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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

via my friend Jim...

A game warden was driving down the road when he came upon a young boy carrying a wild turkey under his arm. He stopped and asked the boy, 'Where did you get that turkey?' The boy replied, 'What turkey?' The game warden said, 'That turkey you're carrying under your arm.'
The boy looks down and said, 'Well, lookee here, a turkey done roosted under my arm!'

The game warden said, 'Now look, you know turkey season is closed, so whatever you do to that turkey, I'm going to do to you. If you break his leg, I'm gonna break your leg. If you break his wing, I'll break your arm. Whatever you do to him, I'll do to you. So, what are you gonna do with him?'

The little boy said, 'I guess I'll just kiss his ass and let him go!'

May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump. May your potatoes and gravy have never a lump. May your yams be delicious and your pies take the prize, and may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off of your thighs! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A few books I'm currently reading (I usually add these here as well, but, as I'll mention below, Geocities' editing is not what it used to be...) Moving Forward: Taking The Lead In Your Life, by Dave Pelzer. I've read a few of his books- he is a guy who gets it, a guy who overcame an unfathomably abusive childhood to become a rock-solid man, someone soooooo deserving of respect, someone who, as a result of the tribulations he endured and overcame and rose far beyond, offers common-sense, practical suggestions toward overcoming the trials and difficulties and such most of us face in our lives. A fantastic man... I'm also reading The Song Is You, by Megan Abbott; I'm a sucker for hard-boiled, noir-y novels! I've also been re-reading Virginia Postrel's The Future And Its Enemies; it seems like it might be relevant in light of some of the change we may soon be seeing...

I'm getting very frustrated with Yahoo's Geocities website-hosting thing, which is where I have my website. For years it was a virtually no muss/no fuss website tool, almost idiot-proof (which was/is perfect for me!) allowing me to update/add to my site if/as I wished. But for awhile now it has been very buggy, either not publishing pages I've edited, losing items I've added, etc... Yes, it was, and is, a free tool so, yes, on some level obviously you do get what you pay for. But it worked so well, and was so easy to use, for so long. I'm not sure what they've done or why they've allowed it to become so unreliable. Hopefully they'll show enuf interest to want to, at the very least, maintain their- previously- existing level of service...

Something I've become increasingly interested in is performance improvement, how to improve and get more out of one's various endeavors in life. That's part of the reason why I like to read books such as Dave Pelzer's, and others like that. One thing that has become ever-more clear to me is how simply becoming more acclimated to a given task, no matter the task, increases effectiveness and productivity; the more we do something, the more adept, and the more comfortable, we become at that endeavor. A perfect example of this has been the performance of Patriots' quarterback Matt Cassel over this past season, attempting to step in and fill the very big cleats left when Tom Brady went down to injury in week 1 of the season; as has been documented, the last time Cassel actually started a game was back in high school! He was a back-up QB (to two Heisman Trophy winners) in college, and the back-up to Brady his entire pro career. The first few games, Cassel struggled immensely; more than a few were questioning whether he was up to the task, whether perhaps the Pats should look for a more game-experienced QB. But over time, his game improved. He became more comfortable with the pace of the game, he began making better decisions. Slowly but surely, week by week you could see his progress, see him improve. The last two weeks? He's had back-to-back games with 400+ yards passing, he's made some tremendous, game-altering throws, he's proven to be a canny scrambler and shrewd game-manager, a leader. All of this because of repetition, becoming increasingly acclimated and adept and comfortable with the task at hand. There are lots of ways to apply this; it can be on the job, taking on a new or different and challenging task and sticking with it until suddenly it becomes easier. It can be taking up a new sport or fitness activity, or a musical instrument, learning a new language, or a computer skill, feeling like a klutz at it for awhile but then suddenly you start to feel ept, it becomes easier, comfortable, you get it. In my wagering endeavors, overtime I've become a better manager of my bankroll, I've become more adept at discerning what stats and trends are more relevant than others, what movements in the spread and money lines indicate. Consider- yes -cross dressing. Almost anyone is going to feel awkward and self-conscious the first time, the first several times, they go our, or simply meet others, en femme. But over time, as one becomes more adept with their makeup and mannerisms, simply becomes more comfortable being out and about, the awkwardness, the struggling fades, and it- or any task- becomes easier, confidence builds, and suddenly it becomes fun! No matter the endeavor, with consistent, continued application and effort we get to the point where we stop thinking and we simply react, we do. And it's pretty cool when that occurs!

"Somewhere out on that horizon/Out beyond the neon lights/I know there must be somethin' better/But there's nowhere else in sight..."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

losing hurts worse than winning feels good...

I had made that observation in a previous post re. wins and losses in my sports wagering endeavors and, while true, it made me ponder more deeply how, or why, failures, no matter the endeavor, seem to hurt worse than successes feel good. Why is that? It's always been my experience, and I have no reason to believe it is something unique to me (is it? How do others fare and feel with their successes vs. their failures?) It could have been an academic event (getting a D bothered me much more than getting an A felt good- fortunately I didn't get too many Ds in my academic career!) athletic competition (winning felt good, but losing really hurt- I can still remember one basketball season where we were undefeated going into our last game, and we lost; we won our league, we had the best record in years, yet the only game that stands out was/is that last game, even now... and it still hurts!) career-wise (a good evaluation was good, but a critical one always felt/feels worse, beyond just the potential economic impact of such an evaluation) socially, the one wager lost as opposed to the several won, whatever. I can receive compliments on my appearance and feel OK, but let one person criticize me, or let me simply receive that look and I'm devastated. The losses, the failures, always hurt more than the winning or the success feels good. Again, do others often have this experience? Is it that we're conditioned to or expect success, so that success is the default, the norm, and hence, doesn't register as strongly as that which is not perceived as the default, the norm (failure) does? Is it excessive optimism, a presumption that things will always be good and get only better and, when that does not occur, it is a shock to the psyche? Are we oriented toward perfectionism, and when we fall short, it is more of a blow? And taken to an extreme, does this revulsion, this fear if you like, of losing, of failure, prevent us from taking risks which might have the potential for even greater reward along with, yes, failure? In my life there have been times where I've avoided such risks precisely for that reason, most often in areas where I either am lacking in confidence in my talents, abilities, aptitudes, or where reasonable control over the outcome of a given situation is lacking (no, I could not control, for instance, Tom Brady getting hurt in the 1st quarter of the 1st game this season- but I could do all diligent handicapping prior to kickoff, thus maximizing what I could control... plus I didn't get down on the Pats-Chiefs game in week 1! But I can exert reasonable control over a decision of that sort via doing due diligence and having confidence in my abilities to prognosticate with some efficacy; there are other situations and circumstances in my life where, for whatever reason/s, I lack that confidence and, by extension, that control. And yeah, losing on a wager still sucks!)

I came across an article that referenced four types of individuals: success seekers, overstrivers, failure avoiders, and failure accepters. Where we fit within these parameters may tell us how we deal with success and failure; more importantly, seeing where we fit might impel us to try to change (if we need to) to a better mode, one that gears us toward not only greater success, but more happiness with our successes, and less devastation over our failures.

I'm no psychologist, and this is starting to get deeper and further afield from my initial pondering of why losses, of why failures, seem to hurt worse than winnings or successes feel good. But this is a subject- and the broader psychology of success- I find fascinating...

I seldom get sick; however, I've come down with the nastiest cough/chest cold I've had in I don't know how long- ick. (The damp and- 'cept for yesterday- cool weather we've had hasn't helped, either.) I was even able to get some cough med with codeine (it's a controlled substance?! Vastly over-rated.)... We can never just get along, can we? I've been following the aftermath of California voters' decision re. same-sex marriage; I have thoughts (which I'll offer in greater detail next time) on both the results as well as the reactions (briefly: I disagree with both.)... Lastly, I have a close friend who has been struggling job and financial-wise of late. While sadly not an unusual event given current economic circumstances, nevertheless it hurts and is truly frustrating when good people, hard-working, responsible people, people who make the effort to do the right things, the responsible things, people not looking for a hand-out nor seeking to place blame for their difficulties but simply the opportunity/ies to continue to be responsible, productive, able to provide, for themselves and their loved ones, seem unable to simply find, make, or create sufficient opportunity/ies to do so. We've been thru these kinds of times before (the late 70's, the early 90's, earlier this decade) and we'll undoubtedly go thru- and come thru- them again, but that is of little consolation to those struggling now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not the most girlie (or wholesome!) of avocations, but...

This gal had a very profitable week in the wonderful world of sports wagering! 6-1 in my pro games, only Miami (-7.5, vs. Seattle) didn't come thru, tho' I did have to sweat out the Panthers (-9) til the very end; if Janikowski didn't clank an end-of-game field goal off the crossbar it would have gone into the loss column... and I was thisclose to pulling the trigger on the Rams as a 9.5pt. 'dog... the Jets only beat 'em by 42! Whew! But as of this writing I am well up for the season with the NFL... even had a decent week with the colleges; the only loss that really hurt me was Penn St losing @ Iowa (I had 'em -7.5)... It's funny- I don't believe it's just me, but, as with so much in life, losing hurts worse than winning feels good; go figure... Anyway, I do depend on this to help pay some of my bills- this week helped, and college hoops season will be starting up soon, too! (There's also this I saw at Ann Taylor Loft, which I may treat myself to if they have it in-store in my size...)

From the There-Oughtta-Be-A-Law Department... Two local radio stations have already started playing Christmas music 24/7! Ack!!! Too much, waaaayyyy too soon! By December 1st Boston's ears will be bleeding from endless repetitions of Jingle Bell Rock and the like! Seriously, it ruins the specialness of the season when they start at it this soon; the day after Thanksgiving? Fine. But not while there's still leftover Halloween candy still hanging around...

Apropos of little: it took me the longest time to figure out that there were like a couple of dozen members of Blue Man Group; I can't be the only one who thought there were just the three blue men (and maybe one alternate.)

I've still been keeping far too busy. I realize this is a perennial theme, but I seem to budget my time very poorly. I do keep busy, and I do have many demands and priorities and commitments to honor, and I also try to make time to keep up on and interpret items, events, performances, etc... that- with sufficient knowledge and evaluation- hopefully will prove profitable to me. But I too often fall too short in making/taking sufficient time for more frivolous, but just as necessary, stuff. And then I wonder where does the time go...

Tomorrow is Veterans Day; don't forget, remember- and thank- a vet.

"I lost the thread, I lost the map/It's not a feeling, it's a fact/I had it once, I was on track/Why won't it stay? I want it back..."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My election post-mortem...

First- congrats to Barack Obama and his supporters; they won a convincing victory. All Americans should wish him, and our country, the best. For the present, my only hopes for him are these:
That Republicans and conservatives will work with him as they can, vigorously but respectfully disagree as necessary but that they will not engage in the mindless, venomous politics of knee-jerk opposition that some/too many on the Left engaged in these last 8 years.
That Obama and the Democratic congressional majorities, in their quest for "change" do not discard the many guiding philosophies and ideas that have been proven to be effective in governing our nation these last 25-30 years, that have proven to create greater economic and social growth for our nation.

Specifics on yesterday's election... A bad year to be a Republican, much of it self-inflicted, by too many GOP members who, at best, grew too fat-and-happy with the perks of power, who were more interested in retaining power than advancing an agenda of- yes- change, of limited- and limiting- government, of fiscal prudence, of empowering individuals with rights and responsibilities. And more than a few Republicans who were simply corrupt, and who deserved to be turned out of office. Unfortunately a few good, principled Republicans were also swept out (NH Sen. John Sununu comes to mind.) New England is an almost Republican-free zone; I don't believe there is a single GOP Representative remaining from the six states, maybe 3 Senators, 3 Governors, and I don't believe any state legislatures. But the national party has marginalized the fiscally conservative/socially tolerant brand of Republicanism that sells- and has won- in New England... It was a somewhat better year broadly for- some- social conservatives; state amendments to ban same-sex marriage passed in Arizona and Florida (a state Obama won) and, at this writing, is too close to call in California (another state Obama won, convincingly.) Arkansas approved a measure which will have the effect of banning adoptions or foster-child placements to gays. What this tells me is that, even as people have become increasingly accepting of gays and lesbians, there are still a significant number- cutting across party and ideological lines- who, especially, are opposed to equating same-sex partnerships with traditional heterosexual marriage. (For the record, I disagree- I have no problem with same-sex couples having all of the rights- and responsibilities- of their straight peers. Of course, the separation of marriage and state would work better!) However at the present time, it does seem that marriage has been an over-reach for gay activists (even as domestic partnership and civil union-type legislation has produced none of the backlash judicially-imposed marriage has.) Nebraska voters approved a ban on race and gender-based preferences; a similar proposal in Colorado is, at this writing, too close to call. Proposals to severely limit abortions failed in Colorado and South Dakota. (While I oppose elective abortion as a method of birth control, oppose terminating a healthy pregnancy conceived via lawful, consensual sex, those measures would have gone further than I would be comfortable going.) In Massachusetts we had three questions on the ballot; the first was to end the state income tax (it failed, by a considerable margin) the second was to decriminalize personal marijuana possession, making it instead a civil violation (it passed and I approve, and I would go further; government has no business dictating what substances adults can ingest, and of course the corollary, adults have no business demanding their fellow taxpayers, via government, pay for their care should they run into trouble as a result of the choice of substance their chose to ingest. That's freedom!) the third was to phase out and ban greyhound racing (it passed- I had no dog in that fight! Cute, huh?!) Massachusetts also returned it's entire- Democratic- Congressional delegation (I'm not sure how that equates to "change", but...) and retained overwhelmingly Democratic majorities in our state Senate and House.

Final thoughts. Voters- with much good cause- are overwhelmingly disappointed with the Republican Party, and voted accordingly. On issue after issue, the GOP, for perceived short-term political gain, abandoned it's long-held principles, principles of limited government, of fiscal responsibility, of federalism. The often-mentioned three legs of the modern GOP- social conservatives, economic conservatives, and defense stalwarts- have become increasingly dominated by that first leg alone. This is not Ronald Reagan's party. The GOP risks becoming increasingly regionalized, increasingly marginalized, if they continue to pander to and to read out those who do no subscribe wholesale to that agenda alone. As we've seen, some voters will drift to the Democrats, others will drop out. For the Democrats this is a time of optimism, their first chance to make government over in their likeness since '92. They would, however, do well to remember where an over-reaching, overly-ambitious, overly-activist agenda got them two years after '92. No one knows what the future holds, but I do have one prediction: Obama will be tested early- w/in the first year of his Administration- by one, perhaps two, significant foreign issues. In both '93 and '01 incoming Presidents were faced with major domestic terrorist attacks, something worth noting. Also, Russia (such as with Georgia) or perhaps China (as they did in early '01) or perhaps someone else (Iran? Venezuela? A renewal of Pakistan-India tensions?) may well undertake some level of military adventurism that will, directly or- more likely- indirectly, challenge and test Obama and the US. One hopes he- and we- are up to it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

(Seemingly apropos for today, and for many days.)
Who Knows What’s Right?

Do you get the feeling that many people think that if someone disagrees with them they are not only wrong, but unworthy of respect? We’re entitled to our beliefs, but it’s presumptuous to think that we have a pipeline to the truth and somebody on “the other side” doesn’t.

Here’s a thought worth considering: “It is my earnest desire to know the will of Providence. And if I can learn what it is, I will do it.

“These are not, however, the days of miracles, and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to expect a direct revelation. I must study the plain, physical facts of the case, ascertain what is possible, and learn what appears to be wise and right. The subject is difficult, and good people do not agree.”

The words belong to Abraham Lincoln. But his point is valid for all of us.

Make me to know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth, and teach me. (Psalm 25:4-5)

Guide us, Spirit of Wisdom, in seeking Your will. May we always respect the right of others to disagree with us.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Which Side Are You On...

For those for whom same-sex marriage is a compelling issue, I submit the following:
“I’m a Christian... And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”
Another "intolerant" "homophobic" Right-wing Republican "Christianist" bigot? Nope, Barack Obama, quoted from his '04 Senate campaign.
I'm just sayin' is all...

There has been more than enuf anger, acrimony, distortions, and lies spread by both campaigns and by their supporters; Obama supporters hanging Sarah Palin in effigy (and is it just me, or does there seem to be more, much more, anger directed toward Palin than toward McCain by Obama supporters; maybe they just don't particularly like women seeking high office, as there was a level of misogyny directed toward Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries as well) McCain supporters hanging Obama in effigy, vandalism of offices and supporters' property, inflammatory rhetoric, occasional- but rare- physical violence, and more. The ugliest, most intolerant act IMO was Obama supporters in Philly (and one or two elsewhere) sporting "Sarah Palin Is A C*nt" t-shirts; so much for "progressive" tolerance and respect. Hopefully this will- mostly- be over in the next 36 hours or so. If, as likely, Obama wins, it is my hope that Republicans and conservatives will not engage in endless Obama Derangement Syndrome, as many on the Left these past seven have been possessed by the aptly-titled Bush Derangement Syndrome; we can disagree with Obama as happens without the at-times unnecessary and bizarre animus and, indeed, visceral hatred some on the Left have had for seemingly the mere existence of George W. Bush, certainly for the decision of their fellow citizens choosing him- twice- as our President.

A few last thoughts on this campaign. 1- this seems to be somewhat like '04, only in reverse. In '04, I don't believe there were too many voters who were actually excited and enthused about the candidacy of John Kerry; rather, they were dead-set against President Bush, Kerry by default getting their votes. This time out, I don't know if there are that many people excited and enthused about John McCain's candidacy, but there are those dead-set against the record and agenda of Barack Obama and, as the only major-party alternative, McCain likely gets that support. Just an observation. 2- while I don't support most of what Obama proposes, I realize many people do. I have no problem with that, or them. What I have found off-putting, by Obama supporters, his campaign, and to an extent himself, is the messianic attitude, the suggestion that somehow he, his candidacy, transcends the merely political and that his election would usher in some sort of cultural, societal, and even world transformation far beyond the political arena. Folks- he's just a politician, no less, no more. Cults of personality are seldom a good thing.


"I wanna be elected, elected, elected/Hallelujah, I wanna be selected/Everyone in the United States of America..."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Little-Known Body Facts

It takes your food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach.
One human hair can support 3 kg (6 lb).
The average man's penis is three times the length of his thumb.
Human thighbones are stronger than concrete.
A woman's heart beats faster than a man's.
There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.
Women blink twice as often as men.
The average person's skin weighs twice as much as the brain.
Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are standing still.
If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste it.
Women reading this will be finished now.
Men who read this are probably still busy checking their thumbs...

"Let your soul shine/It's better than sunshine/It's better than moonshine/Damn sure better than rain..."