’s an orange president.

Take them down.  You are woman.  I don’t know a tougher adjective than that.

You want backup?  There’s lots of guys like me waiting in the wings.  Trust me, I know.  Guys talk guy talk.  I’ve seen the guys who think they are above the moral code, and I stay away from them.  I also know the guys who would go to bat for a woman who wants extra muscle.

So, again, to all of you who have stood your ground and suffer the public attention such admissions attract, thank you.  Thank you for your courage, your work to make this a better world, your work to take down a scum bag, and your work to make this a better place for our daughters.

For my part, I would like to contribute some small idea that may help more women tomorrow.  Literally, tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

 

Are you on “The List”

I had the pleasure of visiting a friend down in Appalachia country over the weekend.  It was a delight, the countryside was beautiful, and everyone I met was not only a character, but someone I could easily spend time with.

One gentleman worked for the fire department, and told me a few funny stories about the plight of being the last county to get any upgraded services.  Their dispatcher was still referring to the color of a barn’s roof in order to give the emergency vehicle directions.  The fact that it was the dead of night didn’t seem to register.  Luckily, they figured out where they were supposed to go, and got there in time.

The sad part about our conversation was that the local officials had circulated a special list to these gentlemen, and the instructions that they were not to disturb those people on the list.  The meaning was clear.  These were special persons in our community, and whatever they chose to do, it was your job to look the other way.

As a student of behavior, we want to fight the propensity to judge a person, or a society on its choices.  I can tell you that the gentleman relating this story to me thought the list was an injustice, but we didn’t discuss it in depth.

More to the point, it’s likely that only the high and mighty are on that list.  If you are rich and powerful, then you are above the law.  That is what “the list” represents.  And all too often history has recorded events where such people commit great crimes against society exactly because they feel they are above the law.

So, consider the list at this county level.  And think about whether there is a list in your county.  Is there a list in your state?  Perhaps such a list even exists at the national level.

Are YOU on that list?

 

Feminine Foundations

Women think about relationships more than men.

From playing with dolls, pondering who is flirting with whom, personal hygiene, dress and makeup and adornments, in all areas women outperform men.

Why?

There are two main reasons.

First, we are all genetically programmed to want to be in a relationship (see yesterday’s post).  This is hard to fight, and it could be argued that the need for companionship is greater in a woman than a typical man, but I’m not going to do that here.

Second, women are smarter than men, for the most part.  As a result, they know that being in a relationship is better for them, and for the man (or other woman as the case may be, but for now we’ll stick with men).

Women, being smarter, recognize that they will bear the brunt of a long term relationship in terms of making children, managing a home, and foregoing earnings from not working.  As a result, we consider them “unemployed” while they know they are performing the most important job on the planet – creating the next generation.

Typically, men don’t get this.  Which means women have to work even harder to get men to realize the importance of being in a long term relationship.  So they invest heavily in clothes, makeup, jewelry, and emotions.

The flip side is that a woman also needs to know that the man is invested.  Which is why successful courtship SHOULD see the man making an equivalent investment on his part.

He should be the one traveling to see the woman, not the other way around.

He should be the one planning the dates and paying her way.  Why?  Because she has already paid in long term investment, such as dress and makeup.  He is only paying cash for the immediate expense.

And once she is in that relationship, what is she willing to do?  She is willing to bend more than he.  My husband wants me to cut all my hair so I’m not attractive to other men?  So be it.  My husband wants me to cover my entire body with a black cloth and nothing but a slit for my eyes?  So be it.  My husband wants me to stay at home and make babies?  So be it.

If a relationship fails, what are some women willing to do?  They take the blame.  They become outcasts, or worse, they make the ultimate sacrifice.  Women still set themselves alight in some places.

The romantic in me would like to see men step up their game, and learn to appreciate both the work and investment women make to create relationships.  I wish men would also be better taught to appreciate the value of relationships, after all it helps them live longer.

Finally, society needs to work on creating some of those old-fashioned rules we all used to abide, rules like treating people with respect, opening doors, and understanding the meaning of “no.”