My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Entry for December 30, 2007

"Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration." - Charles Dickens

The thing about traveling is that, when you have finally returned, you are happy to just no longer be somewhere else. And no matter how short the trip may have been, there are always too many people to contact just to tell them that you’ve returned. Strangely, this number is usually higher than the amount of people who you originally told that you were leaving. So if you did not receive a personal message from me upon my arrival back at home this afternoon, I apologize. But frankly, I’m exhausted from my much needed trip away from life and could use some time to recover.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Home, Sick for the Holidays

I am spending this Christmas not feeling well and trying to hide from the world. If Santa is still looking for a last minute Christmas gift, please tell him to send soup.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Trapped Near My Inner Circle of Thought

I arrange all of my thoughts through the Loci method of linking them to memories of physical locations within my mind. Each day I rearrange the events and knowledge that I have gathered to fit within my memory palace. Add to this my never-ending ridiculous quest to manage simultaneous thought processes and you have a mind destine for trouble.

Every once in a while my brain crashes and my mental issues manifest as physical problems. When I was younger this did not happen that often, but now that I am older, rearranging more, and try to remember more intricate and deeper thoughts, it is happening with greater frequency. This causes me to completely withdraw from the world and spend countless hours and days rebuilding my mind.

So here I sit, slowly rebuilding my thoughts and trying to recall personal minutia as if it was I was the only person on earth to be entrusted with the knowledge of EFE, Kant's Theory of Judgment, or countless Shakespearean lines. My brain hurts and so my body hurts. I am tired, sick, and empty. I want to go home to my mind of several weeks ago, but it is gone. I know that in time I will rebuild it better and retain most everything. I also hope that someday I will be able to forego these collapses. Until then I’ll keep up my scorching hot balnea and work to stay focused.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Who Are You?

Hello I am Professor, Consultant, and Occasional Bookstore Employee. Please feel free to call me Brian.

We’ve all been at some event where some random personal will saunter up, start a conversation, and immediately drop the question “So what do you do?”. My guess is that they think that it’s just a harmless question, but it never is. You know that your answer will be openly judged. If you say, “I’m a homemaker” or “I am the CEO of XYZ Company” the person will immediately fit you into their predefined social niches and deem you worthy of certain conversations. I see this more in the US than anywhere else, and no where else is it more obvious than in politics. Below is from the book Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway and it describes the employment social ladder perfectly:

When I got to Washington I discovered that even among young people, being a good guy was not the key thing: The key thing was your position on the great Washington totem pole of status. Way up at the top of this pole is the president; way down at the bottom, below mildew, is the public. In between is an extremely complex hierarchy of government officials, journalists, lobbyists, lawyers, and other power players, holding thousands of minutely graduated status rankings differentiated by extremely subtle nuances that only Washingtonians are capable of grasping.

For example, Washingtonians know whether a person whose title is "Principal Assistant Deputy Undersecretary" is more or less important than a person whose title is "Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary," or "Principal Deputy to Deputy Assistant Secretary," or "Deputy to the Deputy Secretary," or "Principal Assistant Deputy Undersecretary," or "Chief of Staff to the Assistant Assistant Secretary." (All of these are real federal job titles.)

Everybody in Washington always seems to know exactly how much status everybody else has. I don’t know how they do it. Maybe they all get together in some secret location and sniff one another’s rear ends.

We always seem to judge one another by the way that we earn a paycheck. And we do it in the smallest of ways. Think about how you introduce someone. Doesn’t it usually come out as something like, “This is Jim, and he works in Accounts Receivable at Schwab”? Jim could easily be an accomplished pianist, or the world record holder for dwarf juggling, or the father of sextuplets, but you would still introduce him as the Accounts Receivable Guy.

We even do it to ourselves. We introduce our job almost directly after our name. It’s the equivalent of saying, “Hey, the most important thing to me in life is my job and I would like to be defined by it, Thankyouverymuch.”

Why? Why do we do this?

And what is the alternative?

For a while I thought that there might be other conversational examples in similar countries, but remembering my time traveling and living abroad killed that notion. My Canadian friends and colleagues did the same, with the British either openly introduced themselves and their employment or following the proper British custom of not ever omitting anything personal. That phenomenon is described well In Kate Fox’s book Watching the English. She states that under no account should a British person volunteer their own name or ask a direct question to establish the identity of the person that they are you speaking to. Now I’ve had conversations like these with some British colleagues and it is painful. So this approach is also out do to, what I at least perceive to be, general rudeness. Not telling your life story upon meeting a new person is just fine, but you at least need to give the person enough information about your tastes, likes, and dislikes to kindle a conversation.

Surely most of us just work to live and do not live to work -- so let’s find a way to express that in our own introductions. And his is where I need your help. What is the alternative to announcing, or asking for, someone’s job title shortly after their name? How do you introduce yourself without immediately bringing up what you do to earn money so that you can live the rest of your life? Why do we feel the need to describe who we are by the work that we do?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Peter Jackson to produce The Hobbit

NEW YORK - Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema have reached agreement to make J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," a planned prequel to the blockbuster trilogy "The Lord of the Rings."

Jackson, who directed the "Rings" trilogy, will serve as executive producer for "The Hobbit." A director for the prequel films has yet to be named.

Relations between Jackson and New Line had soured after "Rings," despite a collective worldwide box office gross of nearly $3 billion — an enormous success. The two sides nevertheless were able to reconcile, with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) splitting "The Hobbit" 50/50, spokemen for both studios said Tuesday.

"I'm very pleased that we've been able to put our differences behind us, so that we may begin a new chapter with our old friends at New Line," Jackson said in a statement. "We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle Earth."

Two "Hobbit" films are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, similar to how the three "Lord of the Rings" films were made. Production is set to begin in 2009 with a released planned for 2010, with the sequel scheduled for a 2011 release.

New Line Cinema is owned by Time Warner. Sony and Comcast are among the owners of MGM.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Entry for December 16, 2007

I am not a man’s man. I don’t hunt, fish, or watch sports. I will not drink cheap beer, degrade women who can’t verbally fight back, or physically pick on anyone who couldn’t take me in a fight. But there are times when I feel the need to head out into an unforgiving climate to make sure that I am still capable of holding my own. This morning was one of those times.

I woke at about 5am and descended the stairs in a robe to see the back door covered in snow. A mug of tea and some news later the dog trotted down the stairs and up to my desk to tell me that she needed outside. So over to the back door we went. It was there that is where she got her first good glimpse of what she would have to brave in order to pee. I swung the door open and she stood there contemplating whether the punishment for peeing on the rug was worth not having to squat in the half-a-foot of snow. A quick glance back at me told her that it wasn’t and she hopped out the door and then back in as quickly as she could manage.

A couple hours later I was in the truck leading the way to breakfast at Bob Evans (this is the Midwest after all) to see a friend's parents out of town. All through breakfast I worried about their drive back to Ohio from Michigan with today’s weather reporting reading as, “periods of snow and gusty winds. Significant blowing and drifting snow. High 24F. Winds NNW at 25 to 35 mph. 6 to 8 inches of snow expected” ringing in my ears.

As we pulled back up to the house the true severity of the day’s weather hit me as I noticed that our previous footprints to the truck had vanished in the hour that we had been gone. Once out of the truck I stopped and, on the precipice of blowing snow and ice and the welcoming warmth of the house at Christmas, decided that I needed to leash up the dog and take her for a walk.

The snow was deep, especially where the plows and the wind had created waist deep mounds, and the constant blast of air coming from the North was bitter and angry. The dog bounded forward through the front yard with enthusiasm that she had not shown in the early morning hours and I realized that she would be hard to keep up with today. I planned to do the normal two and a half mile lap, trudging through some knee-deep snow and hidden ice patches, with as much grace as possible.

The going was not as bad as I thought and about half way I noticed another soul braving the outdoors. It was an older gentleman attempting to clear his driveway with a snow shovel. He seemed to be losing to the fight to the persistent combination of a snow and wind. I smiled and jogged by with the dog, leaving a trail of gullies where my legs had been. Pausing for a moment to watch us, he smiled and waved and I liked him immediately.

Coming around the last corner I realized that I love days like today. It is an excuse to test yourself against the natural elements. Not armed with some sort of technology, or to prove anything to anyone, just to see if you can do something simple with an obstacle in your path. So as I came back into the house growling and stripping, with the dog shaking show from her hair while attempting to chew out snow from between her feet, I felt good. I may not be a man's man, but there are times that I need to feel that I can rise to a challenge -- whether it is something truly difficult, or something as simple as taking the dog for a walk.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Call for Global Greed

I guess that it started July 22, 2006. I was gearing up for my 30th birthday a couple days later and I remember reading an article in the news that sparked a thought that just ended this week, almost a year an a half later. All that time ago, NASA revised it’s mission statement from “To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers as only NASA can” to exclude the line, “To understand and protect our home planet”. At the time I couldn’t quite understand why a group of intelligent, creative adventurers would decide to leave that line out. Did they think that by excluding that line they would no longer be required to help the military with some sort of global defense system? Was some creature on another planet offended by our Earth-centeredness? Did they not think that they could live up to it? Or was it that NASA no longer found our planet that interesting and planned on spending all of their time trying to understand all of the other planets first?

I was vexed, bemused, befuddled, and all of the other words that mean “huh?” Fast forward to this week when the NASA's Themis mission, a quintet of satellites launched this winter, discovered the existence of giant magnetic ropes (a twisted bundle of magnetic fields) that connect the Earth's upper atmosphere directly to the sun and create the, until now mystifying, Northern Lights. Cool yes, but more importantly it is another notch on our understanding of planet Earth.

We do not like to think of the Earth as a living creature because this either brings with it connotations of long-haired people dancing around a fire to the beat of a drum circle or supernatural beliefs in some sort of semi-intelligent creator. But it is. We have evidence of liquid water existing on Earth’s surface for billions of years, despite nuclear physics suggesting that the sun had 30 percent less luminosity when it was young, some five billion years ago. In other words, Earth’s surface, full of life, has managed to cool itself to counter the increased output from the sun, which might have otherwise scorched Earth’s living surface to a crisp. And even though oxygen is an extremely reactive gas -- in liquid form with hydrogen, its controlled reaction fires rocked into space -- it continues to account for approximately one-fifth of Earth’s atmosphere. It has done so for the last 500-million-odd years. According to the standard rules of chemical mixing, this should not happen -- just as, according to mathematical calculations of random particle interactions, a roughly symmetrical being with fingernails and hair such as yourself should not be here.

Religionists would tend to say that your presence is a miracle, testimony to a God. Scientists tend to say that there is nothing miraculous about it; that you are the result of billions of years of natural selection. However, Richard Dawkins has pointed out, there is only one Earth with no evidence, as there is normally in evolution, of a bunch of variants that died out. So initially at least, it is difficult to see where the biosphere’s ability to thermoregulate and maintain its surface chemistry comes from. It has adapted to its heliocentric climate in the same way that you would if you were to move to the top of a mountain or to the desert. Add to that the knowledge that it constantly takes in cosmic particles and debris while excreting other particles, and you have a very convincing argument for a creature that, although does not fit the classical definition of a being, comes very close. It only lacks self-awareness.

This adapting Earth has also shown that it can be negatively affected by the inhabitants on it. Just as your body has populace of billions of microbes, the Earth too has tiny -- relatively speaking -- creatures living on it. Increase either the number of living things on either and the waste and damage that they create ends up negatively affecting the host. We know this and are awed just thinking about our abilities on this planet. It is one of the things that give us courage when leaving it. So why on Earth did NASA, knowing everything that they know, decide to omit, “To understand and protect our home planet”? Why would they eliminate a line exploring the most incredible, diverse, advanced, and truly awesome thing that we know about in our entire cosmos? The answer, I now believe, is that NASA made a mistake in removing the line, but still holds true to their original mission statement. NASA, and we as conscious living creatures, can and will never abandon our love for our home planet. It is precious, beautiful, and we love her. No matter what the marketing department at NASA decides.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Entry for December 12, 2007

This morning I received an email from David Camp, Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District Congressional Representative and thought that I would share it along with my response.

Dear friends,

As we approach the holiday season, I watched (and later read) with great interest former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s speech entitled “Faith in America.” In his remarks, the Governor discussed the interaction of religion and government. Below are a few excerpts from his speech and I am interested to know your reaction to them. Please take a moment to send me your thoughts on this important topic. As always, anything you submit to my office will be kept confidential.

I hope you have a safe holiday season and new year with your friends and loved ones.


DAVE CAMP, U.S. Representative

P.S. I would like the opportunity to respond to any thoughts you send me, so please take a moment to fill out the name and address section at the end.

Excerpts from Governor Mitt Romney’s “Faith in America” Address

“The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust.”

No opinion

“We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders – in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places.”

No opinion

“…liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government.”

No opinion

“We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.”

No opinion

If you have additional thoughts on religion and government, please share them here:

Please provide you full name and mailing address so that I may respond to your comments.

My response:

This argument would hold more water if it wasn't always Christians pushing for the state to recognize, and incorporate, religion. Each election season this topic is publicly resurrected to put on a show to convince a religious public that a pseudo-state sanctioned religion is a possibility. Everyone sees through this charade to the core of a mixed church and state, which is why it never comes to fruition. Moreover, candidates use this platform to distract the public from other, more pressing topics that they should be talking about. Personal spiritual beliefs are personal and help to create who we are. We cannot let them dictate our actions or we are allowing our personal spirituality to define our laws. On a small level this would be acceptable, but with a majority organized religion this is not possible. It would only create a church state defined around one specific religion. The public knows this and sees these arguments for what they are: a shallow attempt to persuade a small percentage of the population, who does not understand the reasons for separation of church and state, into voting. Please spend more time on the important issues facing this nation and less on pandering to those who do not understand the basic ideas of Thomas Jefferson.

But hey, I’m curious of all of your responses. What do you think?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Something That You Are Doing Right Now Could Kill You

That’s right, something that is within several feet of you, or that you could have come in contact with, or that you are actually doing right now, or that you will be doing in the next ten minutes, could kill you twice tonight.

Something that you did last time you were at the grocery store could harm your children and make them late for soccer practice.

What you did while at the mall could one day get your house pet run over in traffic.

Remember that credit card that you handed over to that complete stranger? They could have all of your personal information and are planning to live abroad on your credit for the next several years.

You once ate a piece of toast that could have been laces with a newly discovered pathogen named Trytofreakurshitout that could make all of your hair turn green and your body to emit a smell like rotting hamster droppings.

A new harmful ingredient in your children’s toys could make them grow an extra arm directly from their forehead.

Your Mother could have ingested a common vitamin that is now linked to a highly increased sexual libido with random strangers.

New studies have show that reading this blog could some day cause you to get cancer of the nose that could leave you looking like Michael Jackson.

This blog has been sponsored by the National Consortium or Local News Commercials. Tune in tonight at 7 to see how you could die.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The words I hear when life gets to be too much

"So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide, all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

Then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and do what must be done. I do so because I know that time is the only thing that money cannot buy and I refuse to anything that powerful on fear or unhappiness. Moreover, I believe my goal in life is to always leave things better off than I found them. So tonight I head to bed planning once again to try to make the most out of the time given to me and hoping that when my time is up, my world will be a little better for having had me on it.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


My mongrel and I went to the dog park today a friend of mine and her two dogs. The younger one is too dumb to be afraid of anything and the older one is afraid of anything living that could be construed as a threat. The older one is a breed that is naturally loud and was adopted after she had time to establish her personality. From what I can gather, she had to be self-reliant in her younger years and still feels the need to display her dominance to compensate for her diminutive stature and lack of physical intimidation. To counteract that her owners usually do a good job of being dominate and around her, especially when in the presence of anything living that could be construed as a threat. This gives the dog a sense that they have the situation under control and that they can assure the dog safety while in their protection.

While at the large and empty Dog Park with my friend, as we were letting the dogs, who had not been to the park or had any meaningful exercise in well over a week, burn off some energy. The dogs were wound tight and upon arrival and immediately took off chasing each other. After a couple of minutes, someone else arrived with another dog that was either also full of energy or was just ill-behaved. Inevitably, my friend’s older dog got into an altercation with that new dog while posturing for dominance. We left a few minutes later and were all in a foul mood as we headed back to our respected homes with the dogs.

In my opinion, this could have been avoided if we had the dominant and submissive roles in the front of our minds. Instead, we were distracted with the extremely cold weather, thoughts of the day, and other general distractions associated with life. None of us did a good job realizing the important interplay of roles that simpler creatures must dance at all times. If we thought more about our own roles in life, where we need/desire/require dominance and submission, we would have been automatically prepared for this type of situation. Maybe our pushing these thoughts out of our mind and conversations is cultural and maybe it is just situational, but they need to reemerge.

This got me to thinking how little we dwell on the dominance and submissive roles that we play in all relationships. The titles of Dominate and Submissive do not need to only refer to horrible atrocities of the past, but need to exist in rational conversation today. In certain subcultures and during a large portion on our history these were roles that we defined and understood both intrinsically and intellectually. All relationships still exist on some form of dominate and submissive exchange. And while most relationships have a tendency to switch the roles depending on the situation, moods, and both momentarily external and internal factors, they are always still in play. Equality between several individuals is never quite identical as someone must always have the final say. Even in a true Democracy someone must create the rules and count the votes.

True equality is that everyone has the same opportunities, not that we all end up equal. What we need to do is accept that the roles are never quite equal, and that that is okay. As long as everyone has freely chosen their position or has the ability to switch when it is needed, then equality can exist in the balance of the positions. It is in the movement of positions that counts the most.

This brings me back to the dog park. Dogs and all simpler creatures do not have the ability to contemplate their positions. They must act or be acted upon. Therefore, it is up to us to always place them within situations where we remove as much of that need as possible. If we maintain a higher awareness of our own dominance and submissive positions, we will then respond automatically when called to act upon them. It is in this conscious understanding of our ability to be either dominate or submissive that we can gain a greater comprehension of who we are as we travel through life.