Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Soapy Toes

It was our last night and the weather was perfect. Snow, rain and strong winds made Mojave less than perfect. Wind and rain accompanied us to Joshua Tree. This night, however, was perfect. We sat facing west as the sun dropped into the Big Maria Mountains Wilderness. Stars began to fill the sky and gave it a memorable beauty as a lone bat worked the area above us. The breeze was so gentle that it was barely perceptible and light fleece jackets tempered the evening chill. With head lamps we were reading in a desert of quiet and solitude. Julie heated a pot of water for tea. The only thing that would have made the evening better was a warm shower to remove two days of dust and that sticky feeling that’s a part of spending sunny days in warm temperatures.

As Julie prepared for bed I made sure things were stowed in preparation for wind and visiting night creatures. A few moments later, as I brushed my teeth I saw the empty pot that had been used to heat water for tea and used it for a drink.

Me: “This water tastes strange.”

Julie: “Did you rinse the pot?”

Me: “No, why?”

Julie: “I washed my feet in it.”

The memory was vague, but I had this vision of Julie’s toes in a small pot of soapy water as I stowed things for the night.

A beautiful night further enhanced by a pleasant memory of soapy toes, strange tasting water, and the one I love.

Life is good!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Taking a Trip

In a few minutes Julie and I are leaving to spend ten days in the desert. We don't have a fixed plan but Organ Pipe, Joshua Tree, and Mojave are possible destinations.

I hope to find Internet access two or three times during the trip to post some photos and journal notes.

Wishing everyone well!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More Boredom

Boredom and anger – how are they related? Responses to yesterday’s post sparked my interest in knowing more.

When I asked the psychologist “Does it mean anything that a person is 'always' bored?” I had a particular person in mind. The psychologist responded that boredom is a symptom of anger. In that one case he may have been right – the person was bored and angry much of the time. I think it’s important to note that we were talking about “chronic” boredom. Personally, I don’t think all boredom is related to anger, but perhaps in some cases – perhaps extreme cases – there may be a correlation.

The second person in yesterday's post is someone who exhibits little interest or motivation which seems inconsistent with other things that I know about him. Also, I see some things in his experience that would make me angry if I was in his place and I wonder if his lack of interest is a pointer to hidden anger. I don't know. I'm just wondering out loud about these things.

I did some quick research and found the following:

"Another interesting observation is that we become bored at something: "the lecture is boring," "I'm bored with reading," "we are bored with each other," "my work is boring," etc. One implication is that "I'm not responsible for the boredom, I'm the victim." Another is that "someone else is doing this to me," and things would be okay if I could get away from them. This certainly hints at both anger and helplessness." (http://mentalhelp.net/psyhelp/chap6/chap6r.htm)

If you find my post boring then, most likely, it’s NOT because you’re angry, but my post just isn’t entertaining or thought provoking to you. And that's OK.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Boring Thoughts

“I’m bored!” In response to my statement I heard “Don’t let Reverend Metcalfe hear you say that. He said he doesn’t enjoy the company of bored people.” I was in my early teens at the time and, because I respected Reverend Metcalfe, I began to think about boredom.

Many years later, I asked a psychologist what it meant when a person is often bored and he replied “anger”.

I’ve heard that some subjects are “boring” but I’ve decided that’s not true. Anything and anyone is interesting. It appears boredom is a choice. I can choose to be bored (lack of interest) when confronted with fascinating people and subjects. In other words, boredom can be used to describe me but not the world around me.

Over the years, I’ve learned that boredom is inversely proportional to the amount of effort I expend. The more I research a subject – any subject – the more interesting it becomes.

At present, I’m reading “Seduced by Hitler, The Choices of a Nation and the Ethics of Survival”. Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it! Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve probably read more about World War II than all other subjects combined. I’ve read various perspectives – American, German, Japanese and British soldiers and airmen, a Russian doctor, German intellectuals, Goebbels’ diaries, Speer’s books, Shirer’s class “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” (1500 pages), the memories of a thirteen year old girl who lost her father and both brothers. The more I read, the more questions I have and the more intrigued I become.

Why am I thinking about boredom? Because I’ve been reading about several subjects that many people might find boring but they are fascinating. I’m compiling “a list of at least 250 items that anyone can implement to reduce energy consumption, to protect the environment and to give future generations a chance.” In addition to some ideas posted as comments to an earlier post, Anonymous Julie and Willow emailed ideas and I’ve been reading and researching them. It’s fascinating! The more I read and learn, the more interesting it becomes. (I hope to have the list ready soon.)

Recently, I asked someone “Are you reading anything interesting?” and he replied, “No, not really.” His response made me wonder if he was angry about something. How could an intelligent and educated person not be reading something of interest to him. As I began to think about it, I realized I’ve never seen him excited, motivated, or eager to talking about some subject. He appears to be bored with life. How sad!

When I was in my early twenties, I thought old age and retirement must be boring. Now, it seems very, very attractive. So much to see, do, read and learn. I can’t wait because I definitely won't be bored!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Feeling Good

I feel good -- real good.

On Friday I went to an appointment with a psychologist in the office of Employee Assistance and Wellness. I do this every year or two just to pose some questions or ask for books, options or suggestions related to something that I’m trying to understand or interested in learning. As I left, she said “I’ve enjoyed this. It has been stimulating!” I agree. It was enjoyable and stimulating. She is intelligent, thoughtful, knowledgeable, sincere and genuine.

On Saturday, I took a class on greywater at the community college. Honestly, I didn’t learn much because I have read quite a bit and there wasn’t much new to learn. In spite of the lack of new material, I met people who were alive and excited and I was infected with their excitement and enthusiasm. One woman, probably in her late fifties, was moving to an area near town and wanted a greenhouse and garden. Because they will have a cistern and haul water, her husband told her to figure out some way to make it happen and she was taking classes on rainwater harvesting and greywater. Another woman, about 70, spoke with a European accent and explained her plans for conserving water. One of the men was designing and building a motorcycle shaped like a human skeleton. During a break he put a drawing on the board and it became obvious that he had creativity. A young lady in her early twenties was enthralled with the subject of sustainability which was new to her. The ten of us, four women and six men, came from various backgrounds and shared knowledge and experiences with one another and with the instructor.

Last night we attended a lecture at the university. As we waited, more and more people came in. It was almost 6 PM but one student appeared to have gotten out of bed a few minutes before and was carrying a box of cereal. The somewhat frail white-haired lady seemed anything but frail in spirit. A young lady escorted an elderly man, leaned close to his left ear and said something. He leaned on his cane for a few moments and she returned with a chair and placed it close to the door and helped him sit. I was impressed with his interest and the look on her face as she cared for him.

I glanced around the auditorium and there appeared to be at about one thousand people present. Professor Carl Ernst began speaking on the topic “Islamic Ethics: From the Pre-modern to the Post-Colonial.” His lecture was informative, balanced and impressive. At the conclusion of his presentation, he responded to several questions. I left the lecture feeling good! How could I not feel good after hearing his knowledge and his passion for the subject. He communicated without bias or prejudice. He painted a picture that was neither optimistic nor pessimistic but factual. That was refreshing!

On the drive home, Julie unexpectedly asked “If something happened to me, would you continue to live here?” I answered her question and she said “I think I’ll always live around a college or university town. There’s so much stimulation and so much to do.”

Yes, we are fortunate!

I live among a varied community of people who are young and old, from various ethnic backgrounds, and with a multitude of dreams. Each day is an opportunity for a new adventure in learning, relating, hoping and dreaming.

How could I not feel good?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Making Sense

Science makes sense to me. The natural world makes sense. People don’t.

I knew a man who was in financial trouble, behind on his bills, had no savings and felt depressed. To feel better, he bought a new TV -- on credit.

I know people who pay to have their yard mowed, take elevators and escalators, search for parking spots close to their destination, expect workers to carry groceries to their car and pay monthly fees to a health club because they need exercise.

Here’s another example. “Mr Blair echoed President Bush's call for new technologies to combat climate change.” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4761804.stm)

Technology? Technology? We make foolish decisions, glorify greed, elevate evil, foul our earth, destroy species and then we think we can solve our problems with technology? How many years will this take? What new problems will our new technology create? As I said, people don’t make sense to me.

Here’s part of my personal plan.

1. Keep my tires inflated or slightly over-inflated to reduce gas consumption.

2. Pick up the litter on the roads near my house. (I take part with a group that does this each March and October.)

3. Recycle materials and products. (An aluminum can should never go to a landfill.)

4. Take canvas bags to the grocery rather than accept paper or plastic.

5. Donate to The Nature Conservancy to protect lands. (http://natureconservancy.org/)

6. Keep learning about sustainability, the environment and the needs of all life forms. (The local community college offers several wonderful classes at a reasonable cost.)

7. Use only CFLs (compact florescent lights) which require less electricity.

8. Boycott businesses void of ethics and environmental concern.

9. Purchase locally.

Do you notice the pattern? Technology is not needed. A little discipline, some knowledge and a desire to live responsibly is all that is needed. I can do these things. Anyone living in a city or in a rural area can do these things.

Part of the problem, as I see it, is that we tend to want to blame others and expect someone else to solve our problems. We want to take the easy way and we want instant gratification.

Personally, rather than wait for congress to become responsible, rather than wait for businesses to look beyond immediate profit, rather than dream about some technological miracle, I’m going to continue implementing personal changes that help rather than harm. It may be hopeless and too late but, dammit, I'm going to try.

I listed nine items above. Can I expand that list to 100 -- to 200 -- to 500? I think I can and I invite you to join me. Give me your ideas; use the email button on my blog. Point me to ideas and resources on the web. I’ll compile the list and post it on a website.

The goal: to compile a list of at least 250 items that ANYONE can implement to reduce energy consumption, to protect the environment and to give future generations a chance.