Dreaming of Emily in Iambic

Rocking your World since 1884

I didn’t think it possible, but I found another girlfriend.  The old one was super smart, incredibly observant, and extremely insightful.  But there are times when that razor-sharp intellect can try a guy, especially on those nights I want to sit back and chillax.

Jane is intense.  You can’t totally relax around her, because that brain of her is always going a million miles a minute.  My friend calls it having a monkey mind.  Jane’s brain isn’t out of control, it’s just that it’s always active, piercing, probing.

By the way, if you’re looking for a date, she’s available, and open to any gender.  Check her out on tindr or match.  Search for “Jane Austen.”

I’ll never forget her, but I’ve moved on.  Now I’ve discovered Emily.  Emily is sweet, unaffected, shy to the point of being diagnosed clinically catatonic.  Seriously.

But her depth of feeling!  When I spend enough time with her, not pushing, not asking anything, just sitting with some tea, or going for a walk and not even holding hands, sometimes, she’ll open up.  The emotional intensity is pure, unadulterated power.  I don’t THINK I’m alive when I’m with Emily, I FEEL alive.

The other day we were alone, together but not really, wandering the woods while a good distance apart.  At one point I was looking straight up when a flock of geese flew overhead in formation, their standard “V.”  I must have moved my lips and pointing finger as I was counting them.  Counting is something I like to do, it relaxes me, and I’m a rather quantitative guy.

I felt a soft hand on my shoulder, so soft that I barely noticed.  When I realized it was her, I touched it, gently.  She removed her hand, and I turned to look at her.  She looked away and said …

It’s all I have to bring today —
This, and my heart beside —
This, and my heart, and all the fields —
And all the meadows wide —
Be sure you count — should I forget
Some one the sum could tell —
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

I haven’t counted in her presence — since.

 

Sex Assault Drill

Image

Fire drill?  Line up and file out!

Or turning the other cheek?

Nuclear war drill?  Duck and cover!

Sexual harassment drill?  Huh?

That’s right.  What happens next?  I don’t know.  So I looked it up.

I got these links, and read all of them.  Guess what?  There’s no right answer.

I was sitting by Alice, a charming young woman.  Bob sat on the other side, a large older married man.  She was scheduling a meeting with Bob at a local pub after work.  It was certainly innocent enough until he started making jokes about making sure they didn’t drink too much on a weekday.  Then he made a “joke” about her sitting in his lap.  And finally there was the “joke” about not staying out too late.

Nothing is clear cut in the real world.  First off, Bob was making bad jokes throughout the meeting.  Alice had been encouraging those jokes by laughing, or at least chuckling.  Trust me, the jokes weren’t that good.  Bob has no work authority over Alice, but as an older man she may have some respect for him.

Here’s my problem, and I’m asking you for help.

What is with Bob?  Why is he effectively hitting on Alice?  Hasn’t he heard of the #MeToo movement?  Hasn’t he ever been introduced to good taste?  At the very least, can’t he learn to tell better jokes?

Alice has a boyfriend, I heard her telling Bob that at least once.  But I can’t be sure she was offended by his “moves.”

I would have liked to confront Bob and ask him if he’d like me to sit in his lap for a change.  (I’m a big enough guy, by the way, I wouldn’t care.)  I have to be careful, he might say yes.

Or maybe I should act all coy and ask him to help me with a hypothetical situation, and then describe him in detail.  With my luck he probably wouldn’t get it.

Maybe I should just file a police report.  Ha.  Good luck with that.  They’re busy enough chasing overdoses and crooked politicians.  Well, overdoses.

Perhaps the best place to start is to ask Alice what she thinks.  I don’t mind telling her how I felt (UNcomfortable!) but if it’s some kind of game she plays with Bob, then who am I to judge?

Why can’t people make it simple?  Perhaps everyone really wishes we lived back in tribal times, where those with the biggest sticks got their way.  Everyone else simply got out of their way.

Oh well.  If you have any advice I’d love to hear it.  The only other suggestion I can think of is that we change society so that we are all far more respectful of each other.

Talk about dreaming!

Be Nice, Learn to Talk

Why are we so talkative?  Why can’t some people SHUT UP?

Turns out that you and I aren’t the only ones trying to figure this out.

Some of those brainiac types are asking this question as well.  Better yet, they may have some answers.

Those brainiacs are what journalists call “scientists.”  Yes, those guys.  The ones asking questions based on lots of data that other “scientists” can use to get the same answers.  Big deal.

Well, it is a big deal, actually.

You see, these science guys went and looked at some birds.  Why birds?

Well, there’s lots of different types of birds for one.

And these birds, well, they seem to have this talking thing similar to us people.  As people we don’t call it talking.  We call it singing, or bird calls, or song, or whatever.  But birds seem to know what they are saying.

It turns out that some birds aren’t very social.  In fact, they are downright not nice.  Kind of like some neighbors I’ve had.  Birds called Munia are like that.  Not so social.

That’s compared to the Bengalese finch, a bird that’s been domesticated for 250 years.

Guess what?  The finch has complex songs and can figure out what you might be thinking.  The Munia, not so much.  No complex songs.  Doesn’t care what you are thinking.

You might say, so what about the birds already.  Good point.

Turns out that 50 generations of fox have also started showing these traits.  Bonobos.  We already know about cats, dogs, horses and cattle.  But at least in the case of the birds, there is a direct relationship between talking (alright, singing) and human language.

Here’s the kicker.  Good old Charles Robert Darwin suggested a LONG time ago that perhaps, just perhaps, people domesticated themselves.  It’s long been known that domesticated animals don’t have as much hair and take much longer to “grow up.”

That growing up time can be used to learn stuff.  Like talking.

So the next time you want to say something, say something nice.  Because, after all, if you weren’t nice to begin with, you probably wouldn’t be talking.

Thanks for stopping by.

By the way, the source article is from Science, 3 August 2018, volume 361, issue 6401, page 436-7.  Written by Michael Erard and Catherine Matacic

 

 

 

Uncle Drives Driver Crazy

I love my Uncle, I love him dearly.  Except…

… he drives me bananas.

They are EVERYWHERE

Our latest adventure began with him wanting to visit my father, who wasn’t doing well.  Let’s go!

First off, he doesn’t want to fasten the seat belt, but oh well, I’ll drive carefully.

Then he announces we must buy bread and cheese because Dad will enjoy them.  He’s right, but his timing stinks.  Besides, Dad is pretty sick.

I tell him that’s fine, I’m at his disposal.  We pull into the parking lot of the new grocery store, and Uncle declares,

“This isn’t it.”

“What do you mean?  This is the only place that sells cheese at this hour.”  I’m a little ticked.  I’ve only lived here like 40 years.

“This isn’t it.  It was a small shop on a side street.”

I’m a little peeved, but alright.  I press for more info.  “What was the name of this shop?  What did it look like?  How long ago did you visit?”  My Uncle can’t remember anything, telling me to drive.  Fine.  I’ll go wherever he wants.

We head to the main drag and do a big circle, and he declares nothing looks right.  He suggests we go to a gas station.  I agree, because my tank is low, and there’s a good station next to the grocery store.  We head up there, Uncle goes in to get directions, and I start pumping before joining him.

Uncle has been asking Mike about a cheese shop.  I say Hi to Mike, ask him about his wife, the baby (she’s three!), and father-in-law (owns the station).  Uncle is amazed I know Mike.  How hard is that in a town of a few thousand people?

Mike suggests going over to the wine store, they sell some cheese.  My Uncle is excited.  Yes, that must be it!  I tell him great, except there’s two problems.  One, they don’t have much in the way of cheese (I know because I was there the day before), and two, they aren’t open this early.

My Uncle refuses to believe me, so I thank Mike, and drive Uncle to the front door of the “cheese” shop.  I suggest he get out and check the door.  He says, “Oh, there’s no need to do that.”  Why, Uncle dearest?  “Because it’s closed.  Won’t be open for another hour.”

I’m shocked.

“So, where do you want to go now, Uncle?” I respond sweetly.

“Let’s go to the grocery store and see what they have.”

“What a great idea.”

PS – He also decided Dad needed donuts.  Except Dad doesn’t eat donuts.  Sigh.

 

Happy Birthday Story

Stories reveal our humanity.  We can use them to learn more about each other, and how to better ourselves.

And sometimes, they are simply a good story.

My friend is celebrating her birthday around now, and was taking a walk to relax and reflect.

She came across a neighbor’s pond, and stopped.  There stood a Great Blue Heron.  And it was only ten paces away.

Around these parts, the heron is famously shy.  The fact that it was facing away from her may have helped.  Regardless, the fact that it didn’t notice her was incredible.

What made this chance encounter so much more poignant was that her late father’s birthday was also around this time.  And she missed him terribly.

What made this chance encounter so incredibly poignant was that her father’s favorite bird was the Great Blue Heron.

My friend stood, frozen, for quite some time.  Then she started singing happy birthday to her father.

It’s important to understand that my friend has a singing voice that is angelic.  She sings in the symphony.  Even her silly ditties are a joy to hear.  So when she started singing to the heron, there’s a good chance even the heron could tell it was something special.

Then my friend got to the part where you mention the name, “Happy Birthday dear Daddy…”

And the heron turned its head to look at her.

She froze, only for a second, her heart in her throat.  Then she finished the song.

And the heron flew away.

Stories reveal our humanity.  We can learn from them.

And sometimes, they are simply a good story.

Happy Birthday, Friend.

 

Valuing Your Virginity

Virginiest of them all.

I came across a wonderful post written by a talented young woman today, and must salute her courage.

She made a point about being a virgin, and how that was a gift she intended for her future husband.  It’s a wonderful sentiment, its value is certainly recognized by society, and almost every culture and religion reinforces the idea.

But it’s misplaced.

To understand why, let’s go back a few years.  Back when the term was first used, almost a thousand years ago.

Society was climbing out of the dark ages, and needed more ways to help categorize people as life became a bit more complex.  Every time a holy book needed to be translated, it didn’t hurt to update the fundamental concepts with new terms.  That’s why, for followers of Christianity, Mary the Mom of Jesus eventually became Virgin Mary.

Over time we started valuing the concept of “virgin” itself instead of the more fundamental concept those translators were trying to describe.

What was that fundamental concept?  It’s the same thing our courageous young lady wants to give to her husband.

It’s the gift of commitment.

It’s a way of telling someone that you are willing to stick by their side, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part.

Our young warrior (for that is what she is) worries that she will be inexperienced, or incapable of adequately pleasing her husband in that way.  Nonsense.  This is what she’ll need to keep him happy, and it’s what he will need as well.

That’s the value of “virginity” and it has nothing to do with sex.

As for the greater questions she raises about pornography and how it hurts young men and society, I may have covered that already.  If not, let me know.

 

 

Whom Do You Serve?

There’s was a fun sci-fi series on the flat screen a few years ago called Stargate SG1.  It started as a movie, and I recommend seeing the movie before watching the series.

One of the characteristics of the evil antagonists was a response to a simple question:

WHOM do you serve?

The idea was that the evil parasite living within a human body would reveal the master they served.  It was one thing they couldn’t refuse.

It’s also a great idea.

Whom do you serve?

Is it yourself?  Is it your family?  Your wife, your children?

What about your community, or nation?

There’s a good chance it’s a little bit of all of those, if you’re a well-rounded human.

Today’s problem is that most people aren’t well-rounded anymore.

They serve their retirement.

Or they serve their bank account.

Whom do YOU serve?

Can you answer this?

You want to know my response?

I serve your grandchildren.  I want them to have a better life than we enjoy today.  I’m willing to sacrifice my own well-being in order to achieve this.  I’ve already sacrificed income streams and lucrative positions.

Am I any closer to making this a better world for them?  I’m not an optimist on this one.

At least I know who I serve.

How about you?

 

First Gift, Final Gift

Image

I’ve had a glimpse of how our society deals with death.  I spent ten days with Dad in a wonderful hospice house.  We spent the first half getting the pain meds out of his system, and the other half getting him strong enough so he could leave the place.

I spent many hours with him as cheerleader, advocate, and caregiver trainee.  However, there were many hours where he slept, so I got to know everyone.

What impressed me most was how many workers and volunteers truly care about their mission.  They are unsung, so I’m singing about them now.

However, there are also so many patients, mostly alone.  They were waiting.  Waiting to die.

Here’s the surprise.  Some of them are done.  As a gift to their children, they are content to hasten the process.

If you’re shocked, or sad, you should know that is how I felt.  At first.  When I listened to their stories it becomes obvious that many people are giving themselves up so that they are no longer a burden to their children.

It’s a wonderful gift.  It’s their decision.  And my only regret is that I’m not sure how many of those children appreciate that decision, that final gesture.

Creating a baby is only the first step to what will be a lifetime of joy.  But there are so many hard hours ahead.  Children who grow up tend to appreciate the gift of life given by their parents.

But the second greatest gift can be found at the end.  It is the parent letting go, and letting their child be free of their burden.  It’s sad to see them go, but it’s also a chance to celebrate their life and begin looking forward again.

To all those unsung parents who have sacrificed much during their lives, and then at the very end, life itself, for the benefit of their children, I thank you.

We should all thank them.

The best way to do that is to never forget them.

Mom and Dad.

 

Pride and Prejudice: Austen for Nerds

Great Novel, Great Novelist

Are you a romantic?  Know any nerds?

I’m both.  Today my romantic side lectured the nerdy side on why Jane Austen is so great.  Maybe your nerd might be interested.

 

Nerds know about computers and the software and hardware.  What follows is simplified, but generally speaking is how all computers work.

Closest to the user is a program, like chrome.  That program sits on top of the operating system, and that sits on top of the “shell” which sits on another operating system that runs directly on the processor.

Readers = computers.  We accept a file (book), getting information.

Now, lets talk about files.

Files means several things.  There are raw data or text files, there are files that are proprietary to a program, there are files that are themselves programs.  Files can also be “compiled,” and then there are a whole class of files that are compressed.  A compressed file can be any or all of the above files.

In general, a text file has little information for a given size, while a compressed file has the most.

Fellow nerds, here’s where the fun begins.

Ordinary books by ordinary authors are equivalent to text files being read by the browser.  Very low information content for a given size, almost no interaction capability.

Good books by great authors are like getting a compiled program complete with data files.  There’s a lot more going on between the pages than you see at first glance.  The book itself tells you how to run the program and read the data, so that you get an enhanced experience.  You can usually tell that you’re reading such a book because the author will tell you.

Then there’s Jane Austen.  At first glance her book looks like a simple text file.  Then you realize that there’s a program buried inside.  It’s not just any program, because she doesn’t tell you it’s there.  It sits in your brain and begins running, and it starts running on the data supplied by the book.  It’s a text file that speaks directly to the processor.

But it doesn’t end there either.  Because you can also feed it data from your life, your world, the real world.  And the program keeps running, giving you insights that weren’t there before.

Then you go back and read the book again, and again.  The book is a text file.  The book is a compiled program.  And more.

It’s compressed.  It’s compressed in such a way that it LOOKS like an ordinary text file.  But when you read it and it sits in your brain, it unspools, slowly, surely.

I figure that if P&P were written in uncompressed form, it would be somewhere around a half million words.  The book currently clocks in at 120,000.  That’s a 75% compression ratio.

So, the next time your non-nerdy friend tells you they are reading P&P, treat them with respect.  That’s no ordinary text file they are handling.

It’s goodstuff.txt.cpp.zip

 

Invisible Tools: Society

Image

This series has been all about invisible tools that our species uses to make life better for itself.

Notice I said, itself.  I’m talking about the species here.  Not you, not me.  Not our government, not even the world government.

Species.

Some of the tools our species uses were invented long before primates climbed down from the trees.  So things like using machines, sex, childhood, pair bonding and childhood are used by many other species.  Maybe they invented those on their own.  Maybe not.

However, some of the other tools we covered are pretty much unique to humans: Marriage, Relatives, Dynasties, and perhaps the biggest one of all, society.

Yes, we have a society.  If you talk to some biologists, they’ll argue some insects have a society as well.  But there’s a big difference, besides the fact that they are bugs.

We invent the society, we join the society, and we can leave the society.  The society isn’t baked into our DNA.  It’s in our heads.

 

Last post I asked if a family dynasty, like the Samsung Corporation, is good or bad?

There’s no way to tell without looking at the dynasty in context.  And the best context is within society.

If society is Korea, then the closer the purpose of Samsung is to the purpose of Korea will answer how “good” they are.

But if their purpose is at odds with the rest of their country, then we could argue that they are “bad.”

The primary purpose of any family, any dynasty, any government, and any society is to survive.  In fact, it’s the basic purpose of any living unit, like the species.  After all, if they don’t survive, they disappear.

We tend to forget this simple fact.  Heck, let’s call it the first axiom of life.

If something helps Korea survive, but impacts Samsung negatively, then Samsung will fight back.  They will resist.  They will undermine.  They will be “bad” for Korea.

In general, there will always be something that satisfies the above condition.  So, in general, a family dynasty is “bad” for society.

The same logic applies to the society and our species.  If a society wants to do something that is not good for the species, what happens?  You get pollution.  You get toxic waste.  You get human forced climate change.

That’s it for talking about tools.  We have them, we use them, usually without thinking about them.  Maybe we should start thinking, talking, and using them more effectively.

Then again, only if we want to survive.

Thanks for reading.