Archive for words

A Light Year Has Passed.

It’s been over a year and a half since I last blogged.

I’ve been depressed…I’ve been busy.  But most of all, I’ve been a bit lazy.

And don’t forget, a little paranoid, too.  The NSA’s data collection machine still keeps churning these minor blogs and websites in order to analyze us, and add more details to the massive files that Big Brother Sam–erm, UNCLE Sam has on all of us.

I don’t use Twitter anymore.  I don’t touch my Facebook if I don’t absolutely have to.

But…maybe here, I’ll drop a few tidbits of my self in order for the government Spy-ders (get it?) to pick up, and add to my ongoing file of anti-government, delusional, and conspiracy-theorist ramblings.

For example, recently, I had a conversation with a counselor about some deep-seeded Irrational Beliefs. And she gave me some papers to peruse. Here are a few interesting examples, taken from a book by Albert Ellis. Ten irrational beliefs:

1. It is a dire necessity for an adult to be loved or approved by almost everyone for virtually everything he or she does.

I mostly disagree with this one. However, I do believe that is a necessity to be loved…at least by someone, somewhere, some times. We need love in our Human experience, just as desperately as we need food to eat and water to drink. And the consequence of starvation of love is even more devastating than the consequence of dying of thirst or hunger. This fact can be seen in every broken home, every orphanage, and in every murder trial in the American courts to this day. When we are unloved, we don’t just die–and we do die, just a little inside–but we often take the lives or happiness of others with us when we break down. Lack of love can be truly devastating.

2. One should be thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving in all possible respects.

No. Each of us have our gifts, and each of us have our own areas in which our strengths may shine. It would be wrong for a person strive to excel in an area for which his abilities are unsuited. Each person should strive to find the things that they are good at, where their talents and gifts make it easy to be competent, and thus they may achieve excellence and success. Not everyone can be a master in the arts, or an Olympic athlete, or an astronaut. But EVERYONE CAN EXCEL IN GLORY–in the field in which they are gifted. And every one of has Gifts.

3. Certain people are bad, wicked, or villainous, and they should be severely blamed and punished for their sins.

Now here’s a controversy. The real truth is that EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US ON EARTH at one time or another are bad. And each one will be judged!For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God….” That just doesn’t leave anyone out, here! But, fortunately, we don’t have to be punished after our judgement…if we accept the Salvation of the Blood of Jesus Christ. I wish more people could understand the nature of sin, and the drives hardwired within each and every one of us that push us to rebel, reject authority, and ultimately make us bad, wicked or villainous–even the “good” people. For true “Goodness” isn’t found in the wealthy Philanthropists who build libraries and hospitals, but in the heart of every man or woman who makes the decision to stop hating, and just give a damn, even for a moment, about the people in need of a smile close at hand. Even a gentle reminder that somebody else cares, is enough to make the difference between a “villain” and a hero, in the heart of somebody having a bad day.

4. It is terrible, horrible, and catastrophic when things are not going the way one would like them to go.

Well…it is! I mean, for that brief moment when something goes wrong, it can be the worst thing to happen in the World! At least, in that tiny space in the World where you were trying to succeed. But…then you move on. You see, the difference here is that a person shouldn’t continue to dwell on a failure–we all fail in many ways all of the time, and bad things happen. Period. So, instead of dwelling on how catastrophic things are, I try to figure out how to correct whatever may be going wrong, and if I can’t do that, then I go and do something else instead. Even if I can’t get my way…I’ll try to get whatever I can. Then I’ll try to be satisfied with a world where only a few things can go my way.

5. Human happiness is externally caused, and people have little or no ability to control their sorrows or rid themselves of negative feelings.

Sadly, this more often true than not. We are all affected by the actions of others, even if some of us are better prepared to endure and/or resist this than others. Words hurt, and whether they lead to broken bones and bodies or not, we all internalize what other people do to us–or fail to do. That’s why it is so desperately important that everyone tries to be compassionate and caring to others in everything we do. Giving another person hope can actually cause them to offer hope and love to many others, and ultimately that love spreads through a community like this one, until we ourselves are feeling the same love and joy being given back to us. And although we have a great deal of control over our own thoughts and actions, how we are treated forms the very basis of who and what we are! As a wise man on Television once said, “We are all the sum of our tears….” And in order to rid ourselves of negative feelings, we must rid ourselves of negative actions. For this is what will ultimately come back upon us, and ultimately…make us feel bad.

6. If something is or may be dangerous or fearsome, one should be terribly occupied and upset about it.

No, I disagree. Yet, that seems to be the entire philosophy of government institutions like the FDA and NTSB. But the reality is, people die. People get sick and injured. And no amount of worry will stop it, and very few of our efforts will do anything to minimize or mitigate it. Simple common sense, in my humble opinion, is the only possible answer to danger and risk. Obviously, jumping off a perfectly good cliff or building is going to endanger a person’s life and health, even with a wingsuit and parachute properly packed. But simple steps can improve our health–like washing hands, fully cooking food, and looking both ways at an intersection. Fear and worry are not the answer to danger–action and vigilance are. It makes less sense to rip out all of the tall metal playground equipment that “might” hurt a few children every year, than it does to teach these children to be careful so that they won’t get hurt! After all…keeping kids safe WILL NOT teach them how to be safe when they’re old, and have nobody but a Government Agency around to protect them from their own ignorance. Think first! Then you can deal with life’s dangers….

7. It is easier to avoid facing many life difficulties and self-responsibilities than to take more rewarding forms of self-discipline.

Of course it is! It is always easier to do nothing. That’s one of the basic problems that I have, in fact. But just because it is easier, that doesn’t mean that it’s better. Far better–though more difficult–to lift a finger, and get things done. Personally, I think we all face the specter of “I don’t wanna!” when it comes time to do the things that we know we really ought to do. It’s a basic part of Human nature. But success cannot walk hand-in-hand with laziness. Sooner, or later, we have to face our responsibilities, and do those things we might want to just put off, or even forget about. Or else, we just have to live with the consequences of not doing whatever it was we needed to do. And as I can attest first hand, it is better to do what I need to do, and get it out of my way, than to live with the consequences. It is more rewarding, and ultimately better. But no…it is never easier.

8. The past is all-important, and because something once strongly affected one’s life, it should indefinitely do so.

The past is who we are. Everything that touches us, from a mother’s touch, to biting words of hate, are a part of us, this is inextricable. But our actions are as important as our experiences, and we alone have the power to choose how we will react to–and ultimately process–the things that are done to us. It’s not a question of whether strong experiences will influence our future: They will! But we have as much say over what we will choose to become as the words of our friends and our enemies; because, remember, our actions are also experiences! We can act in any manner we choose, and in so doing, we can shape our own experiences; and these experiences, too, become a part of who and what we are! So in the end…we are a player in our own history, and probably the single strongest influence on who we really want to be.

9. People and things should be different than they are, and it is catastrophic if perfect to the grim realities of life are not immediately found.

Wow. I could probably write a book on the human catastrophe we are living in to this day. Maybe one day, I will. And, my God…the more I read this, the more true it seems to be! People and things really should be different than they are now; and the way things are, in this country in particular, really does fit the description of a catastrophe, in my opinion. And “perfection” is nowhere to be found. Oh, sure, I can find a bit of happiness every once in a while…but I never fail to be inundated with the stories of how bad things are, especially for my friends and neighbors. So while it’s not a personal catastrophe that people are raping and murdering each other in Chicago, or that the jobs are gone, or that men are violating Leviticus chapter 20 in San Francisco, or that another plane crashed, or a terrorist shot some people…well, it is catastrophe, and it’s a world-wide catastrophe at that! A singular and ubiquitous catastrophe called Sin. And I know, because I’ve seen it unfold, that the only way to stop this catastrophe, will come when Jesus Christ Himself sets his foot down on the Mount of Olives, and this hardwired drive in all of us to rebel, to separate, and to hurt and dominate others is removed from every living Human heart. Because only then…people will be different.

10. Maximum human happiness can be achieved by inertia and inaction, or by passively “enjoying oneself”.

Definitely not. Happiness requires exertion, that’s all there is to it. Each and every form of enjoyment I know about is an action, or part of an action, from playing sports to engaging in sex. Even typing on this keyboard, or lifting up a bottle of beer with friends is exertion. There is no “inertia” in joy. Passive action is empty–a strait face–never a smile. And, by inference, if we wish to achieve “Maximum human happiness”, we must deliver such happiness–through our actions! As humans, we have the power to make each other happy. But that doesn’t do anything if we just “leave each other alone.” The truth is, being alone can be one of the most unhappy experiences on Earth. So, to be happy, we get together. We act–together. And together–we achieve a state of Happiness. And so, in this, too, I could write a book on the ways in which we can act to produce “human happiness.” Perhaps someday, I will.

 

On a followup meeting, I was given a personality assessment, with the following results:

ISTP

Oh, yeah! That tells you everything you need to know about me. Uh, hum…sure it does. But I’ll explain it to you, before I go any further. The code means that I am Introverted, I rely on my Senses, I am Technically minded, and that I primarily choose to Perceive the world as it happens.

This is based on four scales that Psychologists use to analyze personalities. The first scale is Introversion versus Extroversion–the matter of looking inward for my sense of self, rather than outward. I’ll get back to that one; but the others are Senses versus iNtuition (they use the second letter to avoid confusion), Thinking versus Feeling, and Perceiving versus Judging. So, with four different scales, Psychologists can group people into sixteen different personality groups. But…there’s more to that scale than this. You see, I rated precisely 50% on the I/E part of the scale. That means that approximately 50% of the Human population is more extraverted than me…but then, again, 49% is more introverted! Yes, that puts me literally right on the borderline between inwardly seeing who and what I am, and outwardly projecting who I am! Neither introvert, nor extravert, or…more precisely, literally both! But also, I have a wide range across the Sensing/iNtuition scale, as–while I rely very strongly on my physical senses to understand the world, and my place within it, I also have a strong sense of intuition that I use–a sixth sense, as it were–to augment my sense of reality, yet be able to think beyond the physical limitations of what my other senses tell me. In a way, that helps me build a sense of the real world that is even more substantial than the physical brick, steel, glass, and asphalt that largely makes up this city of two to three hundred thousand. The only firm constants in this range is that I rely on Thoughts, and logical rationality rather than feelings and emotions, and I am more inclined to Perceive and observe the world, rather than to judge and arrange it.

So…here are some of the listed weaknesses–and the advice given to overcome those–for, really, all of my personality ranges, ISTP, ESTP, ENTP, and INTP.

 

For ISTP, the following problems emerge:

●          The ISTP gets “stuck in a rut” and only does those things that are known and comfortable to the ISTP.

●          The ISTP resists and rejects anything that doesn’t support their own experiential understanding of the world. If there is a conflict between their own way of life and something that they encounter, they don’t perceive that “something” in an objective sense. Rather, they reject it to avoid conflict and to preserve the sanctity of their inner world.

●          They choose to surround themselves with people who support their own way of life, and reject people who think or live differently.

●          They may become overly paranoid about social organizations and institutions trying to control them.

●          They may unknowingly or uncaringly hurt people’s feelings.

●          They may be completely unaware of how to express their inner world to others in a meaningful way.

●          They may be completely unaware of the type of communication that is often desireable and (to some degree) expected in an intimate relationship. If they are aware of the kinds of things that are appropriate to say and do to foster emotional bonding, they may be unable to appreciate the value of such actions. They may feel too vulnerable to express themselves in this fashion, and so reject the entire idea.

●          If pushed beyond their comfort level to form commitments or emotional bonds, they may reject a relationship entirely.

●          Under stress, they may show intense emotions that seem disproportionate to the situation.

 

To deal with those…I am given the following advice. These statements, and my responses to them:

 

Feed Your Strengths!

Come on! That’s good advice for anybody!

Face Your Weaknesses!

Ditto….

Talk About Your Thoughts.

Easy enough for a man who’s life is literally made up of Thought.

Don’t Be Afraid to Love.

Actually…I’m not. But…I’ll get into that in the next section of my Personality.

Respect Your Need for Action.

Now that can be hard. I’m somewhat lazy, and even though I “Need” to get up and accomplish something, I often find myself reluctant to do so.

Recognize Social Principles.

Like…my social principles? It can be very hard to navigate the unspoken rules and protocols in social communication and cooperation.

It’s OK to Get Out of your Comfort Zone.

True. But it isn’t always easy.

Identify and Express Your Feelings.

I find that very hard, especially when I often find, in regard to many subjects, I have no feelings. Expressing my lack of empathy can, in itself, cause more problems than it solves.

Be Aware of Others.

There are two sides to this. Being aware that they are standing right there is easy for me. Obstacles form part of my hard reality, and must be accounted for. Being aware of the feelings of others is much harder for me, as I often fail to recognize social cues and facial expressions.

Assume the Best.

I can only assume both good and bad will occur at one time or other. While I always hope for the best, I know the worst is out there…waiting.

ENTP

My second strongest personality mode, revealed on a followup test when I returned home, primarily emerges when I am alone…in a world of familiar items and sensations, disturbed only by my own thoughts, the Internet, and…perhaps sometimes, my own loneliness. This is where my iNtuition shines brightly, and my thoughts turn to others–around me, or around the world–across that “border” into Extroversion.

 

For ENTP, the following problems emerge:

●          The inability to maintain a comfortable situation or relationship once its possibilities have been realized or exhausted.

●          A tendency to consider careful or meticulous thinkers as unworthy plodders or time wasters.

●          Blindness to the needs and feelings of others not directly involved in the ENTP’s current area of interest.

●          A lack of sensitivity to the feelings and ways of those who might need reassurance, security or commitment.

●          The inability to deal carefully and calmly with the finer details of a situation or work in progress.

●          Tendency to become overly annoyed by minor setbacks or small things that have to be set right before the goal can be realized.

●          A tendency to be arrogant or boastful, or to demean those who cannot see the same answers.

●          Can often find themselves in bad situations by too quickly taking a big step forward or by being “too smart for their own good”.

 

Notice here, that some of the “weaknesses” of an ENTP are actually the opposite of those for an ISTP? In both cases, I’d realized immediately that I didn’t really have these problems, or that they came up at a far lesser interval for me than for a strong ISTP or ENTP personality–a blessing, I suppose, for having a personality range that encompasses both sides of the Introvert/Extravert and Sensing/iNtuition divisions. To solve problems caused by inward thinking, I just slip over to outward thinking, and vice versa. By combining my senses with my intuition, I emerge with a fuller picture of my world than either component can present on its own.

 

The advice given for an ENTP, as well as my responses, are:

 

Feed Your Strengths!

Wow! Haven’t I read that somewhere before?

Face Your Weaknesses!

Again! Like I said…these are good advice for anyone…of any personality.

Talk Through Your Perceptions.

Yes. It’s sometimes the only way to make sense of them. That’s one of the reasons I blog.

Relax and Enjoy the View.

When the view is enjoyable. I do not enjoy suffering, especially the suffering of others.

Be Aware of Others.

As above…so here. I struggle with this.

Recognize Norms and Structures Are Necessary.

Necessary though they may be, they are not always good, nor are all of then good for us. I believe in Truth and Right, and many of the standards of social interaction and conformity are anything but.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone.

I do, when I can. But it isn’t easy.

Identify and Express Your Feelings.

Hard. Sometimes, that’s real hard.

Be Accountable for Yourself.

I will account for my actions. Or, I will be held accountable for them. That’s a basic tenet of the reality I live in.

Assume the Best, But Be Wary.

Now this, at least, includes the realism aspect that I depend on. Reality often sucks, and we cannot depend on “happy endings.” Only endings.

ESTP

Like ISTP, many of the same problems emerge, although some are resolved or mitigated by my broad personality range:

 

●          Can become morose or even antagonistic in situations offering little promise of advantage or the possibility to “do something.”

●          May be manipulative, taking advantage of other people’s weaknesses for their own gain.

●          May be unwilling or unable to plan anything in advance themselves, or to follow other’s careful plans.

●          Can be overconfident of their own cunning or ability, ignoring problems which eventually catch up with them on their blind side.

●          May find it difficult or be actually unwilling to follow through where an ongoing commitment is expected.

●          In relationship situations may be overbearing, demanding and/or uncaring of the feelings of their partner.

●          When alone or in reduced circumstances may be subject to dark or morbid feelings about themselves.

●          May be unable to maintain employment for any length of time, losing credibility with potential employers or clients by job hopping.

●          May become so engrossed in challenging activities that they lose all sense of proportion, neglecting themselves and their relationships.

●          Without challenges of their own, may become focused on the behavior of others, particularly that of family or employees, insisting that they live up to what the ESTP sees as the proper code or level of accomplishment.

 

As can be seen, most of the problems I face stem from my inability to feel, or from my unwillingness to plan and organize, rather than to passively Perceive. I am a Thoughtful Observer in this life, much more than a doer. So, here is the advice for ESTP, and my responses:

 

Feed Your Strengths!

Wow! Haven’t I read that somewh–

Yeah. And so I’m just gonna skip the ones that came up in the other two personality types.

Don’t Be Afraid to Show Emotion.

This is kind of like the version under ISTP, but as I have a wide range, I also do show emotion, even tears. And I’m not afraid to love–if it’s the right kind of love…with the right kind of person.

Recognize the Differences in Others.

I find it very easy to recognize that others are different from me…because I am so different. I have always been a person set apart from others, not only by my personality, but by my disorders, as well.

Be Aware that You can Fail, and that it is OK.

NOOOOOOOOO!!!

Oh, um…yeah, that’s fine. Of course I’m gonna fail! I’m human. Duh….

INTP

This is where my personality rests a great deal of the time. When I’m alone. When I contemplate my aloneness. When I contemplate myself. When I contemplate the universe…and it’s relationship to myself. And it is always here that I interact with God. Because God speaks to me from within. And because it requires intuition to be able to hear His voice at all. This is the personality of my Prayers.

All of the problems and advice given for the other three are either addressed, or not relevant–except one:

 

Listen to Everything.

Of all the advice given so far, I’d like to think this is the one I live by the most strongly. I listen to everything I can; then try to merge what I can confirm into a holistic world view.

This is who I am. This…is what I do.

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A Response to Anger Management – or – What is Self-Worth…WORTH?

So, here I am…back to Blogging.

The SASS is Back.

Today, I attended a class on Anger Management, and our instructors went over the “A B C D”s of anger events. Now, I’m attending this class, not because I necessarily need it, but…well, it’s free for me, and it couldn’t hurt…and it could even help me become a more even-tempered person than I am.

So…. Our instructor presented a few scenarios in which anger might result. Let’s say, for example, I call up my good friend(s), and ask if I can hang out for a while. Well, my friend is busy. He can’t hang out with me. How does this affect me? Maybe I’m put off. I feel rejected. I think my friend has his priorities wrong. Or maybe, I just feel that I am worth LESS to my friend than…whatever it is that certain friend is doing.

And therein lies the seed of feeling “Worthless”…feeling rejected, snubbed, and lonely; this can lead to anger; and this (taken to extremes) could even lead me to going postal on an innocent parking meter somewhere! (Okay, no, not really….)

But more importantly, this scenario points up a few areas of false thinking that are taking place. One is that a friend “Values” someone or some thing more than me. Another is that the friend has (intentionally or not) snubbed me in favor of his current plans. Unfortunately, I’ve actually been on the receiving end, where this latter was actually the case. But then, those were never really friendships in the first place; and the ones who’ve done that to me generally have no desire to have anything to do with me to begin with.

And still an even more damaging false thinking is that my “worth” is somehow tied to anything my friend (or enemies, or acquaintances, or anyone else either, for that matter) says or does when I happen to want a few hours of pleasant company. It’s this very false thinking, in fact, that can lead to depression and suicide, as well as anger and domestic or workplace violence, stupid reckless behavior, drug and alcohol dependence, and innumerable encounters with the long arm of the law. All because our “Worth” is measured by outside forces, such as a friend’s current plans for the day.

Interestingly, our instructors gave us a variation on that scenario: say for example her daughter was sick and needed to be rushed to the Emergency room, just as her friend calls and wants to go shopping at the mall. Now, we can understand, the friend is lonely and needs company; but I think we can all agree that the child is much more important. Not only is the illness a very urgent situation, but (I certainly hope) most or all of us would readily put our kids ahead of our friends and acquaintances! But the point that struck me in this example was that the child’s NEED was greater!

Here is a variable that not many people think about when they try to balance the relationships and situations in their lives! What needs more attention? Will that friend die, if he/she doesn’t get to go to the mall and check out the latest fashion trends? Probably not! Unless they’re suicidal; and then maybe a hospital stay might be a better solution for the friend, also. But the sick and suffering child is in a life threatening circumstance-immediate, and desperate. The needs of that child very obviously outweigh the needs of that lonely friend.

In fact, in this past week, I have personally experienced the calculated weight of a variable need. Somewhere around Saturday night, I slept wrong, and hurt my back. I was in excruciating pain all weekend, and even part of Monday. On Sunday morning, a friend of mine called me, with an emergency. His cat was ailing, and he needed a ride to the Pet Emergency Center here in town. Without a thought, I knew that the need of this friend (and his cat) for emergency care was greater than my need for rest and recuperation. I jumped out of bed (screaming as I did so, incidentally), dressed, and crawled painfully into my car to rescue my friend and his poor ailing cat.

Sadly, the kitty was too sick to save without spending nearly $3,000 or more on treatments (The price of a used car, in fact!) and my friend had to have her put to sleep, instead. I comforted him as well as I could…(without being touchy-feely, of course), and I took my friend home to grieve.

Despite the pain I was feeling, my friend’s needs were clearly greater than my own.

But by Monday, I still wasn’t fully recovered. Now…on Mondays, I usually hang out with a group of friends that play Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop role-playing game, that gives each and every one of us a nice break from the harsh reality that most of us face in the rest of our daily lives. And one of those friends faces a very harsh reality, indeed: my friend George is currently staying in the local Hospice House, slowly dying of Cancer. The rest of our group gather with George by the fireplace, and there we live out a fantasy of epic adventure slaying dragons and rescuing fair damsels, all while forgetting-just for a while-how sad and lonely the rest of our lives can get. But remember…I was still in pain, and needed to recover, myself. So…I called up each of my friends, and I apologized that I wouldn’t be able to join them; and I made a special point to call George, and apologize to him and wish him well. Then…I laid back down in bed.

You see, in this case, my needs were greater. I’m feeling much better, now.

And this has given me a much better perspective on the way people interact with one another! You see, most people only think about what they, themselves, are feeling about a given situation or event. Yes, they may consider the feelings of others, or try to see their point of view; or, they may try to intercept their path to anger through a number of different techniques; but is it possible they may actually be missing the entire point altogether? What if, instead of an emotional reaction…we were to consider the needs of ourselves and that person we’re interacting with, and ask, “is his/her need greater than mine?” Maybe the friend in the first scenario isn’t rejecting the offer to hang out because he/she “Values” my friendship less…but because someone or something NEEDS his/her attention more! Thus, my “worth” is not a factor in the friend’s decision, and my Self-Worth is not impaired just because the friend saw to the greater needs in his/her day.

So that’s it! “Count the NEEDS!”

By considering how greater need affects the the actions and decisions of those we interact with, we can remove the stimulation that leads to anger when things don’t go our way, and still enjoy our time with people when things do go our way!

It may be a simple as counting up…what really counts!

——

And speaking of needs…I need to address one other topic that came out of that class today.

While considering scenarios that lead to anger, and the false thinking that may trigger the anger itself, I threw out the scenario of freeway driving. I think we all (those of us who drive, anyway) have experienced an event where someone cuts us off in traffic, or crosses lanes without looking or signaling, or makes rude and obscene gestures, or…any number of other annoying and dangerous acts that it is possible for drivers whom we consider less capable than ourselves to perform.

And…one of the “False Thinking” things that I put up into the discussion was, I often feel that other drivers are…: “STUPID!”

Well…okay, while it is true that not everyone is Stupid…I argued that each and every one of us…ISSTUPID…at one point or another in our lives. YES, NO EXCEPTION, PEOPLE! I even include myself in that description; and upon leaving the class for that day, I lived that very example! I did something stupid while driving.

Now…before I get into how a stupid act becomes “I am stupid”, I ought to explain that, when it comes to language, and the ENGLISH language in particular, I consider myself a PURIST. I use words with their purest, and most undistorted meanings possible. When words become so distorted and polluted that they no longer convey the meaning I need to express…I find clearer words to use!

So, follow, if you will, my use of the term “Stupid.” Stupidity, is both a condition, and an action. If I-or others-perform an action that I consider to be “stupid”, then I am acting “Stupidly.” The condition of acting stupidly is synonymous with the act of “being stupid.” Yes, that is one of the definitions for “stupid” given in any good English dictionary. Therefore…if I am BEING Stupid…it follows (By definition of “IS” and “BE”) that for that brief time, I AM…STUPID! Does it not? Of course it does!

So…by virtue of the very nature of those of us in the Human Race, I postulate that each and every one of us, at one time or another…WAS STUPID!!!

I mean…it’s what we do. I am no exception!

Case in point…upon leaving the class for that day, I lived that very example! I did something stupid while driving. I was waiting to make a left turn onto Sprague Avenue, one of the busiest streets East of downtown Spokane, when I saw a possible opening in the Eastbound traffic. I knew that the light a block West of me was going to change, so…when I saw a small hole in the Westbound lanes, I gunned it! Well, I knew immediately I was being stupid. I mean, the car coming up behind me in the nearest lane couldn’t have been more than a few car lengths from where I crossed over into the outside (far) lane! I’m grateful my car has good acceleration and guts, or I might have caused another Spokane Traffic Statistic! But…he didn’t slam into the back of my bumper; though I probably gave him one hell of a scare. I certainly gave myself one hell of a scare.

What I did…was STUPID. It was reckless, thoughtless, dangerous…and unnecessary. Well, as Forrest Gump said in that famous movie… “Stupid is as stupid does.” And our good English dictionary confirms that it also follows, as stupid does, so stupid is. In that act of careless driving…I was…pretty stupid.

This is what it is to be Human, everyone. We all to stupid things. We also do things that are pretty cleaver at times, too. So I feel justified, in my precise, and unflinching English, to say to you all, that each and every one…at one time, or another…has been stupid, smart, jaded, innocent, obnoxious, helpful, WRONG, (and right, naturally)….and a great many other conditions that really just come with the territory-the condition of being HUMAN!

Really…it’s what we do! I’m right in that boat there with you. No offense implied or intended.

SASS has Spoken.

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The Most Spectacular Misunderstanding…EVER!

Today, while reading my bible—the one with liner notes that help clear up any misconceptions—I noticed something.  A misconception.

Well…first, let me show you what I was reading.  It comes from the Biblical account of the Exodus from Egypt; or more specifically, the chapter in which God introduces himself to Moses—from a burning bush:

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ “

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

~ Exodus 3:13-15 [New International Version]

Okay…so the burning bush story is familiar to most of us who’ve grown up in Western society, even if we’re not all practicing Christians or Fundamental Jews.  As is, of course, the epic crossing of the Red Sea, and the Ten Commandments, and so on.  How is this misunderstood?

Well…take those Ten Commandments.  PLEASE!  Take ’em…you can have—

No, no!  I didn’t mean it like that…seriously!  😉

I meant that, in those Commandments, God has something to say about His name—that’s right, the same name He gave Moses to introduce His Almighty Self to the Israelites:

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

~ Exodus 20:7 – the Fourth Commandment [New International Version]

Notice anything interesting here?  Hmmm?  Not yet?  Well…you will.

You see…in any version, and in nearly every language, God introduces Himself as “I AM”—the present-perfect sense of the verb “to be”.

“Well,” you say, “maybe it’s specifically referring to the Hebrew language word for it?”

Actually, that’s what most people think.  It’s what the Israelites thought.  In conjunction with what the Fourth Commandment told them, they took it so seriously, they stopped using the word.  LITERALLY!  The people of Israel took the Fourth so seriously, they stopped saying “I AM” outside of prayer and worship activities, until the sound of the word itself was lost, and all we have left of the original Hebrew name for God is the four consonants written in the Hebrew scriptures for it: “YHWH”.

Wikipedia has a great article on this Hebrew name for God, including images of that Hebrew script for it.  Regarding their reverence for the name of God, Wikipedia has this to say:

Jews ceased to use the name in the Greco-Roman period, replacing it with the common noun Elohim, “god”, to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel’s God over all others; at the same time, the divine name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered, and was replaced in spoken ritual by the word Adonai (“My Lord”), or with haShem (“the Name”) in everyday speech.

They stopped using it.  The Israelites stopped using “I AM”.  And even today, people are loath to say “God” or “Jehovah” or “Jesus” unless they’re really calm or reverent—or, really, really PISSED!

And that’s the part that I think was a terrible mistake.

You see…I don’t think God made a mistake when he used one of the most ubiquitous and irreplaceable symbols in the Hebrew language system to describe Himself.   He referred to himself as “I am what I am” or, as I prefer from the King James version “I Am THAT I Am”.

Seemingly, God…is equating Himself with Existence itself.

He told Moses “I Am that I am”, and that he could introduce his God simply as “I AM”: I Exist, I Was, I Will Be, and Am Here And Now.  He told them His Name was the same as Existence itself—that everything that is was His, that He made it, owned it, and without Him it wasn’t to be.

God…would “BE”.

In Modern English, we can’t speak at all without using derivatives of the verb “To Be” in our sentences.

Think about it.  Here I am, writing about the name of God, and where would I “be” without that one little word?  I WOULDN’T!  Literally, the opposite of “I AM” is “I AM NOT”—non-existence, nothing, never there.  Without “I AM” I could not communicate my existence, your existence, nor the existence or state of anything in the Human Experience.

God meant to do that.  And He meant us to remember Him whenever we talk about OUR existence, too!

THAT was why He chose such a word.  God never intended Humans to stop saying His name.  He never wanted us to shy away from Him out of reverence, or fear, or shame.  The Fourth Commandment says what it means, and means what it says.  Every single time we speak of our existence, or our state of mind, or our place in the universe—every time we use ANY derivative of “Be”…is, am, are, was, were, will be, couldn’t be, has been…WHATEVER!—we ARE speaking the Proper Name of our God, just as He intended from the beginning!

God’s EXISTENCE  is tied into the very framework of our own!  With that Fourth Commandment, God permanently and explicitly tied reverence to the concept of “Is”, of being, so that whenever we spoke of something that is, we must inevitably think of the Almighty God that made it POSSIBLE for it to be.

His name is “IS”.  “I AM”…I-Exist-And-All-That-Exists-Exists-Because-I-Am.  That is the proper name of God, and this is why I believe Israel—and all the people who followed Israel’s lead on the matter—have mis-interpreted not only the intent of the Fourth Commandment, but have misunderstood the entire meaning of God’s name, and his relationship to Creation.  We can’t “not” use God’s name!  It’s impossible to speak coherently without saying it.  It is impossible to contemplate, without experiencing it.  To be, or not to Be…we can’t without God—and that was the idea.

What a SPECTACULAR misunderstanding!  These people thought the name of their Lord was too precious to speak aloud.

I know now that it is too prescious…NOT to speak it.

I shall speak the name of my Lord—loudly, openly, and proudly.  I shall speak it in every way, each and every day.  And I shall remember this name, and I will keep it always Holy in my heart.  Never will I take existence in vain—mine, nor His.

If I am truly the product of God’s Hand, then here is a lesson not taken lightly.  God commanded me to BE, and created me—a Human “BE”ing

This…is what I Am

SASS has Spoken.

— the SASS Man

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The Ultimate Spam-Filter Avoidance Technique

I’ve finally seen it: the Ultimate Spam-Filter Avoidance Technique.  Today, I got a message in my in-box, big as life, amd it wasn’t even marked as spam.  It read:

                                                     yx 
gb    dy  lz                                        onfy     je       zhmd     dw 
wk    ou                                           jsiudj  ecyi      hs  kp  sqwf 
 fq  qv                                            hxmu      kn          xc    wm 
 jk  jl   eb   ethz    hjlgt  hwpn   hrmi          ptll      fx          lw    dk 
 bk  df   rl      kh  qp  bl  xby       fg          nxye     ig         ud     mv 
  gdxn    rs   rtmjm  ci  ip  rs     objfx  opzoq    yeov    oi        vh      gu 
  ltmo    co  ur  by  kv  he  ch    qx  ic           hspf    fv       gi       mh 
   wc     cb  ep  sw  lr  rz  cd    yl  sp         hxyjxz    hf      wd        qq 
   ei     oc   mcnwk   wdziz  le     jmkpx          gjko     bx  mn  ehqupf    dd 
                          df                         xb 
                      emzzi

Now,  don’t get me wrong, but…if your eyes can see what I can see, you probably already understand the problem.  Spam filters are designed to search through text looking for key words – like viagra, porn and big financial deals – and shuffle the messages off into oblivion.  And, if you look real closely, there’s plenty of text there–lots of it, in fact–all random letters layed out in a nice formatted grid courtessy of “Courier New,” Microsoft’s default Monospaced font.

But what the span filter WON’T see is what your eyes tell you: that this is a sales pitch for that miracle drug that lets men function even when older, failing hardware won’t let them.  And this, of course, is just the start.  I dropped the part that encoded their website address in the same fashion, as well as the snippet from some story or blog post entry that followed it (in a normal font and text size, of course) in order to fool the filter into thinking this was real.

Now, I should tell you, I filter my own spam.  Yes, I have filters on my server(s) mark the spam, but before I get rid of the crap, I like to check it.  It wasn’t from someone I knew, but that wouldn’t have mattered.  I often get messages from people I meet online, or from friends who’ve changed internet providers and so on.  Also, I can generally tell the ones from scammers in South Africa who claim to be needing to use my American bank account(s) to transfer $50,000 to €50 Million out of some defunct corrupt official’s accaounts.  Those people just want an account number so that they can rob my US checking account.  I just forwarded three of those to SPAM@UCE.GOV, the Federal Trade Commission‘s Span Reporting address.

But this … this has to go.  I mean, it’s cool and all … As a geek, I get to point and laugh about how the creative Human Mind can overcome “this Technological Terror they’ve constructed” – one more bit of proof that the computer, while logical and fast, will NEVER be crazier (or better) than us.

But why does it always have to be spammers that figure this stuff out?

 bgjy   jh      lz    rc     qs 
wk  ou  js            dj    ekox 
fq      hx          knthwp  smrn 
 jk     ebthz   hj    lg    okbq 
  jk    rl  kh  qp    bl     wf 
   dx   rs  jm  ci    ip     pl 
    mo  co  by  kv    he     gc 
zf  wc  cb  sw  lr    rz 
 sgul   bw  we  op     mzz   un

SASS has Spoken.

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Wow, I Hit the Big Time!

I just hit the top page of GOOGLE!  I did it with a search for “Eva Cassidy Fact Fable“–which, incidently, was my way of trying to find a video that my employer, Fact & Fable Productions, made as a tribute to Eva Cassidy, using their autumn footage and Eva’s song “Autumn Leaves.”  I put the song up on YouTube, and it has since begun to circumnavigate the virtual globe.

I embedded that YouTube video of “Autumn Leaves” in one of my posts, and Google picked it up.  Now, here’s the interresting part: there are multiple places where a person could find “Autumn Leaves”.  (Our version … done by Fact & Fable Productions, I mean).  Fact & Fable Productions is one of them, in fact … we put up a post on the Fact & Fable News Blog with the same information.  However, it was this very blog that Google caught, and presented to you at the top of the search engine listing.

Now … I doubt I’m considered a popular blog.  In fact, Fact & Fable Productions has a page rank of 2, and my measly little blog doesn’t even rate on Google’s bandwidth yet.  And still it was my copy, my embedded version of Autumn Leaves that Google presented to the world when I searched for it.  Not the F&F News Blog … not even the video on YouTube itself!  Me.

I feel so honored!  Thank you, Google!

SASS has Spoken.

p.s., Incidently, I’ve revisited this post, and my page still turns up at the second entry for the search.  However, now the YouTube page for it is at number one.  That makes alittle more sense now.  I still feel honored to be among such company.

 SASS has Spoken.  Again.

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How big is a Blog?

As a unit of measure, words can often be considered the smallest units of reason. Sure, in the hands of a master orator, a good speech, or a brilliant bit of prose or a poem can change the course of history. A well-crafted song at a critical juncture can mean victory in battle, or start a movement of people that changes everything.

But then, they’re just words … right?

Well, in a 2002 speech by Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Bidden Jr., I was reminded that our founding fathers knew how words could reshape history. Thomas Payne wrote “The Crisis”, a series of pamphlets that supported the Revolutionary War, and legitimized the founding of this nation. And when they wrote the Declaration of Independence … well, I probably don’t have to go into how important that was, seeing as how none of you in America are the future subjects of King Charles, nor pay your taxes to Elizabeth II … at up to 80% of your income, I might add….

This was done with words. Oh, sure, those words were backed up by muskets and cannon, but without the words, who would have raised a pistol or an arrow? And who … without the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. … would have stood up to the national guard in Alabama? Who would have fought for – and changed – the laws that held one segment of our society hostage to the will of another?

Yes, this is the power of words: words make people think. When they think, they change their minds … they take action, and they start talking, and the words change other peoples’ minds. More people acting, and talking, and thinking means the words spread and grow. Soon the words of one or a few people become the ideals of thousands, then tens of thousands, then countless masses. And when the words spread so far that they become the common thought of the people, then, for better, or for worse, history IS changed. When Adolph Hitler said, “It is not truth that matters, but victory,” a nation followed him and led the world into Hell. When John F. Kennedy challenged us “Before this decade is out to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth” we followed him into the modern world.

Indeed, we measure our success by the power – and longevity of our words. How powerful, then, are the works of William Shakesphere? The Gettysburg Address? The Constitution? What is the power of the common Blog? Will it not be a Blog that sparks the next Cultural Revolution, or Civil War, or Human Rights Movement? Is it not the Blogs which have propelled Environmental Awareness into the mainstream? Who among you is the next Martin Luther, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, or Thomas Payne?

What is the Measure of The Common Blog?

I tell you, it is immeasurable.

SASS has Spoken.

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The SASS is Here…

A new day has dawned.

I know that statement is cliche and overused, but every morning it happens again … a brand new day.  And on this particular day, I’ve started my own Web-Log.

This actually comes as a surprise to me, as, while I’ve posted responses to many blogs, I’ve never seen the necessity of starting my own.  That is, until my collegue advised me that I should start a blog for my employer, and I wound up creating one of my own.  A forum, if you will, for the many words of wisdom I’ve gathered, and a few words of ignorance, I’m certain, to be displayed for all of the world to see.  In the words of an ancient “tagline” from the pre-Internet days of dial-up bulletin boards and WWIVnet, “Open mouth, insert foot … echo internationally.”  Well, in this case, there is no echo … you’ll hear it all directly from ol’ SASS himself.  Unless you read some quote out there on somebody else’s blog.

I have alot of quotes.  Some of them are downright funny.  Take, for instance, the immortal words of one Samuel Clements.  You might know him better as the legendary Mark Twain.  Back in his day, they weren’t all complaining about how stupid the President’s foreign policy was.  Nope.  Their scapegoat was Congress.  For instance, Twain once said, “There is no distinctly American criminal class.  Except Congress.”  Of course, in his day, many of them were in the pockets of major corporations and trade groups (read: monopolies) like US Steel and Standard Oil.  (Any correlations to Haliburton here?)

Also, few lawmakers in the 1800s had the education we now take for granted.  We once even had an illiterate president!  Said Twain: “Let’s say you were an idiot, and lets say you were a member of Congress … but I repeat myself….”  And then there’s Bush.  So … we have us in 2007, and we have Twain in 1887.  Has anything really changed?  Why, YES!  NOW we can blog about it internationally!  In his day, Twain had to wait for his comments to appear in the Saturday Evening Post (Anyone remember that one?  My grandmother had a subscription….)

And, so I blog.  You will learn my politics (I consider myself a cultural Anarchist with a touch of Avant-Garde), my professional life (I do computer stuff … duh), and my inner self (there’s something deeply religious in there, if I can sift through the insanity to find it … you have to be a little mad these days to see the world objectively).  I am SASS.  I am THE Sass.  Observer.  Corresponder.  Correlator.  And I blog.

Hello, world.

SASS has Spoken.

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