Rey Has a YouTube Site

March 8, 2019

Yes, our friend Rey, in Music in Recovery, has a new YouTube Site. He’s playing (sometimes with friends) in his videos. He has already uploaded dozens of videos.Rey on YouTube

Read More

Electric Bass Lessons From Fender Site

March 6, 2019

I’m taking electric bass lessons from the Fender website. I started a 14-day free trial for lessons at the Fender Play website: Fender Play Bass Lessons.

I practiced for about 20-40 minutes yesterday with their online videos.

It looks like I can work with their videos, so I subscribed for a year ($122 CDN).

Yamaha Electric Bass (Amazon.ca, $250, 2 business day delivery)

Yesterday, I did the first 3 lessons in the Fender series.

It surprised me I have to cut my right hand nails for it; something I reluctantly did, coz I need them for classical guitar.

I guess I'll have to concentrate on bass, violin and piano for awhile with these short nails.

Read More

Spiritual Development of the World: Focus on the Change

June 26, 2017

I was inspired to change things. Today. Now. Maybe from now on.

It might be nice to spend my life being of genuine use to people. It might be nice to forget the day-to-day trivialities, the pettiness in the world, the news, and concentrate on helping people effect changes in their spiritual development.

Why have I been posting about computer stuff? I could be posting about real stuff.

focus3

So I have 2 stories. An inspirational web site, and my own experience jamming with friends.

1. Heather MacDonald's Facebook page is inspiring.  I'd love to have a Facebook page just like that...  Totally oriented towards spiritual growth and growth in others; no silly postings about stuff that doesn't matter.  Maybe I'll start now.  Maybe.  Turns out we went to the same schools and moved to Ottawa. Here's her post:

A year from now, everything you are stressing about won't even matter [...]

What matters is making the music, not the state of the nation

2. The other is my jam session on Saturday with some friends.  I've not been able to leave the house much lately, and I made the effort, but it was moving.  We did stuff that was important.  We made music with each other.  I went home and thought about how I hear from people their gripes with politics, the state of the world, and I think how little this matters.  What matters is making the music.

I don't know why,  but it's the same when you write, make art, sing, dance, draw.  If you can create, you really should create.  Spend less time on the trivial.  Less time on the petty.  Do it now.  Stop reading.  Write a few lines on your blog or your social media. Right now.

What would it be like if my social media from now on consisted of this formula?: If it's not inspirational, and not helpful to others' spiritual growth, I won't post it; and I won't "like" it.

Practice (music/art): accretion of time over the long run by daily practice is far better than “spurts” approach

It seems to take a huge investment in time to become even moderately good in some things.

Like piano practice, or reading a new book, we may approach it with enthusiasm, commit ourselves to spending 3 hours a day with it, but what happens?  We fizzle out.  I'll find myself web surfing or doing some silly semi-related task, but not practicing.

Turns out that we might benefit by doing something sustainable, like 10 or 15 minutes a day.  That way, on tough days we are looking only at "I have to do this for 10 minutes, and so it'll be over with quickly"

“binge” writers write between 2 and 12 hours in one day, but then do not return to writing for a week or more verses more regular writers who write for short periods but write every day) [...] One assumption is that writers are most productive if they write when the mood hits ... they can spend hours of uninterrupted time at the task, i.e. “binge writing.”. Conclusion: Daily writers are more productive than binge writers and generated more creative ideas for writing than did subjects who wrote spontaneously” Challenge Common Assumptions Against Daily Writing (2012) Dr. Sally

Ten minutes a day is sustainable, and the accretion of time over the long run by daily practice is far better than "spurts" approach.

I meditate each morning for 8 to 10 minutes.  Many days I really, really don't want to.   But it is such a small investment.

The first two hours of the day are the most productive.  Don't waste them.

Read More

Our TRUE Nature vs. Our Experiences

January 25, 2017

We have a higher self that's always been there and is there right now, but it is easy to lose sight of this and be overwhelmed by current events and feelings, and go through life that seems to be run by our past experiences, and not even have an awareness of this higher self.

I think my current job in life is to become aware of my "nature"; this nature that was there before I acquired any human experience. It will always be there. My job seems to be to learn about this nature (my true/higher self), and to identify with this nature, rather than identifying with my human experiences (experential self ? ). There has been much in the 20th century that said we are the product of our experiences, but I'm challenging this.

Take an experience where you felt care-free or spontaneous as a child, and/or did things that were fun and joyful. And then over time, life happened. But even after life's crises, you may have had moments, as an adult, where you felt for brief moments that child-like nature. Perhaps that is a manifestation of my timeless nature. My real self. It's always been there.

It's very easy for me to have my life controlled by my past experiences, if I let it. And I think I seem very willing to let it. I used to have conversations with total strangers, and within three minutes, they would hear something about the wrongs that were done to me in the past. Obviously, I was re-living these experiences again and again, and they became so deeply rooted in me, they took over my identity, with no hope whatsoever of seeing any future with anything new or changeable.

There's a perverse pleasure from identifying with our past pain. It's similar to the perverse pleasure I get from self-pity. Both of these, in addition, free me from the need to take responsibility for my life and take steps to effect changes.

Here's a quote from my video of the week by Eckhart Tolle.

[There are] two things getting together. Old pain, that wants more pain, and and the mind made self that needs to be right, and therefore needs to make somebody else wrong. "He did something to me". [...] We miss the simplicity of things [such as a typical daily event that just happened,] that is there without the story. [The story is the drama we add to day-to-day events by adding in our past pain, and making the innocuous event more personalized (ie, more about me), and explaining the event in terms of our past painful experiences].

So Tolle's suggestion was to just witness the pain we are feeling, not even need to label it, certainly don't analyze it or add stories to it. Just witness it.

Current pains relate to this blog post because we so easily identify with our pain. This means that our real selves are once again obscured by the pain we are in right now. And for the moments of the pain, we are overwhelmed with our past experiences, including fears and hurts, and create much more misery by adding in those elements. It's easier to just experience the pain, no need for the drama. No need to say thing like "This always happens to me", or "well I expected as much".

My last blog post was about living in faith, regardless of what my past experiences are leading me to believe. That is, despite me thinking certain current events are explainable because of my past (painful) experiences, and I have expectations that the future will bring certain outcomes because I've learned to expect these outcomes, I can choose to not let these thoughts dominate my life. And I can live without acting in ways that are controlled by my experiences. That is, I can choose to live in faith, and do things, despite what my mind is trying to tell me, and be able to do that because of a faith that things will be OK. It opens up the world for new and wonderful possibilities.

P.S. [from my bathtub reading today, just an interesting tidbit,  Jan 25th]:

The ego wants to be right, but in the dynamics of life and art we are never right, we are always changing and cycling. [Free Play, Improvisation in Life and Art, Stephen Nachmanovitch].

My recent blog posts:

Depression, Procrastination and Putting One Foot in Front of Another

High Expectations of Admired Friends

Depression Paradoxes: Isolation

Afternoon Forest Walk

Read More

Total Faith, Let Go, and Live as If

January 17, 2017

What a tall order to totally surrender control of your life, let go of your plans and your ideas of what is best for you, let go of your fears based on years of programming in which you see imaginary futures, and just live totally in the present.

How can I be present with someone, and let God's will take place if my mind is on my fears of the future based on my own perceived inadequacies?  I've already determined the outcome (in my mind), because I've learned to have certain expectations of what has "always happened" in the past.  It probably hasn't "always happened", but I seem unwilling to let this notion go, and therefore I prevent any possibility of anything happening which may be different from what I've learned to expect.  So if I expect disappointment, I'll behave in a way that prevents me from living fully and, therefore is a threat to anything novel, which, chances are, will not be a disappointment.

I can't love totally if I'm planning outcomes.  Of course, the outcomes I'm speaking of are the negative outcomes that we keep telling ourselves; messages we have been telling ourselves for decades.

Did you ever talk to somebody, and be looking out the corner of your eye at someone else who, in your infinite wisdom, is necessary to talk to right now, or as soon as possible.  I did this a lot.  I don't anymore.  I have been trying to be fully present.  Ideally, if I wasn't supposed to be fully immersed in the person in front of me, and ideally, if I had faith, I'd know that my higher power wouldn't have this person in front of me, and, instead, he would put the other person in front of me.  "You are always exactly where you need to be at this moment in time".  How little faith we have.  Even if we say we have faith in that statement, our mind is thinking of a million scenarios which if we do this or do that, we can make a certain outcome happen for us.  AS IF WE KNOW BETTER WHAT'S GOOD FOR US!

My mind may be useful for some things (less and less as time goes by), but for planning and scheming my future based on what I think is best, is definitely not one of them.

So I had an amazing experience of living in faith and being totally present with someone, and even though my mind was on my inadequacies and expectations that this will soon blow up in my face because they will not be OK with me exactly as I am and at this point in time.  But I was wrong, very wrong.  And seeing this is totally foreign to me, I mean seeing that I don't have to be anyone or do anything or plan anything or change anything whatsoever in order to be accepted totally.  I've learned to realize that if I'm me and not trying to be something else, not even hinting at it, and if I live in faith that I will be accepted exactly as I am, wherever I am at my journey, it's the only way to find real love.  But it takes a huge leap of faith.  Huge.  It's almost impossible to do it, but it is possible.  I think the key is, just behave as if you have total faith in this idea, regardless of all the messages and planned futures (of negativity) that are in your head.

 

Read More

Depression, Procrastination and Putting One Foot In Front of the Other

October 22, 2016

Not motivated?  Waiting to feel up to it?  Plagued by doubts? Maybe, I just have to do it anyway.  Sometimes I just have to show up, it seems, and do the task at hand, regardless of how I feel.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BDTPXQEiM4G/?taken-by=bethdrawsthings

I've been plagued by depression lately, and this week has been particularly bad.  I got in my mind a few weeks ago to do the social media thing on a weekly basis; to put a few videos on YouTube and to do a blog post.  It turns out that it's a good idea, because it adds some structure to the week, gives me something to work towards, but more importantly, I can look at the work after it is done as an accomplishment, rather than feeling I had a week with nothing done.

"Every book seems the struggle of a whole life. [...] Best thing is to get the words down every day. And it is time to start now." - John Steinbeck https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/02/john-steinbeck-working-days/

Yesterday morning, I did no piano practice, feeling "not up to it".  I had this attitude as soon as I was out of bed.  And I didn't just do it anyway.

Today, I didn't want to get out of bed, but I did.  I certainly didn't want to shower, but I did.  I kept hearing myself thinking "I better quit piano, I'm not enjoying it, and practicing especially the assigned pieces is really getting me down, and it's a waste of time anyway.  Why do I even bother; I'm not talented at this at all, and I think I'm actually getting worse this year, instead of better".  But, knowing what Steinbeck said (more quotes below), I decided to just plow on ahead and put in my time, and practice, regardless of whether I think it's crap or not, or whether it's pointless or not.  And afterward, I'm glad I did.

It turns out that it got better as I trudged along.  The first half hour was a lot of thoughts about it being pointless.  It was more palatable once I committed to just doing it, regardless of what I felt, or what I thought.  As time went on, I became more at peace with it, rather than fighting it and questioning why I even bother.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BLZiOn7h8Ar/

After my practice time, I figured I'd better make something to eat.  I didn't feel hungry, and I didn't want to do it, and I thought it won't change things, but I did it.  I don't really enjoy eating lately, and I certainly don't enjoy taking the time to make something.  But after I ate, things seemed a little calmer.  Almost too calm, because I had planned (as I am doing now) to complete this blog post, and I wasn't feeling miserable enough to write about the miseries of depression ;)

"In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration. Consequently there must be some little quality of fierceness until the habit pattern of a certain number of words is established. There is no possibility, in me at least, of saying, “I’ll do it if I feel like it.” One never feels like awaking day after day. In fact, given the smallest excuse, one will not work at all. The rest is nonsense. Perhaps there are people who can work that way, but I cannot. I must get my words down every day whether they are any good or not" https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/02/john-steinbeck-working-days/

So I'll leave you with some random quotes, pix and postings that I found this week, that in my isolation, I didn't not want to re-post on Facebook.  Enjoy!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BJt7B_gDnHM/

Love of self, in contrast, is an appreciation of our dignity and value as human beings. Love of self is an expression of self-realization, from which springs humility.  May God show me that when I can like myself, I am duly crediting Him, since every living thing is a work of God."A Day at a Time" October 21 © 1989 by Hazelden Foundation 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BJNtQ44j9oS/

"People suffering from depression are locked in their own thoughts. Everything revolves around them and they don't connect with the external world," said Northoff. Ottawa-led breakthrough could hold key to 'holy grail' of depression research

.

Read More

High Expectations of Admired Friends

October 11, 2016

I've been thinking a lot about how I spend a lot of energy on a few people in my life (not you, dear reader), and they seem almost indifferent towards me.  So, I vacillate between my idea of "stop ignoring people", and my idea of "don't waste time on people who wouldn't spend time on you".  The latter, I hope, will prevail.  As I journalled; "[with the right people...] there will be no pain, no doubts, no rejection, no wondering, no massive highs and deep lows".  Unfortunately when I'm in "ignore mode", there is collateral damage because I'm ignoring people who are always decent to me.

I say "not you, dear reader" because you are probably not indifferent to what I have to say, because you are reading this!

I think there is something to be learned about expectations.  I think maybe when I have expectations of how someone is supposed to react (to conform to my "requirements"), I set myself up for disappointment.  Surely, I know by now that expectations are premeditated resentments.  And I learned lately that sometimes we come up against people's limitations - there are certain things they are just (socially) incapable of doing, or being, or behaving.

One thing about expectations, when I have such high expectations of someone, it may be because I think so highly of them, and I think about what I'd be willing to do for them, or how I'd react to them; such as show them a lot of attention, make them a priority, and think of what would be in their best interest.  It's a little like putting someone on a pedestal.  I thought about this pedestal thing today; I wouldn't want someone to put me on a pedestal, they are setting themselves up for a disappointment.  Kind of like a premeditated resentment.

However, pedestals aside, if I think that someone would behave towards me as I'm inclined to do so towards them, that's a little unrealistic.  It's terrible living in my head, haha.

I seem to know how to recognize when someone is paying attention to me, their eyes are not wandering on somebody who passes by because they want to be talking to the other person.  That's a good clue.

The person in front of you is the most important thing in your life at this moment, and there is nothing else.  I like to try to be present.

I shared at a meeting that I have been feeling crappy, and as a consequence I isolate and withdraw from people.  But I don't want to do that anymore.  The universe responded favorably to my sharing at the meeting.  It's funny that I'm so reluctant to share my stuff.  I still am.  But then something positive like this happens.

I've been working  on a bigger on-line presence, starting with last week's article on this blog, which I found out this week was my 100th blog post!  I've been on WordPress for 11 years, my first post was on June 29, 2005.  So this week I did a few YouTube videos of my music, and am trying to get this article out a week after the previous blog entry, before technically it's not Monday anymore.  Tune in next Monday.  Cheers.

Read More

Depression Paradoxes: Isolation

October 3, 2016

Last night, I was reading something on the self-defeating things we do when we have depressive episodes.  Today's topic is isolating; one of the several things we do which seem to be contradictory to our desired outcome.  I don't know why people with depression do this, or more specifically me.  Here's what I do know, but it barely scratches the surface.

There's a feeling inside that it's not OK to be down, and that I can drag other people down.  I read something yesterday where the person said, "you're better off without me...I'm an inconvenience or nuisance to you".  Some truth there.

There's a sense of looking for an external cause, and maybe it's other people, so eliminate the "problem" by eliminating the person.  Don't take offence, I also see as potential external causes the things that used to bring joy: exercise, artistic pursuits, being in nature.  Well, part of that is that there is that thinking about "should I go do this" makes me think, well, that's not going to help.  So I remove these things from my life too.  But partly, I think, I, in my depressed state, see those pursuits as possibly the external cause for this feeling.  A side effect of removing things that used to be pleasureful is that that it leads to further withdrawing from life, i.e. more isolation.

And having to face people who don't understand, and can't possibly understand, but who act as if they think they understand.  Or worse yet, there's the potential of getting criticism, even from friends.  Criticism can take the form of a friend's comments such as "If I have a positive attitude and take positive actions.... blah blah blah".  Preachiness is not welcome.  At all.  At least to me.  Ever.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFg0EIECM-C/?taken-by=bethdrawsthings

 

I know I'm excessively self-involved when in a depressive episode.  It's the nature of the beast... living inside my head.  So a conversation with a friend may be too much about me, and really, I have a little trouble even hearing the problems of others during these times.  That makes for a crappy friend, I think.... and so I avoid talking to people because I'm just involved in my own stuff.

And sometimes I just don't feel like talking to anyone.

That's not the half of why I isolate.  I'm just speculating at some of this.  I don't know why I isolate.  I think it's just simply a symptom of depression.

The article went on to say that social support is one of the things that we MOST need in order to cope and get past this.  So, armed with that knowledge,  though my brain says, I just want to recede into the background when around people, I chose to make an effort today.  Enough pushing people away.  It's gotta stop.  Push hard enough, and they will go.  So, despite what my depressed brain wants, I go and say hi, greet a few people.  And you know what, I'm glad I did.

I was thinking the last few days, "I may not look like I want to be around people, make no attempt to acknowledge you, and even appear to ignore you, but it's important that you are there, and it brings me a lot of comfort that you are just present.".    I can't stress that enough.  I said I can't stress that enough.

What I don't want is anyone offering solutions, because, quite frankly, I don't think anyone has anything that can help to the least.  People may be well-meaning but the efforts, sometimes, are not helpful.  The exception to this would be someone who has suffered from depression for decades and will continue to suffer from depression for decades.

I'm a little angry at these things I read that say "1 in 4 will suffer depression at some time...".  That's not depression.  That's sadness.  That's grief.  That's loss.  Yes, even if they are on medication for 2 years, they may think they qualify.  Sorry.  Not in my book.   Different ballgame altogether.  Too bad the word "depression" is so overused.

Here's something I found in an article "Whenever I seem to want the most space is usually when I need the most support.".  Well support for me is a hug.  That's all.   To me, this quote means, when I'm at my worst, that's the time I need the feeling that people care." I think the person who posted this said they didn't want to hear "are you OK?".  I probably don't either.  But it's important I know you are there for me, and will continue to be there, and that you are thinking about me.  Usually, that can all be accomplished without saying anything.  Sometimes less is more.

I edited the picture here, and removed some stuff that wouldn't work for me, but I'll leave you with what to say to someone depressed:

saytodepressed-edited

Read More

Brokerage Fees, GST, Duties, Customs, Taxes to Canada

February 20, 2016

Shipping Raspberry PI from Hong Kong to Canada with no Brokerage Fees

NONE!  None whatsoever.  No hidden charges, no brokerage fees, no charges asked by the post office, no GST, nothing.

I bought my PI 2 from http://stores.ebay.ca/hundredpluscom and paid $57.43CDN, exactly as it says in ebay.ca (well it's probably cheaper by now).  When I went to check out, there were no hidden charges, and my paypal amount was $57.43.

I ordered on February 1st and it arrived February 18th.  (17 days later).  It came to my front door from the Canada Post guy who asked for a signature, then handed over the parcel.  No brokerage fees, no GST, no duties, no nothing.

The envelope it came in was postmarked Germany (I don't know why.   The store is in Hong Kong).  The Customs Declaration affixed to the back of the envelope read:

  • Merchandise
  • Raspberry Pi 2 - Model B. 1GB RAM.  Qty: 1   Value: 25
  • Total: .198lbs USD 25

I am not affiliated with this seller.  They don't know I'm posting this.  I just wanted to share.

If you find this useful, share the luv, and give me a comment of thanks. :)

 

Read More

1400 hours, One seventh of the way to 10,000 hours of Piano practice

April 29, 2014

I've been counting.  And I track my hours every day.  On average, I have practice 160 minutes per day since I started. 

Today I exceeded 1400 hours, which is 1/7th the way to 10,000.

The computer forecasted that I will finish on January 1st, 2023.  (Yes that actual date, just by coincidence).

If that's true, I will not even be 60 yet, far from it!  I may still have brain cells left.  ( I will be be just over 58)

Read More

Deep Practice and reps of one piece; not doing it all at once

April 19, 2014

My teacher told me to find the few bars that are causing the most trouble and practice them 8 times or so, and 20 times if it is just a few finger movements you can't seem to get. I do this a lot.

I've found this month when I do this, my hands hurt in the evening and on the next day. This is not good, says me. So what I do now is have seven reps of four bars, then I move onto the other difficult bars. However after my break, I don't return to this same piece. I do something else on my agenda, which for me is the next item on my todo list for today.

This has caused the pain to go away. By the way, I practice with a timer, and I set it for 27 minutes at the start of my practice, and after several breaks, it goes down to 15 or so minutes. This is a way to give my body more rest when it's been hammering at the keys for awhile. I take a 2 minute break between these 20-ish minute sessions, which is also sort of timed, and I don't make tea or anything while I'm practising; that's for when I take my main breaks after around two hours (basically when my pot of tea runs out, for me).

I've learned not to practice over 20-ish minutes. It really causes fatigue. When I was first playing this amount was 15 minutes MAX. Now I can do 32 minutes at the beginning of practice, most of the time, if I feel so inclined.

I tried to practice my reps with a metronome, but mostly this has caused me to spend hours on reps that I now think are wasted. When I don't use a metronome (on the reps), I can take the needed time to see the next note, and ensure my fingers are ready and then play correctly. When I was using a metronome, I would try to fit all the notes onto the beat, and therefore had to rush my fingerings, and there were two outcomes. One was to repeat the same mistake, trying to catch up to the metronome. The other was to restart the section again and again until I got it right, and on time with the metronome. The latter took up very much time, and so now when I get reps that I can't seem to play with a metronome yet, I dispense with it.

Dust on my keyboard is one thing, but a hair? It just has to go before I can play, otherwise I think I'll fixate on it, lol.

Read More

Keeping practice time to three or four hours

April 19, 2014

I’ve been reading that practising for longer than 3 or 4 hours taxes your muscles too much. I’ve been experiencing a fair amount of back trouble last week when I was on a binge of treating my piano practice like a full time job. And I did three days of over four hours, and strangely the other days were a LOT less than three hours. In this past seven days, there were no days with over four hours practice time, and all of them were at least three hours (or close enough).

My pain has lessened, and I like the more consistent numbers each day.

I started a new YouTube channel yesterday, here’s last night’s video:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCLZZ9ki0js&w=560&h=315]

Read More

Enjoying What You Are Playing

July 3, 2013

I'm reading The Art of Practicing and one thing that struck me was that practicing should be enjoyable!  I thought it was work!  I've been practicing certain phrases with a very specific number of repeats hoping that it will sink in eventually.  I allocate my piano time and plan out each session with so many minutes.  But Bruser says that we rob ourselves of the beauty of the sound itself.  Get this:

The less pleasure we receive, the more we try to force the instrument; gripping it tightly instead of moving simply and comfortably.  This tension impedes the flow of musical vibration through the body.

This is so true.  So what I've done today and yesterday was concentrate less on the technical and more on just listening to the music.

Listen up:

Practicing is artful, creating something fresh and genuine.  We can practice being spontaneous rather than mechanical.  The spontaneity that marks a strong, communicative performance is actually cultivated during practice sessions.  The qualities of openness, uncertainty, freedom, and aliveness that characterize performing permeate practicing.

So I chose to hear the music.  To actually listen.  After all, I have to remember why I chose that piece in the first place.

Read More

Afternoon Forest Walk

July 2, 2013

The twisted, broken trees stretched their arms before us sending a notice to all that this was their home and that outsiders were not welcome.  The humid air combined with the rich sweet odors created a blanket of stifling air which we had to cut through on every step.  The birds in the trees and the insects with their chirping, buzzing and humming were announcing the arrival of an enemy, including the details such as its location, its size and where it was heading.

Through all of this we pursued, unabated by the environment which conspired to keep us out.  Our chopping, our walking and our relentless pace dislocated many species with every step.  We would go on undeterred, trying hard to ignore the heat, the foliage which irritated our skin, and taking revenge on the forest for the flies that bit at our faces.

Though I had seen a map and knew we would not be far from a clearing, I had this intense fear that this hellish pursuit would go on forever and we would lose our strength, becoming enfeebled with thirst and fatigue, and ultimately succumb to this vegetative enemy.

Our path revealed and uncertain goal, winding first in one direction and then another.  The wet forest floor and the multitude of small pools of water made it impossible to escape the discomfort of wet feet though we made our best effort to avoid them.  It was only by our determination that we were driven to go on.  - (c) Louie v. 2013

Read More

Playing While Sick and Endless Repetitions.

June 18, 2013

I've got a sore neck.  I've had it for weeks.  It could be due to my practicing, or due to my less than ideal computer chair.  I have to do something about those things.  I think I'll just abandon my chair and use another one for both purposes.  We'll know in a week. 

Tomorrow is the last lesson before summer, and lately I had some crazy ideas that I should give piano a break, but I doubt I will.  I think the reasons were pain.  But hopefully I can resolve that with a change of furniture.  Maybe I should move back to my bedroom window; I never had neck pain there.  I probably will do that.

Yesterday I started practice and just seemed to be getting nowhere.  I decided that my cold was interfering with it, and remembered that I shouldn't practice while sick.  (Your body needs all it's energy to fight the illness, and practice is very physically demanding).  So I quit after 15 minutes and went to bed most of the day.  Today I'm not so lethargic, but I probably practiced too much anyway.

The way I practiced today was not very fruitful.  I tend to do this from time to time: repeat a part of a piece dozens of times, because I just can't seem to get it.  I'll have to stop doing that; it's very ineffective, and probably counter-productive.

Read More

Day 197: Little Accomplished

June 13, 2013

I got up extra early, and did some practice, then instead of meditation, I went to a meeting.  However this morning's practice, was, um, seemingly unproductive.  I concentrated obsessively on two bars.  And I did this on multiple pieces.  So I would say, very little of this will contribute to my being able to play the piece in 6 days.

When I returned, I did some older pieces, and began to realize how many old pieces I have on the go.  I might want to think that over.

Read More

Day 195: Today Marks Only 11 Years Left

June 11, 2013

Today June 10th, 2013 marks the date where I finally have only 11 years of practice left to get my 10,000 hours.

I've averaged my times since November 28, 2012, and calculated at the going rate, how long it will take me to reach 10,000 hours.  By the way, today I practiced 225 minutes, making it 463.28 hours of practice so far.

Read More

Day 194: Jammed in the Sun, and Practicing Efficiently and Tirelessly

June 9, 2013

J.P. and I went out to the Community Centre and we jammed a little outside with our acoustic guitars.  I invited some people at the last minute, but it ended up just being us, which was fine.  We did a weekly jam last year, but we rented a room for it, and we didn't feel like paying this year.  Playing with anyone increases your speed of learning, for both of you, regardless of their level.

My piano practice has become very targeted.  I only practice the one or two bars that I don't play at the normal speed, and I don't practice the rest at all.  Why?  Because I must have played them a few times to figure out which are the difficult parts; therefore no need to play stuff I already know.

Now about fatigue.  I've practiced over three and a half hours for each of the last four days.  I figured out how to do it.  I used to have a morning meditation routine, but now I play piano first.  I play for about two hours straight.  I then meditate, which gives me a break of nearly an hour.  I can practice more after that.  While meditating I do some neck exercises which I've found necessary since moving the piano to where my desk is.  Those exercises plus the break have seemed to solve my neck problem.

These days I don't get any wrist pain or arm pain at all, for weeks.  I attribute the lack of pain to the way I do my piano practice.  I practice two demanding pieces, then two exercises such as scales, sight reading, and blues chords.  I alternate between the stuff that is physically demanding (plus mentally challenging) with stuff that is less demanding.  And so ends my pain problem, and my stamina seems to have improved because of it.

Read More

Our Morals are Fine When They Suit Us, and Excessive Guilt = Judgments

June 9, 2013

Boy, did I get some good readings today.  Listen up...

People adamantly refuse to change their most basic beliefs, but they change their morals [...] at the drop of a hat, to suit the situation.  For example, most people hold a basic belief that God wants them to be honest.  Then they cheat on their taxes -- and say it's okay. [Walsch]

Wow, the truth comes out, and it hurts.  I claim to do morning readings, walk for 40 minutes a day, write my five gratitudes, and don't cross the street unless the light indicates to walk, yet there are countless times, even in this month that I've conveniently made it OK to break these rules of mine.  The only thing I've stuck with is meditation, which I already commented on can be a struggle.

Now the other reading:

[...] excessive guilt [...] was nothing but a sort of reverse pride.  A decent regret for what has happened is fine, he said.  But guilt, no.  I've since learned that condemning ourselves for mistakes we've made is just as bad as condemning others for theirs.  We're not really equipped to make judgments, not even of ourselves. [...] May I recognize that long-term guilt may imply an exaggerated idea of my own importance, as well as present self-righteousness.  May God alone be my judge. [Hazelden]

Read More

Day 193: Having an Instrument Worth Playing

June 9, 2013

When I was a teenager, I had a guitar that I bought from Sears.  It wasn't their cheapest, so I figured I was doing well.  Now I know better.  The same money would have gotten me a Yahama in the city.  So anyway, years later when my friend showed me his Yahama, I thought, wow, what a difference!  I wanted to play it (and not mine)!

So up until last month I had been plugging my keyboard into a small-sized Kawai keyboard and I figured it was good enough.  But I got increasingly discouraged that the piano at the lessons sounded millions of times better, so I decided to connect it to my computer permanently, using linux software.  I knew the computer had a better sound, but I wanted to be able to play in front of my window which overlooks my trees, you know how it is.  So now, I play near my desk, but the sound has BROUGHT ME TO A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LEVEL!!!  So don't practice using crap.

Read More

Day 192, Four Hours of Piano Today

June 8, 2013

Today I got in 248 minutes of piano practice.  There were five pieces that I practiced daily for a bit more than a month, you know, pieces I learned for lessons, and ones I was no longer expected to practice.

One week I had about seven pieces on the go, and my teacher said she wants to see if she can get some of those old ones finished (that is, practiced to a level that I didn't need to work on them anymore).  So I concentrated on the three oldest ones, and one week, she listened to the three of them, and said I didn't have to work on those anymore.  So the following week I struggled to catch up to material I hadn't played for three weeks!  I'm still trying to catch up!

But the downside of that "catching up" is that I neglected playing the five pieces I've practiced daily, so now I have to re-learn parts of them that I forgot in those weeks of neglect.

I'm expecting that I'll be able to play everything I ever played at lessons with the help of the book, perhaps not at the printed speed, but at least sounding reasonable.  My teacher says I should only do that to the ones I like, but I think I'll do it my way for now.

Since I took up piano, I never practice guitar at home, and only play it when with other musicians.  But today, I hauled it out to learn "Lean on Me".  I think I remembered the chords.  I'll just see if I can learn a guitar song a day, that's a good goal.  A little much, but hey, I have to have some material to play at the Maniwaki Roundup.

Read More

Day 191: Hours of Practice: 448, Estimated completion: June 24, 2024

June 7, 2013

I've been keeping piano playing stats since November 28, 2012.  I write down how many minutes I play each piece.  One page per day.  Then on occasion, I enter them into the computer, which gives me stats.  So I'll have my 10,000 hours in 2024.  I have a little more than 11 years left.

Today was an unusually productive day with 202 minutes.  I'm working on the following:

  • Satin Doll (Duke Ellington), started Apr 17
  • Sonatine in C Major - Part I (Repertoire book 3, p 16), started Apr 24
  • Solitude (Duke Ellington et. al), started May 11

So today, along with my usual scales, blues chords, and sight-reading exercises that I almost always do, I was able to do the above three pieces in two separate sessions, and I worked extra long on them in the second session. 

I was reading a bit about "The Talent Code" which stresses Deep Practice, and I've been working on that today.  Instead of just going through difficult parts of the song, I'd play until I made a mistake, then replay just before the mistake, and redo it multiple times until I could play it mistake-free.  I think that up to this time, I would make the difficult measures a drill exercise: play them over and over.  But the difference here is to play until a mistake, and THEN redo.  Now a redo is only necessary if I make a mistake.  It might work.

I first heard about the 10,000 hours by reading Outliers, but my landlord told me about "The Talent Code" just this week.  I think Outliers is a great book, and it should be read if you haven't already.   Some of it seems useful.

 

Read More

Doing Only What I Don't Like???

May 24, 2013

My day is filled with activities that I don't like.  What strange behavior, I'm coming to see.  Right off the bat, I meditate for exactly 36 minutes.  No more, no less.  And I dislike just about all of it, I think.  And my meditation is broken down into several meditation segments where I do a meditation activity, and this almost never changes, because I've found a way to fill up the boring 36 minutes.  Is this benefitting me?  I wonder.

I'm going to write daily, and I challenge my reader(s) to do the same.

Read More

The way people talk; For filler, and for distance

January 2, 2013

I heard on the radio "Make a New Year's resolution to listen to more great Canadian music". Does she really believe anyone is going to do this? It's just filler like almost all radio chatter.  We don't need to constantly hear someone chatter just to fill in space.  More

Read More

Trusting My Own Inner Voice

December 18, 2012

As part of my morning ritual, I was reading from "Conversations With God (Book 1)" around the part where he talks about how we have allowed ourselves to be guided, (or perhaps controlled?) by the wills, the judgment, and morals of others rather than trusting our own moral compass.  Apparently we do most things because of what others would think, or that's how you are expected to behave. 

This leads me to the topic of what a great responsibility it would be to act in accordance to your own values, and your own judgments, and to try and find that inner voice, untainted by the overwhelming voice of what society expects.  That would be a challenge.  But it might be worth spending some time thinking and meditating about.

We do so much just to please, to be accepted (especially), and because it's the norm.  Walsch (the author [or the voice of God, depending on your point of view]),  told us that we are all given the power to choose, to make decisions based on the gathering of facts, but much of the time, our final action is usually really based not on our own intuition and inner judgment, but on what is expected of us.

It might be better (and definitely the harder path to take) to follow our inner voice, but first we have to ask it, and then listen attentively.

Read More

2012, The World Has Already Changed

November 18, 2012

There's a slew of technology out this year, that although a lot of it kind of existed before this year, this is the year where it becomes widely available.  Let's start with everyone having access to the means of production (ie factories).  You can create your great idea using say Google's sketch tool, then upload your sketch to one of the many web sites that will make your product for you and it gets delivered to your doorstep.  Cost?  As low as 25 bucks.

That's nothing.  This year will see the beginning of many people owning their own 3-D printers, where they can basically create a product on their own desktop.

OK Mind control.  This is real, folks.  I've seen some videos last year on early mind control, but a company has created a small helicopter (one of those many tiny helicopters you see on youtube) that you can control with your mind.  Available just months from now.

Now Virtual Reality.  It's been around in name for years.  But I think a few products are coming out (glasses/headsets) that will bring it to a new level in realism.

Regarding everyone being able to make whatever they desire at home, or even make 10,000 of them or start a company themselves making that stuff, read the book, just published,  "Making It"

Read More

Emulate the Greats, Do a Small Piece thoroughly, and Creative Time

November 13, 2012

Somewhere I read that the Bronte sisters used to create stories all the time, just for practice; kind of like throw-away stories.  This gave them skills that they could use later.  It was just a way of exercising the creative muscles.  And another place I read that you can stimulate your creative juices by copying directly from someone's creative work.  They specifically stated typing out a piece of prose, or singing exactly with the intonation of another singer.  Part of it was also the notion that if you emulate the greats enough, some of it is bound to rub out on you.  So with that, I'm including a bit of Jane Eyre, this part is nothing important to the story, but it just shows the writer's skill.  Jane is writing about here her first night at her new home:

When Mrs Fairfax had bidden me a kind good-night, and I had fastened my door, gazed leisurely round, and in some measure effaced the eerie impression made by that wide hall, that dark and spacious staircase, and that long, cold gallery, by the livelier aspect of my little room, I remembered that after a day of bodily fatigue and mental anxiety, I was now at last in safe haven.  The impulse of gratitude swelled my heart, and I knelt down at the bed-side, and offered up thanks where thanks were due; not forgetting, ere I rose, to implore aid on my further path, and the power of meriting the kindness which seemed so frankly offered me before it was earned.  My couch had no thorns in it that night; my solitary room no fears.  At once weary and content, I slept soon and soundly; when I awoke it was broad day.

The chamber looked such a bright little place to me as the sun shone in between the gay blue chintz window curtains, showing papered walls and a carpeted floor [...]  My faculties, roused by the change of scene, the new field offered to hope, seemed all astir.  I cannot precisely define what they expected, but it was something pleasant: not perhaps that day or that month, but at an indefinite future period.

My piano playing over that past two days (yes only two) has been more geared towards learning specific songs and less towards chaos and "oh this seems like something interesting to learn this minute".  So I did a little research online about how to practice efficiently (effectively?) and it says that you should only do a a bar or two (they say 7 notes!) and do it well, and get it down perfectly.  However, I had been doing an entire song at a slow speed, and then going onto the next song, doing the same, and then repeating it all at a slightly faster speed.

There is a lot of research into learning.  We should know by now how to learn, and we do know a lot more about it.  When I was studying scrabble (yes studying), I read that new chess players these days can get to the 'expert' category much faster than in the 1980s because they can use the assistance of the computer for doing game analysis, simulated moves and statistics and probabilities of winning based on what you do if you move x.  The computer tells you what are your chances of winning, and it shows a lot of data related to what statistically is likely to happen.  But I digress.  To learn how to learn effectively, you have to look at the research into learning.  There's lots of it online now, which is why we are now in a better position to learn new skills effectively than we were thirty years ago.

So I found some books related to that, and I ordered them all from the library.  They of course will all come in at the same time, so I need a railway car to take them all home.  Hmmm, what I read lately is that you should learn one piece and FINISH it.  Same goes for reading I suppose.  I'm so undisciplined.

Now creative time.  One of those books is something about Artist, or inner artist.  I forget what, but it's highly rated in Amazon.  It states something about making some time in the morning to do your art (whether writing or whatever); I suppose it's a half hour set aside specifically to engage in your creativity and do your thing. (Painting and writing comes to mind).  It said this because we tend to get caught up in life, taking out the garbage, dealing with the kids, etc. and never ever get around to doing what TRULY makes us happy, which is engaging in the creative process FOR OURSELVES.  So get cracking, and start your art.  Now.

Read More

Read More Than You Write and Avoidance

November 1, 2012

I think I heard on TV (must have been a long time ago coz I watched just several hours of TV in the last 8 years,) the following comment on an author:

He's the only author I know who writes more than he reads.

There's food for thought.  If you want to be a great musician, you have to listen to a lot of music; certainly spend more time listening to music than you do practicing.  The same goes for reading/writing.

So why do I find that at the end of the day, my practice time seems to have been all over the place, and that I didn't accomplish a lot?  I suppose because I let myself get distracted very easily, and I do something adjunct to practicing.  Like say I am practicing several lines on piano.  Then my mind says you can do this better if you enter the notes into the computer, it'll only take 10 minutes to do that.  So I start entering the notes, and while I'm there, I start surfing for prices on music books, and you know the rest.

So the stuff I intended to practice for the day kinda gets lost (or nonexistent) in the tangential stuff.

Words for today are adjunct and tangential.  I should really look them up in a dictionary and see if I used them correctly.  Oh wait, that would make me delay the completion of the post because I got sidetracked.

Oh this post is cutting into my practice time.  I'm not well yet.

Read More

Went from 300 hits to 2300 hits per month. Wow. And Piano.

October 27, 2012

Well now that I'm a rock star on the Internet world, I'll share my vast knowledge.  Well I'm kidding.  I thought it might have something to do with all my new articles that are more personal and less technical, but alas, no, the most hits are about how to install some software.  Admittedly it's a fine article, and number one on Google (wow I have hit number one in Google, that's really amazing), but you DO have to search for 3 words specifically.  (Yes many people have searched those words).

So I thought I'd write about obsessions.  Currently I've been at piano.  I've been at it since before September 14 (which I documented) but I don't know how long, probably at least 2 months.  Generally my obsessions last 3 months, then I go on to something else without even realizing I've left the first thing. 

My obsession with learning Japanese lasted under 2 months I think.  Once I learned how to write all the letters in Hiragana, I think I figured I'd had enough.  Hopefully this piano thing will last longer, as music has been a part of my life for 3 decades.

Well today I set out to practice 6 pieces.  I've been at it for um over three hours already, and so far I've only practiced the first piece.  I want to get it just right.  Oh why can't I move on and be like normal people.  I feel like Rain Man when I'm doing this.  You know, concentrating on one thing repetitively while ignoring all other things.  I was surprised when a roommate about six years ago said that I get great joy in performing things like an autistic person.  But later I realized that this seemed to be true.  There's probably some value in there somewhere.  I come from a long line of perfectionists; actually a whole culture of perfectionists.    I remember my siblings whenever something new was built, they'd look at it very carefully to see if anything was even slightly off, so that kept everyone on their toes.  And it wasn't too bad, because most of us took great care and pride in everything we built, and made sure that there was nothing that was slightly off.  I think it's part of the Dutch culture, but i'm not sure.  I do know that it's part of the Dutch culture to voice your strong opinions, even if they will make someone uncomfortable or feel bad.

Yikes I hope there's not too much baggage in this post.  Oh well, so what if there is.  It's likely that you are the only one reading it.

I've also started reading some of the old classic books too.  I've started reading Dickens "The Old Curiosity Shop" which I started 10 years ago but never finished, and I've ordered (from the library) Jane Eyre, which I read several times before.  I'd like to read "Brave New World" which I never read, and maybe re-read "Nineteen Eighty-Four".  I just happened to notice this month that I had no stories to read, see, hear or anything, and like a crazy person, of course I'm gonna jump in with both feet and read like it had just been invented.

Balance?  What balance.

Read More

We've Moved! (Updated!)

October 9, 2012

Our new Address is at the the big recreation room on the ground floor of 251 Donald Street near Quill.  You can get in by waiting and knocking on the window, coz we'll see you.  We are open Sundays 615pm to 830pm except long weekends.  See ya there!

Read More

This is cool!

September 19, 2012

[caption id="attachment_11" align="alignnone" width="249"] Music for the Soul[/caption]

Read More

Welcome

September 17, 2012

Music For The Soul in on Sunday nights 6pm to 8pm at the Overbrook Community Centre, 33 Quill Street (at Queen Mary), Ottawa, Ontario.  Everyone is invited to try their singing or playing either alone on stage with a microphone or jamming along with others.  All are welcome.  $2.00

Read More

More on Overconsumption, Harmony With Nature, Spiritual Pursuits

July 8, 2012

The "Sermon on the Mount" speaks of worrying about food and clothes (i.e. material things) and states that even the birds and the plants are provided for, certainly humans will be provided for.  It states that "pagans" chase after the material even though their needs will be met by the "heavenly Father".  But the solution seems to be in the last line of the paragraph:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Of course, our problem is not so much a problem of lack, but of excesses.  Not of poverty, but of gluttony.

I'm led to believe that some cultures place a great emphasis on living in harmony with the planet.  It seems that most of us can't live harmoniously with nature unless we expend a great deal of effort to do so, and even then, only if it is socially enforced.

I seem to hear from time to time that we've been placed on this earth seemingly with an unfulfilled craving for something.  It's probably a craving that has led some to perform great accomplishments, and create great things.  However it's like an unfulfilled need.  Some people believe that this is somewhat a spiritual emptiness, and can be fulfilled with spiritual pursuits; no doubt it's very helpful.  But while we are at times spiritual, it seems very difficult to sustain, and therefore we are left once again in a state of emptiness. 

Why do we believe that chasing money, sex, possessions, companionship, power and even food will fulfill this?  It's not rational when repeated experiments has shown us that it still leaves us spiritually empty.  This is hardly what a rational being would do.  But we continue, forever searching for that elusive thing that will complete us.

Read More

Produce More Than You Consume

June 17, 2012

We consume a lot.  At least I do.  Way too much for my liking.  Last night I was watching YouTube videos.  Even though it was not television, it was just a replacement for it, and I found myself consuming.  The weeks that I was learning the Japanese writing system, I was telling myself, that I was doing well, and not spending my time watching television.  But I fall back to it so easily.

I heard once that productive people produce more than they consume.  Makes sense.  But I really have to watch myself to see exactly how much I'm consuming, and when I'm doing it.  Today, for instance, I decided that my computer time was better spent creating a set of beginning music lessons for guitar; possibly for the daughter of a friend of mine, who just got a guitar.  I decided that I could spend my time consuming, i.e. surfing the net, reading garbage on the net, filling my mind with garbage from YouTube and such, but instead I decided to produce and not consume.  It was a conscious decision.

I'm trying to get a little more fit too.  And stop poisoning my body with chips, cookies and coffee.  I've been doing quite well for over three weeks, but even last night I was eating quite a lot; definately more than my body needed; and I was telling myself it was not junk food.  However that's not good enough.  I need to stop overconsuming.

As I said in my last post, we need very little.  I think I read that Buddhists try to eat in the morning and later, but nothing at night, and to keep their meals very modest.

Consumption is not a good thing.  While consuming (watching TV), our advertisements and news programs will tell you it is good; it increases the GNP, and apparently that's supposed to be a good thing.  Well I have my doubts.  We don't need more GNP or even personal income.  The more we have, the worse the problem seems to get.  Consumption begets more consumption.

Hmm, how to live modestly.  I don't know.  I'll have to turn that one over to my higher power.

Read More

Rising above Instincts and the Source of Our Negative Messages

June 4, 2012

I'm plagued by negative messages.  They are in my head.  I hear them so much that sometimes I hear myself saying them.  At one time I'd say that I was talking to myself or something like that.  But not anymore.

Why would I deliberately try to sabotage my own life?  Or why would you?  The answer is that you would not.  These messages are no more from yourself than are advertisements on the Television.  It makes no rational sense that I would deliberately set out to destroy myself.  But I know that these messages will quite literally kill me if I let them.  I know this based on a few visits to the hospital.  My case may be extreme you say, but aren't you too hearing messages in your head that chastise you when you make a mistake, or that can't seem to let go something that you did earlier in the day, or yesterday.

So I've decided to treat them as something external to myself that is out to kill me, or at least undermine my healthy happy existence.    And I want them to stop.  I had someone tell me once that if you have character defects, you first must realize you have the defect, then have a strong negative emotional response to this defect.  This causes you to have a great willingness to have it gone.

Let's talk a little about our brain.  I've heard people say that most of our brain is composed of the same stuff as there is in animals.  And even reptiles.  I get the impression that it's the part of the brain that's not on the outside.  And I've read that what sets apart man from animals is the appearance of a rather thin layer above and to the front of the brain.  We are different from animals because we are rational.  We can think, we can reason.  We can also make rational decisions based on evidence, act intelligently and behave according to our deductions.  This is rational behavior.

In my Zen books, I've read that when sitting (their form of meditation), we are to always sit with a straght back, with shoulders slightly back, and never never never hunched.  Our heads are not to be drooping.  They refer to this type of sitting position as a "majestic" position.  I can't remember the reason for it, but it says to me that we are human beings.  We are empowered.  We have an existence that we are proud of and we never are to grovel, or be less than our higher selves.  Our higher selves is made possible by the non-reptile part of the brain.

Now I think about my spiritual teachings.  I think that one major part of them is our character defects, the correction of these defects, and making reparations for damages we have caused.  Well I've learned that ALL of our character defects are caused by excessive instictual reactions to situations.  The instincts are for acquiring sex, having enough resources to ensure our security (such as money and a place to live), to ensure that we have our social needs met and to feel as if we are part of something or of importance.  All of these things are our lower needs.  The are reptilian.  A reptile behaves like this.  Now we are majestic beings, we are able to rise above these reptilian needs.  And when we don't it leads us to problems.

If you look at your existence rationally, you will see that you indeed have enough to be able to eat today.  You have enough social needs met, you have enough importance, and you probably are not being affected by not having your sexual needs met.  We need very little.  Many of us eat three meals or more a day.  We don't need that; we just do it.  And yet a lot of us eat like we need to eat to store something for the future.  The same can be said for the pursuit of sex and our social needs.  We don't need what we seem to be always pursuing.  It's not rational.

You may know that all of these pursuits are fear driven.  That we may never have enough.  Also very much like a lower animal.

So, if we stop behaving like animals and behave like the majestic human beings we are, our lives will be oh so much better, and we can participate in higher pursuits.  Some mythology indicates that man once occupied a very majestic place on the earth before his fall from grace.  He was the master of all sorts of higher pursuits, and had a lot of power.  Well we've lost that power.  All due to our pursuit of our reptilian instincts.

So my enemy is the reptile.  It is this reptile that is trying to undermine my rightful majestic place in this world.

Read More

Ascii (Français): Les noms des symboles

May 18, 2012

33 ! point d'exclamation

34 " guillemet droit/ guillemet Anglais

35 # croisillon/dièse

36 # symbole dollar

37 % pourcent

38 & esperluette

39 ' apostrophe/guillemet fermant simple

40 ( parenthèse ouvrante

41 ) parenthèse fermante

42 * astérisque

43 + signe plus

44 , virgule

45 - signe moins/ trait d'union

46 . point

47 / barre oblique

58 : deux-points

59 ; point-virgule

60 < signe inférieur

61 = signe égal

62 > signe supérieur

63 ? point d'interrogation

64 @ arrobe/ arobas

91 [ crochet ouvrant

92 barre oblique inversée/antislash

93 ] crochet fermant

94 ^ accent circonflexe

95 _ tiret bas/souligné

96 ` accent grave

Read More

Languages, thought, Programming Languages, and the Lean Movement

May 9, 2012

I heard a long time ago that to learn a new language was to think in that language.  And somewhere this year, I heard that this was not true at all.  I dunno.

In pursuit of finding what it is that the Toyota Total Production System (TPS) is all about, I read that you can't just read about it; you have to be immersed in it.  The book, The Lean Startup was probably the best book in determining just what you have to do to find a way of increasing your chances of having a startup that scales up slowly and has measurable success along the way.  However, I'm now reading The Toyota Way.  It is in the latter book that I read about being immersed in it.  The claim is that many American companies are trying "Lean" but failing, because they are not applying all of the precepts of the TPS in an integrated way.

It was for this reason that I thought I should learn a little about Japan or Japanese, at least.  I hopped over to  http://japanesepod101.com and am now learning how to write Japanese in the Hiragana style.  I can actually recognize about 15 of their characters, which really are syllables.  For example, I can read the Japanese at the end of this article. 

So why am I doing this?  Part of it is insanity, lol, but part of it is a challenge.  I've sworn this year that I was going to learn two new programming languages, Scala, and JavaScript.  Well, if a little is good, a lot must be better.  So I generalized it to, hey, why can't I learn a language, and while I'm at it, why not take the one that's one of the hardest to read!!!

So Japanese it is.  If my sister managed to learn both Japanese and Swedish in her adult life, surely I can at least learn how to read one of them. 

Yes I can actually read those!:

   is 'a'  is 'i'      
   is 'ka'  is 'ki'    
Read More

Top 10 Things You Don't Know about Somalia Famine 2011

July 24, 2011

2011 Horn of Africa famine

  1. Unicef states that a child dies from malnutrition every six minutes (250 a day) in Somalia. (The Sun)
  2. 2011 Horn of Africa famine: The United Nations declares a famine in southern Somalia July 22nd. (Al Jazeera)
  3. By July 23, tens of thousands have already died.
  4. People are fleeing Somaila in search for food especially to Kenya and Ethiopia. Dadaab, Kenya currently hosts at least 440,000 people in three refugee camps, the largest refugee camp in the world!  They are also fleeing  al-Shabab areas and heading to Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.   Loss of livestock due to drought has caused many to lose their livelihoods and go searching for food. 25 percent of Somalia's 7.5 million people are displaced (BBC).  3,500 people a day are fleeing Somalia. In June alone, 68,000 Somalis arrived in Kenya and 54,000 in Ethiopia searching for food and livelihood and the UN records indicate that 1,700 and 1,300 Somalis are arriving daily in Ethiopia and Kenya respectively. (Al Jazeera)  More than 130,000 Somalian refugees have left the country for Ethiopia and Kenya in the first six months of 2011 — more than 50,000 of these in June alone, according to the UN.    (CBC news).  The Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia has nearly 114, 500 Somali refugees, with more than 18,000 arriving in July.  (CTV News)
  5. Somalia's Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali accuses al-Shabab of preventing people from leaving the region in search of food as central government condemns militants from blocking aid workers. (Voice of America)
    The al-Shabaab Islamist militant group in Somalia says a ban on aid groups working in parts of the country remains. (Al Jazeera)
  6. The organization that would usually help, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) is banned by al-Shabab from aiding 2.2 million.  The Red Cross's ICRC on July 24 have been able to reach 24,000 of these with aid distributing 400 tons to southern Gedo.  Medecins Sans Frontiers, are still working in al-Shabab territory. (BBC)  The UN refugee agency has distributed aid to 90,000 people in the capital Mogadishu and in southwest Somalia in recent days (CBC news)
  7. The WFP estimates that 11.3 million people across east Africa urgently need food aid and medical supplies.  The UN says it needs $300 million in the next two months to prevent the famine from spreading to all eight regions of southern Somalia, and another $1.6 billion to sustain "essential programs" in the region.  (CBC news)
  8. Britain has given about $146 million in aid, the United States has so far offered an additional $28 million on top of the $431 million in assistance already given this year,  Canada has offered an additional $50 million on top of the 22 million already donated, Spain $10 million, Germany $8.5 million and the European Union $8 million.   (CTV News) and (CTV News).  The World Bank has promised $500 million in aid on July 25. (CBC News)
  9. Drought, conflict and high food prices are problems.
  10. Somalia has 9,200 African Union peacekeepers, all of them based in Mogadishu.(CBC News)

[caption id="attachment_226" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Dadaab Refugee Camp. Huge isn't it?"][/caption]

Read More

Yugoslavia and Pluto are gone: Changes since the Seventies

July 6, 2011
  • The Soviet Union: Now there are a ton of countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan
    and a few other -istan
  • Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia: Now we have Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and others
  • The solar system had 9 planets.  Pluto is no longer a planet
  • Persons in the United States whose ancestry traces to Africa were called Negros and later Black for a few years
  • Electrical outlets: never had polarity.  Two pin plugs could be plugged in any way you like.  And I think 2 pin outlets were common (without the ground wire).
Read More

Rebecca Black, Why Google and YouTube will Fail, Tyranny of the Masses

June 21, 2011

I watched Rebecca Black's video about 20 times.   Why?  I'm a musician, and I know better.

I was manipulated.

I watched some deep voiced guy singing some repetitive song over and over again.   Same reason.  Manipulated.

Internet memes: How YouTube's rating system is no representation of quality, as a matter of fact it's the opposite. Check out the link below, and scroll down to the section titled "Memes" and read the real reason why Chocolate Rain became popular.Internet's definition of a meme: inside jokes for people who have no friends with whom to have real inside jokes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4chan

Why does Google's search engine rely on sheer numbers to determine the rankings.  Why do YouTube's visitors place any creedence on number of views as any measure of anything?  All of these numbers are manipulatable.  In 1995, every single web site had a "hit counter".  Now almost none do.  Why?  Because it doesn't mean a thing, and it was abused ad nauseum.

The same thing is happening with YouTube and Google search engine.

Read More

Build Your Own Web Site The Right Way Using HTML & CSS - Ian Lloyd in 300 words

June 6, 2010

(2nd Ed. November 2008) I highly recommend this book as your first book to building web sites.

Stop building web sites all wrong with bad habits. We once had to because the tools were crude. Not anymore because there are established and published standards for creating web sites.

But how are web sites built? Where do I start? Well you have created simple files using Word or Notepad, before haven't you? That's all you'll be doing now. Creating files with text in them.

We'll be building sites using two types of files that you will create:

  • a file containing the text of what you want to say. This file also contains additional special words called tags which are like commands. This file is called an HTML file.
  • another text file which contains commands of how you want your page to look. This is the CSS file

You don't need to spend money on tools, such as Photoshop or Dreamweaver to create a site. To create these files, we'll be using Notepad(Windows) or TextEdit(Mac). These are called text editors.

While talking about tools, you'll need to look at the masterpieces you create. You'll need a browser. Simple you say. But don't limit yourself to using just Internet Explorer for viewing web pages, and for looking at the pages you create. Try Firefox or some of the other new kids on the block because they offer more than Internet Explorer can.

(You may have noticed pictures on web pages too. If you need to put pictures on your web pages, you can download plenty of free image creating programs)

You typically create a file using your editor and save it on your computer in the same place as you store all your other documents. What? How does that get to the Web? Well first things first. You can create your web pages on your computer even view them. And without even being on the Internet. True story!

Before we create the text file, I'll talk about what's in it. It contains the text of what you want to put on the site plus some commands. This will be your HTML file. Remember an HTML file is just a text file that you create, and store on your own computer.

All HTML files have pretty much the same sections; here are the sections of that file that we'll be building:

■ a doctype
■ an <html> tag
■ a <head> tag
■ a <title> element
■ a <body> tag
■ a <meta> element
■ a section heading
■ content of that section
■ a section heading and more content
■ a </body> tag and a </html> tag

Ok, let's start. Create a new file. Enter the following html code into the file and save it as basic.html. Save it with a name such as basic.html. You save the file on your computer in Documents folder (Windows) or Home (Mac).

This is our HTML file. Ok, another term is XHTML. This is just a more modern version of an HTML file. An XHTML document is built using elements.

An element is like a container for your content. An element consists of an opening tag that looks like: <h1> followed by some content, followed by a closing tag that looks like </h1>. The content of elements can also contain other elements (which must have opening and closing tags and content.)

Notice that the <html> element contains everything else. It is the container that contains all your content.

300 words? well that's 299. I tried. You have just finished page 26. Go buy the book and read from page 27 onward. The book's contents are here (roughly page 27)

Read More

Cyndi Lauper is Just Nobody's Fool With Upcoming Memphis Blues Album

May 30, 2010

Just Your Fool - Cyndi Lauper. Album: Memphis Blues. June 2010.

Memphis Blues

Just Your Fool

Cyndi Lauper Memphis Blues[digg=http://digg.com/music/Cyndi_Lauper_Nobody_s_Fool_With_Upcoming_Memphis_Blues_album] Cyndi Lauper's, American pop icon of the 80's is releasing her eleventh studio album on June 22, 2010.

And the song "Just Your Fool" is a good introduction to the album. Cyndi's talent shows itself on this blues release, and I'm convinced at least this song will be around for awhile.

You can listen to the song here (if it's still up) at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Fp4_TT1Q_A

The album is on Amazon.com here too. It's already number 130 in music.

That's Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica, and he's steaming up the place.

Track listing

1. "Just Your Fool"
2. "Shattered Dreams"
3. "Early in the Mornin'" (Charlie Spand)
* feat. Allen Toussaint & B.B. King
4. "Romance in the Dark" (Lil Green)
5. "How Blue Can You Get?" (Jane Feather)
* feat. Jonny Lang
6. "Down Don't Bother Me"
* feat. Charlie Musselwhite
7. "Don't Cry No More" (Don Robey)
8. "Rollin' and Tumblin'" (Traditional)
9. "Down So Low" (Tracy Nelson)
10. "Mother Earth" (Memphis Slim)
* feat. Allen Toussaint
11. "Crossroads" (Robert Johnson)
* feat. Jonny Lang
12. "Wild Women Don't Get The Blues"

Read More

Web 2.0 Patterns

August 16, 2009
  1. The Service-Oriented Architecture Pattern
  2. The Software as a Service (SaaS) Pattern
  3. The Participation-Collaboration Pattern
  4. The Asynchronous Particle Update Pattern
  5. The Mashup Pattern
  6. The Rich User Experience Pattern
  7. The Synchronized Web Pattern
  8. The Collaborative Tagging Pattern
  9. The Declarative Living and Tag Gardening Pattern
  10. The Semantic Web Grounding Pattern
  11. The Persistent Rights Management (PRM) Pattern
  12. The Structured Information Pattern

Read Web 2.0 Architectures, 1st Edition (O'Reilly May 2009, Duane Nickull et. al.) at Safari Books Online or look at the listing in Amazon.com

Read More

June 17, 2008

Oh, yipes. I've been outa blog-land for a few days it seems. Lemme see. On Wednesday night, I went to the Intergroup meeting... boring, but our chairperson made sure it ended within an hour. I saw Kay and Ruth there, sat with Ruth.

Kay: Friend of 7 years who I met in my first several AA meetings. We both have Dutch roots, and I still like her hair.
Ruth: Friend of 5 years who used to go to my home group with Donna. She was my best friend for the first 4 years, then we kinda drifted into our lives, jobs, families, friends etc.
Rick: A guy with about 4 months of sobriety who seems like he's on still on drugs -- High energy level. Wonder what drug did that to him? Maybe a future band member?

Thursday and Friday are a blur. I have no clue. On Saturday, I went to the Alano dance and its attendance was terrible. This chick who seemed to know me (apparently who mentioned my friend Sally's name), asked me to her table to hang, but I'm deaf at dances, and I was saying what a lot. In retrospect, I probably should just pawed her. LOL.

But I asked her during 2 separate songs if she wanted to dance, and she didn't like the song, so I pretty much said to myself, screw this noise; I'm gonna go make my own fun, and all women suck anyway. So I stayed and closed up the place... no almost literally... I think I left even after the DJ and after the Alano lady.

I went home feeling like I kinda screwed up that one... again. And I was resolved to not care about my appearance or breath ever again; I'm destined to a life without a woman. Maybe I'll join a monestary or cult; might as well.

On Sunday, it was band practice at 11:00 a.m. and it went really well. Our Bass player was really doing well, and I'd asked Rick to join us and sing "Mustang Sally" coz I can't sing it. Glad I did. He's our man! We really freakin' rocked!!!!

I was told on Saturday that Donna's back in the Hospital. Apparently she'd been there over a week, and left straight from the Roundup a week ago due to cancer-related problems. I spose I should go see her again. Hell I'm not doing nothing tonight!

Today, my best friend Janet called me and I met her at my home group. I biked there, coz my car is noisier than an WWII bomber, and I don't need yappy neighbors. Janet took me back downtown in her van. We also 5 hours later had pizza together: her treat. She told me that there's something in the air these days; all the negative news in the papers and on the radio.

I'm feeling a little down. Maybe it's the ice cream from last night. As I think about how it's affected my mood, even now I'm still thinking of eating more. I also wanna go home and fool with my computer; I want to go buy a charger for my phone, and I'm tired.

I don't wanna go see my sponsor tomorrow. Bleh. I wish my car wasn't so dang noisy. Part of me would like to fix it; that should be fun.

I also need to make some prices so I can get some moving money.

Oh yes, I won a Lottario ticket worth $2.00 at the dance on Saturday night. I'm gonna check my numbers online. I know nothing about these lottery tickets. If I'm a zillionaire, I'll probably come back here and edit the message, so you can assume I didn't win!

Read More

Last Depressing Meeting

June 11, 2008

So, it seems that Bill Wilson, the co-founder of AA, is hearing about just having to accept his depression, and that he may not have a rosy life -- ever!

It's interesting, this following article, that the Fr. Dowling told him this, and now Bill is seen as a great man. So, it makes me think that maybe it's not our decision that our life is to be always happy when there's some HP running the show with a higher purpose for us:

An excerpt taken from a conversation with Alcoholics Anonymous' founder from Legacy Group, in TX.

Bill may see his depression as a result of his failure to work the Twelve Steps [...]

[During a conversation with Fr. Ed Dowling in 1940, when Bill is down and out], Bill confesses his personal struggles. Dowling, [...] gives Bill a new perspective on depression.

Father Ed quoted to him, "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst." When Bill asked whether there was ever to be any satisfaction, the older man snapped back, "Never. Never any." Bill was to be a person who would keep on reaching. In his reaching he would find Gods goals, hidden in his own heart.

Wednesday June 11, 2008:

I was up at 6:30 a.m. after letting the radio (alarm) go on and on. I rushed to a shower and then, since I promised Carl that I'd be early for the 2nd ever meeting of the New Day Group, I got on a bus. I ended up as a "greeter" in a hallway to guide people through the maze to show them the location of the meeting.

I forgot my keys to the AA office at home, so I had to borrow a set from someone on the executive who was at the meeting. It was embarrassing, both that, and arriving here, because I had to get a maintenance person to open the office door. She gave me a lecture. And the executive member made a comment that she should have just sucked up. I was already feeling less-than after having just moved, having lost the use of my car, having to learn the buses, having to learn to adjust to the new house and roomie. Anyhoo, I'm volunteering for AA right now as I speak (type).

I pretty much started the day, feeling a little un-OK to others. Man I hate that. I was thinking about what my roommate said to me yesterday when I was describing my supper Carol. I'd been busy lately with worry over house changing, and so I sort of forgot that a few weeks ago I had gotten Carol to tell me that there was no hope of us ever having a relationship (she danced around it, I made her clarify).

But anyway, in my non-thinking state, she invited me to an impromptu supper on the 8th. Now my roomie said that she's just taking me for a ride; and from that I got that it's not very nice to just be available at some chick's whim and on short notice. I think what got to Ellen (my roomie) was that I was calling this a "date" and this Carol person greeted me with "oh I'm all sweaty". Why I set myself up like that, I don't know. Carol's behavior didn't surprise me though, coz I remembered about our past; it's just I have to start finding girls to date who actually see me as a date and not as some stupid pawn to respond to them on their terms and only when it's convenient for them.

What is it? Am I too short? I'm going with that today. I've gotten so much disrespect from people in the last month; I know it contributed a lot to my bottom. I was at the AA gettogether on Saturday, and even there, one of the servers' first words were "none for you". That's supposed to be funny? What the hell is wrong with these people?

Tuesday, June 10:

I got up too late, and was boiled out of bed. I went to the lunch meeting to meet with my sponsor, but his schedule, and an AA related thing, caused him to tell me, only after he was finished dealing with the AA related thing, that we can't be meeting. Shit! I was waiting for 25 minutes for him after the meeting, and only after all that does he tell me we won't be going to coffee! Bastard!

I ate way too late in the afternoon, and Ellen and I are chatting about my "date" last night. I'm feeling like I'm some kind of twit for always ending up in these situations.

I go to the Depression Support Group for its last meeting, but I want to check out the Thrift Store first. So I buy a cordless phone, a digital answering machine, an unopened electronic stopwatch, a binder, some chips bag clips, some washable markers (new) all for under $20.00. That's a steal! Half the stuff didn't have a price tag, so it was around a dollar.

I come into the group after that, and I sit by Trina, the girl I like there. We have to fill in notes for everyone saying "what I like about you"... I tell her she's cute and I'm always good for a hug. I think I might have said something even more suggestive than that. She also had prepared me a long note and gave it to me. I was thinking about her bum for about a week. Still am. haha. I left her my numbers and email.

Enuff... I gotta go order Internet, make an appointment with my welfare worker to have my address changed, and to try to get some moolah for moving, and furniture, etc., and I'm sure I can find some other stuff that needs to be done coz I've moved.

Read More

The Dust is Settling. Now let's clean this joint.

June 9, 2008

It's Monday. Wow, a lot has happened. Ok, I'll try to take U thru it chronologically.

Friday: I went to a noon meeting, not expecting to see Ellen (new roomie), but I did. Then I bought her a coffee. I found out that she'd said "the house is not ready yet, coz they now need to ensure I have an insurance policy on the house".

So, since I'm a former homeowner, we called my insurance broker; figgerin I'd put the home insurance under my name. No dice.

However I gave Ellen the phone, and then I did some shopping. I had to move my car twice during all that... it took a long time to get this done; and I was parked downtown. So I found out that at Heartman's Grocer, when you get your "parking validation" they give you a code number to type in upon exiting the garage, and they say "you have fifteen minutes before this number expires". Well they mean it. It expired. So on top of my stress, I had to press a button on the parking exit and talk to the attendant; she didn't seem too pleased, but eventually let me out, gratis.

So I moved my car to some weird side street, and Ellen was STILL on the phone. I swear if this had been the U.S., the operator would have told her "insert two hundred dollars for the previous 56 minutes". But it was an 800 number, and it didn't cost me a red cent.

So she gets off the phone, just after I tell her "ensure you have a policy number". So I come back from shopping or moving or something; oh ya, I remember now, I was hitting on a cutie in the grocery store. ("I don't think so", and giving me back my contact information may or may not mean that she's interested, I dunno; but I doubted the benefit of my giving).

So, Ellen told me "I just phoned the lawyer's office, and they said that they have the keys waiting for me.". Both of us nearly dropped on the floor from surprise, relief. Especially after a war's worth of stress, and waiting, and frustration, and depression.

So we walk to the lawyer's office, get keys in about 2 seconds, and then leave there. We walk to the shelter so Ellen can pack up her belongings and tell them to go get bent.

Then I go fool around, and dump my stuff in her house, now that I have a copy of the keys myself. Not nice to break in like that. I'll be amending some year, mebbe.

It didn't stink in her place! Upstairs was a little "lived in" smelling, so I opened those windows. Then I went to pick up Ellen, to drive to our new home. But the frickin' car goes over a bump of construction, and the fricking Catalytic converter starts dragging. Bad. Real bad.

We spend about 40 minutes downtown fixing this thing. Remember it's 5:30pm now. And I tell Ellen, "why does God not want you back at your place"?. Some guy eventually comes by with wire, and I wire the thing to the door. Net result: a door that doesn't open anymore. A trunk that doesn't close anymore (dunno why just now?), and a side mirror that looks broken of its bracket. Lot of damage for one day!

Ellen tells me when we finally get home that God is telling me to STAY PUT. and not drive to New Brunswick, and not consider leaving. Now the car's in the driveway; it hasn't moved since we drove it from downtown at 1 mile an hour; about 12 blocks. Car looks bad! :(

I phoned all my best friends to say I was OK. I had to, I figured; coz this past week I hit a bottom, and I had to let them know I'm OK.

So I tell Ellen "I'm esctatic to be here". On Saturday morning, I tell her "I'm extatic to be here". I phoned Sally and had her over for lunch, then Sally and I went to an AA gettogether for the day. It was good. My cancer friend Donna came too, and we sat together for the meal. That was good. My best friend and her sponsee came to sit with us to; and here I am thinking I have lots of friends surrounding me, I have a supportive house at home, and life is good.

Monday:

I got up at 6 a.m. had egg sandwiches. I am starting my third day of three meals a day. So I take a bus to the FIRST meeting of the NEW DAY group. This was after trying to lock the damn door on the house. I spent 15 minutes trying to lock it. The key has not been cut right. I felt angry. Damn fools, can't do a good job. And damner fools, not trying my key.

The meeting went well, some friends were there. It was uncomfortable as hell tho, because they started the group with TRADITION ONE. That's not a good idea. Hard to warm up to such stuff. But I'm thinking of joining that group... essentially I'm group-less because of my Wednesday volunteering, I'm unable to attend the business meeting of my home group.

I'm going to the Lunch Bunch, and maybe my roomie will be there. I also need to order Internet. I already phoned the Internet people (National Capital Freenet: NCF) and left a message, but I have to email them too for the address info. They want cash, I'm sure, so I'll have to bring it to near Westboro station, I think... at trailhead.

Read More

If it gets more tense, I'm gonna deck my roomie

June 6, 2008

Ok, so I slept in the tent last night, on Ellen's deck. Now I know where the expression "happy camper" exists. I'm not one. I'm damp. I feel icky. I need a shower. I need a freakin' bed!

Ok, so I'm telling Ellen that if I'm not emptying my car into my new room today by 3pm, I'm freakin outa here. Last night, while unable to sleep, I went and bought a mondo bag of chips; ate half. It was thirty minutes after midnight. It's not the best sleeping agent, but I guess my sleeping quarters are not currently attracting cuter ones.

I can't tent no more. It was raining like heck. Ick.

I went to the breakfast meeting this morning after about five days haiatus from lack of support. It was ok. One older member heard my dissatisfaction with my tent situation. I shared "I didn't drink last night, I didn't drink today". That was pretty much it... I didn't even say why.

I'm heading to the lunch meeting downtown. Maybe I'll see Ellen there. I'm not holding my breath. On the way I'll have chips for brekkie. :)

Read More

Ever sleep at a stranger's house?

June 6, 2008

Ok, well I ended up spending 14 hours in the office yesterday, coz Dawn was there and I agreed to stay at her place for the night. It blows my mind that I pretty much met her yesterday, and she had me over in her house, and to STAY. Didn't she see the chainsaw and axe in my backpack?

Yes, I am changing all the names to protect the innocent.

Anyway, she's a load of fun but I know she's not into me coz she spent so much time on the computer, on the phone, and with the woman who lives in the next apartment. So I was reading my AA literature like the good sponsee I am, and feeling a little um, lonely, or something.

When I got outa bed in the morning it was around 9:30 a.m., and that's not like me; yesterday I was up at 5:15 a.m. So we both got our showers in, and in her words "you got that right you are not going to be joining me". LOL.

Her place looks like Kosovo. Yup, even worse than my best friend's sponsees. Even worse than my first sponsor's. Wait. no... it wasn't. I could actually walk two successive steps mostly without breaking anything.

So that went well. Even in the morning we were still flirting. Well I was flirting, and she was laughing. Not at me. WITH ME!

So last night I was deciding, that's it... I can never again even VISIT someone who has a cat and who smokes. I'll call it self-care. I was trying to breathe last night at 10pm, and I had to close the bedroom door so that little fricking "world's most assertiive cat" wouldn't come in and clog my nose. I swear I wanted to de-furr him, but I thought that I'd save that till later.

So at 11:30, she drove me to the transit station, and I hopped a bus to the meeting that I expected to meet my new roomie Sally.

Ok, I'm gonna hafta get my names straight. It just took me about five minutes to see what her name was.

(In chronological order, in which they kinda came into my life, I think:)

  • AJ: (living in my car; usually Ottawa Centre-ish). That's me!!!
  • Janet: (Rockland, east of Ottawa) My best friend. Love her, will meet her in heaven, from whence we came from together.
  • Agatha (Ottawa) A strikingly attractive woman who is very articulate, well liked, has a good job, and is struggling with depression. She has over ten years of sobriety. I kinda always had a itty-bitty crush on her. Ya, me and a thousand other men.
  • Donna (Orleans Ontario): My friend who has just had radiation for cancer, and just went home after a month. I've known her for almost five years, and I camped with her June 2007 at an AA weekend. She's been on my list of best friends a few times.
  • Ellen: (Ottawa Centre): My new roommate. She's got just a few years of sobriety less than me, and she's got a few problems too... OK a lot of problems... but she's an excellent friend. One of my top five friendies.
  • John: (Ottawa Centre): my sponsor. Has made money playing music. Works at home now; I don't know him; he's been my sponsor for just a few weeks; I'm starting the steps again.
  • Sally: (Ottawa East): my friend of three years who I met on her first day in AA three years ago. She relapsed this past year, and is a newcomer again. She's on my top five friends.
  • Cindy T: (Ottawa East) Girl in AA who seemed to like me waaaay too much for a newcomer. She's impossible to describe; form your own opinion.
  • Carol: a chick who was in AA a very long time and after 7 years decided to be my friend. Problem was I fell in love with her, and she was just trying to expand her group of friends. Ooooh the dissapointments and losses this year (pour me, poor me).
  • Trina (Ottawa North (across river on French side) : some girl in my depression support group who has a v. nice bum. LOL.
  • Dawn: (Ottawa West): a very cute girl that I met on May 31st for the first time. She has 2 years of sobriety but knows AA well. Does it? Um, well um. (LOL).

Yup they are all chicks. I don't like men v. much. Problem with that? (I mean U, not me).

Oh crap it's 7:15. I gotta do an AA um, service meeting. Ok the district meeting. I wanted to be secretary for the district, and I wrote an email to the DCM implying as much, but he kinda said that calls for nominations are to be made in the fall. He needs one now!!!!

Ok, so I got to the noon meeting downtown in order to possibly meet up with Ellen (new roomie). She was not there. I later checked email, and in it she said YES IT'S GONNA BE ANOTHER NITE of me being homeless.

Crapppppp!!!! I don't know where to stay tonite. I don't wanna ever tent it on her back deck. I'll let my HP decide. Mebbe my friend Carol will be at the District meeting will take me in; she's got a honkin' big house.

10:12 p.m.
It's raining like hell now and I got out of the District meeting, and I did talk to Carol, and it was nice to see her. I wonder if she knows that when I'm talking to her I'm starting to think naughty thoughts... yes even when she clearly doesn't have an interest in me. Yup, I'm a sick man, sick in a self-destructive way, not only sick like a normal male pervert. So she said "we'll talk". Then later "but not tonight". I don't know what we'll talk means, in retrospect. It was raining like a bastard, so she had to run to her car and we couldn't talk much, coz it was outside after the meeting.

I did tell her that I'd been homeless for four days, and tonight will be the fifth. Maybe she meant that "we'll talk about you moving in, since your future roommate doesn't seem to be too promising".

However she said it just after I was talking about the night I was driving to New Brunswick, decided to stop in Russell to sleep in the car, got stopped by a cop (story later), and ended up sleeping in my tent that I bought at the Salvation Army six months ago and never opened. Maybe after telling her that that was the night I hit bottom, and told her I was psychotic, she was kinda saying "you need someone to talk to and I'm making myself available to talk". I dunno. But like an Alkie, I'm spending too much mental energy on this.

So here's the Cops story. I was driving aimlessly in Russell. Yes aimlessly. I didn't know what I was really doing there; coz I wasn't thrilled about spending the night in the car beside all my life's belongings. So I pass by...

oh wait, I wrote this information in an email to Ellen

June 3, 2008 3:44 PM
From:"AJ"
To:"Ellen"

Hey Ellen,

[...] Usually my mind goes into crisis mode after not taking medications as prescribed but I'd been back on Ciprolex for 10 days.

I'm not convinced of its efficacy (the antidepressant), and I'm becoming more scared and concerned, especially in light of Agatha not doing so well, as I seem to be believing, whether it's true or not.

So, that's all to say that I'm a nutbar,so I'm deciding that a geographical would be a good idea. Good thing Sally tossed out all my (no longer prescribed) pills, coz I woulda taken them all last night, given half a chance.

So I was driving to NB, but decided that I'd not have the support there I needed, so I mizewell stop just about anywhere. So I drove around Russell, then Embrun, then St. Albert looking for a place to park and sleep (in the car).

But when I parked, I decided to try my never before opened tent, and since I had everything I owned in the car, I had blankies, and it turned out well, though a little scary, coz I don't know about wild animals and such in St. Albert. I know they have lots of cows tho, coz of the cheese.

Had a good sleep in the tent, nice to be outa the city.

Janet gave me a sketch of a map of a place [near the] Ottawa River, that I can plunk my tent, so that's tonite's plan. I was planning on plunkin my tent at the new location in the back yard, but I'd choose country tenting over city tenting, I spose.

I met with John my sponsor at 2pm after a supportive lunch bunch meeting and I'm sharing a little more of my predicament, after having not said anything due to the shame of not having been well prepared, and not being responsible for my own welfare.

On the 2nd I was convinced I should be in a hospital, and I probably should have been, but I don't know how given my own abilities to do it.. I don't think anyone could possibly understand that I don't know how. I don't really care what people understand, I'm getting used to feeling like a freakzoid, outsider, observer, non-participant, alien, lazy and unwilling.

So, I left out the part about the police stopping me coz at 1am in Russell, coz they saw a guy turning around on the street, with a car full of stuff, and I spose they thought that mite be worth investigating. Anyhoo they checked my license, and apparently I'm a licensed driver with a right to drive legally, so they left after me telling them some bullshit story that I'm going to Cindy T's place on what I remember to be Bell Street, when I know darn well she doesn't live there anymore. They bought that I didn't know the address, and they formed their own opinion that I was going there to spend the nite coz my house wansn't ready, so I let them believe that. I made sure they didn't see my eyes, coz they woulda taken me off the road for driving while psychotic.
[...]AJ

Well it's now 10:49pm. I'm writing this while at the AA office. I'm not supposed to be here, but tonight there's an event going on so the staff'll be here until 11 p.m. I better leave soon. To my humble abode. Yes so humble... my tent. Yup on the back deck... it's too frickin' wet outside to go anywhere.


Read More

Movin' and Shakin' (cozza the cold)

June 5, 2008

Well, if this don't beat all. I just got an email from my new roomie stating

Hey Louie,

I am about ready to storm my lawyer's office and demand some better service.

Called today and was told the 'papers had been [...]

As I write this it is 3:30pm on Wed. Means that I will be at [...not home] for another night. Also means that you will be on the back deck for another night. [...]

Hang in there, I will be home fast
Man, just when I thought that it's a sure thing, it's not. I better find someone to stay with soon, or I'm gonna plots. What am I gunna do now? I could go back to the river and stay there, but I don't really feel up to it, after the shock of that letter.
I met this nice girl named Dawn at the office I'm at today, and we were kinda exchanging some funny stuff. I saw her at the dance on Saturday, and really at the time, I was thinking that if there were any reason to stay it'd be her. But I was feeling a bit shy; things are easier once you've met someone, sometimes.
Read More

Tents Moments, But I Saw the Sunrise

June 4, 2008

Who woulda thunk?

On June 3rd at 1am, I was driving to New Brunswick, after being sick of Ontario, but realized that my feeling of isolation, rejection, and lack of support would not only exist there, but I wouldn't have any of the people who might be supportive around.

So one town's as good as another.

Embrun, Ontario? Never heard of it? Well it's a booming metropolis compared to where I turned off the 417 highway, at the (?)town(?) of Russell.

More correctly, I ended up at St. Albert's. Well actually the woods of St. Albert:

Yep, my plan was to sleep in the car. It's not that spending the night on Sally's sofa was so bad; it wasn't. But Sal's an AA newcomer, and even though she's been my friend for 3 years, and has had a pretty good chunk of sobriety at one time, I don't want to make her life even more stressed... I had to chuckle (inwardly) at her anxiety level -- I mean in general -- not just her anxiety due to me. I can see myself in that -- everything in early sobriety is a crisis.

Anyhoo, so when I arrived in St. Albert woods, I drove my car down this cowpath of a road... just one lane. And grass would have ripped off my muffler, if my muffler hadn't already been gone. I planned on sleeping in the car, but I swear, since I have my entire life's possessions in it, it has about as much room as an airline seat. (Meals were about the same too, but I DID get peanuts!)

But I figgered that my never-before-opened tent would work. So in the pitch dark, in the middle of nowhere, I started to put it together. I found it was similar to the tent that Donna and I used at last year's AA camping Roundup in Maniwaki; so I was familiar with it. I used my headlights eventually, and I had a sleeping bag (sorta), and blankies (along with everything else in the car).

In any case, it was bound to be more comfy than the cockpit of my portable house. I slept well. One weird thing... there are STARS in the sky!!! I'm sure more than I've even seen in Antigonish, NS at night. And it was nice to be away from the city and no idiot roommate next to me.

I think St. Albert is where they make all the cheese.

I saw lotsa farms anyway.

Today, June 4th.
Last night I went to my depression support group at 6:30pm, and it was mostly about one of the girls there wanting to do a role-playing. We all learned something. At the beginning of group, I stated my mood as "overwhelmed". At the end it was "calm", I think.

I was in good form during the group, making jokes, and adding to the world's knowledge base ;)

And Trina and I were exchanging notes; I wrote her that I liked her sweater, coz I did. One week she said something about how ending her relationship kinda cut into her esteem, but I'd say that she doesn't lack anything in the looks department. And she's very kind and always giving a supportive word to everyone.

One of the guys there came during break to say "You are very well-educated". Well I said thank-you, and did the actions that a normal person would do, but I'm not well-educated. Perhaps his chosen words weren't consistent with his thoughts; I dunno. I read a lot, and I get most of my BS from AA meetings. I never claimed it was mine... I'm sharing my experience, and stating stuff I learned from the members in AA.

I was there until almost 9p.m; I don't know what for; whether it was chatting with Trina, or borrowing a copy of "Grieving Mental Illness" or chatting with our two facilitators; probably all three.

From there I drove to an AA meeting in Orleans. I didn't expect Donna to be there coz she had said in the hospital that she's probably going to avoid AA meetings for now because of her possibly lowered immunity. One of the group said however that she's in good spirits, as he'd gone to visit her that same day at home.

FYI, Donna went in to a doctor on March 31st of this year for some quitting smoking patch thing, and the next day, after tests, she was found to have cancer. Initially I heard it was in the lungs and kidneys, but she's got it in the brain, and lymph too. The guy at the group said she's home for now, until she hasta go back for further treatment.... He said "chemo" but most people say chemo when they sometimes mean radiation. She had 5 treatments of radiation ending almost 2 weeks ago now... one each day.

But I digress. It was cool at the AA meeting to sit with a table of older newcomers. Most of the table was new to me. Apparently some of them have six or nine months of sobriety! So I spewed out my brilliant wisdom.

Afterward, I hopped on the 174 highway, and went to find the place to camp in Rockland that Janet told me about. I parked my car discretely by some big things which could hide it, then I looked around. I did find the path that she referred to, and I walked the entire thing in the dark. Then I went back to haul my tent and blankies over to almost the end of it. It had an obstructed view of the water, but was good enough to see the SUN RISE at 5:15 over the water!!! That was an unexpected bonus. I didn' t know it was that early either, because it sure seemed light out, and I'd been lollygagging in "bed" for quite awhile before getting out.

Camping there was OK; not quite as many stars as the middle of nowhere, but it did have its own charms. I got there I suppose at 10:30 and left at 5:45a.m. to write a note on Janet's windshield:

The Hotel Rockland Pres-du-Lac's room service informed me that they didn't have shower facilities, and they didn't even have room service! However the brochure didn't mention the awesome sunrise at 5:15. :)

Then, since I was lacking a shower, I came to my AA volunteer commitment and "showered" there in the sink. I felt much better. So my commitment is from 9am till 4pm, but I started closer to 7:30a.m. It's now 2:20pm.

I haven't heard from my new roommate, Ellen, considering that I parked my car by her house this morning at 715. I put some of my wet tent and sleeping bag on her back deck and I left her a note stating she can phone me at the office. My cell phone's battery needs charging, so it's not contactable, and my charger is somewhere in the car . who knows?

Read More

October 28, 2006

When we make sense of something here and now and when we say it's important to us here and now we're actually channelling some past material and reconfiguring it in terms of our current experience - Dr. Lawrence Johnson from the ABC Radio National program The Philosopher's Zone Who was the Wolf Man? (The program is about Freud)

The Wolf Man's Burden
It sounds profound and important, but I wonder if it is. Johnson says some German word that sounds like nakfreglikheit [nachträglichkeit] which means the deferred effect.

I initially thought this is some effect that we can affect or direct our universe by meditating on it or visualizing it. The meditation or visualization actually channels energy into materializing the objects of our visualizations. However the more I look at the sentence and listen to the program, I don't think he's talking about this at all.

I think he's more likely talking about the effect of seeing our past experiences from the viewpoint of the present, and drawing upon the material of our experiences to explain and make sense of it.

Here's a good example from Scottish Literature 2: The Unconscious

A child can witness an event – such as a sexual scene – and, in later life, be affected by what now comes to appear as sexual. This is what Freud referred to as deferred effect or Nachtraglichkeit. That is, the first experience is not experienced at the time as traumatic but becomes so only later when it is given a sexual meaning. The experience in its sexual sense cannot be admitted into consciousness and is only experienced as displaced onto a symptom – a sore throat [for example]

Extreme Engineering

  • Submerged trans-Atlantic train that travels at 4000 mph getting from NY to Europe in an hour. It's not being constructed yet. See Popular Science's Trans-Atlantic MagLev
  • The Burj Dubai, the soon to be world's tallest skyscraper is already 77 storeys of an estimated 154 to 189 storeys. It's nearly 300 metres tall, and is expected to exceed 700 metres. (The data is a secret). You can get daily photos of its construction here: Burj Dubai Skyscraper
  • A few years ago I read about a ship that is a floating city. I recently read that it still hasn't ironed out a lot of the details, including what type of hull it would have. IMHO, it's not going to be done any time soon. Their web site: Freedom Ship - the City at Sea or read a criticism of it as a Floating Police State
  • And then there's the space elevator which is Dad's joking sky-hook notion coming to life with a 62,000 mile carbon nanotube cable stretching from a satellite in geosynchronous orbit to Earth. [Space Elevator - Popular Science]. There's a contest now for a $50,000 prize for building something related to the elevator: Wanted: Inventors to Build Space Elevator - Popular Science
Read More

October 28, 2006

Demolition experts debunk the Twin Towers 911 World Trade Center and how is it that a a modern day 110 storey building can crumble when the buildings were designed to withstand the impact of a Boeing 707 on any part of the building.

See this video on YouTube at 911 Mysteries. Part 1 Demolitions: The Myth

National polls show that most Americans and Westerners believe the official story of 9/11 to be a fraud. Some films have surfaced lately stating that governments carry out covert operation as if they were carried out by others:
Alex Jones' latest film Terror storm

covers in detail the proven history of government sponsored terrorism, and focuses on the 7/7 London bombings and 9/11 [taken from Google Video listing]
Is there any evidence that we are headed for another totalitarian state?

The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without
formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him
the judgement of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the
foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist," -
Winston Churchill, November 21, 1943

Read More

October 28, 2006
  • Niger is going to deport 150,000 Chad refugees from 2 decades ago back to Chad
  • Islamic Courts Union in Somalia is recruiting thousands preparing to fight Ethiopia
  • Villagers seize Royal Dutch Shell oil platforms in Nigeria because Shell wasn't providing them aid as pre-agreed.
  • [And even] the UK's surgeons are going to perform the first full face transplant.

I started my day surfing on the Internet, and catching up on the news. That's what I casually read at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_2006

Imagine my surprise when I turned on The National tonight. In the first 20 minutes, they covered these "important" (sarcasm) events:

  1. People are being swindled in lotteries by store clerks
  2. Seniors are being swindled in scams
  3. More dirt on Peter MacKay's alleged "dog" comment
  4. Government said the opposition is derailing legislative initiatives
  5. A pair of conjoined twins were born
  6. Tom Ellison's students' allegations of sexual manipulation
  7. Bush's concern of large number of casualties, but U.S. must keep fighting

Keeping us informed? I think not. Notice the first 2 stories point to our gullibility and stupidity. The third may be interesting, but it's silly. And the fourth one may be news, but hardly one of the more important things in the news today.

I get more news from Rick Mercer's [his blog link] show. Honestly.

I wrote Rick Mercer a letter containing the above. Maybe I should have waited until I got back on my meds? he-he.

Read More

October 6, 2006

Went through top 469 seven-letter bingos. Only fourty that I didn't get right away:

INTREAT ITERANT NATTIER NITRATE TERTIAN
ARIETTE ITERATE
ERINGOS IGNORES REGIONS SIGNORE
RAINOUT
INDITER NITRIDE
ARENOSE
AMIDONE DOMAINE
SOOTIER
OPIATED
NUTSIER TRIUNES UNITERS
ELATION TOENAIL
LATRINE RATLINE RELIANT RETINAL TRENAIL
TENDRIL TRINDLE
ANESTRI ANTSIER NASTIER RATINES RETAINS RETINAS RETSINA STAINER STEARIN
TAENIAE
GRANTEE GREATEN NEGATER REAGENT
AERIALS
ARENOUS
CALORIE CARIOLE COALIER LORICAE
AERIEST SERIATE
ESTRONE
ENTERAL ETERNAL TELERAN
NORITES OESTRIN ORIENTS STONIER
DIATRON
ANTLERS RENTALS SALTERN STERNAL
AVODIRE AVOIDER
BARONET REBOANT
ONAGERS ORANGES
ELUTION OUTLINE
GRANITE GRATINE INGRATE TANGIER TEARING
UNAIRED URANIDE
INOSITE
EDITORS SORTIED STEROID STORIED TRIODES
ROSEATE
PELORIA
OLESTRA
OPERANT PRONATE PROTEAN
LINEAGE
ENTOILS
ELASTIN ENTAILS NAILSET SALIENT SALTINE SLAINTE TENAILS

Read More

June 29, 2005

I should know those four and five letter vowel dumps, but I'm down to only

AACEI AECIA
AIILO AIOLI
ADIIO OIDIA
ALUU LUAU

I sorted the fours by reverse points in Lexpert, and went through the alphagrams until I had about 60 that I didn't know. So today I studied all the 12+ point fours (50 that I didn't know). At least now I'll know what I've studied and what I have not.

Playing a game today with "fard" showing up leads me to think it's useful to look at the biggies first.

In ISC I went from 860 to 937 in the last 10 games. I lost 2. The first one I had beautiful letters but I played a series of 10 point plays. The other loss was against a lower rated player, but it was a 10 minute game; I always play 25 minute games.

Read More

June 29, 2005

I only have 5 4-5 letter vowel dumps left. And I'm sorting the 4's in reverse points. I studied the 50 unknown 12+ point 4's today.

I have about 220 7's studied! I'm surprised!

Read More