ROI – The Water We Spend

Aerial photo of Beaver Valley Power Station in Pennsylvania, showing evaporation from the large cooling towers.
This article is part three of a series.

“People don’t have any idea that when they flip their light switches on or their air conditioner, there’s huge amounts of water involved,” said Neil Carman, director of the clean air program for the Texas Chapter of the Sierra Club.


Water is behind absolutely everything we do. Let’s begin this story back home. How does our domestic water use break down?

Pie chart of our water use

According to the EPA the average family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day. If you look at the pie chart above (which comes from their website) you can see that we use this water for worthy goals.

Sanitation cannot be overstated. It is what makes life bearable. As such I deem this to be a good ROI for water spending. Though I would stress that we must strive to carry out these use-cases more efficiently.

Efficient use of resources at home is laudable. But we shouldn’t sink into the comforting fantasy that small changes at home will make a big difference for water conservation. The illusion of control that we get from being ‘good people’ is, like most illusions, detrimental.

Even if everybody followed the most stringent conservatism in their domestic water use it wouldn’t begin to make a dent in our ‘water debt’ (To be explained). This is because the biggest water hogs are irrigation and Thermoelectric power.

US Freshwater Withdrawals Chart

As you can see from the above graph almost half of all freshwater withdrawals in 2010 were for Thermoelectric power. Irrigation is the second largest water hog at 32%.

Power and food are essentials. It is a good return on investment to spend water on these things. As with domestic use we must be more efficient here. The efficiencies that we improve in these two areas will have a far greater impact on making sure that we have plenty of fresh water available for the future.

The good news is that we do seem to have had a positive impact on water use.

Bar showing showing trends in fresh surface-water use, 1950 to 2010

What the above graph tells us is that there is a relationship between water use and population.

According to this graph water use peaked in 1980. It has since that time remained more or less steady. Though population growth continued along with a greater need for irrigation and industry, total water use has not risen. This seems to suggest that we’ve become more efficient at using water.

While I don’t doubt that greater efficiency in water use has contributed to this pleasant steadiness, I can’t help but think that offshoring a good chunk of our industry may also play a role. (As of the writing of this article I don’t have the exact data but I feel the possibility is worth mentioning.)

Now that you have some idea as to how we use water it’s time to get a bit more in-depth. The next article in this series will delve into the technologies and practices that have allowed us to get more out of water since the 1980’s.


Sources

Diversify your Portfolio

Image result for diversify your portfolio


I suppose I’m a bit stuck on financial terms this week. Probably because they are good analogies for how the world functions. As such you can extrapolate insight into a lot of issues far outside the narrow field of bottom lines.

When people hear ‘Diversify your Portfolio’ they immediately think of Wall Street. Your stocks, bonds, and other securities are not the only portfolio you should diversify.

Another image that may come to mind is the artists portfolio. Sometimes this image manifests as a large envelope, full of prints, sitting in the corner of some studio, littered with evidence of robust endeavor.

But why should our hypothetical hep cat painter limit the contents of his portfolio to paintings?

I thoroughly understand that people must play to their strengths. You don’t want to sacrifice a brilliant painter for a mediocre writer or vice-versa.

However, the painter and writer can both benefit greatly by diversifying how and what they write and paint about. I would argue that these two craftsmen can also benefit immensely by spending a little time making serious efforts in each others fields.

The writer who spends a little time learning to paint won’t risk squandering his potential as a writer. In fact his writing is bound to improve. This is because he isn’t spending all his time painting. He’s painting just a little and with serious intent.

As such he will glean new insights because he is engaging parts of his brain that he normally wouldn’t. He has to think about perspective, shading, background and foreground and learn how to use his hands in a coordinated way to create an intelligible image.

All this dexterity will translate into better writing. The same applies to the painter who tries writing and has to learn about pace, plotting, character building, etc.

So what’s a reasonable amount of time to devote to learning a new skill to help along your current skill? It varies from individual to individual. What works for me is devoting a half hour to hour each morning for a couple of weeks to the new task. This way I learn a new skill without sacrificing current skill-sets.

This journal is built on recognizing the value of diversified skill-sets. This journal is unique in that I double the value for my readers by providing both fiction and nonfiction works.

It struck me last night after I published a poem that some people may find this approach amateurish. (Especially of poems in the context of a news/commentary- reporting flavored journal such as this.)

There certainly does seem to be a consensus that serious people focus on one field and hone their prowess there to near perfection. It’s not an entirely misguided notion. Michael Crichton was master of the techno-thriller, Tom Clancy of military adventure, and Poe of weird story and dark poetry.

Perhaps I differ from these people in that I diversify my approach publicly. I think it is to my benefit that this journal is open-ended, factually rigorous (as possible), musing. Time will tell.

A Week in Sales

Image result for billy mays funny


I am not a salesman. I suppose I could be if I worked at it but I don’t find it very engaging. That’s not to say that Sales is a bad career or that sales people are bad. If you believe in your product or service it can be a fun challenge with a lot of financial rewards. There are a lot of lessons you can learn about yourself and life in general by learning the art of the deal.

After just a week at small direct-marketing company I could probably write a couple of pages on what I learned. A lot of it was simply coming to understand my own reactions and thought process and learning to steer them. Since I think that the latter is important I’ve compiled a short list of ways to do it.

Things I Learned from a Week in Sales

  • It’s easy to agree with objections in the heat of the moment. Don’t.
  • People are much less likely to commit to a product or conversation if you aren’t committed yourself.
  • A lot of your first impressions of peoples attitudes and reactions are wrong.
  • It’s essential to control your inner chatter. Not only is it distracting but it’s usually wrong and can destroy a lot of potential.
  • A lot of people don’t really know what they think much less why. They’re simply reacting to the perceived contours of what you’re saying.
  • Blood sugar levels matter a great deal.
  • Being healthy helps you be good with people.

A lot of this is common sense stuff. I chose to call it learning because there’s a difference between knowledge and experience.

Sure the above observations could come from any kind of interaction. But there is a quality to business and professional interactions that drives the point home more clearly. Probably owing to the fact that you can’t opt out of paying attention to your own reactions, or simply write off miscommunication as being ‘just one of those things.’

All in all I had a good time trying out a new venture. I think that it is especially important for artists, writers, and the like to leave the comforts of Bohemia once in a blue moon. I definitely have a slightly less cynical view of businesses than I did before.

I think understanding the workings of humanity behind corporations and their clients will help me be a more insightful writer.

Is there a career or experience that you think would challenge you and refill your creative wells?

Of News and our Digestion

Image result for newshound

Musings of a Hound

The ‘ring of truth’ is still just an after effect…
Or
The case for print and excessive subtitles!

The news often ruins my digestion. Not because it is bad news mind you. I’ve made peace with the fact that the world isn’t peaceful long ago.

No, the news ruins my digestion because it’s artificial. To be more precise, it ruins my digestion, because recently it has become crassly artificial. It’s a bacchanal of Tupperware and plastic confetti.

The news is artificial by nature so artificiality in and of itself isn’t the source of my dependence on Pepto Bismol. Yes, the news is artificial, But that does not mean it has to revel in it. Unwholesomeness of this sort will ruin anyone’s digestion.

So how is the news artificial exactly?

It’s artificial because it is by its very nature a representation. Most representations today are far from representative of the truth. The ones that hit really close to home still miss the exact mark because they are facsimiles. See: Xerox loses fidelity with each copy, the whisper game, etc.

This inescapable fact of the nature of news means that you have some serious digesting to do.

It means my friends that you are going to have to READ the news and not just hear or see the news.

While both audio and video recordings have their merits, and can be revisited as often as one likes, there is still much to be said for the static black and white of print.

First its immersiveness, and its cognitive effects promote deeper learning; that is less encumbered by the visual tricks of a news mink’s legs, or the tonal ploys of a beseeching moral crusader.

While lots of devilry is possible through turns of phrase, white lies, and outright chicanery these things are less pernicious in print. They are less pernicious because they are easier to spot and there is less of a blend between the real and virtual world.

The virtual world of a corporate news room, or talk radio broadcast is really good at getting in your head, because it is your heads native environment rendered electrically. When someone says something convincingly, or a sexy charming sort claims to be objective, you may know better but these messages will permeate deeper. They will permeate deeper without being properly digested.

The reason that I favor and profess the merits of print is because it gives you a broader space for assessment. The rapid fire bombardment of multi-sensory information that happens with audio and visual news services doesn’t give you adequate time to digest. Which means that there is a greater likelihood that you will come away having assimilated more views without assessment than you may have realized.

Print just stays there staring you in the face. It is because of this stasis that you can get a better feeling for the fact that ‘things can be found out.’ Things can be traced back.

Reading you see promotes further reading. Therefore it promotes research. Because when something you either fancy ,or despise is sitting there, staring at you in all its static glory:  you want to know why it’s correct or detestably false.

And you know that you can do it, because you know that very likely there is somewhere  supporting statements, that are also black and white. Thus you participate in a culture of deeper searching and thinking.

When I listen to news banter, or hear of the latest from this or that event, my impulse is more often to chat with friends or blast out an opinion column. However when I read I think deeper and reach for more sources.

I think the case for reading is actually stronger today with the advent of the internet. Because with the internet you can dig through much more things almost instantaneously.

The world, especially today is incredibly complex, and monumentally nuanced. We must visit and revisit issues ad infinitum because there is always something new to be gleaned in the old. Such is honesty, such is philosophy, such is science. We now have more tools than ever to do this well on a grand scale. Therefore we have a duty.

Yes, because of all that I’ve mentioned and the nature of technology: I have to say that reading news is a duty. That thinking about news is a duty. That rereading news is a duty. That perhaps even columnisting, blogging, book writing of your own is a duty.

It is a duty just like making sure that your gut is healthy is a duty.

Eat your fiber lest you get the runs and die.


Image Credit: https://blogs.chapman.edu/smc/2013/10/14/channel-that-inner-news-hound-to-sniff-out-the-undisovered-stories/

What’s Been Overcome

In my attempt to express how I think that we’ve forgotten all that we’ve overcome. An attempt spurred by the odd explosions of dumb passion from peasant to president. In this attempt I came away with something more like a poetic notion.  I rather like it.

I hope you like it too.

(A focused and sober consideration of our wilfully ungrateful amnesia regarding father history is soon to come. Among many other articles.)

Mad Crow’s Mirth

To become a bird aware of the folly of flight and the ludicrousness of its position.

That is in my opinion something approaching enlightenment.

Though as is evidenced by the play of what’s been said enlightenment is a farce and thus to laugh is wisdom.

But not always for at times one must laugh at laughter and become stern.

I think that mankind has forgotten what’s been overcome. Mankind is currently like a lazy teenager that has swept troubles under the rug.

Formerly there were bloody hangings, drawings and quarterings, myopic ideas and the death resultant of that myopia. Now we do not have these two. At least not here. We export them to China and its socioeconomic kin. This is not to mention the graveyard of empires.

In the latter musing I noted the folly of hovering wraith like above humanity as arbiter. It is a default style. Standard for observers. Especially objective ones who use the third person. The religious think they escape it by adopting Christ consciousness. Such a crown, unwieldy, sits oddly on their heads, oddly funny.

Thus the need for the bird analogy and my current…

Laughter.

Darling

Yes o sweet one

Pour the wine

the thing it must be done

The blooming of the line

Of dreams

Your hair is the wheat of the field

Fed by the waters of spirit sublime

Cisterns are your eyes

Drawing up the sustenance of time

There is a depth of dyes

Waxing of colors

Eternal tapestry

Hung in parlors

Of diverse eternity

Breaking evening

Through thrusting supernal light

Weave now the ring

Entwined we forge a novel sight

Settle now against my breast

Here against my rhythm

Take your rest

We are the first and last

Redly glimmers in the cup

The elixir

That makes down up

Laugh laugh here where it’s clear
Where it’s clear what’s been overcome

We are the first and the last

Take that wine and welcome

To the future and the past

The Gentleman Defined

Image result for gentleman funny picture

img src: http://www.foodiggity.com/tag/mr-t/

An Exploratory Series


The subtitle for my last post was: a gentleman complains.

So what is a gentleman?

Well traditionally a gentleman is someone whose family had money and thus could afford to fop about and look posh.

That is not my definition of gentleman but that is where we will start.

Gentlemen represent the leisure class.

I am not sure but I think that the term aristocracy may have something to do with Aristotle. Ah, I’ve looked it up and no. Aristos simply means excellent so Aristotle is connected only loosely through prefix and the fact that he is a philosopher.

While it isn’t entirely accurate I think that to some extent one can say that philosophers became aristocrats. The life of the mind requires energy and time. Things which can only exist in adequate amounts if you belong to the leisure class. Especially historically when food, shelter, and health were far more scarce.

There was to the best of my foggy memory the notion in ancient Greece that manual and commercial labor was lowly. That the life of the mind was the purest thing. So through this ideation the leisure of the philosopher to do philosophy perhaps became the leisure of the gentleman to be a gentleman.

What need is there of these leisurely ponces called philosophers and gentlemen?

You see philosophy, science, and the pursuit of refinement through art, literature, etc. all require copious time. There are of course exceptions among the folk who would pen folksy epics and compose folksy songs. Compositions on par with the works of the most ‘well-bred’ and pampered of noble-men. But the fact remained that these were exceptions, that the strains of duty drained the common man of creative energies. Just as laziness drained the common aristocrat of creative energies.

Really the whole notion of a leisure class arose in the hopes that this class would maintain culture, do philosophy and science, be patrons of the arts, and promote peace thereby. That is the classic ideal of the aristocracy to which few actual aristocrats seem to have lived up.

It is where we get our notions of gentlemanly actions, interests, and decorum. These ideals are I think still very much useful today and are the reason why I’m typing up this little number.

I am very fond of some of the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. I am fond of such works because they present a very good model for the Gentleman Laborer.

I have no interest in being an aristocrat or returning to any form of aristocracy. Which is why this notion of the craftsman, yeoman, etc. who retains a sense of culture, takes himself seriously, and assumes responsibility for the course of his life and the life of his nation is an indispensable one.

The aim of college has been to bring about more of such people. It is readily apparent that they’ve failed miserably at so doing. Instead these institutions are merely vocational schools that make yokels believe that they know more than they do without even beginning to remove yokelism. In short the university system today is a counterfeiting scheme pumping out cheap facsimiles of lettered men.

For this I blame the fact that education is today seen as a business for producing businessmen. I will here take the Greek view that the businessman is inferior to the philosopher. But there is hope. Because it is not my aim to disparage but to improve. You see when the businessman takes philosophy seriously then he becomes a Gentleman.

So it is that I suggest everyone read as much as possible, write as much as possible, be as courageous and polite as possible, all while embracing labor if it comes, and testing limits in the wild.

These virtues and pursuits are the only soil in which that rare orchid called a Gentleman can flourish.

This is a very difficult notion to pin down and will likely be a series to which I’ll add periodically.


Here is a blurb from Wikipedia on ‘Roman Virtues’ which in my opinion are good foundations for sussing out how to be a gentleman.

Roman virtues

The term “virtue” itself is derived from the Latin “virtus” (the personification of which was the deity Virtus), and had connotations of “manliness”, “honour”, worthiness of deferential respect, and civic duty as both citizen and soldier. This virtue was but one of many virtues which Romans of good character were expected to exemplify and pass on through the generations, as part of the Mos Maiorum; ancestral traditions which defined “Roman-ness”. Romans distinguished between the spheres of private and public life, and thus, virtues were also divided between those considered to be in the realm of private family life (as lived and taught by the paterfamilias), and those expected of an upstanding Roman citizen.

Most Roman concepts of virtue were also personified as a numinous deity. The primary Roman virtues, both public and private, were:

  • Auctoritas – “spiritual authority” – the sense of one’s social standing, built up through experience, Pietas, and Industria. This was considered to be essential for a magistrate’s ability to enforce law and order.
  • Comitas – “humour” – ease of manner, courtesy, openness, and friendliness.
  • Constantia – “perseverance” – military stamina, as well as general mental and physical endurance in the face of hardship.
  • Clementia – “mercy” – mildness and gentleness, and the ability to set aside previous transgressions.
  • Dignitas – “dignity” – a sense of self-worth, personal self-respect and self-esteem.
  • Disciplina – “discipline” – considered essential to military excellence; also connotes adherence to the legal system, and upholding the duties of citizenship.
  • Firmitas – “tenacity” – strength of mind, and the ability to stick to one’s purpose at hand without wavering.
  • Frugalitas – “frugality” – economy and simplicity in lifestyle, without being miserly.
  • Gravitas – “gravity” – a sense of the importance of the matter at hand; responsibility, and being earnest.
  • Honestas – “respectability” – the image that one presents as a respectable member of society.
  • Humanitas – “humanity” – refinement, civilization, learning, and generally being cultured.
  • Industria – “industriousness” – hard work.
  • Iustitia – “justice” – sense of moral worth to an action; personified by the goddess Iustitia, the Roman counterpart to the Greek Themis.
  • Pietas – “dutifulness” – more than religious piety; a respect for the natural order: socially, politically, and religiously. Includes ideas of patriotism, fulfillment of pious obligation to the gods, and honoring other human beings, especially in terms of the patron and client relationship, considered essential to an orderly society.
  • Prudentia – “prudence” – foresight, wisdom, and personal discretion.
  • Salubritas – “wholesomeness” – general health and cleanliness, personified in the deity Salus.
  • Severitas – “sternness” – self-control, considered to be tied directly to the virtue of gravitas.
  • Veritas – “truthfulness” – honesty in dealing with others, personified by the goddess Veritas. Veritas, being the mother of Virtus, was considered the root of all virtue; a person living an honest life was bound to be virtuous.
  • Virtus – “manliness” – valor, excellence, courage, character, and worth. ‘Vir’ is Latin for “man”.

Action is Cheap

A Gentleman Complains


There’s a lot of talk.

There’s always a lot of talk. Some of the talk oddly enough is about the fact that there’s too much talk. Which is funny because the ostentatiously busy are ever willing to pause and talk about this.

There’s too much talk and too little action! It seems to be a given.

Which is why we don’t really ever try to honestly answer the question: Is there too much talk, really?

I for one think that there is too little talk. There is certainly much small-talk, posturing, jingoism, commentary, and fluff but in terms of real substantive conversation there is very little.

This is because as a culture we have degraded thought in the interest of promoting action.

Did it work?

Of course not. Look around you. Listen to what passes for news. No degraded talk (or the exchange of thought) has led to degraded action.

Action is cheap.

The mechanical act going on when my fingers smack the little plastic buttons may give me a certain tactile thrill, but it means nothing without the context of what I’m typing.

Undirected action better known as haste does in fact make waste.

We live in hasty times.

Even the molasses like, drawling South, that I call home, now hops about with a maddening urge to go somewhere!

When I pause to ask, ‘WHERE?’ I’m often answered with a question as to where I am going. Work, college, church, public office, girlfriend, wife? Everyone’s a psychologist you see. (So savvy they might actually reach nirvana by disappearing completely up their own ass.)

My answer is right here. I am going right here for right now and that’s enough. Since you’re here too.. can you relax long enough to not grunt in monosyllables? Is there no better activity than comparing careers, lovers, and cookie cutter worldviews?

You see when you’re hyper focused on action or hyper focused on appearing to be in action you miss out on a great truth. Life is about conversation.

That’s why action is cheap. Because action without conversation is inanimate. Action without conversation is like a rock rolling down a hill. It is carried by the whims of chance.

Life. Biological life that grows and moves and pulses says to chance, uh uh, no way. In so doing it has started a conversation with the cosmos and itself.

So as one of the supposedly higher forms of life, on this rock two stones from the sun, shouldn’t we try to make sure that we converse well?

For the longest time we did. A mighty store of stories and a rich descriptive capacity was celebrated and cultivated by those who claimed to have an education and often even by those who didn’t.

Lest the readers believe that I am here attempting to promote some sort of poncy, verbose, chattiness I must say:

Conversation isn’t just about saying things it is also about knowing what not to say. This art like all others won’t be mastered without practice. It won’t be mastered without the recognition of what it is. It is our heritage and our destiny.

All of history, philosophy, and science is one great conversation. It is the comparing and contrasting of the inner conversation of individuals. It is the exchange of ideas, truths, and passions. Learning to converse well, to speak effectively, to render things truly is what has always and will always give us meaning.

We are a story telling species living out a story.

Michael Crichton once observed that he was accustomed to silence. That it didn’t bother him because his work required him to be quiet and alone for long stretches of time.

It does seem that there is a sort of reticence among writers. Often they don’t talk much. Why?

Well the answer is that writing is a conversation. And if you converse with an audience and with yourself for a living you may find that the need to talk is less urgent.

Which is something that makes you better at talking. Knowing that you’ve said something and said it well fills you with the sort of confidence that let’s you continue doing so. There comes with practice a natural and ready pruning of the wild rose bushes of not just forums, or interviews, but casual conversation.

Such a confidence is what I would like to see everyone cultivate. In a world as complex as this the exchange of nuanced ideas without awkwardness or haste is absolutely necessary. It won’t be done through observing 57 rules of power, or studying the habits of the successful, or emulating pithy TV characters. It will come with taking language and interpersonal relationships as seriously as an increasing number of us take going to the gym.

It will require long form reading, writing with at least some regularity, and accepting that others may know more than us and we’d better take the time to find out.

The act of running towards a cliff is cheap.

Telling the lemming to stop is priceless.

Lost and Found

I couldn’t believe that I’d lost it. I was sitting in my friends grunge rock kitchen and I couldn’t believe that I’d lost it. In aggregate it was at least a hundred pages. Yet the most hurtful thing was the seventy-seven pages of a manuscript that had seemed to write itself.

So how did I lose hours upon hours worth of work?

I’m a recent Linux convert. I started by letting my friend put Arch on my gaming laptop. I really liked it. I liked the control, the security, the performance, and the privacy. I was so thrilled by all of the above that I didn’t mind dealing with proprietary driver issues with my Broadcom WiFi.

As time went on I decided to go full Linux and banish Windows 10 from my HP desktop. I am not normally a purist but Win 10 slow performance on a machine it came pre-installed with, as well as its standard issue Spyware-like features, turned me into a Linux zealot.

I did miss playing Chaos Theory and having the capacity to install Halo PC and other gaming gems on my machine. But nostalgia is a small price to pay for having a computer that works like it should.

As I grew increasingly annoyed with Windows and Silicon Valley in general I couldn’t wait to distance myself from politically correct, self-righteous, intrusive, proprietary nonsense.

So it was that I got into a mad rush to rid myself of Windows. I thought I’d put a less esoteric version of Linux onto my desktop then was on my laptop. Since I’m a Lunduke fan I opted for openSUSE over Mint which I had a copy of (thanks to a friend who’d installed it on a desktop I’m going to donate to a Luddite.)

Yes. The expression though trite is true. The expression being “Haste makes waste.” I loaded the openSUSE leap 42.3 ISO onto my trusty USB 3 Gorilla. The thing has upwards of sixty gigs. I was mighty ticked when for whatever reason the ISO kept complaining about not having enough space! The ISO was 4 gigs!

Then after some Discord sessions with my techie friend I realized that I wasn’t formatting properly. Something I would have realized on my own if I had only slowed down.

In fact if I had only slowed down and taken a deep breath life would be substantially better. I would still have my work.

What happened was that I formatted a drive that contained files that I didn’t realize had been cut rather than copied. So the original files were gone from my primary computer, they were gone from the USB to which they had been cut, and they were gone from the HP desktop which was purged of Redmond Spyware along with everything else.

Because I got busy with research, music, and studying Java I didn’t revisit my main writing project for days.

My friend needed help moving a washer and dryer. I arrived at his house and since he wasn’t back yet with the truck I pulled out my laptop to get some much delayed writing done.

As I clicked around my file,s and tried various USBs, the realization that I had royally screwed up slowly dawned on me.

So why am I sharing this tale of typical Bohemian absent-mindedness?

Well for one, I would enjoy reading something like this. I’m a writer so obviously I like stories and I like to tell stories even more. It’s good practice to write most anything. I have to stay sharp! But furthermore there is a realization I had as I was sitting there staring at my friends stark little kitchen clock that I feel is worth sharing.

This post is called Lost and Found and I did find something. I found that I wasn’t particularly worried. Despite the fact that I had lost hours upon hours of work, and probably some rather original ideas, and turns of phrase that I might not be able to replicate; I felt at peace.

I felt at peace because a fact that I knew; the fact of perishability; of the eventually loss of everything; was realized. I had realized it before but this particular iteration of realization was a bit mystic.

Perhaps it was the unexpected loss in the unexpected place but I felt a certain gnosis.

Even my favorite greats like Michael Crichton and Bach may eventually be forgotten. The thousands upon thousands of copies of their works may fade away. The millions upon millions of people who have read Crichton and listened to Bach will certainly perish. So of what consequence is it that I lost a good start to a novel?

However great Bach and Crichton may be at what they do, and however much I fancied the first seventy pages of my novel; these things aren’t irreplaceable. Sure they are irreplaceable, ‘as they are’, as in there is no such thing as an exact facsimile. But something like it will recur again.

And since most of what I’d written is still fresh in my mind; perhaps as I rewrite, it will all largely still be there, and perhaps it will turn out even better. Such is the beauty of iterating and why I chose it as the name of a podcast.

So, the big Find is that despite everything being perishable, it is still unique and worthwhile, and more hearteningly, renewable.

Maybe I’ve been listening to too much Alan Watts but I find a certain reassuring Zen quality about this realization.

Thanks for reading.

Keeping the Flame

It’s interesting that the McGregor/Mayweather fight happened just now. It’s interesting for me because it is one of those things that falls into place. They happen all the time but I never cease to be amazed when they do. There seems to be a symmetry to things.

Say what you will about coincidence. Nine times out of ten I will probably agree with you but I must be honest that there’s a superstition in me.

I am twenty eight. Not old but not young.

This position makes me wonder about what I can still accomplish. Is there an age limit for brilliance?

Not that I want to do anything remarkable necessarily; but I want to enjoy life and make something worthwhile. Does this become more difficult with age?

Perhaps.

I have stumbled across articles that talk about a peak time, a ripeness, in the twenties that is most conducive to explosive creativity. Have I missed it?

Mayweather’s victory against a man ten years his junior suggests that maybe I haven’t.

Am I being groundlessly optimistic? Didn’t Mayweather hone his skills in his youth? Isn’t his brilliance, his fire, simply a well preserved product from that youth?

To me it seems that the answer is yes and no. And fortunately it also seems to me that the answer doesn’t much matter.

Yes, boxing is a skill that is best developed in youth. The energy and endurance necessary to build formidable skills and to recover from injury are a young man’s game. But, even though this is the case. Mayweather did not let himself get old.

What do I mean by that? It’s a bizarre statement isn’t it. How can Mayweather keep himself from staying old?

Well of course in terms of telomeres and the like he has aged. Though this is true, though he has aged, he hasn’t let himself get old.

I don’t want to be one of those new sorts of people who use euphemisms. So I won’t. Yes, we get old. Yes, Mayweather is getting old. Age happens and it isn’t a bad thing. However there are various ways of getting old. Among the ways of getting old is the method of not getting old.

What Mayweather did was fastidious maintenance. That’s why his skills and his passion didn’t get old. They got honed.

This should be encouraging for everyone. Because everyone has a skill. As you grow older you develop skills and life experiences. While it is best to notice which way they are going as early as possible and then capitalize on that huge burst of energy in the twenties it’s not necessarily a tragedy not to.

You can always do maintenance and as you do maintenance you’ll notice that your machine whatever that machine is will improve and will become easier to improve.

I don’t think that the answer to whether or not Mayweather’s skills came from capitalizing on youthful energy matters for most people. This is the case because most people aren’t athletes that compete in a blood-sport. Therefore a robust frame that recovers quickly from grievous injury isn’t a necessity.

I highly doubt given a reasonable amount of intellectual, physical, and creative effort that even at forty your brain is significantly less creative or innovative than at twenty. In fact you might have gained some wisdom you didn’t realize.

The reason for this post is to suggest the art of keeping the flame. I notice that there’s something a bit odd, a bit amiss in our society; it’s the fact that people grow listless. They just decide to get old. With all of our vast resources this is a travesty.

I’m not here to be judgmental. This post is meant to encourage people. I’ve been meaning to write it for a long time. And as I said at the beginning what a fortuitous event it is that an older man triumphs against a younger man.

I am not actually somebody that cares much for sports in general. While I do keep up a robust exercise regimen and consider myself an outdoors-man I don’t follow sports. I tune in to UFC commentary or matches only once in a blue moon. Yet maybe I should do so more because as has been evidenced by this article and many others sports can be rather instructive.

So let this little bit of sports history serve to instruct you to keep the flame.

(Coming soon: tips on keeping the flame.)

Get Used To Being Ignored

Drawing of two people ignoring someone.

Get used to being ignored.

I think that’s the best strategy for psychological health for anybody that wants to be an artist or writer. Hell, it’s the best strategy for psychological health for everybody.

What drives you wilder and hurts more than being ignored? Especially if that coveted attention is being lavished on someone who’s a bad egg or just not particularly interesting.

There are probably, already, some people here, greasing up their egos, and believing they’re above attention seeking. You’re liars and frauds.

Everyone needs attention. This is a social species. Even hermits seek attention through a loud sort of absence. So let’s lay aside the moral preening for a tad and understand how to actually overcome the mal-adaptive side of this perfectly normal drive.

The first step to getting there is understanding why we crave attention. The reason for this is simple. We crave attention because attention means that we have a chance for influencing our environment. And since influencing our environment ensures everything from survival to the Beatles; it’s not something we’re ever going to give up.

If the Beatles aren’t your thing then imagine your artist, scholar, or religious figure of choice. Now imagine if that person just sort of never did anything because you know that would be gauche. That would be attention seeking. Oh, gosh darn it y’all I just can’t stomach being the center of attention.

Isn’t it better that these people who had something to say did?

Now that I’ve established why attention seeking is natural and not inherently wicked I’ll illustrate how to get used to being ignored.

Getting used to being ignored is incredibly important because it’s going to greatly influence your quality of life. You’ll fret less and do more.

The manner in which I’ll illustrate this will involve the description of a hypothetical person. Here goes.

There’s a fellow who has worked very hard at building a solid foundation of knowledge, vocabulary, speaking skills, and physical fitness. It is often that he is correct. In fact over the years he has come to observe that the things he warns about and the trends he predicts come true with uncanny accuracy.

You’d think that such a person would hold a rather august position in their respective society. Or at the very least that they exert some level of respect and influence.

Well, the reality is that sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. What’s especially interesting is that even when they do they still get ignored.

Why?

Well, first let’s begin with the body. The human body is an incredibly elegant and well tuned sort of thing. Generally it hums along with a surprising level of homeostasis. It’s surprising because the universe in which that homeostasis occurs is rather chaotic.

As amazing as this homeostasis is, it’s not ever present. The body is a vast network of organs, cells, and even other organisms. The balance of these varies and the resultant confusion of imbalance can be quite loud.

This is all a very fancy and roundabout way of saying that people who aren’t listening might just have to fart.

In light of this knowledge it seems a bit silly to take offense at the inattention of the gassy. But don’t beat yourself up too much. Who after having delivered an elegant and well thought out point with perfect elocution would pause to consider the gastric state of his audience?

After the body comes the mind. The mind is ever awash in memories and associations.   Any number of things you say and that occur in the environment where you and your audience participate can trigger an overwhelming flood of memories and ideas. After drowning in these for a bit your listeners may very well have something of their own to say. And they may even shout it.

The third reason that you should get used to being ignored is parsimony. We are limited beings and we know it. It is for this reason that we are parsimonious with our time and attention. Generally, at least as far as I’ve observed even the best among us tend to lavish more attention to things they like and consider important than to new or opposing ideas.

This little trifecta has hopefully given some insight as to why you might be ignored. But how does it illustrate that we should be used to being ignored that we should accept being ignored? Are you to resign yourself to shouting at a wall?

Well, no. The point of explaining these things is to temper the emotional reaction which could destroy your message. Understanding these things will allow you to keep the level head necessary to maintaining the energy for continuing to carry your art, craft, or idea forward.

One final idea that I’ll throw towards this end is the need for patience. Don’t just assume you’re being ignored. Let people digest your work or ideas. Hell, let yourself digest your work or your ideas. Keep putting your stuff out there but also listen and wait. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Image Credit: http://udleditions.cast.org/GLOSSARY,how_coyote_stole_fire,ignore.html#I