Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why didn't I think of that?

I need some help with this one.  Some understanding really.  There is a phenomenon that occurs in some people's brains that prompts them to repeat what they hear.  I understand certain applications of this phenomenon.  Generally the intentional uses of this as a tool.  When someone introduces themselves to you, you may repeat their name back to them like so:

Person A:  "I'm Jim".
Person B:  "Nice to meet you, Jim".

This is useful technique when trying to remember someone's name later.  There are those who say it files the name in the brain in a more retrievable place.  Unfortunately my brain seems to be a very disorganized packrat, and looses information despite its filing process.  But this is another matter, and I do believe that this works for many people.

There is the application of repeating information to confirm that you heard the person right, or that the information they communicated was really what they meant to say.  This is often used to better personal relationships, and is probably taken straight from the psychiatrist's office:

Patient:  "My neighbor's dog used to scare me when I was young".
Doctor:  "So you were afraid of your neighbor's dog"?
Patient:  "Well, maybe not so much afraid as just bothered by".
Doctor:  "What was your relationship with your mother"?

OK, maybe I just added that last line for the Freudians out there, but you get how this application could be deemed useful.

Then, there is always the legitimate situation that the person on the other end of the conversation didn't actually hear the speaker:

Rowdy ballgame attendee 1:  "The hotdog vendor is coming through"!
Rowdy ballgame attendee 2:  "Oh!  The hotdog guy is coming"!

That happens.  

But there are a few applications that seem unconscious and bothersome.  Two specifically that I can think of at the moment.  I would like to understand them better because, frankly, they annoy me to no end.  

The first and less annoying version of this seems to be a lack of conversation ammo.  My aunt is a master of this application.  On a blistery windy day, we might tumble in the door shivering and exclaim, "It's COLD out there"!  To which she would respond, "Oh, is it cold"?  Uh... yeah.  I think that's what I said.  It's cold out there.  This variation can be applied to anything.  It is the oral equivalent to sentences that contain redundancies like, "introducing myself for the first time" (which I almost did earlier in this post, but AHA! I caught myself.),  or something like "the motor died and wouldn't start".  Any minimalist surely understands my angst here.

The second and painfully annoying version of the repeat talker is the one who repeats a statement, particularly after a lengthy conversation has just occurred surrounding such statement, as if it were their own thought.  This makes me absolutely, certifiably, rip-roaring crazy.  It happens in my world with alarming frequency too.  

Does this happen to other people?  Does it happen to you?  Do you do such a thing?  I will have to speechlessly wiggle my finger at you in frustration if you do, but I would eventually calm down and be extremely grateful to you if you could give even the smallest bit of insight as to what is rolling around in your thoughts that might drive you to say such things.

For those of you blissfully clueless to this upsetting phenomenon, allow me to trouble you with an example that just happened to me recently:
I work in a friendly office.  One that doesn't frown on the occasional doorway chat.  Lucky me.  My boss comes out of his office to discuss how he feels good about having started an important letter even though  he hasn't gotten very far.  I casually congratulated him saying that "starting is the hardest part".  To which he responded so characteristically with "well,.. yeah".  (imagine him using the same tone of voice you would use to say "well, duh").  From there we proceeded to have a 5 minute conversation about how even if we don't know where we're going with a project, if we just start it, no matter how small a start it is, the direction of the project unfolds in the mind and it's easier to finish it.  We enjoyed our like-mindedness on this topic until he departed.

Now my coworker, who is in the very next cube to me, definitely does not have a hearing problem.  She also was not excluded from this conversation despite her silence during the actual discourse between me and my boss.  After my boss left the area, for some mysterious reason, she chose to say to me, "well, I think starting is the hardest part".  

I have no response to this.  The nicest thing I can muster out of my vocal chords at this point is "mmm".  You see, in my head I'm saying, "Really?!  Why that's a fascinating and original observation!  How insightful of you!  Why didn't I think of that"?

Friday, August 21, 2009

What He Said

I know, I'm delinquent.  I have no pictures to show for it, as I am apparently a technilogical dunce.  The good thing about a lack of education, though, is that it can be corrected.  It takes time, but it can be done.  Stay tuned on that front.

In the mean time, I ran across this interesting post at a blog called Happiness In This World.  He's a physician... although apparently a Buddhist physician.  (Does that mean he chants people to health, or that he happens to like to chant - oh and he gets people healthy too.  Hmmm.)  In any case, he has one of the most thought out discussions on the topic of health care reform that truly is non-partisan.  It's a lengthy post and he openly admits there's plenty more that could be and should be discussed, but it really does just speak to the problem.  Brilliant.  He can chant me to health any time.

Favorite quote from his post:  "Albert Einstein is reputed to have said that if he had an hour to save the world he’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only 5 minutes solving it."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Can You Believe It?

How did a week get away from me so quickly?  

I am very sorry dear readers for not keeping up as diligently as I should have.  Life goes so fast, and my house is a mess, by my standards, and I've been working so hard at trying to get that all in order so I can be free to write, and really I've been stalling a bit because I want to start adding some photographs to this little blog that I write.  Wouldn't you like it better if I had some nice pictures?  So that's really why I haven't been writing.  I'm taking photos.

Do you believe that?  

I do want to put photos online.  I will.  But I haven't actually been taking any recently.  But if you believe that I have and I do intend to take them, is it that bad of a lie?

There are a lot of things going on lately that I feel are perhaps mostly accurate, or have the right feeling behind it, but they probably aren't quite right.  How close is close enough?

My husband sent me this, which he found on the Wall Street Journal website available for download:
This is the police report filed in the arrest of Henry Gates.  (You can find anything on the web, can't you?  How scary is that?)  That police officer sounds so calm in the face of adversity.  He sounded so unduly abused in this report.  And certainly he is trained to respond properly in such situations, but I'm sure he wasn't quite the angel he appeared to be.  I imagine where the officer reports "When Gates asked a third time for my name, I explained to him that I had provided it at his request two separate times.  Gates continued to yell at me.  I told Gates that I was leaving his residence and that if he had any other questions regarding the matter, I would speak with him outside of the residence." - it maybe just possibly went something more like:

"I want your name and badge number!"
"I gave it to you twice already!  You didn't listen to me then either!"
"I want your name and I want your badge number now!  I'm gonna report you and make your life miserable!!  I'm very important!  I pay your salary!  (Blah blah blah!)"
"Look, I'm done here.  If you have anything more to say to me we can take it outside?!  We can talk about how much more important you are there, tough guy!"

Ok.  I'm sure it didn't go like that either, but nobody responds to an irate man by saying, "I am leaving your residence now.  If you have any further questions, I am available to speak with you outside." Make no mistake, based on my limited knowledge of the situation and people and life in general, I personally am siding with the officers here.  (I'm sure they feel much better knowing the Garbage Soup lady is on their side).  But when given any one side of a story, do you believe it?

Or how about our Birther issue?  Apparently Hawaii and the White House are being inundated with requests for Obama's birth certificate.

This amuses me.  Not because I like to witness or cause trouble, although there's something kind of satisfying about being bad without actually.. well,.. being bad.  This amuses me because I'm pleased to know that this hasn't slipped through the cracks like so many things can when a politician is perceived as some sort of society darling.

This image of the short form of Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate is all over the web.  Birthers believe it's a fake.  Hawaiian and White House officials can't seem to verify its accuracy enough to satisfy the multitudes of people who are questioning it.  And the question continues to pop up again and again. has even done some research and concluded that Obama was indeed born in the USA.  I'm a fan of  I visit this site fairly often during elections.  So based on this I give up my pseudo-birther status and say, OK.  I believe it.  But do you believe it?  Could it be a fake?  Sure it could.  If you're important enough I'm sure you could have all sorts of documents authentically (re)produced.

Maybe John Campbell and his fellow Congressmen have it right sponsoring a bill to require future presidential candidates to produce birth certificates.  Frankly I didn't know this wasn't already done.  

The real issue in all this, as far as I can see, is why wouldn't Obama release the long form of his birth certificate?  Of course it won't stop some people from charging forward with their claims that it's a fake.  There will always be doubters, but I imagine it would quiet a decent amount of people.  Isn't peace the goal here?  Wouldn't you want more peace in the country you're leading?  What advantage does Obama gain with the amount of turmoil being created by this?  News reports are covering it, radio, internet is buzzing over this, the court systems are being tied up with law suits over it, Congress is even spending time on it and other legislative branches have to spend time defending it.  There's quite a bit of money in this country being tied up in Obama's birth certificate.  And yet it still is not seemingly important enough for our president to take the five minutes to address it.  Does that not seem odd to anyone else?

Has anyone else noticed how much President Obama encourages chaos and turmoil?  Economic and ecologic fear-mongering, letting critical issues go unresolved, apologies to foreign leaders for being Americans which only serve to acknowledge that we must be bad bad people and deserve punishment.  I have moments where I feel like Obama is hoping we are attacked.  I'm sure I could weave a web of speculation that included a plan by our great President to encourage deserters and weaken our defenses, tie up resources and focus on the ecology and the economy, which would only interfere with it's natural ability to correct itself and depress both, and encourage an attack by a lesser country.  All this could either be for the purpose of destroying America if he really is the Kenyan born Muslim that conspiracy theorists believe or 
to be able to use this weaken the people in brainwash them into thinking a military state is the only way out of this mess.  

I don't really believe that either (unless I'm having a fit of paranoia in the middle of a sleepless night).  What I do believe is that President Obama is a very inexperienced politician who didn't participate much in his role as a Senator either, and now he hasn't a clue as to what's what, since he wouldn't even accept a proper briefing from the previous President of the country and his staff.  

What do you believe?

While you're all thinking about that, I'll be taking more pictures. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Procrastination as easy as 1,2...

It seems that a fair number of my favorite blogs are talking about procrastination today.  I am an expert on this subject and feel I would be remiss not to share my knowledge with the gentlereaders out there.  

Let me start by addressing all those naysayers who claim that productivity is really the desirable goal.  


Unfortunately I doubt a productive person would understand the compelling argument of the "pfft", so I'm sure I'll have to spell this out for them.  Productivity is a fine trait for the common man.  It is the working man's bread and butter, and contains intrinsic value as any decent virtue does.  Procrastination is an artform zen-like in nature.  The more you work at it, the more elusive it seems.  If one can allow the spirit of procrastination to come through them, it becomes as natural as breathing, and in many years time, the student of procrastination becomes a master and thought is no longer necessary to practice their craft.  

I humbly tell you, gentlereader, that I have become a grandmaster of procrastination.  Do not gape in admiration, for I'm here to tell you that if I can do it, so can you.  While difficult to express that which is no longer given a thought in my mind, I will attempt to teach you too how to "be" the procrastination.  I think the easiest way to do this is by example.  Here are a few examples of how to combat the droll instructions of the productivist.  

zenhabits offers a list of ways to be productive.  Let me offer my own response to a few of their "ways".  

The Productivist Says:
Focus for five minutes.  The hardest part is getting started.  If you can commit to focusing on a project for five minutes, you will often find that when that first five minutes is up you'll feel like you can continue on with  your project for another 5 or 15 or 20 minutes.

The Procrastinator Says:
That's a great idea.  I'll just finish up this blog post and maybe do that after dinner some time.

The Productivist Says:
Decide on the next action.  When faced with an intimidating task, break it down into small specific chunks to tackle.

The Procrastinator Says:
Oh goody!  I love making lists!  I'll break it all down and put it in Excel and make a pretty chart because pretty things make me happy.  I'll need to attach it to my email so I can access it wherever I am and tackle something when the mood is right.  Of course then I'll need to update it.  Although my first list is a little outdated at this point, I should reorganize my list...

The Productivist Says:
Play let's make a deal.  Make a promise to yourself that if you do some work on an item you'll give yourself a reward.  

The Procrastinator Says:
I did five minutes of work.  I can reward myself with 5o minutes of tv.  (a master procrastinator rewards themselves with 5 hours of movie marathoning.  A grandmaster procrastinator rewards themselves with 5 days of reading productivity posts).

It may take some getting used to, but with time you'll find your procrastination skills become more and more fine tuned.  I do encourage you to view the full post on zenhabits to see how the other half live.  You'll want to gain a better understanding of what we are up against.  As a fine young G.I once said, "Knowing is half the battle".    

Friday, July 17, 2009

What's a "Birther"?

It turns out a "birther" is someone who doesn't believe Barack Obama is the true president of the United States because they believe he is not a natural born citizen.  They question the authenticity of the short form of the Hawaiian birth certificate he produced during his presidential campaign.  

This is what I learned while researching the story my boss told me about yesterday.  The story is that Army reservist Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook filed a lawsuit against President Obama, arguing that Obama has no authority to deploy him to Iraq because he is not our president, and therefore it would be illegal for Cook to follow his orders.  It's an interesting argument implying that anyone in the armed services following such orders could potentially be tried as war criminals.  

Things look particularly bad for Obama's case because the Army responded by revoking Cook's deployment.  When I initially heard about this, I considered forwarding it to friends and family in the armed services and suggesting they consider following suit to see if we could force the issue to be settled once and for all.  Even if they couldn't afford to file their own suit, they might be able to contact Cook's lawyer, Orly Taitz, and see if he'd be interested in taking on similar cases or a class action suit pro bono.  

But the story is rarely ever black and white, and this one seems to be no exception to the rule.  I chose the link that I did because it felt fairly unbiased and linked to a number of other reports on the subject.  There is some question about Mr. Cook's backstory.  Was he called to duty through a (relatively) natural course of events or did he volunteer for duty just so that he could file a lawsuit?  Was this a defensive or an offensive move?  Is he a concerned average joe or a "right wing-nut"?  

If he is indeed a concerned average Joe, why let this be such a big deal?  Why not just dig up a long-form birth certificate, settle the matter, and move on?  

If he is a wing-nut, why give him the satisfaction of a legitimate response.  He's obviously going to be an ongoing problem and stir up trouble when and where you don't need it regardless of the answer.  

I do want a response from my president.  I'm an American and I believe we are innocent until proven guilty, so I will call Obama "President" out of respect.  I simply would like that respect reciprocated with an honest and sincere response to the question of his birthplace.  His lack of attention to legitimate inquiry in this matter implicates him as being fraudulent.  However, while I am glad to hear that there are people who are not willing to let things slide that shouldn't, I'm also not so sure I want Maj. Cook to be my front man either.  The words "unlawful entrapment" come to mind and that's not something that I want anyone that I care about associated with.

So perhaps not a call to action in this post, but a call to be vigilant.  A call to keep questioning.  

I do hope and pray that President Obama will do right by this country.  I want him to succeed.  I hope he does the right thing.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Coburn Report

Yay, Senator Coburn!  My husband forwarded me an article from the Wall Street Journal about this senator from Oklahoma who I believe has the right idea.  Even more brilliant is the fact that he is a doctor and challenging the proposed new health care system.  Ah.  Maybe we can trust a doctor to talk about the health care system.  I certainly wouldn't trust a pilot to tell me how to reform health care.

This universal health care systems scares me in one of the worst ways.  What scares me most is the number of people who think it works so wonderfully in the countries who already implement this type of health care.  Make no mistake - the United States has some of the best physicians in the world.  Many of the wealthier people in the afore-mentioned countries come here to take advantage of our superior health care.  We have some of the best health opportunities in the world because of competition which results from a capitalistic environment.  Only in a capitalistic environment is there so great an incentive to improve your craft and be better than the next guy.  A philanthropic heart helps too, but don't underestimate the ability to pay ones own bills, plus have a little extra to go on a nice vacation.

My boss loves to tell a story about a recent visit to Eastern Canada.  His tour guide glowed about how good the health care is in her area giving the example that her mother needed a stint and she only had to wait a month to get it.  Really?!  

My family used to take a week-long ski trip in Montreal, and everyone in our group knew that if you needed medical attention you'd better hope it could wait until we got back home to the States because the medical care is so notoriously slow and poor in Canada.  

I tried to explain all this to my coworker yesterday who looked lost as he asked "But I thought they were suppose to have great health care?  It's suppose to be free and everyone has it".  Yes.  Everyone has it.  Yes.  It's free.  But this is a situation where you get what you paid for.  What incentive does a doctor have to work in a system that binds your hands every time you turn around.  They'll decide who is entitled to what drugs and what care they get.  Do you want a politician be involved with determining if you are entitled to certain treatment.  I hope you're not a smoker, or heaven forbid you're an older person.  Do these supporters of a Universal Health Care plan realize that in Great Britain there are some cancer drugs that are simply not available to patients there because of cost?  

Let me clarify.  The current health care system in the U.S. is not perfect.  It needs help.  It needs change.  Most of this change is necessary because of the burdens that have already been placed on it by the none other than - our government.  And let's not turn a blind eye to the overburdening of the system by malpractice suits.  This has a lot to do with why doctors' fees are so high.  The insurance required to be a doctor due to these rampant lawsuits has reached outlandish proportions.  Can we do something about that, or have the trial lawyers invested too much in our politicians for them to speak up?  Sokolove got your tongue?

I could write for days and days about this, but I need to limit my ranting time.  After all, I'm the mother of that very adorable little boy featured here.  I've got stuff to do.

But stay tuned.  I have an interesting proposition coming for anyone with military connections.  I need to do some more research on an interesting tidbit I heard today in the office.  There's nothing worse than a call to action based on an "I heard from someone who read somewhere and I think we should all start a riot over it".  It still may not come through much better than that, but I'll try.

Until then... don't let anyone spoonfeed you information.  If something sounds good, it's Ok to say "yeah, that sounds like a great idea", but look into it.  Make sure you're not giving your constitutional rights away over a good sounding idea.  Do your homework.  It's terribly tedious, but the alternatives are quite a bit worse.

Monday, July 13, 2009


"As long as there is democracy, there will be people wanting to play jazz because nothing else will ever so perfectly capture the democratic process in sound. Jazz means working things out musically with other people. You have to listen to other musicians
and play with them even if you don’t agree with what they’re playing."  ~Wynton Marsalis

I love jazz.  And this quote is brilliant, no?  Democracy has a lot to do with our listening skills.  There seems to be so little listening these days in government.  It's so much more about personal agendas.  

Hmm...  I wonder how well I listen.

Long live jazz.

Long live democracy.