Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

The man who sold his life on eBay

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

– I really love (some of the) people who push the envelope is various ways.   This guy is one of them.   You have to admire his courage and audacity.

– Dennis

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It’s a dream many of us have – to throw in the job, sell the house and set off into the great unknown with just a passport and a thirst for adventure.

Usually, reality gets in the way. But not for Ian Usher, the Perth man who made international headlines when, during a midlife crisis, he decided to auction his entire life – including his house, job, car and even friends – on eBay.

A heartbroken Usher made the drastic move after his wife left him, six years after they emigrated from England to Western Australia.

In August 2008 he farewelled his friends and left his Wellard home (which eventually sold for A$399,000 the traditional way after the winning eBay bidder withdrew at the last minute) bound for Dubai.

Guiding him was a list of 100 goals he wanted to complete in 100 weeks.

Four years and 93 goals later, 48-year-old Mr Usher is now living on his very own Caribbean island and has found love again.

Along the way he visited dozens of countries while ticking off the list of goals, which included running with the bulls in Spain, cage diving with sharks in South Africa, meeting Richard Branson, having a workplace romance, learning to fly a plane and skydiving nude.

Learning French, joining the “mile high” club, developing a six pack and scoring a bit-part in a Hollywood movie were also achieved during what he described as an “incredible” two years.

“I think a couple of stand-out ones were swimming with a mother humpback whale and her calf in Japan, and riding a motorbike on the Wall of Death. My week in Pamplona in Spain was fantastic, and terrifying too, running with the bulls there,” he said.

“[Other standouts were] flying a plane solo, seeing the red crabs at Christmas Island. I could go on, it was an incredible two years.”

Usher’s mission was also altruistic, and saw him raise A$10,000 for charity and establish an online support network for those who, like him, found themselves “blindsided” by life.

He wrote lengthy blogs during his travels and has since also self-published a book, A Life Sold ,which was also on his list of goals.

– More…

 

The Moral Necessity of a Godless Existence

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

– I’m not sure how I feel about this.   I’ve been going around and around about this question for years and the author here, Tauriq Moosa, certainly states one side of the question very clearly.

– Dennis

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

In a previous post, I indicated what I consider the “dangerous” realisation that there is no top-down meaning; that our actions aren’t found to be important by anyone (or One) other than ourselves. This idea destroyed and continues to destroy many ideas I embraced (and that I encounter). Based on this, one must ask what follows.

One might become nihilistic, depressed and/or commit suicide; one might also choose to deliberately ignore all the evidence and conjure up bizarre claims about energy and so oninflating our solipsism to the point where we view our actionsas – from a top-down, metaphysical perspective – meaningful.  These are just two, quite extreme, ways people respond to what they realise is a meaningless (from a top-down perspective) existence.

Many of us grew up with the idea that “right” and “wrong” were synonyms for God’s likes and dislikes. Pork and alcohol, premarital sex, praying regularly, clothing in special places, strange rituals, respecting one’s elders: these were the types of ideas that fit the bracket of “morality” for me, when I was young and considered myself Muslim. Looking at that list now, one can see how utterly solipsistic it is. From dietary to fashion, the invocation of God had little to do with what I realise now actually morally matters: the wellbeing and reduction of unnecessary suffering of others. For my younger self – and for many others –we need not worry about the well-being of others because that is God’s domain. What’s the use of interfering, when life is dependent on how much love you’ve earned from God? If something bad happens, it is because you have upset God somehow: you haven’t prayed correctly, bathed correctly, dressed correctly, respected correctly, thought correctly. Of course, “correctly” was a synonym for whatever God wants. Morality therefore became merely about how much or little you thought God loved you, followed by what you planned to do about it.

This apathy is certainly not true for all religious believers. Many are examples of the best people, including, for example, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, especially during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Here we have a man who played an active, powerful role in helping an entire nation, filled with complete strangers, many of whom were and are godless. He certainly did not believe things would “just work out”, if left up to God. Even the Archbishop then was not of the opinion that morality concerns random rules about our relationship to our god.

Dangers and superstitious relations

The point is that one of the main dangers of thinking there is a top-down, moral perspective, who cares about us – aside from believing a lie – is it relinquishes from us responsibility. Thus we can, too easily, dismiss truly difficult problems in the world by simply proclaiming god or someone equivalent will sort it out in the end (karma, reincarnation, Heaven, Judgement Day, etc.); or, similarly, that there is some kind of balance that we ourselves have upset and can, therefore, set right through arbitrary rituals or invocations. “But,” as Barbara Ehrenreich points out

mind does not automatically prevail over matter, and to ignore the role of difficult circumstances – or worse, attribute them to our own thoughts – is to slide toward the kind of depraved smugness Rhonda Byrne [author of The Secret. See previous link] expressed when confronted with the tsunami of 2006. Citing the law of attraction, she stated that disasters like tsunamis can happen only to people who are on the same frequency as the event.”

That is, they brought it on themselves. It was not the failure of poor foundations or structural engineering problems – that remained broken due to inefficiency, mismanagement, and corruption. No, instead, it was people thinking “negative” thoughts and sending these out into the universe. One can easily see similar kind of “reasoning” when Jerry Falwell proclaimed that 9/11 was (partially) caused by the gays and liberals in the US, for upsetting God.

Notice these are no different to superstitious behaviour. Black cats and broken mirrors are merely denial of our often horrible existence in quirky clothing: instead of attributing the car crash to pure chance, we try recall the last dark feline encounter. Instead of facing up to our failings as a marriage partner, we locate shattered reflective surfaces or astrological signs.

Prayers, rituals, blaming liberals and gays, shattered mirrors and black cats are allmethods we invoke to try have some control on a chaotic, top-down meaningless existence that results in deaths and suffering over which we have no control. The danger is twofold: (1) we don’t engage with reality, to actually sort problems out and, similarly, (2) we rebuff responsibility on to arbitrary, non-causal “tokens”, like broken mirrors. Things won’t get fixed, problems won’t really be solved, but wewill have a small moment of serenity when we stroke a cross or toss salt over our shoulder.

Hollow responsibility

Hollowing out responsibility primarily empties moral action. If we are not responsible, then there is no reason to act morally. For example, by saying floods are caused by negative thoughts or terrorist incidents are punishments for upsetting God, we don’t need to look at fixing engineering problems or the growing danger of radical Islam.

Thus by not recognising there is no central moral agent, who can make things right because he loves you from that cosmic top-down perspective, we create a fake, essentially superstitious solution. We won’t solve problems. We don’t make the world secure. This is almost no where better represented than the utterly useless act of prayer: it does more to comfort the believer, pacifying him into inaction, but filled with feelings of accomplishment, than provide any solution to the problem being prayed for.

Again, this is not how many would react, but I am pointing out the dangers I saw for myself and what I see for others. Thus, aside from not recognising the reality of a top-down meaningless existence, we create a lie that perpetuates apathy in a world constantly and desperately in need of action.

My reason for writing, my reason for constantly trying to assess the reality of things is to undo what inaction and apathy does and has done to us; to try understand and undermine what believing you have the answers to right and wrong, because of magic books, does to our social policy and law. I recognise no magical being is going to solve the problems of the world and thus I think I need to do what I can to help. Whether you think I’m still wasting my time by writing and educating (though evidence tells me otherwise), I at least can be persuaded through engaging with the real world and not arbitrary, Bronze-aged moral rules.

– To the original…

 

Ditches and sun

Friday, February 17th, 2012

After the cow adventures last night, we returned today to deal with putting the pipes down in the ditch.   This will be a ‘french drain’ system which means that the water that is down in the ground because of rain will go into perforated pipes buried in gravel  under the ground and be carried away and not cause the water table to rise so high that the local septic system will fail.

So, the ditch that the cow got into last night is the same one we worked with all day putting in pipes.

All day we used a surveyor’s to measure the hight of the pipe under the ground to ensure that water that flowed into it will proceed downhill as desired.   Pipes were glued together, gravel was carried, ditches were crossed and climbed into and out of again.  And all of this under the hot sun.

After all the cold unseasonable weather in Christchurch, it was nice to feel the heat here in Takaka as we worked.

It was a type of work I’ve done many times when I used to be part of a nursery business but I haven’t done it for some time now.   Today, I enjoyed working out under the open sky and sweating.   Good honest labor.

And thus ends a Friday in Golden Bay.

The Day of the COW

Friday, February 17th, 2012

16/02/2012 – Today, I drove my motorcycle from Christchurch to Golden Bay up at the northern end of the South Island; a distance of about 250 miles, roughly.   I’m going to spend several days up here visiting friends. It was a good ride though I worried during the first leg, if the weather was going to be bad.   From Christchurch to Culverden, it got progressively grayer and colder and I seriously considered turning around and packing it in.   But, I pressed on and not long after, the blue skies and sunlight began to return and from there out, the day will brilliant.  

The road up here took me through the central parts of the northern half of the South Island.   Towns with names like Culverden, Springs Junction, Murchison and Motueka rolled by sporadically.  But most of the country is beautiful farming country with green forested mountains around it.   Too rural for me, I think but beautiful none the less.

Some where around 5 pm, I arrived at Bob’s place outside of Takaka.   I really love this area and always have.   I’ve said often that just about the only rural area in New Zealand that I would seriously consider living in would be Golden Bay.  

It’s beautiful and it is progressive and that’s a nice combination.   It is one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets and I only know about it because of my friend, Bob.  

He and I met when he still lived in Christchurch and I followed his move up here with great interest.   Golden Bay is an isolated area in the northeastern corner of the South Island.  There’s basically one road in and out and it goes up and over the mountains (Takaka Hill)  that stand between Golden Bay on the west and Motueka on the coast to the east.   There’s less that 10,000 people in the entire area and it is wildly beautiful.

Bob and I sat drinking beers for a bit and catching up.   Then he went down and milked his goats and I joined him.   At some point, later in the evening after tea (Kiwi’s call the evening meal, ‘tea’), the phone rang. 

It was the girl who’s living as a tenant on a  property that Bob’s daughter owns here in Golden Bay a mile or so from Bob’s place.   Bob’s daughter is in Australia just now working. The problem was that Bob’s been digging a big drainage ditch on his daughter’s property and one of the two cows that live on the property had walked into the ditch from the shallow end and had continued walking up it until she’d got stuck far up the ditch and at a level where her head was below the surrounding ground level.   So much for cow curiosity. The tenant had found the cow stuck and called Bob to see if he could sort the situation out.

So, Bob and I piled into his car with some ropes and such and took off to see the situation.   It was not long before sundown so we needed to get to it if anything could be done. When we arrived, it was much as described.   A cow was 50 feet or so up the ditch from the end wedged in with the sides lightly pressing her flanks and her head two feet below ground level.

Cows don’t seem to have any idea about how to back up.   And no one was keen on getting down into the ditch either in front of her or behind her least she panic and trample them.  

Bob first tried tying the rope onto her horns and pulling her backwards but that only had limited success as she’d turn her head backwards and look at us rather than backing up. Then we tried putting the rope around her neck arranged so it would not cinch-up and strangle her.   She backed up a bit with that approach but, in the end, Bob got down in the ditch behind her and tried a combination of a rope tied to one of her back legs and pulling on her tail while I kept a pull on the rope around her neck pulling her backwards.

Lot’s of fussing and pulling ensued.   At one point, she went down on her front knees and wouldn’t get up and Bob had to jump down in front and help her up. It looked for awhile if we might have to leave her in the ditch for the night and have the digger operator come in the morning and dig a big hole beside her so she could turn around. But, with a lot of pulling and encouragement and a few close calls, she finally backup up until the surrounding ground was low enough that she could clamber out of the ditch.   

Once she was out, Bob grabbed her head and soothed her (he’d bottle-raised her from a calf so she trusted him) and he took the loop off around her neck and I cut the rope looped around her back leg (staying vary carefully to the side so I wouldn’t get kicked senseless).

When all of this was done, we could barely see our way around in the dark.  He dropped some boards and clutter into the shallow end of the ditch so she wouldn’t enter it again and we were off.

So, it was an interesting day all told.   A beautiful motorcycle ride up the South Island followed by a nice welcome and a meal at Bob’s and then a big adventure in the near dark with a cow in a ditch.

Life can be quite surprising and fun at times.

the free and fairly elected representative of the people’s will…

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

I commented the other day on-line to some friends that “The stories that are coming out of Russia with respect to voter fraud perpetrated by Putin’s party are utterly blatant.

One of them responded with the quote from a book he’d read:

Until the late 1960s, political commentators regularly noted that the votes of [Texans] could be, and were, bought and sold like cattle futures; if one bribed acommunity’s patron, he could usually ensure 90-plus percent voter support for the appropriate candidate. In the 1941 Texas Senate race, Lyndon B. Johnson won 90 percent of the vote in […six…] counties by making a single telephone call to local boss George Parr, even though the same six counties had given 95 percent support to his opponent in the governor’s race the year before. Johnson returned to the Senate in 1948 by “winning” 99 percent of the vote in Parr’s home county, where voter turnout was a preposterous 99.6 percent.

– From American Nations, by Colin Woodard, pp 30, 31.

This make me particularly sad when I think that many of the 57,000 Americans that gave their lives fighting in the Vietnam War did so under LBJ’s leadership.   They were told that he was the free and fairly elected representative of the people’s will.  I wonder what they’d think now.

Dennis

– research thanks to Alan T.

a personal letter…

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Sorry, Buddy, if I seem like I’ve been ignoring you.   The two-month trip to the U.S. was a major drop out for me with respect to keeping up with E-Mails.

I’ve just gone back and looked through the several E-Mails you’ve sent me over that time.   Drilling ANWAR, the Keystone Shale Oil Pipeline, the rising medical costs for G20 nations, some ragging on Obama and the collection of 50 amazing and concerning statistics to do with the U.S.  I also noted that you liked the fellow in New Mexico who is building energy sustainable homes.

It’s all interesting and debatable.   Most of it, however, I don’t think worth debating at the level presented.   Don’t misunderstand me, my friend.   That is not intended to be a rebuff to you nor is it me ragging on you.

I have several large-scale reactions to things like these issues now days.

First, I sincerely doubt that anything significant can be done about them.  And that leads me to question how much of the valuable life-time I have left I want to spend agonizing over them.

Debating them seems largely futile to me.  You and I are both intelligent, sincere and well-meaning with regard to these issues but we have not, over many years of discussing these issues, been able to agree on the causes and solutions to many of them.

If that’s true, then how likely is it that either of us could engage in debates with others and hope to sway many of them to our POV?

Most times, we (the royal ‘we’) end up talking to the already-converted who believe as we do.   That seems a particular waste of time to me.

I tend strongly to be a systems thinker and before I dig into the detail of a given issue, like say the Keystone Pipeline, I will back off and see if the issue makes more sense to regard from a higher meta level.   I think, as a systems thinker would, that this is very obviously the most penetrating and productive approach.  But I also find it very much a minority POV and thus valid and yet largely irrelevant at the same time.

The more I study the foibles of human thinking, the more I realize that we are very imperfect beings with regard to our abilities to seek truth without being swayed by our previously ensconced viewpoints.  I.e., we very largely see what we want to see and that most of us, when learning this, assume that it is a great truth that afflicts virtually everyone else – ourselves being excluded, of course.   I’m in this boat as well, I suspect.

We listen at the radio telescopes to a galaxy with 100 billion stars in which the latest research tells us that virtually every sun has planets.   Against this news, the Drake Equation has been begging the question for decades now as to why we haven’t heard from other civilizations out there.

I greatly fear that the very drives and imperatives that pool and collect when inanimate matter arises via evolution, complexity and the second law of thermodynamics into beings with intelligence and self awareness, that these self-same drives and imperatives are the factors that cause them to destroy themselves every time on the cusp of their technological adolescence.

http://samadhimuse.com/2008/06/21/2008-06-21-under-many-stars/

All the greed and waste we see around us is nothing but, to me, the higher level expressions of those same biological imperatives that served all of world’s evolving creatures so well until one of them, us; Homo Sapiens, arose with such a powerful adaption (generalized intelligence) that it broke the balances of forces that had always held things in rough balance and let us dominate the biosphere unopposed.

Now, still living out those imperatives to go forth and propagate, we’ve filled the planet up and are threatening to bring the biosphere to wreck and ruin.

I don’t think humanity, as a collective, have the insight, intelligence or will to transcend this deeply inbred tendency.   And I doubt that the vast majority of species on planets of distant stars have had these in sufficient quantities either, or we’d probably have heard from them by now.

So, on a very personal level, I’m just thinking mostly these days about how I want to spend the rest of my time in a reasonably responsible way and enjoy the life I have left to me.  Sidewalk cafes, good books, ancient ruins and the sun on my shoulders all sounds good.

Cheers, my friend,

Dennis

A Sharper Mind, Middle Age and Beyond

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

– Having just finished with a job at a computer software company where the average age of the people must have been in the early thirties (I’m currently 64), I’ve had a good look recently at what sorts of software engineering activities I still felt competent at and which I felt weak on compared to my fellow workers.

– I don’t know if this would relate for others at my age in the same situation but I definitely felt slower at absorbing new technical skills like learning to program in PERL and in working out how to get things done in Linux (I’ve been a Windows person most of my career).  

– I also felt that my ability to retain the ‘big picture’ with regard to the large C/C++ program I worked on daily was less than I would have liked.

– But, when it came time to design a specific solutions to solve problems or add a new features or capabilities, I felt quite strong and confident of my abilities.

– One thing I believe, and I think the article, below supports it, is that by using my brain constantly in these sorts of pursuits, I am and have been doing myself a favor with regard to how successfully I will retain my cognitive abilities as I age.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

In 1905, at age 55, Sir William Osler, the most influential physician of his era, decided to retire from the medical faculty of Johns Hopkins. In a farewell speech, Osler talked about the link between age and accomplishment: The “effective, moving, vitalizing work of the world is done between the ages of 25 and 40 — these 15 golden years of plenty.”

In comparison, he noted, “men above 40 years of age” are useless. As for those over 60, there would be an “incalculable benefit” in “commercial, political and professional life, if, as a matter of course, men stopped work at this age.”

Although such views did not prevent the doctor from going on to accept a post at Oxford University, one he retained until his death at age 70, his contention that brainpower, creativity and innovation have an early expiration date was, unfortunately, widely accepted by others. Until recently, neurologists believed that brain cells died off without being replaced. Psychologists affirmed the supposition by maintaining that the ability to learn trudged steadfastly downward through the years.

Of course, certain capabilities fall off as you approach 50. Memories of where you left the keys or parked the car mysteriously vanish. Words suddenly go into hiding as you struggle to remember the guy, you know, in that movie, what was it called? And calculating the tip on your dinner check seems to take longer than it used to.

Yet it is also true that there is no preordained march toward senescence.

Some people are much better than their peers at delaying age-related declines in memoryand calculating speed. What researchers want to know is why. Why does your 70-year-old neighbor score half her age on a memory test, while you, at 40, have the memory of a senior citizen? If investigators could better detect what protects one person’s mental strengths or chips away at another’s, then perhaps they could devise a program to halt or reverse decline and even shore up improvements.

As it turns out, one essential element of mental fitness has already been identified. “Education seems to be an elixir that can bring us a healthy body and mind throughout adulthood and even a longer life,” says Margie E. Lachman, a psychologist at Brandeis University who specializes in aging. For those in midlife and beyond, a college degree appears to slow the brain’s aging process by up to a decade, adding a new twist to the cost-benefit analysis of higher education — for young students as well as those thinking about returning to school.

– More…

 

Another life change …

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

In line with posting some things that are personal along with the Perfect Storm stuff, I’d like to share with you that I’ve resigned from my job at SLI-Systems as a C++ Software Engineer with effect Friday, January 20th.

It was an amicable separation.  I’ve been wanting to break free and do some of my own software development for some time and, after we returned from our two-month sojourn to the U.S., and I tried to get back into the groove there for a week or so, it seemed like it was time to go.

I completed two large projects for SLI in the time I was there (22 months).  I integrated the Basis Technology Libraries into their main C++ program, Moby, code so that they can process a variety of foreign languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Greek, Polish and German to date) as well as the English processing they were already doing.   And, I converted Moby from 32 to 64 bits.

Leaving a good job for the unknown can make one insecure and I’ve not been immune to that fact.

But I prefer this slightly scared and disoriented feeling I have now to the nagging suspicion that I might have been staying on someplace because I’m letting my fears and insecurities limit my choices.

Stayed tuned, I’ll report if I have a melt-down or if I release a new software product – either way, it should be interesting.

Oh, and I should mention that it’s summer here and I plan to use some of this new free time to ride my motorcycle off to a few locations around New Zealand which is, I think, one of the better ways to use this nice weather.

Cheers.

 

REGRETS OF THE DYING

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

– This is so beautiful.   I also find it inspiring.  We should all think about this stuff and not just walk through our lives half asleep as the calendar pages riffle by us, unnoticed.   As a country and Western song I heard says, “This ain’t no rehearsal.”   it is all as real as it gets and if you miss it, you’ll have no one but yourself to blame.

– This was written by a woman named Bronnie Ware and her site can be found here.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

– To the original…

 

Settling back into life in New Zealand

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

We got in about midnight on Saturday from a trip that began in Los Angeles, jumped to San Francisco, then to Sydney and finally ended in Christchurch, New Zealand after what seemed like days of traveling.  Indeed, it’s hard to work out just how long you have been traveling when there are International Date Lines and so many time zone changes in play.

Sunday, we got up and spent much of the day unpacking until about 3 PM when I suggested that we go out for a ride in the nice summer weather.

I came back from that ride fairly depressed.   Partly because I’m at the end of a long and idyllic vacation and seeing all my American friends and family.   But, in a large measure too because of Christchurch.

Your author - 2011

My beautiful city on the Southern Island of New Zealand is still a deeply wounded entity.  As we drove around, the city center is still predominately an upsetting scene of destruction and demolition.   Wounds that will likely take five years, and more likely 10, to begin to get sorted out so that it regains some of what made it so very special.

So, I was back and feeling sad and twisted by all of this.   Part of me wants to pull up stakes and move on to a place not so wounded.  And another very considerable part of me knows that Colette would probably not opt to leave this city that’s been her home for 30 years.   It’s one of those quandaries you just have to look at and live with until it resolves one way or the other.   But, it left me unsettled and when we returned to the house, I had a good long lie down on the couch and just let the feelings wash over me.

I’m never one to be down long, though.   Monday morning, I was up and away to work to see what lay in store for me there.   All of that is yet another quandary for me.

They treat me very well and the job’s provided me with a good income these last 18 months or so.   But, maintaining old and cranky software that’s been agglutinating for years has never been a favorite of mine.   So, do I go or do I stay?   Security and a regular paycheck sit on one hand.  And, the on the other hand, sit freedom to write my own software and take a shot at entrepreneurship with all the economic and emotional risks that go with that.   And in the back of my mind, a small voice that says, “If not now, when?”

Not knowing yet what I really want, I went into work Monday thinking, “I’ll wait and see what new thing they offer me to do.   If it’s something I’d really find interesting to do, then I’ll take  serious look.   But if it’s more spaghetti wrestling and digging through messes that should never have been coded that way, then I’m going to take a flyer.”   That was Monday and today’s Wednesday and I’m still thinking about it all.   ‘Waiting is’.

In Stranger in a Strange Land, Heinlein introduces this concept: “Waiting is”.  (http://jassnight.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/waiting-is/)

To me, it means patiently waiting, with no time frame in mind, until the decision simply makes itself because all the necessary parts needed to make the decision, have arrived.  And, when they are there, the decision virtually makes itself.  Even though we think we are the agent of decision, we are in fact, simply the vessel within which the decision assembles and makes itself.

Little is to be gained by forcing decisions.

A good friend of mine, who said she much enjoyed the personal side of what I’ve been writing these last two months, suggested, that as I go forward and resume with my normal fare, that I might leaven it with more of the personal and not such a steady diet of renditions of all that is so badly broken in our world.

After thinking about what she said, I agree and I am going to try to do more of that.

In truth, I deeply value being able to look squarely at the world and the mess that it’s in.   But, being such a ‘looker’ is not all that I am.   I’m a poet, a lover, a good friend to many people, a father and a grandfather and someone who, in spite of several scars and setbacks, deeply likes myself and my life and I think that I am one of the luckiest and most blessed people I know.   And, each morning, when I get up, I feel deep thankfulness that I am still here with my heart, my mind and my body mostly intact.   And thus, I rise to love the day intensely.

Somehow, I can keep the doom and gloom of the “Perfect Storm” hypothesis, which I believe now is more on the money that ever, separate from my joy and my love of life and love for those around me.

Perhaps, what Katy was telling me, is to share more of both sides of that.   And she’s right and I will.   I hope it pleases you, dear readers.

dennis