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My Own of Course — Whose Ideas Do You Support?

I have to be entirely honest, I have zero idea how much of the time I sound big headed, conceited, whatever you choose to call it.

It’s not so much that I don’t care, as that:

  1. I’m pretty well convinced that people will assume you’re conceited for nothing more than that you disagree with their “obviously correct” premise(s).
  2. I try to do regular self-examination, to ensure that I am where I feel I need to be. Where the places I feel I need to find myself, may appear to be big headed ones to others can not be a matter of great concern to me.

I not super recently, but recently nonetheless responded to a family member, that one of the most important things I can imagine keeping as a “basis for life,” is being true to your beliefs and understandings. That’s not to say you’re always correct, but that until you’re shown to be wrong about something, it’s rather silly to not continue to hold with that something.

One of the better parts of this approach to life is, though it’s not always the case, most of the time, if you hold to things that are not true and live according to those things, you will be shown—often in quite short order—the error in your perspective.

One of the results of this, is that I have “crashed and burned” enough to make it so I am very careful about what I will and will not support.

The above is really intended as an “introduction” to that which this article actually addresses.

Call me crazy, but I have noticed that most folks spend very little time thinking for themselves. Rather, most folks see things with which they resonate and fail to critically analyze what’s being said, to decide for their own benefit (and the benefit and wellbeing of others), whether the things they’re supporting are true or correct.

I have some pretty good ideas why this is the case, but obviously, I can be wrong about such things. Here is a “quick and dirty” list of some of the major reasons I believe folks “let others think for them:”

  1. A perceived lack of intelligence
  2. A perceived lack of ability
  3. A perceived lack of experience
  4. A perceived lack of wisdom
  5. A perceived wealth of any or all of the above on the part of some other individual
  6. Guilt

So what’s the problem with allowing others to tell you what you ought to think without concerning yourself with the rectitude of what that other (or those others) have to say?

Years ago (around seventy, if not more), there were many German soldiers who were given an answer essentially, this very same question. The answer was, “I was just following orders is not a valid defense or excuse.”

Put another way, just because you got your answers for things from someone or some ones, who seemed to be smarter, more able, more experienced or wiser than you; or because you chose an answer that was incorrect—though it helped to assuage or cause somewhat to abate your guilt, does not make your choice correct. To be clear, I’m not saying it makes your choice inherently incorrect either, just that you have no way of being even remotely sure if you don’t take the time to think things through for yourself.

A person can certainly argue for the likely rectitude of the answer of someone who appears more able in some sense, but in doing so, that person has essentially assented to that person’s choices, correct or incorrect. Put another way, your decision that someone is, in some wise, more able to make a choice or come to a conclusion about something, is no less making that choice yourself.

It may be a good place to start—looking at what others have said about a particular thing or situation and using that as a basis for your own consideration—but it is not a good place to end.

Whatever you may think, and whatever you may have been told to the contrary, your choices are yours, and that’s regardless that they’re based on the supposed intelligence or consideration of someone else.

Yes, I know it can be difficult to take the time and effort to really understand things. I know too, that at times, your “research” may not be as good as the work of others.

No, I am not telling you that you must ignore the work of others, in which they have invested time, energy, intelligence, experience, wisdom and potentially so much more.

About now, maybe you’re wondering exactly what it is I am saying. Let me see if I can clarify.

When you blindly accept the statements or considerations of others as valid or correct, you are placing your “personal stamp of approval” on those statements or considerations. Whatever you may think about that, doing so means you are adopting or accepting the ideas behind them.

I urge you to take care to not accept the ideas of others blindly. I ask that, instead, you take the time to consider what it is you’re anticipating accepting. Put it “under the microscope.” Really think about it. Look for flaws in what you’re getting ready to incorporate into your worldview.

In Nazi Germany and the USSR (and China, and Cuba, and North Korea, and Iran among others) things were allowed or accepted as facts by far too many folks that should never have been. Oh, to the folks in question at the time, they sound good and solid. Now ask those folks (or those still around to talk about it, or read what they have said) if they would make the same choices today that they made in the past.

I would be so bold as to venture that many would not do so.

The conclusion of this article can be summed up in a fairly simple way. Think for yourself. Do not allow yourself to be swayed by things that sound good. Decide for yourself what is correct and incorrect.

Yet again, I’m just over my “self imposed” word count. That being the case, allow me to wish you a good day and thank you for reading.

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On Failure and Its Relationship to Success

Anybody who has ever spent time scribbling on a pad, or typing at a keyboard in a vain attempt to convey some idea is likely fully aware that what he or she is saying has been said before. It’s even possible that those saying what he or she is saying in his or her current work have been said better than he or she can manage. Even so, some of us continue to litter the world with our statements, hoping that:

  1. We can somehow “bolster” that which has already been said
  2. We are hopeful that our presentation is at least one coming from a “road less traveled” making it so we say things in ways not commonly having been seen.

There’s one other possibility, that being that our audience may not have seen the thing we’re saying before despite its (possibly even ubiquitous) existence.

But this is not the “primary subject of” this piece. It is rather a “sideline” I felt it reasonable to include to make it clear that what I’m saying is likely not one iota of it, new. So if you think you’ve seen the following before, it’s probably because you have, though the form may have been slightly different.

The meat of this article is the discussion of the relationship of failure to success, and I suppose to some lesser degree, why it’s important to recognize the nature of that relationship.

To start out in the most basic of places, when you were but a baby, not long after having spent the majority of your days lying on your back and looking up at the world (when not sleeping soundly), you—if you are at all like the average human being—began one of your most epic sets of failures. That may sound bad, but in reality, it was a pretty important time for you.

You see, all of that failure likely culminated in your ability to walk. I don’t know just how many times the average child tries to walk before succeeding, but based on my experiences with my own children, I would imagine they do so for some reasonably substantial portion of their very young lives.

The important consideration here, is that trying to walk generally results and a number of failures. Along the way, it is hoped those failures become less prominent (even though they likely continue to occur well past the time where the child learns to walk).

For those of you that never learned to walk (were paralyzed or had some other factor that kept you from doing so), not to worry, you too can very likely claim such events in your existence, just different ones.

Whether the thing you most or best remember failing at is reading, speaking, learning basic or advanced mathematics, or catching or kicking a baseball or football (or some other form of ball) is beside the point. The point is, you failed at something. And the reality is, the more successful you are, the more you failed.

Yet again, if I have failed to mention your most notable failure (which hopefully ultimately became a “success story”), rest assured, that was not my intent. My intent was to point out that we all fail.

You could say I have a “secondary agenda” in that I want to point out that where failure doesn’t always result in success (either at all, or to the degree we would have liked), it does so far more often than we like to credit it for. Indeed, out of all of the successes you experience in life, I would venture to say a full ninety percent of them did not occur on your first, nor even a large number of early tries.

Further, I would expect that the average person values the results of many failures culminating in success far more on average, than things that “came relatively easily.”

Don’t take me wrongly, I’m not sitting here saying, “You should like failure more than success.” On the other hand, you can take it for granted that what I am saying is, “In many cases, in order to achieve or attain success, you must first be prepared to fail.”

Sometimes the failure you experience will not be noteworthy. At other times though, you will have to fail big in order to ultimately be successful at something. And at still other times, you will not accomplish the thing you’re “trying for” even after much failure.

That can end up as nothing “more than” a learning experience, something as serious as long term debilitation, or something that produces other desired or undesired results.

But the point of all having been said up to now is very significant to people, and something that at the very least, I know I tend to forget far too much of the time. One of the (very important) potential outcomes of trying and failing is ultimate success.

True, it is only one possibility, but when you think about it, you have likely succeeded at a great deal more than you account after having failed.

Part of the point that needs made here is, if you have something in mind that at present you are unable to successfully do, if it’s important and worthwhile, keep trying. Obviously, there are limitations to everything like it or not.

If you tell me you want to jump from the surface of the Earth and land on the surface of the Moon unaided by any external technology, you need to know your desire is likely never going to come to fruition. Even with this being the case though, never forget that trying and failing is far more often than not a precursor to success. And while you’re at it, don’t forget that there are a good many things at which you all but must fail before you succeed.

Failure can be hard, flunking out of some class or even out of some general course of study (for example, third grade) can seem life-ending. You need to understand though, that as a rule, your failure is not as catastrophic as you might believe when living through it. That doesn’t make it feel better, nor often does it make success any easier, but in the end, if you can get there, you’ll likely look back on even your failure with some measure of fondness.

So to sum this up, remember we all fail. In the end though, the question is, “How do you deal with that? Do you continue to fail until you finally succeed (or learn the thing you’re trying to accomplish is not as important as you thought, or perhaps you’re truly unlikely to succeed at it), or do you give up without even really a fight?”

As I said at the outset, you’ve probably heard all of this before, and you may have heard it presented in much the same way. Nonetheless, it bears repeating often.

Okay, we return you to your day already in progress. As usual, thanks for reading, and I hope your day is a good one.

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On Pregnancy and the Sanctity of Human Life

In my previous article, I took the time to dispel some myths about the sanctity of human life and how Conservatives are wont to see it. I consider that to have been important to do, but not as important as what I feel the need to address in this article.

Though the prior article made clear that folks assumed to hold certain things to be true, do not do so (at least, not “to a man,” to use the old expression, and would venture that the majority of said persons do not do so), the point of this article is to logically think through the sanctity of human life most particularly when applied to the concept of pregnancy.

To begin with, I must talk about something that I would not normally “air” in public as it is an “adult topic” (I.e., most children are not prepared to discuss it, as a result of the idea that maturity is something that takes time to achieve). The idea is that of male and female reproductive components (in particular, sperm and ova).

The thing that makes the discussion a little less palatable to me, is the idea that—entirely ignoring convictions based on non-scientific beliefs—what I’m about to say ought to be patently obvious.

So what am I going to say that most folks seem to have missed? Well, there are a couple of things.

  1. Assuming the “standard” act associated with reproduction, human males produce multiple sperm and human females produce multiple ova that are essentially “used in” each conceptive “attempt.” This means that the idea that an individual sperm or ovum is a “baby” or a living human being is obviously not valid. I could make arguments to the contrary, but see no reason to do so based on the second point.
  2. If not used in the act of conception, sperm and ova are naturally disposed of by the body (I.e., both have a “shelf life” and when they are no longer potentially viable, the body rids itself of them).

The result of the above points? The assumption that a given unfertilized ovum or a given sperm cell not “used” to fertilize an ovum is a “human being” seems to be just a bit of a stretch for anybody.

I say all of this to make it clear that I don’t think any sensible individual ought to be trying to say otherwise (unless they can give justification so to do).

Now, once a sperm fertilizes an ovum (and I know this process is not necessarily “that simple,” but what I’m about to say is generally true for the majority of circumstances, I’m just using this as a simplification for the sake of brevity), a question must be asked. The question would be, “At what point does this combination become a human?”

Many make the (in my view errant) argument of “viability.” I should point out that there are many folks out there who would not be able to survive without constant care and monitoring by others. In my mind, that pretty much does away with any argument that viability is a requirement for life or personhood. And considering that more and more, “premature” babies are being born, and living into adulthood, it seems the argument that there is some “natural age of viability” for a baby in the womb is highly suspect at best.

I am personally aware of the idea that children “born” in the “second trimester of pregnancy” can and do survive, given proper care (not that all do, but even if some do, that is enough to convince me against a definite “time of viability”).

So what about miscarriage, “spontaneous abortion,” accidents and the like? That’s a fine question, let’s now examine it.

Once upon a time in my distant past, I was foolish enough to leave a hose attached to an outside faucet, which caused a pipe in a wall to freeze and break. I argued that I didn’t know doing such a thing would potentially result in a busted pipe in the wall of the residence in question.

My argument was reasonably good. I stated that I had grown up in places where freezing was not an issue and, as such, was entirely unaware how things of that sort worked. Where I may not agree with the choice to charge me for the repair bill (the residence was somewhat like a duplex rental), I do understand why they did.

The person responsible for making the decision used a word that is today, derided and counted as almost evil. That word was (and is) prudence. He went on to define the term. The definition used was something like, “Failing to act in a manner that a person with normal knowledge would have in similar circumstances.”

I bring this up because folks who are pregnant should, it seems to me, act prudently when dealing with their bodies. That’s little different in my view, than doing things to lessen the likelihood of being hit by a car. The primary difference being that, failing causes a second person’s life to potentially be jeopardized.

So simply accepting that a baby is a baby—inside the womb or not—pretty much answers the question about a “woman’s right to choose.”

Is that an issue for you? Allow me to clarify. If I am a single father, charged (for whatever reason) with the well being of a child, and I decide that the child is “inconvenient,” is it reasonable for me to dispatch the child? That is, may I decide my life would be better or easier without that child around, and take the child’s life?

I would venture to say that very few people would answer that question with a, “Yes.” And to be clear, though the mother of a child she is carrying must deal with issues the father in question doesn’t have to deal with, the father (unless he puts the child up for adoption) will likely deal with the issues for a great deal longer than the mother must deal with a child in the womb. Granted, if she doesn’t give the child up, she will have to deal with that child as well, but frankly, at that point, it is a choice on her part.

One more point, then I must be moving on to other things. The argument that the mother will be harmed by carrying a baby is an interesting one; unfortunately for most people making that argument, the number of children killed for such “reasons” is a very small percentage of all terminated.

On top of that, I personally (albeit anecdotally) know of women who were told that either they or the baby “had to go” or both were likely to die, the problem is, that’s not how things worked out in any case where they chose to have the baby regardless the warnings.

Okay, I know I promised, but one more thought. Doctors and other medical professionals are fond of telling parents-to-be (among others), that their child will live a “substandard life” for one reason or another, if the pregnancy is not terminated.

Sometimes they’re correct, but far too often, this turns out to be not at all the case. As such, I have a hard time making the case the killing a baby for this cause is reasonable. To go a step further, yet again, overall, the number of times this happens by comparison to the number of abortions that occur in most of the world, is so small as to almost be negligible.

Okay, as usual, thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day.

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Rectitude Versus Popularity

Of all the considerations that plague modern man, one of the most difficult—particularly for the young—appears to be the battle between popularity and rectitude (being correct). For many, the battle may continue much further than their youth. Many seem, in point of fact, to continue to fight the battle for the majority of their days.

For myself, most of the time, I choose integrity and rectitude whenever they are available and am largely unwilling to accept popularity as a motivation to select a given course of action, pursuit or idea. That doesn’t always “work out,” since at times, the popular choices are the ones in front of my face, and, until I have the time and effort to devote to research, I choose them almost “by default.” I don’t think I am nearly alone in this.

For many folks though, I see popularity being the “winner” almost as a standard response, if not entirely so. This is the more unfortunate, since most of the time, the popular way of looking at and dealing with things is far from the best one.

On the other hand, I would issue a warning to anybody who has it in mind to select an answer, course or direction based on its correctness. If you really do the research be prepared to “suffer the consequences” of making your decisions based on correctness rather than as a result of looking at what is popular.

Bearing the aforementioned in mind, I would go on to issue yet another caveat. That would be, be prepared to be challenged. Sometimes the challenges that come will more or less be people who are “sold on” the popular being unwilling to accept that which you have determined to be correct, sometimes not.

I’m not saying you should ignore the former, just that you should consider anything they bring to the table through the “filter of” understanding that they are about and interested in what is popular. That doesn’t mean they won’t “bring something to the table” beyond what is common. For the most part though, be prepared for the disappointment of “shallow thought.”

In the case of the latter (those not “sold on” the popular), the chances are far better you’ll at least hear something that is reasonable and makes sense. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t greet their challenges with polite skepticism. It does though, mean you ought to be more readily willing to open your mind to what the person in question has to say.

The more research and consideration you have done, the less likely you will find others are to sway you away from the thing you have decided to be correct. And that will only “get worse” with age.

One of the things a good many young people fail to realize, is that old folks didn’t generally come to what they hold dear and believe strongly either by accident (though sometimes that’s the case, it’s not nearly always so), or overnight. It has taken my getting older to come to understand just how true a thing that is.

Regardless all of this, each person must make a decision (really many decisions) to seek direction based on some criteria and for my part, I see none of more worth than rectitude and integrity.

If you take no other thing from this, away from what I am saying here, take away the idea that your decisions are yours. You can try to “blame others” for what you have decided or chosen to believe, but in the long run, what you have decided and chosen is nothing more or less than your own.

Have a good day!

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Reality and Truth Versus Dreams and Feelings

There has been a subject on and off of my heart and mind for some time.

I won’t go into details as to why this is the case, rather, I have it in mind to cover the subject itself and let folks work out for themselves the whys and wherefores.

The subject is summed up in the title of this blog entry. My hope is to shed some light on the variance between the “two sides of” the equation in question.

I have to warn those reading, that there is a required stipulation to even possible agreement with what I am about to say. Put simply, that condition would be that you must be willing to accept that there is a reality, that there are truths, whether or not you are able to understand or observe it or them.

I hope even the most “relative” of people can accept and understand, that there is something that can be termed reality, and things that can be termed truth. I know—to some degree—that my hope is a vain one.

Even if you tell people things like, “You cannot will yourself to grow two feet in a single day, then shrink two feet more than you grew in the two hours following that growth,” with the obvious conditions that you cannot use surgeries and other external forces to accomplish these feats, there are folks who will do their level best to deny that such is the case.

Assuming those folks have since “tuned out” (based on the fact that I make the above a thing you must accept in order to hear what I am about to say), let’s go ahead and move on.

I want now to say, that I am not attempting to tell people not to dream, nor am I telling them not to feel. Dreams and feelings are necessary things. Further, they both have value when one “uses” them in the right ways. I would never say either, that one ought not seek to exceed any dream or idea that presents itself to that one. Put simply, it’s entirely okay to dream and reach beyond that which can be accounted to be possible.

I want also to make it plain that people will feel. Whether the things people feel are reasonable or not is another matter. Reasonable or not, feelings will be felt. I make no argument to the contrary.

Where I differ from “the norm” (as I see it presented many places at this point in history), is in how I believe one ought to deal with dreams and feelings; most particularly feelings.

I should say as well, that I differ with many in positions as counselors and the like, about how they deal with others facing the question of how one ought to deal with dreams, feelings and the like.

What makes this sort of thing worse, is the tendency of those presenting  various flights of fancy as if they were—-for all intents and purposes—reality.

One movie put it succinctly when it said (and this may be a slight paraphrase), “You can be anything you want here in blah blah.” Many folks seem to take such a statement at face value (or at a minimum not question it in the least when it is presented).

For those positing such an idea, I have one question. “I want to be able to jump to the moon from the surface of the Earth with no thing helping me to do so, other than the muscles in my legs, is that something I can be if I choose to do so?” And assuming I were able to do that, what would be the consequence(s) of so doing?

Obviously, I could continue to present equally outlandish desires as long as my brain continued to think them up (which, I think, would be quite a while), but I think I have made my point. This is the consideration that must be had where dreams are concerned.

With regard to feelings, we can do the same sort of exercise. “I feel like I can just  jump to the moon from the surface of the Earth with no thing helping me to do so, other than the muscles of my legs.”

The fact that I can feel such a thing though, does not make it correct. 

And it’s possible for dreams to be wrong in more ways than just impossibility. Take the following. “I feel I should be allowed to kill as many people as I like for whatever reasons (or lack thereof) I choose without fear of retribution or other consequences.”

Others may think it inappropriate so to say, but such a feeling is wrong. You should have no expectation to do such a thing, regardless what feelings you have indicating the rectitude of your course.

This is—very obviously—an extreme example, there are others that are much less so, but no less incorrect when compared to reality and truth.

Put simply, feelings betray. That is to say, they cannot be trusted. You may feel all sorts of lovely or terrible things, that does not make them correct.

For clarity’s sake, I should say that the same is true of dreams. Just because you can dream it, neither makes it correct, nor even possible.

Getting to the point then let me make the following statement. “One ought to look carefully at why they believe what believe and hold what they hold. If the one in question finds there is nothing more to support what they believe or hold than their dreams and/or their feelings, perhaps they should examine those beliefs or things held with more care and truly question the veracity of them.”

That having been said, I will get along to other things that must be done so that reality doesn’t “take a bite out of” me.

Have a good day!

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My “Qualifications” to Talk About Health and Fitness Related Issues

I started writing an article for the Health and Fitness part of my blog, and came to the conclusion that I wanted a section of the blog post that talked about my experiences and why it might not be a bad idea to consider what I say. I got into this, and began to realize that this was probably too much information for most folks to digest when coupled with the actual subject at hand.

The result was, that I decided to turn it into a blog post in its own right and to make it a “resource” for easy access. You’re reading the result of that decision.

Anybody having known me for more than five or six years is likely very much aware that I have been fairly substantially overweight within that time frame. In fact. I started battling my weight in my early to mid twenties as a member of the United States Air Force (I was in the military from the beginning of 1983 to the end of 1991, so from the time I was just turning nineteen, until just before my twenty eighth birthday).

When I joined the military, I weighed in at 145 pounds (around 65.75 kg). After Air Force Basic Training, I had dropped ten pounds and came in at a quite lean 135 pounds (somewhere in the neighborhood of 61.25 kg).

When I went from my first permanent station (around the beginning of 1985) to my second (in the Republic of Korea), I tipped the scales right around 184 pounds (closing in hard on 83.5 kg). Nobody who was in the Air Force during that period need ask how I know. For the rest of you, you should be aware that the Air Force had a “Maximum Allowable Weight” (MAW) for a given height of airman. If you exceeded that weight—unless you got a waiver—you “fell onto” the dreaded Weight Management Program. Failure to progress, meant stiffer and stiffer penalties. You can trust that I spent far too much time interested in my weight back then!

My troubles didn’t stop when I left the military though (in fact, being over my MAW was a part of the reason I left the military—I won’t go into any of the other reasons at this moment in time, among other things, they’re not really relevant to this discussion). By the time I moved to Arkansas from Washington state (where I was when I exited the military and chose to stay) around the middle of 1996, I was certainly over my MAW and probably over 200 pounds (just under 90.75 kg).

At some point around 1999 or so, I probably hit 250 pounds (just under 113.5 kg) or more. I think it likely that by 2005, I was nearer to 300 pounds (around 136 kg) than 200. If I had to guess, I think I was probably somewhere close to 275 (roughly 125 kg) at my “peak.”

The above “journey” is not one I would recommend anybody take! To this point, I have managed to “dodge the bullet” on most of the related health conditions, but not all of them. I’ll not go into detail here, just keep in mind that the potential repercussions are far worse than you really ever want to know.

In 2005, I started working at a new position in a company where I stayed for nine years. While there, I substantially pared myself down in weight and size. I went from somewhere near my peak weight, to somewhere very close to 200 pounds. In the process, I went from a 42 inch (roughly 106 cm) plus waist, to somewhere around a 38 inch (96.5 cm) waist or below.

I really didn’t start this process until around 2010 and lost virtually all that weight (and waist) through walking (yes, you read that correctly, walking). I won’t say there was no change in diet, but my focus was on getting active (and for the most part, the diet took care of itself—and I made no drastic changes).

When I started, I was walking five or ten minutes once or twice a day and probably less than a quarter mile (around .4 km), by the end of that period, I was walking an hour a day, and five miles (around 8 km) in that time. As I implied, I left that position at the end of 2013

These days (at the end of 2015),  I weigh in around 194 (88 kg) on a heavy day (I often weigh in between 192.5 and 190). I have somewhere between a 36 (around 91.5 cm) and a 34 inch (about 86.25 cm) waist.

I spend half an hour in a “gym” and about 45 minutes walking and running (I walk about 1.5 miles or roughly 2.4 km and run another half a mile or roughly .8 km). And I do this on days that I work at the office only (and all walking and running is done outside, so if the weather is sufficiently bad—raining more than a drizzle, very icy or snowing at all hard—I don’t walk or run). I don’t do anything on vacation (unless I feel like it) or if I work from home.

Of that time, I spend less than 30 minutes doing the full two mile distance, and the rest in “cool down” time. In general, I average around 4.5 mph or around 7.25 kph.

My heart rate typically “maxes out at” a number less than 160 beats per minute and when I’m truly resting, I have a heart rate in the lower seventies. And as to my “recovery?” I can “come down from” a 160 beat per minute heart rate to under 112 beats per minute in less than five minutes.

I’m far from a superman and there are a good many people in better shape than am I. That having been said, you should understand that, where the are others who have been through a journey similar to mine, I have managed to successfully bring myself into moderately good condition and keep myself there for years (not days, weeks, or even months).

If this sounds like something you may want to accomplish, then it might be beneficial for you to take some time to look at what I have to say about health and fitness.