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February 28, 2005

When I felt like quitting

Today at lunch I went for a 5.5 mile run, the same route as the last time. Overall the run felt good! But there were three times when I felt like quitting:
· Before I reached the first long uphill run.
· When I first turned the corner to head back West into Downtown and a cold, powerful gust of wind hit my face and body.
· Right after the last long downhill run.

After I started up the hill it was no problem. I loved the challenge and enjoyed the straining of my muscles. But before the hill I must have been anticipating the tough climb and how hard it was going to be. Isn’t that how we sabotage ourselves in other areas of our life also? Often things get built up in our minds and could be insurmountable and we feel like quitting before we even get into the struggle.
The cold air took my breath away and the stong wind was pushing against me suddenly. Often things take us by surprise and it stings and makes our heart stop. We want to quit just because it suddenly became overwhelming.
After the last long downhill, the run was almost over and the terrain was flat again. But I had to work going downhill also and my legs took a pounding. I knew I was almost done and it was tempting to walk the rest of the way, after all I did all the hard work already. But to complete the entire run and compare my time with my previous time, I had to do the whole thing to my high standard. I ran 8.5 minute miles and was not dissappointed. I was happy I finished the whole job.
It seems to me there are a thousand reasons to quit, give up, but for me it’s usually a mental game. To get through it I try to look at the reason I’m doing what I’m doing, and ask myself if quitting will help me toward that purpose. I try and keep the bigger picture in mind. Then I remember that usually once I get into it, it’s never as tough as my mind makes it out to be. So I usually dive into things now and keep going.

I didn’t quit running today but I felt like it three times.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:33 PM

Giving it the 3rd Degree

Today I was reviewing the theme of weather in Korean. I was looking in my book and ran across the word for ‘degree’ which is 도. In Korea they always use Celcius, 섭씨, followed by the number then the counter도. Example: 오늘 아침 기온은 섭씨 6도, 낮 기온은 13도가 되겠습니다. “The temperature this morning was 6 degrees Celcius, and it will be 13 degrees in the daytime.”
One problem though. I read this out lound and couldn’t remember if the counter도 uses pure Korean numbers or Sino-Korean numbers. I could not find this information anywhere in my books, but I did see it was part of the listening comprehension, so I listened to how they read the number 6 and 13. It’s Sino-Korean numbers! Good to know! From now on I have to memorize the numbers with the counters! To read this outloud it sounds like섭씨 육도.
This week I have to find some Korean weather reports to watch. 봄이 되겠다.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:57 PM

February 27, 2005

Never a lack of things to talk about

This evening we hosted our discussion group for dinner, dessert and conversation. It was also my turn to prepare the discussion topic. Usually the person hosting doesn’t have to do the topic but somehow I volunteered for both at the same time, maybe not fully conscious of what I was doing. So tonight my topic was going to be ‘compassion for others by those in positions of authority,’ but my topic got shot down by the committee (my wife). She said I needed to pick a lighter topic. So my plan changed to be much lighter: No topic, just see where the conversation led.
I’m happy that I did that, because we had a very good conversation about crankiness, as people get older, about relationships and problems that happen in relationships with others, and about children. All of us are parents except one woman, but she was talking about her nieces and nephews and friends children. I did notice that even without a set topic we really had a great discussion and we never once lacked something to talk about.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:59 PM

February 26, 2005

Journal Topic - Yes again

1. Are you more like a fountain or a fireplace? How so?

I am more like a fountain because I have a deep desire to give to other people and my passion keeps on coming out. Water is a source of life and gives itself to living beings to live and it seems to me fire is consuming life to continue it’s own. Although fountains and fireplaces are both mostly ornamental, and it could be argued that a fireplace gives off warmth, a fountain continues cycling water through, operating tirelessly. A fireplace eventually goes quiet and cold as the spectators go off to bed. Yet, humorously I say that I’m still here, typing another blog entry at 11:35pm.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:35 PM

I'm tired of you

This is one of those language bloopers that either makes us laugh or blush. Lesser insults could start a feud or in other words, with friends like this who needs enemies! Since Thursday I set a goal to study Russian ½ hour per day, using my two 15 minute breaks at work and then blogging about Russian or in Russian on the
weekend. So in two days I have so far studied Russian for 1 hour! It adds up. But on Friday as I was practicing speaking, here's what happened. It’s a good reason why using the correct case is really important!

My coworkers and I usually go for walks during the day around the park. It gets us away from the computer screens, gives us fresh air and only takes 7 minutes to complete the tour back to our desk. While we were walking to the elevator, I turned to one of my coworkers and said, Я устал. А тебя? [ya u-stal. A teb-ya?], meaning to say, "I'm tired, and you?" She looked at me, then looked away, then looked back at me with a strange look on her face and asked me to repeat what I said. So I did, and she just said ok, and changed the subject as we went on our walk. Then she told me to tell our other coworker the same thing I had said to her. Luckily for me she wasn’t at her desk for me to repeat this phrase.
After our walk my coworker told me that what I actually said was something like, "I'm tired of you." And that she wanted me to tell our other coworker that so we could all get a good laugh out of it. I have to admit that after the horror wore off, It was funny. One little slip of the tongue and I said something really bad. Haha. We laughed really hard about that one. She informed me that I should have said, Я устал. А ты? [ya u-stal, a Ti?]

The reason I said it the first way was because I had just read in my book the phrase Меня зовут джим. А тебя? [men-ya zo-voot Jim, a teb-ya?] which means "My name is Jim, and yours?" and It stuck in my head. I used the same phrase for, "I'm tired, and you?" But here's where I wasn't thinking clearly. Меня зовут [Men-ya zo-voot] literally means "They call me..." which makes 'me' the object of the sentence and it requires the accusative case. So when I say Меня зовут джим. А тебя? [men-ya zo-voot dxim, a teb-ya?] I'm saying 'They call me Jim, and what do they call you?' тебя [teb-ya] is the object, so it takes the accusative case. What I'm really trying to say is, "I'm tired, and you are tired?" 'You' is the subject so I have to use ты [Ti]

In Russian ’A’ is used for Joining and Contrasting and in this case used to introduce follow-up statements or questions [ see bottom of page 32 - начало]

Isn't this fun? We're still laughing about my little mistake that proved to be a big learning opportunity!

Сейчас Я устал. А ты? [cey-chas ya ustal, a ti?] Now I’m tired, and you?

But wait! There’s more! I couldn’t remember the difference between the word for entrance and the word for exit. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s a been a while and the words are very similar. But my coworker told me that if I know the meanings of the word parts, I can never forget and she was right.

One of The words used for entrance is:
вход
The word for exit is:
выход (stress is on вы)

ход is the root of the word and it means passage, walk.
в means in.
Combined, вход means entrance. (stress is on the o)

вход to me is also a fun word to say, because we just don’t have a sound like that in English! It’s pronounced something like ‘Fchhod’ where the F and the throaty sound run together.

Now for something interesting. Here is a Russian learner's blog that I found through a Korean learner’s blog. There are some interesting comments about different language materials and ideas on language learning.
http://lizzielearnsrussian.blogspot.com/

So far so good! One language blogging goal accomplished for the week! Comments or corrections are welcome. I am a lifetime student.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:12 PM

February 25, 2005

Have no fear

I’m having too much fun with my daughter's Journal Topics. Since I started doing this she keeps giving me more sheets with more topics. This last one the instructions say, “If you write more than one response, you will receive BONUS POINTS!” Note the emphasis on bonus points! The bonus for me is in sharing an interest with my daughter. We are having fun with this together. But she still has not shown me what she has written. I asked her recently if I could see her Journal topic responses so I could see and compare what she wrote with how I approached it, and then she informed me that she always chooses the last topic which is, “Topic of your choice.” haha. I so much enjoy my daughters company. I can already feel like something will be missing when she does leave home. Is this like this for every parent when their children grow up? It was like this with my son also, and it’s still strange not having him home, and not being able to talk with him every day when I come home from work. I know this is the empty nest syndrome and I know that we have to let our children grow up, but going through it and experiencing it is different than hearing about it. Even though it was hard for me when my son left home for college two years ago, it feels even stronger of a pull on my heartstrings having my daughter grow up. In a lot of ways, I can really connect with her. She is an artist and creative thinker. As an example of this connection we have, when I was leading some art workshops with some friends, she wanted to be there and paint with us. I was amazed at the cool things she made. She also volunteered to play some duets with me at Christmas, her on clarinet and me on trumpet. We performed for our family, but the practice together was the most fun. Well, I have to keep reminding myself that my children never really leave my heart. Things will just change and they will be doing what they dream of doing, which may take them to the other sides of the world. It also reminds me that we have to really make the most of every minute we are with the people we love.

1. What would it be like to have no fear? How so?

I feel like we have two kinds of fear. One is called ‘respect’ and the other is the ‘lacking of love.’ A certain amount of respect is necessary to keep us from doing stupid things that could kill us. But the other fear is not the opposite of love, but it’s like Hot and cold water. It’s all the same stuff that we are made out of, but Fear is colder water, lacking heat. So having no fear in that sense is being full of love and we can be that way if we choose.

After writing this I realize that I don’t really have to fear losing my son or daughter because I know that we are not lacking in love, so no matter what situations come up we will still love each other and life will take care of itself the same way it does now. There will just be new experiences and adventures for all of us to share.

2. If you were to adopt a different name, what would it be? Why?

I’ve already been there and tried that. After I graduated from high school I adopted the German name, Johann and all my German-speaking friends called me that. It’s just the German equivalent of my current name John. My Korean Language partner gave me a Korean name, but I forgot it already because it did not mean anything to me. But just the other day I saw the Russian spelling for John, which could be Ian or Ivan, but in this case it was just two letters pronounced “Yan.” So my adoption of a different name would really be just another translation of who I am.

Ding ding ding ding. BONUS POINTS!!! ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM

February 24, 2005

Another Journal Topic

from my daughters Journal Topic list:

1. Are you more like Twister or Scrabble? How so?

I’m more like Scrabble because I’m made up of a series of events that all fit together sequentially creating my experiences. Though at times I may feel like Twister, I believe that nothing is random and that everything I experience is the result of my choices and how I react to what has been played out already. I have the ability to change the outcome of my destiny by making different choices. Like in Scrabble, most of my choices are carefully thought out and I like to plan for better results. If things don’t work out right, I know I can search for better options, change my priorities, make better choices and create a better life.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:47 PM

The Library takes on a new life

Tonight we took a major step in creating my new in-home library. We consolidated all of our cookbooks onto two shelves. 59 cookbooks and a stack of cooking magazines with all the pages tabbed. :-) mmmm. But the major accomplishment tonight was that we moved my computer into the library room, drilled a hole in the floor and relocated our network router and cable modem into the closet. All of this took 4 hours. Ouch. Now I’m dead tired. It’s mostly my legs though because I ran 5.5 miles today at lunch, plus rode my bike. Tomorrow night I have to clean out my old office completely, which was the dining room. Then we can have a real dining room again! Just in time for company on Sunday. haha. Nothing like deadlines to breathe life into a project!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:42 PM

February 23, 2005

There is no time for me to sleep

Мне некогда спать! Especially since I got my new Russian books in the mail! I'm really excited. I opened the book up to the middle and found a very interesting dialog about a boy and his dog that got stuck in an elevator when he was trying to take the dog out for a walk. Cute little белка barked to save them and the neighbors came running!
One thing I noticed though, was that the picture in the book shows a young boy who looks much younger than the audio makes him sound. He must have gone through puberty already. haha.
In any case, Now I have a plan for refreshing my Russian skills and learning new skills. I've set aside 1/2 hour per day during the week to study Russian and then blog something about what I learned each weekend. That will be fun! This is such a cool language!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:05 PM

Mobbing: Awareness is the Key

Tonight I'd like to highlight an interesting and excellent person who is working to promote dignity and respect in our schools, workplaces and society. As Gail Pursell Elliot, the dignity and respect lady says, "No exceptions."

Every so often I get an email like this and I thought this one in particular was a good message worth sharing. It talks about mobbing, which is something I was only vaguely aware of and never gave much thought to. Since reading this though, I can recall several incidents at work that would be considered mobbing. Those were really incidents where awareness could have helped stop mobbing before it happened. Here is the whole article, which is really good food for thought:

Food for Thought - Mobbing: Awareness is the Key
©2005 Gail Pursell Elliott

Are you a mobber? Have you ever made fun of people behind their backs? Spread rumors? Played practical jokes that weren't really funny and got others to join in your laughter? Have you joined in some of this behavior thinking you were right or justified, or perhaps because you didn't want to be excluded from the group?

If you have, be aware the next time you are tempted to treat another person in this way that this is mobbing and mobbing is group bullying.

Mobbing has no age, gender, race, or work preference. It can happen to anyone. It is a 'ganging up' on someone using the tactics of rumor, innuendo, discrediting, isolating, intimidating, and above all, making it look as if the targeted person is responsible. As is typical of many abusive situations, the perpetrators maintain that the victim 'deserved it.'

Mobbing is emotional abuse that can result in depression, isolation, paranoia, physical and/or emotional illness, suicide, or violent acts of retaliation. At the very least, it leaves permanent scars. Many targets suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is always injury.

Mobbing has been a household word in German-speaking countries for years. The original research on workplace mobbing was done in Sweden, beginning in the early 1980's, by industrial psychologist Dr. Heinz Leymann.

Insight and awareness play a major role in change because many people engage in this type of behavior without thinking. Prevention includes paying attention not only to what we're doing but also to what is going on around us. Most people don't intentionally abuse someone.

While the media showcases big stories, our lives are full of little stories that are never broadcast. We don't hear about the child who is afraid to ride the school bus because no one will sit with them or because of what others say to them or the worker who dreads going to work and suffers from nightmares because of the work environment. We don't hear about people who are so distracted by this type of behavior being directed at them that they are involved in an auto accident.

Here's an example of how insight and awareness can make a difference. A woman had read about workplace mobbing and was telling someone about it. These two attended an aerobics class together. There was a relatively new member of the class who was rather uncoordinated and as a result was throwing everyone off of their rhythm. Although she was friendly, the other class members talked about her, made fun of her behind her back and wished she'd just drop out and leave. Suddenly one of the two chatting about mobbing said, "'Oh my goodness! Are we mobbing this woman?"

It was a revelation. They decided to get to know the woman better. They found that she was an intelligent, professional person who did a lot of good work with teens. They found that when they looked past her loud voice and her uncoordinated movements that she was a person who they could like and respect. That's what the word respect means as I interpret it. To 'look again.'

The woman is still in the class. She stands in the back row. And the others have stopped their mobbing behavior simply because they became aware of what they were doing, and the implications and potential result of their actions.

Most of us choose to believe that we are basically good human beings. And we're right. The more aware we become of the fact that others are good human beings also, worthy and entitled to be treated with dignity and respect without exception, the closer we will be to recreating our world and helping to heal it. Awareness is the key.

Have a great day and be good to yourself. You deserve it!

Gail

©2005 Gail Pursell Elliott All rights reserved.
Food For Thought is part of the Dignity and Respect message that is Innovations. If you enjoyed this Food For Thought message, please share it with others. Honor the copyright and forward this email in its entirety.
Reprinting or re-distribution in any form for commercial use, including reproducing or displaying on your website, requires permission. Contact Gail at gail@innovations-training.com or at 515.388.9600

Gail has more food for thought articles on her website as well as books, posters and other tools to help promote dignity and respect for everyone. I am interested reading those books sometime. They look very useful and thought provoking. http://www.innovations-training.com. Check it out. I think she is providing a useful service to our businesses and society. If we really want a better society, this is a good way to start changing it, with love and dignity and respect for each human being, no exceptions.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:12 PM

February 22, 2005

A Child's View of Dad

On Saturday afternoon we had a little birthday celebration for my children. My parents and two of my brothers were there along with my children and their boyfriend and girlfriend. We bowled two frames and then ate pizza and had cake, then gave some gifts. Since my mom wasn't around during my birthday, she gave me a card also. I thought that was nice.
But inside of the card was something even nicer. When my grandfather died, my aunt had put together some photo albums and on one page with pictures of my dad and grandpa there was this little article. I don't know the source of it, but I know it's been around for a while. In any case, my mom gave this to me in my card:

A Child's View of Dad

At Age 4 "My dad can do anything."
At Age 7 "My dad knows a lot, a whole lot!"
At Age 14 "How could I ever expect dad to understand this?"
At Age 19 "My old man just isn't with it!"
At Age 30 "I've got to find out what dad thinks about this."
At Age 40 "Before we decide, let's get dad's idea first."
At Age 60 "My dad knew literally everything."
At Age 65 "How I wish I could talk it over with dad just once more."

The years go by, and it certainly changes our thinking.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:06 PM

February 21, 2005

Journal Topic part two

From my daughters Journal Topic list:

1. What would it be like to swim with a dolphin? How so?

When I was in elementary school I used to pretend I was a dolphin and swim with my feet together and try to shoot out of the water. In my mind I soared far and high and dove back in with as much power and finesse as a dolphin. Flipper would have been proud of me. In swimming like a dolphin, I was a noble creature, which I still stry to imitate in life. Dolphins are playful, loving creatures, that always seem to smile. It seems that Swimming like a dolphin is a good way to live.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:48 PM

Seeing the good in others

Jim called me an unflappable optimist, which I am; I see the good in others. I see and recognize Jim’s contribution to our environment and the promotion of a healthier physical lifestyle. Exercise and cleaner air are both win-win situations for every one of us. I know that talk is cheap and doing what Jim is doing day in and day out, in our society is not easy. Some days it’s 30 degrees, some it’s –20 degrees, and whether he feels up to it or not, he’s out there riding his bike saving the planet with his actions not just words. And I know from experience that people around us often think of it as crazy. But it's a little understood form of sanity. haha.
Today I rode my bike home from Downtown St. Paul and I had a chill that I just couldn’t shake all day. As I was riding up the hill, I remember thinking that I was really looking forward to getting home and throwing a blanket around myself and getting warm. I did that and ended up napping for an hour. It felt really good. This illustrates a point that doing a good thing is not always easy and often requires us to go way beyond our comfort zone. My comfort zone is getting stretched all the time, and so is Jim’s. Commuting by bike every day even in Minnesota’s weather is only an external sign of the change that is going on inside. Jim discovered that most of it is attitude. Some equipment, but like he’s quick to point out, not having expensive equipment shouldn’t stop us from getting out there and doing it. Old attitudes no longer work for us and our attitudes change and improve. Our old beliefs about how things are, change when they no longer serve us. In a recent post, Jim was talking about some attitudes in small rural towns that he disliked, yet when he was growing up, he probably modeled himself after some of those adults with attitudes like those he described. But that doesn’t mean we have to live with those attitudes when we realize they no longer work and no longer fit who we are.
Another thing I recognize about Jim, is that regardless of what others think, (PC police in particular, haha) he is willing to have a dialog. This is not easy for many people because of insecurities and fear. He is also willing to change his beliefs about something when new evidence or experiences present themselves. Cycling in the winter is one thing even he would not have considered possible before when he had the belief that he needed his car for everything but going to the bathroom. Too often in life we are unwilling to change our beliefs in the name of being right, even if it means killing each other. We have done it throughout history. In the early days of human history we hunted and killed and defended ourselves just to survive. Now days we have laws against doing that to our neighbors and we don’t really fight to survive like we did before. Now our survival seems much more mental. We don’t hunt for our food or raid the neighboring tribe and drag our women back home like barbarians, but we do struggle to determine who we are. We are all trying to find our place and some meaning to our lives. We desire love and recognition. It wasn’t our caveman actions that have changed over the centuries, but our beliefs about who we are and the world we live in because our beliefs create our actions. This is good because we know that we are not predestined to kill each other off. If we can change our attitudes and beliefs toward others and the world around us there is hope.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:38 PM

February 20, 2005

Journal Topic

Tonight when I was working on my blog entry, my daughter gave me a slip of paper for her previous Journaling assignment and told me that if I ever get stuck I could use some of these ideas to help me think of something. Actually the reason I was working on my blog entry for over an hour and a half tonight was because my computer kept crashing on me and I had to restart and start typing all over again when I lost everything. But once she gave me that piece of paper, I changed my mind about what to write about and decided to use one of these topics.
The directions said to use a 4 to 6 sentence paragraph to respond to one of these topics. Ok, I’ve already surpassed that explaining what I’m doing, haha. But I’ll try.

1. Are you like noon or midnight? How so?

I’m like midnight because I am often awake and trying to post my blog entry at midnight. Also, I like the solitude and peacefulness of this time of night for working on things that require concentration. I have often stayed up all night working on a project, reading, painting or writing. Midnight is the turning point for a new day while noon is the halfway point. In regards to my age, I don’t feel like I’m half way through life, I feel like I am just beginning to live.

That’s good, 5 sentences. But I’m glad I did not choose this topic:

2. How much money do you think your autograph will be worth 50 years from now? Why?

If I said it would be worth a lot, I’d be pretentious and if I said it wouldn’t be worth anything, I’d be self-deprecating. 50 years from now I’ll be 92 years old. If I’m still alive I hope that I will be like “The Legend” John Sinibaldi who at age 90 was riding 150 miles per week on his bicycle. I don’t know if he signs autographs, but I heard that people have asked him to have their pictures taken with him and that some people had T-shirts made that said, “I rode with the Legend.” If my autograph has some value at that age, I’ll print some cool T-shirts that say something like, “I was inspired by this really old guy’s attitude” and give them away to people I lead on bike tours. If I’m not alive at age 92, then my autograph value won’t matter to me.

Wow, look at that, six sentences. I like the idea of economy of words. If I can’t say it in 4 to 6 sentences I’m probably long winded. I think this is a good exercise for me to try in future blog entries and it’s good writing practice.

Tomorrow you get to hear about what I was originally writing about today. Monday is President’s Day and I have that as a Holiday so I’m not working. I think a bike ride through the park in the snow is in order, with studded tires of course. ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 11:34 PM

February 19, 2005

Generalizations and Stereotypes

Are usually wrong.

Reduce the world down to the size of a pea
and what do we see?

Nothing.

Usually we find that when we stereotype someone we really haven’t gotten to know them. And this is sad.
We usually don't like this done to us.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:55 PM

February 18, 2005

A great philosophical question

Are there things that are purposefully withheld from us, that we are not allowed to know until a certain time? Is there a great veil that we are not allowed to see beyond? Are we purposefully held back from total understanding and knowledge?
Or are there things we don’t know because we are not yet capable of knowing them? Is it because some things are beyond our current comprehension that we don’t know?
In everyday things it may not really matter as much to us, but when we talk about life after this life, like when we die and what happens to our spirit or energy or whatever, then we seem to be in the dark and we wish we knew. Some people speculate that it’s on purpose, that what happens after death is purposefully withheld from us, and some people speculate that what happens after death we just could not comprehend, so we don’t know.
Regardless of which case is true, we are still here, and we will eventually experience it for ourselves. All of life is about change, so why should this be any different. We know we will change. That’s kind of obvious. Our bodies cease to be ‘alive’ and turn to dust. Something has to happen to our energy, or spirits. Change is inevitable in this case. In the mean time what do we do with the time, gifts, talents and resource we have? In one way the more we learn and do, the more we are capable of learning and doing. The more we love, the more we are capable of loving. Our comprehension of what is possible expands and we realize that we can think, be and do greater and greater things. We change.
So with the nature of life being change, it is logical that as we change, the more we realize and comprehend, the more we are capable of realizing and comprehending. There would be no need to withhold knowledge or information because we wouldn’t be able to comprehend it until we are ready.
Therefore it’s important to keep learning, keep changing and trying to understand so we are ready for the next level. God tells us that if we ask, we’ll get answers, if we knock, the door will be opened, if we seek, we will find. This is how we comprehend greater and greater things.
Ignorance remains stagnant and refuses to seek answers, refuses to learn, refuses to change. In ignorance we cannot possibly see or comprehend the incomprehensible. In ignorance we might blame God for withholding information from us. That would be a very jealous view of God's wisdom and knowledge of all things. I would have to ask, why are you keeping me from this? But is God purposefully withholding wisdom and knowledge of all things from us or are we just not capable of comprehending it yet?
There is a natural progression of life, and that is part of the transformation we go through, but we have to go through the change to comprehend what is greater that we cannot yet understand. We can go through tremendous changes while living in this form, if we want to. If we change purposefully, we will comprehend greater and greater things even before we die.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:57 PM

February 17, 2005

Expectations and disappointment

Yesterday I mentioned another adventure that I was going on, that I discovered while running. As I was running over a railroad bridge yesterday, I glanced over the railing and I saw a bicycle down there. I couldn’t see a lot of details, except that it had no wheels and that the word Trek was on the frame. So, I thought it would be worth going back to check it out later.
After work last night I went to the Sibley Bike Depot to volunteer my time to help get the shop ready for reopening to the public. I put up hooks to hang bike tires on and organized the tires by size and type. Then I helped a little with stripping an old metal bike frame for scrap metal salvage. They salvage some bikes that are not worth the expense of rebuilding. It’s sad to say that some bikes end up in the scrap heap, but they do. This bike frame I picked up under the railroad bridge is going to be recycled also as scrap metal. After working at the bike shop, I borrowed their bike trailer to go pick up this Trek bike I saw while running. It also gave me a chance to try one brand of bicycle trailer. I intend to buy or make my own, so this was a good test for me.
Since it was too dark last night going home, I decided to pick the bike up this morning, so on my way to work I took a little detour and found my way under the train bridge. I found the Trek bike and at first I was a little disappointed in the find. I thought Trek make only good bikes, but this one was an old mountain-bike style with a heavy metal frame and cheaper model that was rusting out. All the Trek bikes I’ve seen have cost 300 dollars and up, but obviously this one couldn’t have been one of those. Also it had been burned on the back end. The metal was charred, the little red plastic reflector on back was half melted and the paint was all gone. The paint being gone was why the back end of the frame was all rusted I supposed. Also, the right side crank arm was broken off and there were no pedals.
This was a good adventure and incorporated many different points of pleasure. The salvaged bike wasn’t really the only aspect motivating me. I did expect though that I’d find a bike down there by the railroad tracks that could be rebuilt. I even thought if it was a newer bike I might be able to call the police station and see if they had any reports of stolen bikes that match that description, still thinking that this Trek bike might have some value to it. Some frames are worth a lot of money. But it’s in pretty bad shape and missing too many parts to make it worth rebuilding. So I was a little disappointed because my expectations were too high. Maybe that’s normal before we know all the facts. We often anticipate things and build up our expectations in our minds before we know and experience an event. This could lead to an emotional situation that creates turmoil in our lives. Yes, I was disappointed in the find, at the moment that I got a good look at this bike. I think that’s a normal reaction, but it did not detract from my mood and my enthusiasm for what I was doing. I had just done something I had never done before and checked out a trailer to see how it worked. It also made me aware I did not need a car for this whole operation. That is liberating in itself. When I got to work, two of my bicycle-commuting co-workers wanted to see the bike trailer and how it attached to the bike frame. My friend Dan said he wanted the other Crank arm that wasn’t broken, so I was going to salvage that for him today when I brought the bike in and returned the trailer to the Sibley bike depot. Another great thing about today was that I helped clean up the environment of someone else’s trash and recycled some metal.
When I got to the Sibley Bike Depot, the person I was going to meet didn’t show up. I waited for a half hour and then came back. I had no way to secure this trailer there and couldn’t get into the shop, so I had to leave. Now tomorrow I’ll be busy all day at work and am having lunch with a friend to help him with a drawing project, so I have to secure the trailer for the weekend at my work. I was disappointed in that also, but things happen and he didn’t have my phone number so if something came up he wouldn’t be able to call me. Regardless, I felt the disappointment, acknowledged it, and sent him an email telling him how I felt, then let it go. I still don’t know all the facts and even if he did just completely forget, I know we are all human and we sometimes cannot live up to other people’s expectations. So I understand and accept that also and it’s ok. But while I was waiting for him to show up, I got to experience something special. Outside of building lobby’s window, I saw an urban cat cleaning itself and sunning in a sheltered nook out of the wind. His eyes were squinting in the sunlight and he didn’t notice me watching him. It was a rare opportunity to just observe another living creature doing it’s own thing without me being noticed. This was a blessing to me and worth the time I took to go there.
These experiences are a good example of how we often let our expectations turn into disappointment, creating that roller coaster effect. I’ve heard people say before that “life is full of disappointment, get used to it.” But that’s not the lesson we should learn. That’s a cynical view of life and is not helpful to bringing us more joy and peace in life. “Life sucks and then you die,” is not a happy view on life. The lesson is that yes, we can be disappointed but there is a bigger picture. There is much more to be seen in every situation. We can curb some of our expectations and anticipation, and we might not be so disappointed when we actually experience the event, but we also can keep in mind that there are many other great things about life and other experiences surrounding the experience. There are other people involved and other experiences within experiences. How we react to one of those experiences is important. Sure I was disappointed because my expectations were built up, but it was only for a moment and I was happy I had these experiences. We are human beings and have emotions for a reason. I have long given up trying to resist my emotions. I also believe that suppressing them is not the answer either. When I experience things like this, I know I’m alive and well. (I also cry during the emotionally charged scenes in movies.) Being sad and disappointed and afraid are also normal, especially when faced with losing a person or animal that we love. We can let it happen, but also learn to develop a greater picture of life and see the other good things in life.
Last night my dad called me and told me my great uncle John passed away. I was named after him and my great grandfather John. It is a sad time, and we are allowed to cry and miss him. It’s normal and necessary to mourn. And in this I will also experience our family coming together to share great memories and giving comfort to each other. It’s a beautiful thing. We have the capacity to love and to feel emotions and be alive.

The adventure is not over…

Posted by carl1236 at 5:18 PM

February 16, 2005

Im gonna run to you!

"Yeah
Im gonna run to you
Oh when the feelings right
Im gonna run all night
Im gonna run to you"

Inspired by this blog entry on RUNNING ERRANDS and my January 24th post RUNNING OUT FOR DINNER , I decided to Run to my wife at lunch time. I ran 6.2 miles and as a reward I got a kiss and two chocolate chip cookies! How sweet. When I got back to my desk, every muscle in my body was exhausted. It was the longest run so far since I started running this year, but I did not die and actually felt ok.
Going across the bridge was really windy and cold, and my face got cold but other than that, I was warm from the exertion. When I got to my wife’s workplace, I was tempted to hop on the bus and ride that back to my office, but I resisted, thinking that I will never improve if I give up so easily. So I ran back, and it was ok. I’m glad I did. But that dang Brian Adams song was playing in my head the whole time I was running. I had to laugh at that. My wife laughed too and told me I was crazy. But later she told me, “good for you!”

Now I’m off to another adventure (that I discovered while running!)

Posted by carl1236 at 5:36 PM

February 15, 2005

Fear, uncertainty and doubt

At different times in our life we are faced with fear, uncertainty, and doubt. This morning when I was riding my bicycle to work, going up a long hill and breathing heavily, another person on a bicycle zipped by me as if it was easy. It kind of bothered me at that moment that he made it look so easy while I was panting and starting to break a sweat. I couldn’t quite place what bothered me because I didn’t think that people going faster than me was a problem. I’ve had people fly by me many times throughout last year and it did not effect me like this. I thought, “good for them!,” “Way to go!” or “I will get there.” But something nagged at me about this instance. I have ridden this same route almost every day and enjoy it. I like the pressure of going up hills. But when this cyclist zipped by me, I felt something. It wasn’t envy, anger or a competitive feeling. It was self-doubt.
It wasn’t until I got into work that I realized what it was. When I arrived I had to deliver a package to one of the people I know on another floor in our building, and she commented how wonderful it was that I was still riding my bike. She said she thought I must be in great shape now because of my daily bike riding. That’s when it hit me; I understood what I was feeling when that cyclist zipped by me like it was nothing. I’ve been bicycle commuting almost every day for nearly a year, plus doing training for racing and I felt like I should be in much better shape, and I doubted my own physical abilities and progress. I suddenly felt really weak and unimproved.
It’s an easy trap to fall into when we are in the process of changing. My doubts surfaced when the validity of my self-view was challenged. I thought that maybe my physical condition wasn’t as developed as I thought it was or should have been. My view of myself before this incident was one of accomplishment and progress.
Fear, uncertainty and doubt seem to be natural for human beings, but they can make life seem like an emotional roller coaster. Often we don’t realize that these things are clouding our perceptions of things and we let them effect us in a negative and debilitating way. Then we get over it and feel better. We go up and down and in some cases there are more downs than ups. To steadily overcome the effects of fear, uncertainty and doubt we need to change our views again.

My views on this incident today changed to a more positive and truthful view by realizing the following:

1. I just started riding a bike almost 1 year ago after being sedentary, glued to a computer screen for the past 15 years. Change takes time and I’m on the beginning of the change curve. This is a larger picture view.

2. I confided my doubts to my cycling friend Dan this morning and he reminded me that I was riding a mountain bike with big knobby tires and the other guy was riding a lighter road bike with skinny tires. Skinny tires make road riding much easier than knobby tires so speeds can be higher with the same or less exertion. Also I had no idea what background or training and experience this guy had. This is one danger of comparing ourselves with others. We often are not doing equal comparisons.

3. When I was near the water cooler today, one of my coworkers asked me what I was doing for running these days, and when I told him that I ran 5.5 miles yesterday, he said that I was really increasing my capabilities fast. He didn’t expect to see this much progress so quickly. Too often we are willing to degrade our progress because it’s not ‘enough’ compared to others. It’s true. About 15 years ago I used to be a good runner, but then just quit cold-turkey and haven’t been able to break through my mental block against running since then. Now I’m running regularly and it feels good. That was a major breakthrough for me! I should have given myself credit for what I have done. My progress is my own progress and it is progress for me so it’s valuable.

When we are in the process of changing, which is all the time, our fear, uncertainty and doubts can surface and our self-view will be challenged. Of course it’s better if we can see our fear, uncertainty and doubt for what they are, as they are happening, and realize a bigger picture, do equal and objective comparisons and give ourselves credit for what we have done. Then our roller coaster ups and downs won’t be so drastic. Our ride will be smoother and we’ll be happier.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:30 PM

February 14, 2005

La pronuncia italiana

Sunday, and at work today, and while running I’ve been listening to an Italian-language tape. The first lesson is pronunciation. This is pretty standard with language courses because pronunciation is one of the key building blocks in learning any language. The words we hear in our heads should match the words a native speaker of a language is saying.
Otherwise we get the problem I have with Korean right now, where even if I know the meaning of a word, it’s hard for me to pick it up in conversation. And when I try to speak, I face the possibility that I might not be understood.
But there is another reason for me to study and practice ‘pronuncia;’ It is respectful to the people of the countries that speak the language as their native language. It’s kind of like the problem of mispronouncing the word “Italian,” as I’ve heard so frequently around here. Instead of saying a short ‘i’ sound, as in ‘Rick’, people say ‘I-talian,’ as in ‘eye.’
As I’m reading about Leonardo da Vinci, I’m running across many Italian words that have not been translated and now I know how to pronounce them and I understand why things like the ‘g’ in ‘Buongiorno!’ sounds like a ‘J’ to me; It’s for the same reason that the ‘c’ in ‘La pronuncia italiana’ sounds like a ‘ch’ instead of a ‘k’ sound.
If you think about it, language is the way that we express our own ideas. It is very close and intimate with us. We cannot separate our thoughts from our language, because it is built-in to our system. It is how we transfer information in and out and around inside. Getting to know someone else’s language is like getting to know them personally. When thoughts do not have to be translated into another language, the true meaning and feeling of the words are understood.

I love people. And languages are part of who we are. Getting to know people and learning their language is important.

Buongiorno!

Posted by carl1236 at 5:12 PM

February 13, 2005

Happiness Part Two

One of the things that article in the February 6th Pioneer Press said is a way to get happier is to "Seek work and leisure that engage your skills. Happy people are absorbed in tasks that challenge but don't overwhelm. Sitting idly doesn't cut it." Rick Snyder, psychology professor at the University of Kansas and author of "The psychology of hope," has shown with his research that happy people are High-hope people. "Hopeful people are adept at pursuing goals and attaining some of them. The pursuit of goals is hope's engine."
In the book, Taking Care of Me, The Habits of Happiness by Mary Kay Mueller, the author equates hopeful thinking with optimism. She states that Optimism is a set of beliefs based on the following tenets:
1. The bad things in life are temporary (limited in time).
2. The bad things in life are small or insignificant (limited in scope)
3. I have control over my environment.

Pessimistic beliefs are based on the opposite tenets:
1. The good things in life are temporary.
2. The good things in life are small or insignificant.
3. I have little or no control. Rather, I am a victim of my environment.

She said, “Optimists and pessimists are both right about the same number of times. Optimists just enjoy life more.” In her book she includes part of a great poem by Edgar Guest:

“...There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done
There are thousands to prophecy failure
There are thousands to point out to you one by one
the dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle right in with a bit of a grin
Just take off your coat and go to it
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That cannot be done and you’ll do it!”

This is beautiful, and optimism or hope really is a trait of a happy person, and it can be learned and nurtured and created in us. However this idea of setting goals as a way to happiness can also go too far the other way and leave us exhausted and unhappy. We can miss the point of it. All of the experts agree that sleep/rest is vital to our happiness. I think we need to turn this inside out for a little different perspective. Happy people do things that are engaging and rewarding. Setting goals and accomplishing them doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be happy once we arrive at our goal. However, being thoroughly engaged in something is pretty joyful. Carl Honore’, author of “In Praise of Slowness”, about our culture’s addiction to “more-better-faster,” said that one of the keys to happiness is to slow down. Learn to live in THIS moment and enjoy it. It’s hard to be optimistic when we are overwhelmed. Doing more does not nessisarily mean more happiness, but happy people enjoy what they are doing and are optimistic or high-hope.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:57 PM

NASCAR Fresh Air

Today at the group home, I had the NASCAR Daytona 500 qualifications on the TV for one of the guys who likes to watch racing. It was just a coincidence that I was flipping through a men's fitness magazing and saw a little table with statistics about two of auto racing's hottest stars, Kasey Kahne and Dan Wheldon. Last year Kasey Kahne earned $4,759,022 and Dan Wheldon earned $1,640,790 for racing cars. And I think others like Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Jeff Gordon probably earn more than that with all of the endorsements they do.
What struck me as really odd, was that all around me, I'm reading about people like Jim who gave up his car to fight pollution and reduce dependency on oil and I'm even working on that myself. This idea of fighting global warming is important. But obviously not important enough when money is concerned. Auto racing is big money! It's kind of interesting that while one person is giving up their car on a daily basis, which in our society can sometimes be a sacrifice, another one is driving at speeds of 205mph to 220mph, consuming more fuel and releasing more toxins into the air than many normal cars, and getting paid millions of dollars to pollute the environment. I don't think any of these professional drivers will be giving up their cars or careers any time soon. I'm sure there are millions of ways to justify why this is ok. They most likely don't think about the environment and most racing fans probably don't consider the impact on our environment either. And if they did, would they still watch racing and buy their products? If the fans thought that this was an environmentally unfriendly human activity, and they stopped tuning in, then the advertisers and sponsorrs would have to drop their sponsorship for something that reaches the consumers. But as a consumer society our mainstream thoughts are not on the Environment. They are on things that bring us more power more control over our environment. So it's ironic that as we tune in, we are losing control over our environment and paying millions to do it.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:02 PM

February 12, 2005

Happiness

Today I worked until 4pm, and then came home, worked on my library project until it got dark out, ate dinner and sat down at my computer to write. But nothing came out. Instead I watched a little TV, read an article in the Reader’s Digest about how new scanning technology can enhance the clarity of an old recording of the JFK assassination. Interesting. It could prove definitively how many shots were fired.
Then I put on a new CD I bought last night at the coffee shop. Six hours west of Waco lies a town called Odessa, Texas. It’s also the title song of the new CD by Draper Daniels. They sing, “I’ve always had this urge to see Odessa, I confess I just like the name.” And I confess that I like this group. They have good music and are pleasant to talk to. So here I am listing to their music at home too. As they sang, “It’s not looking good for going to Odessa, I won’t get there this time around,” I realized that I like the sound on this CD.
Today at the library I walked by the book sale isle to see if anything caught my eye. First I looked through the magazines for forty cents each and then I looked at the rack of books for a dollar each. Then it nearly hit me between the eyes: Finding your Religion by Rev. Scotty McLennan. This is the guy that inspired Garry Trudeau’s character Reverend Scot Sloan in Doonesbury. It’s interesting reading about how people find, lose and find their faith. I can’t believe this book only cost me a dollar. What a deal. Now you see why I’m building a library.
I got six shelves painted tonight and the top to my desk to match the shelving. Tonight I moved the shelving units into the room and positioned them. Once I had them in there, I realized it looked horrible so I had to rearrange them. That took me over an hour to find something balanced and functional. Now I have to secure them together, put the shelves in, put up the blinds and the molding around the ceiling and finish painting my desk. Then I will move my computer in there, set up the library database and start cataloging and organizing my books. That will be a spiritual journey I think, at least a trial of my patience and fortitude. Chapter one of Finding your Religion: The Mountain Beckons. ;-)
As I was sitting here contemplating that I also looked at a paper I had saved to read later. In the Sunday, February 6, 2005 Pioneer Press, there was an article about Happiness, called, “What’s right with you?” Happiness and positive thinking are buzzwords now days as more and more people are claiming the powers of positive thinking. The article said that researchers claim that 50 percent of happiness is genetic, about 10 percent life circumstances and 40 percent that we can potentially influence. The article also says that people can learn to be hopeful. Yes, it’s true. But learning to be happy is often hard work along with change of attitude.
I wasn’t always happy. I changed inside. The source of my happiness changed. Instead of work or money or other people even being the source of my happiness, now I find it like a steady flowing river inside. Now I know from experience that we can change inside and that there is hope.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:55 PM

February 11, 2005

Returning Home

Today I tried to study Korean again. It was difficult. And then I return home. Now I have to sleep.

오늘은 한국어를 다시 공부해봤어요. 그렇지만 어려워요.
затем возращаются домой. Jetz müss ich schlaffen.

Here are three sentences in foreign Languages, with the translation in English above. I wrote in Korean, Russian, German and English and easily switched between the four.

I can do this for other character sets also. I discovered that in order to type with one of these alphabets, I have to have a keyboard designed for it, or map my keyboard to one of them. To do this I downloaded the Microsoft Global IME. Once installed, you can select multiple languages to use with it. Then to figure out which keys on my keyboard type which character, I just had to experiment in a blank document by typing each key. I can type right into this blog entry edit box or in any Windows program like Microsoft Word. When I post this blog, the characters are automatically converted to unicode characters so there really is nothing to it.

I used a sharpie marker to write the characters for Korean and Russian on my keyboard, but they keep wearing off. After the letters dried, I put some fingernail polish over the letters and that works for a long time. You might have to reapply it every so often. But make sure the marks are really dry before applying the fingernail polish or the letters will run and not look very sharp/clear.

I lost the site to download the Global IME, but it should be easy to search for. To practice Korean and Russian, I'll be adding some comments in those languages and character sets in my blog, but I'll always give an English translation for whatever I write.

Writing practice is a good learning tool.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:55 PM

February 10, 2005

A Winter debate

Now that it’s been a few days where the temperature has hung around 20 degrees while I’ve been riding my bike, I’m starting to get used to it. It’s almost like it’s nothing. I am amazed at how we can adapt to our surroundings. This morning as I was riding I felt like pushing my body as hard as I could for a while, to feel the muscles crying for more oxygen. As I was going up the hill on the Wabasha Bridge from the flats into downtown, I decided to keep the same pace and keep pushing until my muscles were burning. Then I decided to keep doing it to see at what point my muscles would fail. I went past the burning sensation and out of sheer willpower kept the pace but my muscles did not fail me. When I got to the top though, and slowed down, my legs felt like Jelly.
Yesterday at work I was in the break room talking with another guy who I’ve been associated with on various projects. He’s a very intelligent man in his field and well respected for what does. But he struck up a mini-debate with me about why it’s insane to bike in this weather. His points against it were:

1. Anything below freezing is too cold.
2. You are polluting the air when you are breathing too.
3. Skiing in this weather is also insane.
4. It’s not enjoyable when it’s that cold.
5. Winters in Minnesota are almost uninhabitable.
6. Human beings are not meant to live in conditions like this.

Today at lunch I ran 5.5 miles at an average of 8 minutes 28 seconds per miles. It was about 25 degrees F. I saw several people out running and one person riding a bike. The only thing that was insane about it was that I got too hot and had to take off my headband and gloves and unzip my running jacket. When I was down running along the stream, feeling my heart beating and hearing the rhythm of my heavy, steady breathing mixing with the water’s rush, I remembered just why I used to love running so much when I was younger. I could feel the burning in my muscles and the sweat was running into my eyes. In the physical condition that I’m in now, that level of sustained exertion was pushing my limit, but it felt really good! After I showered and returned to my office, I ate lunch and it never tasted so good! The apple seemed juicier and the food much more flavorful. It must be the deep hunger of my body craving fuel after expending it all, and the fresh air enlivening my senses.
Now tonight I’m stiffening up and I’m feeling a little sore, but I know that this is part of my training plan. I know it will make me stronger and a better athlete. So I’ll stretch a little more tonight and take it easy tomorrow and then run again on Saturday. The bike-racing season really starts in May here, so I will be ready. Sticking to my plan will be the hardest part until then. It’s a lot easier to stick to a plan when there is a goal in sight. Tonight and tomorrow I’m working on the racing schedule for the year. That will tell me how I’m going to train each week.

No arguments against my cycling in the winter are valid, because I’m doing it and it’s not insane to me. If I’m capable, mentally and physically prepared, doing it regularly, improving my health, being environmentally friendly and it’s enjoyable is it insane? But I can see why some people can’t do this. My friend Lee is in a wheelchair. He probably won’t be cycling in the winter. But he does get outside and ride around downtown in the fresh air.

But our little debate was in good fun and I don’t really think his arguments were meant to dissuade me from cycling in the winter, but more to justify to himself why he can’t or wouldn’t do it also. I think though if a 42-year-old man who has sat at a computer for the past umpteen years can become an athlete, there are many more things in life that I must have told myself I couldn’t do before. In this way we really can be our own enemies.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:43 PM

February 9, 2005

Something really cool happening

Riding my bike yesterday morning in the 20-degree weather I didn’t expect anything but the usual cars and buses and people walking all bundled up. But as I entered downtown, I saw a bike messenger zipping by going to my left. We made eye contact as their head whipped around to look at me. I don’t think that that person expected to see another cyclist out there on the streets either. Let’s face it, it’s February, and it’s only 20 degrees outside. There are probably not going to be many people out riding their bicycles. But there are a few. Last night going home, I saw three people on bicycles. Well, almost saw. I couldn’t see their faces because they all had on some kind of mask to protect their faces from the cold. Though none of us pulled over and struck up a conversation, we all made eye contact, as if checking each other out and acknowledging something very cool. There is a kind of recognition of what we discovered.

Everyone at work knows that I bike to work now. (EVEN now, as they are thinking!) It’s encouraging to me that just doing my own thing, I’ve already inspired some of my coworkers. Yesterday someone I have never talked to before told me on the elevator that they were going to start riding their bike to work once a week when Spring comes.

I am even thinking about Spring differently now. I don’t know what it is. I’m not dreading winter and thinking I’d rather be somewhere else. I’m not anticipating getting out of the cold and into the warmer weather. I’m just enjoying it in a way I have never done before. It’s strange and almost unreal. Like meeting another cyclist when it’s 20 degrees outside. I can just acknowledge it as something really cool happening.

Posted by carl1236 at 3:59 AM

February 8, 2005

Q & A

Q: Why do these machines always break down for me? I must have some kind of bad Karma! (A girl working at a coffee shop)
A: It’s not bad Karma. All things wear out.

Q: Why did that woman have to die so young? It’s not fair. (A person overheard talking to his friend on the bus while reading the obituaries)
A: Life is not unfair, but we often misunderstand the nature of life. Nature doesn’t play favorites.

Q: Life is soooo unfair! Why does she get all the breaks? (A woman talking to her friend about a young pop star that bought a 3000 dress for an event.)
A: Life is not unfair, human beings are unfair.

Too often we want to blame others or something else like Karma for the troubles we have in life. We want to blame God, or blame our bosses or blame our unlucky stars. But is the universe really against us? All evidence points to a loving, supportive universe that provides everything all living things need to survive. Food, oxygen, and water are in abundance. There is a natural order and perfection in the cycles of living and dying in this universe.
Many human beings have a limited and fearful understanding of life and especially of death. We fear losing our lives, and fear the unknown. Then our lives become fearful.

Q: What’s worth doing with my life? (A prominent businesswoman asked herself before she started a magazine devoted to business ethics)

Life can be a series of heartbreaks or it can also be an opportunity to use our skills and talents and gifts to the best of our abilities. This last question was not “What is this life doing for me?” Or “What can I get out of life?” Because life was not designed to do anything but provide life for us. We don’t deserve anything more than life, and we don’t deserve less. Nature is impartial. But when we always ask, “what can I get?” We are trying to secure what we are afraid of losing. We are trying to make it ‘fair’ for us.

Nature happens. Life happens. We are alive. When someone else suffers we always have a choice. What makes a difference is not in the taking but in what we can give. The first step is not blaming God or the world or the universe and asking instead, “what’s the best use of my life?” Then when you find the answer, do it.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:12 PM

February 7, 2005

Information Please.

One of the frustrations of learning a language is the lack of the proper words to express what is in my mind.
When I look things up in the dictionary I want to know the correct word to use. But many times there are several words listed without an adequate explanation of what each word really means. So it can be a little like detective work. First I have to go to the Korean section of the dictionary and look up each Korean word given in the definition. This helps me find the correct form of the word I’m looking up, and also can take hours to do. That’s frustrating in itself.
But then I consider that the same word in English can have different meanings. In english the word ‘information’ can be either data or news about something. Example, “There is a lot of information about Korea on the internet,” or “I received information about the conditions in North Korea.”
When looking up the word, “Information” in my dictionary it lists the following words for the definition:

통지 (Comes from Chinese Characters) a notice; a notification; information; an advice (상
업상의 business conference; consultation)
통지하다 to inform (notify) (a person) of (a matter); give notice of (a matter); let (a person) know.

Examples:
I got (received) (a) notice that I had passed the entrance examination.
입시 합격의 통지를 받았다
Wait until further notice.
다음 통지가 있을 때 까지 기다리시오
I have not received any information about this matter.
이 사건에 관해서 아무런 통지도 받지 않았읍니다
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
정보 (from Chinese Characters) (a piece of) information; intelligence (비밀의); news.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
보고 (from Chinese Characters) a report.
보고하다 to report; to inform (a person of an event.)
보고 (from different Chinese Characters) a treasury; a treasure.
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보도 (from Chinese Characters) a report; news; information; intelligence.
보도하다 to report; inform (a person) of (a fact); publish the news.
보도 (from different Chinese Characters) guidance; direction.
보도하다 to lead; guide; direct.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
지식 (from Chinese Characters) knowledge; information
지식의 보고 treasure-house of knowledge
지식을 활용하다 to put one’s knowledge to practical use

If I look up these words in the Korean section of the dictionary, I find they don’t all mean, “Information.” To me information is not the same as knowledge. Information is the raw data before we learn it. After we learn the news about North Korea we know something about North Korea. The information came to us, and we now have knowledge.

Except I still don’t have the knowledge to say, “Information becomes knowledge.”

When I look up the word for ‘Data’ I get another clue. In my dictionary it lists both지식 and정보. So now I think the proper word to use in my sentence is정보.

Except even with this information I still don’t have the knowledge to say, “Information becomes knowledge,” without first knowing how to say, “becomes,” or “changes into.”

The verb, 되다 means to become; get; be; grow; turn; develop.
I looked up ‘change’ and found four items for ‘change into.’:
변하다 (from Chinese characters) to change; undergo a change; be altered; turn into; vary.
바꾸다 exchange; change; barter
바뀌다 change [turn] (into); be changed [altered, varied]
...으로 갈아 입다 (갈아 입다 to change one’s clothes)

So I think “Information becomes knowledge.” = 정보는 지식이 되요.

Am I right? Using the reverse lookup method, I feel like I went down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland and emerged hours later to find I’ve been having a bad dream.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:58 PM

February 6, 2005

Comfy Computer Chair

I had a long day at work today, and when I got home had some great French Onion soup, did some dishes and worked on Korean studies. Then I was writing my blog, and fell asleep at the computer, haha, so this is a short blog entry before I go to my real bed. Have a great day!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:57 PM

February 5, 2005

What’s in the goody bag?

Today I ran the Frozen 5K in downtown St. Paul. It was really fantastic! I was amazed at how many people were there. This is just a guess, but I think that there had to be at least 1000 runners there. I met my goal of running 8-minute miles. I ran the 3 miles in 23:38. After we finished the race there was a table set up to get a free banana, a coffee mug that said Frozen 5K on it, a bar of some kind and a goody bag with some things in it.
Let’s see, in the bag there was:

Old Dutch New Baked Potato Crisps, touting only 2 grams of fat per serving. They were ok. They tasted kind of like Pringles to me.

Free bottle of Propel Fitness Water. It’s water with vitamins in it.

Midwest Events January/February 2005 Running, Tri, Du, XC Skiing, Cycling, Paddling, and Inline events catalog. See also http://www.midwestevents.com

A coupon for a FREE whole grain cookie from Great Harvest Bread Co.

A brochure for the St. Paul Inline Marathon on Sunday, August 21, 2005

A 2 dollar off coupon for Road ID personal identification tags. See http://www.roadid.com

A free mini-tube and 1 dollar off coupon for Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Ointment

A subsription coupon for Runner’s World magazine

An advertising info-booklet on recovering from a race, using the Sunbeam heated Sports Wrap and 5 dollar off coupon.

Two mini Pearson’s Salted Nut Rolls

One Hershey’s Smart Zone Peanut Butter and Chocolate flavored Controlled Release Nutrition Bar.

And on the back of my race number, a 20% off coupon for New Balance running shoes at Run N Fun store on Randolph Avenue in St. Paul. Actually one of the guys at work recommended this store when I told him I’m looking for a pair of good running shoes. He said the people who work there are runners themselves and are very knowledgeable.

They had a captive market, and we took the bag of goodies as they put our souvenir Frozen 5K coffee mug in it. What should I do with this paper? Buy the products or recycle it? I can’t possibly use them all. I ate the chips, candy bars, banana, the bar and drank the water with vitamins. I’ll save the smart zone bar for another workout. The rest is a waste of resources.
I think the reason this kind of advertising strikes me as a waste is because it’s just like the things I find in my mailbox every day. Mini-sized product samples, Free AOL startup CD’s, Coupons for magazines, product catalogs, coupons that I won’t likely use, etc. I have to throw away or recycle most of it. Many of the samples get thrown in a box, thinking I’ll some day try them, and I forget about them. Eventually those end up in the dump. I didn’t ask for any of it. They just gave it to me and I took it like a goody bag. I could have refused the goody bag today at the race if I had thought about it. I don’t know what that would have proved though, except I wouldn’t be the one throwing it into our dumps. They probably wouldn’t even recycle the paper like I would. I heard of one guy once that took all of his junk mail and sent it back to the companies that produced it, and another person who made fire starters by rolling up his junk mail and dipping it in paraffin and another man in California who purposefully got people to send him as much junk mail as he could possibly get and used it to burn and heat his house with. At some point in our human history we have to think differently to reduce our waste and consumption. I don’t know what the catalyst will be but wasting paper and plastic and other resources on advertising that people aren’t buying the products is not a good use of resources. I suppose some people do buy the products so companies think it’s justified. They get a few sales from it and it makes up for their marketing dollars, but it doesn’t use our resources any more wisely. Paper comes from trees. Plastic comes from petroleum products. It becomes a waste fest. Our planet and atmosphere will eventually need a break from us.

Now, unlike handouts that we get without asking for, there are some free things made available to people by choice. Like this blog. It’s free and you get to choose if you want to read it. Today after my race I went to the coffee shop to relax and hang out and read the paper. While I was there, I found this interesting little book on the ‘Free, take one’ table. It’s called “Thud, the Feline” Issue number 1, by Keith Allen Webster, Copyright 2004. It’s like a little poem sketchbook with the cartoon cat figure, Thud, speaking sometimes-obscure little lines of life, like “Another morning to work. I trudge pedantically. I try to remember my dreams. The dulling lullaby of work sedates me.”
I picked it up and brought it home. I’ll keep it around and read it a few times then add it to my library. It’s an interesting self-published little book that Keith put out there for someone to choose to read. I took the goody bag and now am interested to watch for issue number 2. There’s and email address in the booklet too, maybe to give him feedback on what I thought of the book or maybe to order a copy for a friend? Then you’d be junk mailing your friends and they’d have to keep it or recycle it. poemsketchbook@yahoo.com

One final line from Thud the Feline issue one, talking about relationships: Talking about their relationship, a girl cartoon figure tells Thud, “I see the present. The mileage is piling up. Then she asks him, “Well, what is our relation to each other?” I think it’s a relevant question we should all ask ourselves about each other. We get deeper into relationships with everyone around us with every contact. Some of us keep our distance, and some are open, and some are closed. The mileage is piling up and we get to choose.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:45 PM

February 4, 2005

I did it!

I figured out how to type in Korean in my blog. I'm assuming other languages with special characters will work the same way. I haven't tried Russian yet, but I am predicting it will be easy to do. So, here it is:

안녕하세요? 야,놀랍다!

If you cannot see Korean characters in the phrase above, you need to select a korean font in your browser. In my browser it works fine. I can read it. Now I can blog in multiple languages! look out!

I spent so much time figuring this out and replying to a comment someone left on yesterday's entry, that I have no time to write more. Tomorrow morning I'm running my first 5k race in downtown St. Paul and need to get some sleep. See my comment on yesterday's post for my answer to "What is your motivation to study Korean?"

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM

February 3, 2005

Get a haircut and get a real job!

My Checklist for today

· Take the old carpeting to the garbage
· Take the Russian books to the University
· Pick up something from the Korean professor
· Buy a Korean book at the bookstore
· Go to the Reuse Center to look for bookshelves
· get a haircut

Things not on my list that I had to do

· Go back to the Reuse Center to pick up my 8 bookshelves
· Go to Menards to buy some spraypaint to paint the bookshelves
· Patch the hole in my ceiling where the hanging plant used to be
· Eat dinner
· write my blog entry
· Fix the flat tire on my bike
· Work on book editing
· Study Korean

Things I did not have time to do

· Get a haircut
· Exercise
· watch the new CSI episode on TV

Things I want to do but have to wait for

· Read more of How to think like Leonardo da Vinci
· Look at the cool german language picture book I found for 97 cents at the bookstore
· Do research for an upcoming project
· Watch the cycling movie American Flyers

Things I have to do tomorrow

· work
· paint my shelves
· prime and paint the ceiling
· make another list

Isn't a day off work fun? I'm going into work early tomorrow so I can leave early. It's going to be soooooo nice out! :-) I'm getting spring fever!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:17 PM

February 2, 2005

Impact of human beings on the environment

This morning I attended a ‘Virtual Tour’ of the Metro Wastewater Treatment Facility in St. Paul, MN. It was fascinating to see how much wastewater is treated per day and the impact it makes on the environment. Did you know that the Metro Plant treats approximately 200 MILLION gallons per day? That’s 73 billion gallons per year! Before the treatment plants, that was going directly into the river. When I think about the impact of human beings on the environment I have to keep the big picture in perspective. That is:
1. That prior to human beings living here, Nature took care of itself and water was as clean or dirty as Natural events allowed. Basically water in the ground, rivers and lakes was as clean as it would be by natural processes of the environment, like filtering through the rock, rain, runoff, evaporation, etc.
2. As population increased in any one location, pollution of the water and air increased and has reached critical pollution levels during our history. At one point in Germany the Rhein River was classified as “Dead” with no life forms. Other rivers, like the Mississippi and the St. Louis River also have reached critical states because of the presence of human beings. Our impact created a situation that needed to be cleaned up.
3. After human beings made a mess, efforts have been evolving to increase cleanup to achieve water quality levels prior to our interference with the natural processes of the environment, thus reducing our impact on the environment. As population increases in any one area the methods of water treatment have to evolve to keep up with the demand.
4. Our wastewater treatment success is measurably better than it used to be when we were just dumping our wastewater and other contaminants directly into the rivers and lakes. But it has to continue to improve, because we have not eliminated our impact on nature as manufacturing other business and residential use of chemicals and water increases and as population increases.

We should all care about the environment because as I stated before, as human beings, this planet is our home. We don’t want to pollute our homes or we will destroy ourselves, as we are capable of doing. The example of the Rhein River is a good one. It’s funny, but sad that another word in German that sounds the same, ‘Rein’ means ‘clean, pure; not mixed with anything else, but we managed to convert that to ‘dead.’ We have to care enough to reduce our impact on the environment or it will impact us in a negative way eventually. Our impact is cumulative and the untreated problems get worse with the higher concentrations of human beings.

Also as I said before, RESPECT and care for all living things is a spiritual attribute, just as we respect and care for our own lives. A lack of respect and care for all living things is spiritually hypocritical because all life is connected. We eventually kill ourselves by our own actions and attitudes. It’s saying we care but doing the opposite.

Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search on the internet to find out more about the history of wastewater treatment in Minnesota. Here are some very interesting links. Also, it’s interesting to me to ask, that since my house was built in 1936 and the wastewater treatment plant in St. Paul wasn’t built until 1938, what happened to the waste from the first residents of my house? I’m guessing it went straight into the river.

History of Stormwater and Wastewater Drainage Systems in Minneapolis
http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/stormwater/overview/construction-history.asp

What happens outside of the Twin-Cities Metro area
http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/naturalresources/components/7059-02.html

Minnesota’s efforts toward the 1970s cleanup of the St. Louis River
http://www.wlssd.duluth.mn.us/waterquality/oc3.shtml

Wastewater treatment history of Mankato, since 1994
http://www.ci.mankato.mn.us/utility/wwp_history.php3

The Rhein River pollution continues even today. The (German Rhein, English Rhine, French Rhin, Dutch Rijn) is one of the longest rivers in Europe. Its name is derived from the Celtic word "renos" (meaning "raging flow"). Together with the Danube it formed most of the northern frontier of the Roman Empire and since those days has been a vital navigable waterway, carrying trade and goods deep inland.

http://www.zephryus.demon.co.uk/geography/resources/environ/water.html

Wastewater treatment is only one aspect of reducing our impact on the earth. My hope is that you care about the environment and are willing to cross all political and ideological boundaries to reduce our impact. After all, we are the cause of our pollution.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:34 PM

February 1, 2005

Pedal Painters

Some people really take commuting to work by bicycle seriously. Aaron Schueller of Brooklyn Center runs his own house painting business, from his bike, and designed and built this trailer to economically and athletically haul his paint, equipment and supplies. As an added bonus to his physical fitness, he also gets new customers by riding to and from work. He said that because he’s driving at a slower pace than an automobile and he’s right out there where people can talk to him, he’s actually been stopped by pedestrians who saw his rolling sign to tell him they needed their garage or house painted.

pedal_painters.jpg

Aaron found a way to be environmentally friendly while performing real-world job tasks that we wouldn’t normally consider doable by bike. The possibilities to do the unthinkable are greater than we often allow. And Aaron has proven that if our minds are willing, there's a way. If I saw this Pedal Painter riding down my street I’d hire him just because of his can-do attitude.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:17 PM

I could never do that!

Too often we get into a set way of thinking and have every excuse in the book why we CAN’T do something. We tell ourselves “It’s too hard,” “I live too far away,” “I’m too old for that,” “I’m too busy for that,” “I don’t have enough money,” or “I could never do that.”

But our whole life changes if we instead start saying things like “I can do at least this,” “I can walk a mile to the bus stop and then ride the bus the rest of the way,” “I can at least use the stairs at work once per day instead of the elevator,” “I can take one class per semester,” “I can get one more hour of study in before I have to go,” “If she can do that, I can do it too,” or “I will at least try it.”

It’s not just pretty sounding positive affirmations to try to talk ourselves into something, it’s an attitude change that frees us from our own set limitations and expectations. Our realities are often clouded by our own attitudes about things and people. Why should we end up being our own worst enemy?

I’ve been called on this too many times to brush it off. Eventually I had to look at what I was saying and doing to myself. I started to ask myself, “Is that really true? Do I really hate that? Or Can I really NOT do that?” I think I am capable of a lot more than I often give myself credit for. Once I started catching myself saying things like “can’t,” “won’t,” “don’t,” “am not,” “couldn’t,” a red flag goes up and I ask the question. Too often the answer is “I can,” “could,” “want to,” or “will.” Then I had no excuses and I began to change and be free.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:05 PM

Second hand particles

With the smoking ban imminent in public buildings because of the harmful effects of second hand smoke, smokers move outside. In an ironic twist, now they get to breathe second hand particles from automobiles and factories.
Something for all of us to consider is that when we pollute we are not just taking a risk for ourselves, we are affecting everyone.

I received this in my email today, just after I went for a heart-pounding 3 mile run at my fastest pace yet:

Air Pollution Alert
February 1, 2005

The MPCA has issued an "UNHEALTHY FOR ALL" Air Pollution Alert for the Twin Cities metro area for Tuesday, February 1.

AQI: at 11 a.m., the Air Quality Index was 154. From 151 to 200 is
considered unhealthy for everyone.

POLLUTANT: fine particles (soot), which come primarily from combustion
sources, such as car exhaust, fireplaces, factories and other sources.
Fine particles are as small as one-fiftieth the width of a human hair.
Fine particles have been trapped near the ground for several days by
moist, stagnant air, and additional particles have moved into Minnesota
from the south. Changing weather by Thursday should clear the air.

HEALTH: Everyone should take it easy. People with heart or lung
disease (including asthma) and adults over 50 should avoid vigorous or
prolonged exercise. Others, including athletes and other healthy
adults and children should reduce or postpone heavy exertion (play
shorter games, walk instead of run, rotate players more frequently,
etc.) People with heart conditions are especially vulnerable to fine
particle pollution. Note: fine particles are so tiny that they can get
indoors, so take it easy indoors, too.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO REDUCE AIR POLLUTION DURING THIS ALERT:
* reduce driving when possible and don't idle your vehicle engine
(vehicle exhaust adds fine particles to the air)
* postpone activities with small gasoline or diesel engines, which
also produce particles
* postpone fires in your fireplace and outdoors, which add soot
particles to the air

To learn more check hourly updates of the AQI, visit:
http://aqi.pca.state.mn.us/hourly/

Posted by carl1236 at 4:04 PM