March 10th, 2013 — Happiness, Living Fully
I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately about healthy lifestyles. They usually mention the importance of having a lot of social interactions. In fact, that works for some people but not for everyone. The emphasis on being social no doubt reflects our society’s pro-extrovert bias.
I remember an article years ago about the health benefits of being an eccentric, being centered enough to follow one’s own path without worrying about social pressure to fit in, to act like others. It reminded me of Robert Louis Stevenson’s quote:
To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you ought to prefer is to have kept your soul alive.
And it reminds me of e e cummings:
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
For some people being social is who they really are so it works for them. But that’s not the only way to a rich, fulfilled life.
So what are the characteristics of healthy eccentrics?
- Nonconforming attitude
- Intense curiosity
- Happy obsession with a hobby or hobbies
- Knew very early in his or her childhood they were different from others
- Unusual living or eating habits
- Strong values
- Sense of humor
Do you know any eccentrics? Do you have any eccentric in you?
March 2nd, 2013 — Living Fully
This cartoon and post were inspired by Ramana’s comment on Extreme Techie over at Transforming Stress:
Naturally talented youngsters who can be classified as geeks or nerds are also to be seen and I find them lacking in social skills and lonely. They are brought to the local park and sit around playing games on their hand held gadgets while other children play other vigourous games.
The interesting question is, “Who defines social skills?” Here in the U.S. it’s the energetic children who are the misfits in school. They’re not interested in sitting and learning to read and write — starting in kindergarten now. So the teachers and schools suggest the kids (mostly boys) get tested and the doctor prescribes Ritalin or other drugs to calm them down and help them focus. There may be long-term side effects even though a lot of the students taking them are simply too exuberant for their environment.
So my guess is the solitary boys Ramana is talking about are simply in an environment that doesn’t match their temperaments and interests, just as the present U.S. elementary schools aren’t a good match for children who aren’t naturally studious.
What do you think?
February 24th, 2013 — Living Fully
I’ve been seeing the term “bucket list” a lot lately, the idea being a list of things you want to do before you die (“kick the bucket”). Do you have a list like that? Are there some things that you still want to experience or accomplish?
My own list would read something like this:
(1) Continue doing what I’m doing,
(2) Appreciate what I have as long as I still have it, and
(3) Hope it lasts a good long time.
Andy and I are in our harvest years now. (He’s 78 and I’m 73.) The work of the past year or so has paid off—he’s cheerful and enthusiastic in the morning as he goes up to the mountains. In addition to plowing the road when needed, burning slash and planning his future fruit trees, he’s designing a solar hot water system for the roof so we can eventually have radiant heating in the cottage. He’s already given the preliminary plans to the architect and is starting to order the parts.
And I’m getting back to some projects I was working on before building the house and dealing with insurance receipts—learning to draw and playing with different fonts in designing graphics for my blog posts. I have a rule that I post once a week on each of my two blogs and I always have to include a picture or a graphic related to the topic. I spend a lot more time on those than I do on the words because for me they’re the most important—I’m a visual thinker.
One of the main reasons I started blogging was because I wanted to learn to express myself more in pictures, and the internet was an ideal medium. It’s a soul-satisfying lifelong pursuit.
No, I don’t need any more items on my bucket list. How about you? Is your life soul-satisfying? Do you need to add something?
February 17th, 2013 — Uncategorized
The quality of our lives depends on how we focus our energy and our attention.
That’s one of my favorite sayings, but, of course, that assumes we have some energy to focus. I’ve been working on that.
Eating well and getting moderate exercise — nothing strenuous but anything that feels like fun — has been my top priority since that cold wiped me out. It’s worked just fine. I’m almost ready to start uncluttering our apartment. I have a great capacity for tuning things out, so I’ve been ignoring that project while I recovered from the cold and finished (almost) dealing with the insurance paperwork while we replaced Andy’s gazillion tools and some other things up on the land. Then I celebrated that success by playing with fonts and simple graphic design. I somehow discovered my passion for that this past year and decided rewarding myself for a job well done on the house and the insurance was the best use of my time. It’s hard to keep motivated if one only does the next item on a To Do list. I have a little bit more sense than that!
Anyway, uncluttering is still on my Possibility List and I’m starting to do a little bit each day. If life doesn’t intrude it should go just fine. I do love having an uncluttered apartment, it’s just not always my top priority.
What about you? How do you energize and motivate yourself? What are your top priorities?
February 10th, 2013 — Uncategorized
Do you agree with that quote by Peter McIntyre? I partially do. I love having the freedom to be wrong and tend to avoid conversations with people who always insist that their view is the only one. I knew a fellow once who believed he was always right. Once he made up his mind he refused to look at any more data. The one day he suddenly looked shocked. “I was wrong!” He said. “I was actually wrong!” Then he relaxed and smiled. “Oh well,” he said. “I guess once in 50 years isn’t too bad.”
On the other hand I had a boss once who liked to be right, but he wanted to be sure it was really true. I was cheeky enough to argue physics with him even though I only had a bachelor’s degree and he was internationally known in his field. I was usually wrong but he was a great teacher and would work through the problem on the white board and I would learn a lot. He always took my questions seriously because once in a while I was right.
One of my favorite times was after he blew up at me for a problem I has run on the supercomputer. Another group leader came in with a question and no money to pay for computing. Dave (not his real name) confidently told him the answer was in a computation I had already done. When I told him I hadn’t run that many modes (don’t worry about the details) Dave lost it and yelled at me for not having done it. I was upset at being yelled at but remembered there was a good reason I had only run three modes. Even that many was pushing the limits of the machine, and computer time was scarce. I had worked nights and weekends to get the truncated problem done.
So I didn’t say anything when Dave yelled. That wasn’t like him at all, so I figured I would wait until he had calmed down and was ready to listen. Then it dawned on me that because of the parameters I had used (called boundary conditions) it wouldn’t have mattered how many modes I had run. The information he wanted just wouldn’t have been there.
So I waited until he was coming down the hall in a good mood and said, “Hey, Dave, remember that problem we were talking about? It wouldn’t have mattered how many modes we ran. The boundary conditions were wrong.”
He instinctively denied it. “Oh, Jean, the boundary conditions weren’t wrong.”
I smiled and countered with, “How would you like to bet a beer on that?”
He looked at me trying to guess if I was right or just bluffing. He decided to gamble. “No, Jean, the boundary conditions weren’t wrong.”
So we went into my office, I sat down and he went to the white board. Yes, the conditions were fine in the x and y directions, but when he got to the z direction he put down the marker and said, “Oh, Jean, have it your own way. I don’t have time to argue with you!” Then he marched out to work on something far more important than my little problem.
Needless to say, I did not remind him he owed me a beer.
Yes, it is fun to be right. But it’s even more fun to have the freedom to be wrong. What do you think?
February 3rd, 2013 — Living Fully
“Still sitting up and taking nourishment.” That’s what a friend answered years ago when we asked him how he was doing. It was a joke and my husband has been using the line ever since. At the moment that’s exactly what I’m doing. I finally got flattened by that cold I was fighting and it’s a doozy. I spent most of Thursday and Friday in bed. I had a bit more energy yesterday and spent a lot of time sitting on the couch. Hey, progress is progress! It’s not to be sneered at.
I haven’t been eating much and figured it’s about time for more nourishment, so I’m typing this on my iPad as I’m finishing breakfast. Then I’ll go take a nap.
My own oldster saying is, “Doing the best I can with what I have left.” And I do have some low energy things I do. One is listening to audio books. At the moment I’m listening to Hitlerland, about the Americans in Germany as the Nazis took over. I’ve always been interested in that period of history and Hitlerland shows the varied reactions of the Americans to the Nazis as time went on. At the moment I’m only up to about 1935 so the full horror hasn’t sunk in yet.
The other thing I did yesterday was to figure out how to resize pictures on my iPad. I always like to include at least one picture in my posts and would like to be able to do a whole post from my iPad. I’m a lot closer to that now.
Anyway, that’s how I’m amusing myself. What do you do when you’re in a low-energy, recovering state?
January 27th, 2013 — Lifelong Learning
Andy had no trouble going up to the attic Thursday morning, but when he tried it that afternoon the stairs were completely stuck. They wouldn’t budge. His first reaction was he would have to cut a hole in the ceiling!
But then he thought about the air vents, and he took off the cover of the one in the living room and made a 9 1/2″ by 19 1/2″ hole in the vent itself.
He managed to squeeze through and fix the problem. He didn’t take a picture of it, but the cable had jumped off the pulley and wrapped around the axle.
Apparently he had pushed the stairs up too fast and the released tension on the cable as well as the fact the pulley hadn’t been installed straight caused the problem. In the future he will try to keep a steady pressure on the cable and hopefully that will be enough.
They say people who are slightly overweight tend to live longer, but sometimes there’s an advantage to being scrawny! (His term, not mine.)
The other surprise was it rained yesterday–just a drizzle but rain at over 8800 feet in January?
Any surprises where you are?
January 20th, 2013 — Change, Lifelong Learning
In June, 2010 I wrote
Years ago “I’ve been agin’ ‘em all” was my husband’s and my favorite joke. The world has probably deteriorated even more since then, but at the moment I’m having too good a time to worry about it.
At the time I was talking about my Kindle, which is a boon to people like me with bad eyestrain. I think a lot of things in the country and in the world have deteriorated even more since that post, but I’m now subscribed to audible.com and have a wealth of books read to me via my mp3 player. How’s that for luxury? And the thing that prompted this post is a new $0.99 iPad app called Digits:
Notice the big numbers on the main pad. Another boon for my poor old eyes. But the thing that makes it special to me is the record of my calculations on the left. If I do any lengthy calculations I usually use an Excel spreadsheet so I can check to make sure I’ve put the correct numbers in. This little app means I don’t have to fire up Excel.
Also, if I want to reuse a number I simply highlight it and pull it over into my new calculation. This is handy when I calculate the gross receipts tax on items we’re replacing using our insurance from the fire. I also expect it to be useful in a couple of months when I work on the income tax.
Yes, I know. I do get excited by little things. And I know such enthusiasm isn’t cool. So it’s nice — thanks to The Thundering Herd — to have some kindred spirits in the world:
Oh, boy. Oh, boy. A walk. A walk
Come on, kid, we walk all the time. Act like you have done this before
No, I think I’ll stick with being uncool. How about you?
January 13th, 2013 — Living Fully
Montana’s carpal pad is still not healing correctly so she will have surgery Tuesday. Wish her luck.
I’m being lazy today and am staying home from the Y. I usually go every other day to use the weight machines, but
- it’s cold outside–the low was about 7° F (-14° C), the high about 21° F (-6° C),
- I’m fighting off a cold, and
- the flu is going around.
I figured it was in everyone’s best interests if I avoid crowds.
The local paper had an interesting article about avoiding the flu. In addition to getting flu shots, washing hands, and not touching one’s face it also listed eating healthily, getting exercise and smiling. Apparently smiling helps boost our immune system. Hey, I can do that.
Fortunately Montana is a happy pup—hopefully that will help her to heal faster from the surgery? On the other hand, she does bounce a lot…. I will keep you posted.
What’s happening where you are? What’s the weather like? Is your area being hit by the flu too?
January 6th, 2013 — Lifelong Learning
I’ve learned a lot the past few days. The new monitor I had ordered—an Apple 27″ Cinema Display— came Friday, so I spent some time reviewing how to unhook and rehook cables, etc. Then I learned the new monitor doesn’t have any better resolution than my old one when I use my Macbook Pro (which I use as a desktop in my study). Who would have guessed? The display of the new monitor is spectacular with our with our desktop Mac Pro, so we’re using it there.
Then Kaitlin sent the above picture of Sammy and Montana with her new bandage. Montana injured a pad before Christmas and it’s been slow to heal correctly. I finally had the sense to ask, why, if it’s a foot pad, is the bandage on her leg? It turns out dogs have carpal pads, presumably used to help them stop when they’re running. I didn’t know that!
Right front paw of dog showing A) claw, B) digital pads, C) metacarpal pad, D) dew claw, E) carpal pad.
Finally, I decided it was time to recycle my old Dell desktop computer. It’s over eight years old and I haven’t used it in about four. It turns out Dell makes it easy to recycle–just fill out a form with the Service (ID) Tag, print out a FedEx label, box up the computer and call FedEx to pick it up. That meant taking out my hard drive for security—easy to do thanks to the internet—and then (my choice) disassembling the hard drive so I can render it useless. That’s taking quite a bit of time but it’s interesting and I’m learning a lot.
Inside of the computer.
The hard drive..
Anyway, that’s how I’ve been amusing myself. What have you been doing for fun?